email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
"Are You There Alone?""How Come Boys Get to Keep Their Noses?""My Madness Saved Me"10% Happier365 Days49 Up56 UpA Beautiful MindA Beautiful MindA Beautiful MindA Book of ReasonsA Can of MadnessA Child's Life and Other StoriesA Dangerous LiaisonA Fight to BeA First-Rate MadnessA Good Enough DaughterA Heartbreaking Work of Staggering GeniusA Lethal InheritanceA Lethal InheritanceA Life ShakenA Life Worth LivingA Little PregnantA Message from JakieA Million Little PiecesA Numerate LifeA Pocket History of Sex in the Twentieth CenturyA Slant of SunA Special EducationA Tribe ApartAbout FaceAddicted Like MeADHD & MeAEIOUAgainst Medical AdviceAgents in My BrainAileen - Life and Death of a Serial KillerAlgernon, Charlie and IAll Out!All Seasons PassAlphavilleAlzheimer'sAn Anthropologist on MarsAn EducationAn Unquiet MindAngela's AshesAngelheadAnna Freud: A BiographyAnnie's GhostsAnother Bullshit Night in Suck CityAnthology of a Crazy LadyApples and OrangesApproaching NeverlandAre You There, Vodka? It's Me, ChelseaAs I Live and BreatheAs Nature Made HimAt Home in the Heart of AppalachiaAt the End of WordsAvalancheBad BoyBad GirlBeautiful BoyBeautiful WreckBecoming AnnaBen Behind His VoicesBequest and BetrayalBereftBertrand RussellBlackoutBlanketsBloodlettingBodies in Motion and at RestBoneBorn on a Blue DayBoyBoy AloneBoyleBrain on FireBreaking ApartBreaking the SilenceBrokenBulimics on BulimiaBuzzCamus and SartreCharles DarwinChasing the HighCheeverCherryCity of OneCluesClumsyComfortComplications Compulsive ActsConfessions of a Cereal EaterConfessions of a Former ChildConfessions of a Grieving ChristianConfessions of the Other MotherConfidingConquering the Beast WithinContesting ChildhoodCrackedCrazyCry Depression, Celebrate RecoveryDamned to EternityDancing at the Shame PromDante's CureDaughter of the Queen of ShebaDavid Sedaris Live at Carnegie HallDays With My FatherDefeating the VoicesDementia Caregivers Share Their StoriesDepression and NarrativeDescartesDetourDevil in the DetailsDiagnosis: SchizophreniaDirty DetailsDirty SecretDivided MindsDivine MadnessDon't Get Too ComfortableDown Came the RainDress Your Family in Corduroy and DenimDrinkingDriving My FatherDrunkardDryEarly Embraces IIIEinsteinEinstein and OppenheimerElectroboyElegy for IrisElijah's CupElliott Smith and the Big NothingElsewhereEnough About YouEpilepticEvery Girl Tells a StoryEverything In Its PlaceExamined LivesExiting NirvanaFaces of Huntington'sFamily BoundFast GirlFearless ConfessionsFind MeFinding Iris ChangFirst Person Accounts of Mental Illness and RecoveryFirst Person PluralFixing My GazeFlanneryFolie a DeuxFor the Love of ItFortress of My YouthFranz KafkaFraudFree RefillsFreudFriedrich NietzscheFrom Joy Division to New OrderFumblingFun HomeFuriously HappyGalileo Get Me Out of HereGirl in Need of a TourniquetGirl Walking BackwardsGirl, InterruptedGirl, InterruptedGirls on the VergeGoing BlindGoing Through Hell Without Help From AboveGraysonGrowing Up JungGuttedHalf a Brain Is EnoughHardcore from the HeartHead CasesHeal & ForgiveHeal & Forgive IIHeavier than HeavenHeinz KohutHeinz KohutHello from Heaven!Hello to All ThatHer HusbandHer Last DeathHigh PriceHole in My LifeHolidays On IceHolidays on IceHope's BoyHouse of Happy EndingsHouse of Happy EndingsHow I Stayed Alive When My Brain Was Trying to Kill MeHow to Lose Friends & Alienate PeopleHow to Make Love Like a Porn Starhow to stop timeHumeHunger Makes Me a Modern GirlHurry Down SunshineI Feel Bad About My NeckI Never Promised You a Rose GardenI Remain in DarknessI'd Rather Eat ChocolateI'd Rather LaughIf I Die Before I WakeImagining RobertIn Search of FatimaIn the Realms of the UnrealIn the Wake of SuicideInside TherapyInternInvisible No MoreIt Happened to NancyIt Takes a Worried ManJack Cole and Plastic ManJean-Paul SartreJohn Stuart MillJourneys with the Black DogJust CheckingKafkaKantLa SierraLab GirlLast Flight OutLearning to FallLet Me Make It GoodLife As We Know ItLife InterruptedLife ReimaginedLimboLincoln's MelancholyListening in the Silence, Seeing in the DarkLittle PeopleLive For Your Listening PleasureLive Through ThisLiving in the Shadow of the Freud FamilyLiving With SchizophreniaLiving with SchizophreniaLockeLonelyLong ShotLook Me in the EyeLooking for The StrangerLoose GirlLosing Mum and PupLosing My MindLove Is a Mix TapeLove SickLove Times ThreeLove Works Like ThisLove You, Mean ItLuckyLudwig WittgensteinLyingMad HouseMad PrideMadame ProustMadnessMagical ThinkingMalignant SadnessManicMarcel ProustMarcus AureliusMary BarnesMaverick MindMe Talk Pretty One DayMeaningMelanie KleinMemoirMemoirs of an Addicted BrainMemoirs of My Nervous IllnessMen-ipulationMisconceptionsMiss American PieMockingbird YearsMomma and the Meaning of LifeMommies Who DrinkMonkey MindMore, Now, AgainMortificationMy Age of AnxietyMy Body PoliticMy Brain Tumour AdventuresMy DepressionMy Father's HeartMy First Cousin Once RemovedMy Flesh and BloodMy Horizontal LifeMy Life Among the Serial KillersMy Sister LifeMy Stroke of InsightName All the AnimalsNeural MisfireNietzscheNietzsche: The Man and His PhilosophyNinety DaysNo Hurry to Get HomeNo Impact ManNo More ShavesNolaNotebooks 1951-1959NothingOdd Girl Speaks OutOedipus WreckedOf Spirits & MadnessOn Being RapedOn the Edge of DarknessOn the MoveOne Hour in ParisOne Hundred DaysOphelia SpeaksPagan TimePassing for NormalPeople Who Eat DarknessPerfect ChaosPerfect ExamplePermanent Present TensePersepolisPlanet of the BlindPlaying with FirePlease Don't Kill the FreshmanPoisoned LovePollockPOPismPortraits of Huntington'sPoster ChildProzac DiaryPsychiatrist on the RoadPsychosis in the FamilyPuppy Chow Is Better Than ProzacQuitting the Nairobi TrioRaising BlazeReasons to Stay AliveRebuiltRecovered, Not CuredRelative StrangerRescuing JeffreyRestricted AccessRevengeRewind, Replay, RepeatRichard RortyRiding the Bus With My SisterRobert Lowell, Setting the River on FireRoom For JRosemaryRough MagicRunning After AntelopeRunning with ScissorsScattershotSchizophreniaSchopenhauerSecond OpinionsSectionedSeeing EzraSeeing the CrabSex & Single GirlsSex ObjectShakespeareShe Bets Her LifeShe Got Up Off the CouchShut the DoorSickenedSilencing the VoicesSimone de BeauvoirSinging in the FireSkin GameSlackjawSlut!SmashedSome Assembly RequiredSome Kind of GeniusSometimes Madness Is WisdomSongs from the Black ChairSongs of the Gorilla NationSoren KierkegaardSpeak to MeSpeaking Our Minds: Revised EditionSpecial SiblingsSpentStandbyStick FigureStill LivesStretchSunset StorySurviving OpheliaSwing LowTales from Both Sides of the BrainTales of PsychotherapyTalk to HerTellingTelling Tales About DementiaThe Accidental BillionairesThe AddictThe Anatomy of HopeThe Anti-Romantic ChildThe Bastard on the Couch CDThe BeastThe Bell JarThe Best Seat in the HouseThe Body SilentThe Boy on the Green BicycleThe Boy Who Loved WindowsThe Buddha & The BorderlineThe Burn JournalsThe Camera My Mother Gave MeThe Cancer Monologue ProjectThe Center Cannot HoldThe Chelsea WhistleThe Churkendoose AnthologyThe Day the Voices StoppedThe Devil WithinThe DisappearanceThe Discomfort ZoneThe Doctor Is InThe Eden ExpressThe Family SilverThe Farm Colonies: Caring for New York City's Mentally Ill In Long Island's State HospitalsThe Fasting GirlThe First Man-Made ManThe First TimeThe Geography of BlissThe Glass CastleThe Good DoctorsThe Hillside Diary and Other WritingsThe Incantations of Daniel JohnstonThe Last AsylumThe Last Good FreudianThe Last Time I Wore a DressThe Liars' ClubThe Lives and Loves of Daisy and Violet HiltonThe Lives They Left BehindThe LobotomistThe Long GoodbyeThe Looked After Kid: Memoirs from a Children's HomeThe Loony-Bin TripThe Madness of Our LivesThe Making of a PhilosopherThe Making of Friedrich NietzscheThe Man Who Couldn't EatThe Man Who Shocked the WorldThe Man Who Tasted ShapesThe Marvelous Hairy GirlsThe Maximum Security Book ClubThe Me in the MirrorThe Memory PalaceThe Mercy PapersThe Mistress's DaughterThe Naked Bird WatcherThe Naked Lady Who Stood on Her HeadThe Night of the GunThe Noonday DemonThe Notebook GirlsThe NursesThe Only Girl in the CarThe Orchid ThiefThe Other HollywoodThe OutsiderThe Philosopher's Autobiography The Philosophical Breakfast ClubThe Philosophical IThe Pits and the PendulumThe Pornographer's GriefThe Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner The Professor and the MadmanThe Psychopath TestThe Quiet RoomThe Red DevilThe Rescue of Belle and SundanceThe Ride TogetherThe Rules of the TunnelThe Secret of LifeThe Shaking Woman or A History of My NervesThe Shared HeartThe Shiniest JewelThe Siren's DanceThe Statistical Life of MeThe Story of My FatherThe Strange Case of Hellish NellThe Summer of a DormouseThe SurrenderThe Talking CureThe Thought that CountsThe Three of UsThe Vagina MonologuesThe Velveteen FatherThe Winter of Our DisconnectThe Woman Who Walked into the SeaThe Years of Silence are PastThe Yellow HouseThe Yipping TigerThick As ThievesThinTiger, TigerTits, Ass, and Real EstateTo Redeem One Person Is to Redeem the WorldTo Walk on EggshellsTransforming MadnessTrue CompassTruth & BeautyTruth Comes in BlowsTuesdays with MorrieTweakTwitch and ShoutUltimate JudgementUndercurrentsUnholy GhostUnlikelyVoices of AlcoholismVoices Of Alzheimer'sVoices of CaregivingVoices of RecoveryVoluntary MadnessWaiting for DaisyWar FareWashing My Life AwayWastedWaveWe're Not MonstersWeather Reports from the Autism FrontWeekends at BellevueWhat Did I Do Last Night?What Goes UpWhat I Learned in Medical SchoolWhat's Normal?When a Crocodile Eats the SunWhen Breath Becomes AirWhen Do I Get My Shoelaces Back?.....When It Gets DarkWhen the Piano StopsWhen You Are Engulfed in FlamesWhere Did It All Go Right?Where is the Mango Princess?Where the Roots Reach for WaterWhile the City SleptWhile They SleptWho Was Jacques Derrida?Why I'm Like ThisWildWill's ChoiceWinnicottWinnieWish I Could Be ThereWith Their EyesWomen Living with Self-InjuryWomen, Body, IllnessWrestling with the AngelYou Must Be DreamingYour Voice in My HeadZeldaZor
Parenthood is a challenge in perpetuity. When Jesse Green falls in love with an older high school counselor who has recently adopted baby Erez (a very large squirming gift?), he starts living in a previously unimagined world where semi-digested projectiles christen the new family car. As a single childless man, he is not ready for a life of Boy Scout troops, Hebrew school car pools and platters of cupcakes for PTA bake sales. Deciding to adopt a child requires a huge amount of strength, leasing your life up to anonymous inspectors who perform home study. If you are a gay man, the ordeal is coupled with the additional (apparent) hurdles of prejudice and legal obstacles, but the dispossessed will often go to impossible lengths in order to create a family of their own. The events leading up to the abrupt adoption are honestly depicted in this book. Even the most alternative parent still has to do the laundry.
Gay men, perhaps more than lesbians, are conflicted about becoming parents. Green attempts to use clever turns of phrase (My calendar lists our travels but none of our travails) to tap into the thoughts, feelings and perceptions of many gay men to rethink how the evolving dynamic of gay liberation continues to encompass behavior today. The introduction of a chaotic child element into an otherwise neat, obsessive, perfectionist gay lifestyle is like letting a monkey into your kitchen: there is no primer. The old sources of intimacy, social support, and community are no longer helpful. A stuffed toy takes center stage; the childs love makes it all real. Unsurprisingly, Green becomes progressively involved in the tenth load of laundry even at the cost of diluting his physical partnership with Andy, the adoptive father: fatherhood trumps gayness. While the propriety of chronicling the early years of family members is debatable it is without their consent the intensely personal yet intermittently amusing writing tries too hard to staple down nebulous notions of identity crisis, gay exclusivity and meaningful adult responsibility on a very small corkboard. A modicum of purple prose ["the devastation of AIDS was directly linked to (gay men's) thoughts about becoming parents not in order to produce gay children per se but to replace, in whatever form, the great lost souls they had known"], worshipful respect for his separately living partner who has cited another as the legal guardian for the boys [Andy's life was punctuated by periods of relative monogamy alternated with periods of intense (albeit safe) promiscuity, pop-ups of the ex-lover-to-be cruelly demoted from birth announcement inclusion to babysitting uncle status] and some misguided attempts at pithy epithets [A value not deeply held has a narrow jurisdiction, If youre not trapped, youre not a parent] punctuate an otherwise flowing narrative, that includes the mens dissimilar and rather unspectacular childhoods. Two disparate but absolute loves clearly watermark every unopened page: the devotion of Green for his stolid partner, and the unconditional adoration of Andy for his two adopted boys. This is more a story of love than of adoption, which will disappoint many prospective adopters. If we dont always get to have our love in exactly the forms we desire it, it is love nevertheless.
It is estimated there are six to ten million children with at least one gay parent and studies have shown a great degree of similarity between the parenting styles of gay and non-gay fathers. Not a single study has found these children to be disadvantaged, and their home environments are as likely to successfully support a childs development. There is no evidence to suggest that the children of gay parents are less intelligent, suffer from more problems (including gender identity conflict), are less popular, or have lower self-esteem than children of heterosexual parents. However, owing to the inherently small sample sizes, any exact significance or long-term outlook ascribed must remain cautiously optimistic as more studies are devoted to heterosexually married gay men and lesbian or transsexual couples raising children rather than gay couples. Nevertheless, our library of instincts reinforces what Andy already knows: good parenting is influenced most profoundly by the parental ability to structure a loving and nurturing home, that ability being independent of sexual orientation. Rather, it is a function of the inner adult within, Ferberizing and slipcovers.
We are facing a critical shortage of adoptive and foster parents that leaves thousands of children languishing without permanent homes or within state foster care systems that lack qualified foster parents. Yet there are woefully limited resources for single gay adopters, who are viewed with a schizoid air of indifference coupled with the ugly issue of pedophilia among the young partner-craving crowd (There are things I do routinely to Erez that, if done to Andy, would constitute foreplay), and sadness marinated with envy among the smug senior set. Indeed, Green finds himself desexed (sic) and alienated from gay men who remain single (and) make a kind of lifes work out of adolescence, their days filled with gossip, crushes, self-beautification'', while being increasingly accepted by lesbian and straight couples. At least twenty-one states have granted second-parent adoptions to gay couples, ensuring that their children can enjoy the benefits of having two legal parents, so vital in the event of parental death or incapacitation. Andys inflamed gall bladder skewers Greens newly suburban existence on Unambivalent Parenting Street. That episode and the Adoption Finalization indicate talented fingertips beating the emotion out of an ergonomic keyboard.
As the saying goes: Dont live alone too long. You might get used to it. This sweet indulgent memoir/fantasy-in-progress will appeal to many who would consider adoption, tabling as it does the way in which parenthood, biological or otherwise, can awaken the adult and the child within us, a recurring renewal albeit at great expense. Here, it happens to a very self-absorbed and self-aware freelance writer when he is least prepared for it, unlike most pre-adopters. We should expect the more enlightening studies to focus upon the long-term presence of children, the longevity of the gay relationship and the timing and degree of disclosure of the couples relationship. Any curious reader will be inevitably interested in what happens after: how will the growing children and the same-sex parents affect each other? To displace the transferred metaphor, what happens when the velveteen rabbit is no longer a bunny?
SUGGESTED GAY ADOPTION-RELATED LITERATURE
· Benkov, Laura: Reinventing the Family: The Emerging Story of Gay & Lesbian Parents
· Bozett, Frederick (ed): Gay & Lesbian Parents
· Hicks Stephen and McDermott Janet (eds.): Lesbian & Gay Fostering & Adoption: Extraordinary Yet Ordinary
· Martin, April: Lesbian & Gay Parenting Handbook, The: Creating & Raising Our Families
· Morgen Kenneth B: Getting Simon: Two Gay Doctors' Journey to Fatherhood
· Pies, Cheri: Considering Parenthood: A Handbook for Lesbians
· Pollack, Jill S: Lesbian & Gay Families: Redefining Parenting in America
· Savage, Dan: The Kid: What Happened After My Boyfriend and I Decided to Get Pregnant
· Sullivan Ann (ed.): Issues in Gay & Lesbian Adoption: Proceedings of the 4th Pierce-Warwick Adoption
COLAGE: CHILDREN OF LESBIANS AND GAYS EVERYWHERE
Dr. Nayak is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Radiology in the University of California School of Medicine San Francisco and his interests include mental health and gender studies. A voracious reader and intrepid epicure, he enjoys his keyboards too much.