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Meet Jack's Parents: Two Tired, Pasty-Faced Guys

Posted: 05/31/2013 2:23 pm

Gay Parenting Study

As thousands protested the recent legalization of gay marriage in France -- and the U.S. Supreme Court gets ready to weigh in on the issue in June -- HuffPost's "International Spotlight" presents the views of three gay couples, all raising children, in France, the U.S. and also Canada, where gay marriage has been legal for eight years. You can read the U.S. entry here, and France's entry here.

Drew's and my journey to parenthood began several years before we got married, or even co-habitated. We realized early on that we wanted exactly the same thing -- marriage and a family. We're actually fairly traditional guys, except for the part where we marry a same-sex spouse and therefore brazenly defy God's plan and bring on one million nights of darkness and hellfire. Or hopefully not.

When Jack was born at 2 a.m. on a freezing cold January morning in Edmonton, we were right there in the delivery room, watching him enter the world, a luxury that few adoptive families are blessed enough to experience. Drew cut the umbilical cord (in an obviously symbolic gesture), and once he was cleaned up, the bouncing baby boy was passed to his new daddies.

Immediately, of course, our lives changed. It was like some massive baby bomb consisting of poop, drool, formula, lack of sleep and cuteness had descended upon us, and things would never be the same again. We loved this baby more than we ever could have imagined. We went from being a couple to being a family. And that identity change was evident everywhere we went. Occasionally, we would see people trying to determine what our scenario was exactly, but with us transporting a newborn and the endless amount of equipment they come with, it was fairly obvious we were a team.

About a month after Jack was born, we decided that the baby would not have an impact upon our usual tradition of spending Valentine's night in Whistler Village. (We were dead wrong, incidentally -- a solidly bad choice.) So, we went. But what we really noticed on that trip was that people did recognize us as a family, but really didn't care. Our dog Charlie, a wonderful big mutt with a bum front paw, had to wear a leather boot to protect it from the pavement, and was much more interesting to strangers that the two tired, pasty-faced guys with a baby strapped to one of them.

Many times over the first few months, people would ask, "Where's Mom?" and we would shrug and say, "We have no idea!" which was technically true. This replaced my previous favourite question: "You're gay?" My best response: "I hope so! Otherwise, marrying a guy was a huge mistake!"

Truthfully, family, friends, neighbours and strangers could not have been kinder or more supportive. We love our home, our neighbourhood and Vancouver, and we know that it's a pretty liberal place to live. And yet, we're also not deluded -- we know that there are people in our vicinity who find being gay "wrong" and are offended by our choice to be married and to start a family. But if they've shown their faces, these people haven't offered their unwanted opinions yet. And I hope that when and if they do, Jack is out of earshot or at least older and better able to process it.

When Jack was one, we made the decision to move from the suburbs to a house in a more urban environment. While we were keen to drive less and to walk more, the primary reason for the shift was that a neighbourhood in a city centre was more likely to contain same-sex parents than a suburban one. And we found that families exactly like ours are here and the fact that Jack is able to see them has more than justified the move.

Our names are vaguely similar and we are of similar heights and statures as well. Therefore, when neighbours and acquaintances mix up our names, we understand and explain that for all intents and purposes, we are one middle-aged, pasty, tired man. Just call us Randrew.

As parents ("Daddy" and "Poppy" to Jack), we've kept our goals realistic. At one month, we had successfully kept him alive. By six months, we had not dropped him on his head. By year one, he was walking and had functioning muscle. Next benchmark: 19 years with no prison time.

As it turns out, our family is not really that different from any of the other families in our neighbourhood -- a child and two married parents who occupy the usual "good cop/bad cop" roles (Drew and Randy, respectively) and who shuttle that child to school, baseball, soccer and play dates, and can constantly discuss the dynamics of marriage, mortgages, lawn care and parenting until we're blue in the face.

Recently, our family's little difference has become more significant to Jack, who has let us know that he's not interested in being different. We understand and empathize, and have discussed this with him at length. We've also made sure that he is aware that in that one way, he's different from most kids at his school, but in hundreds of ways, he's exactly the same: he likes refined white sugar, dirt, video games, bikes, his pets, superheroes and Lego, and will relentlessly campaign for his right to not eat "that" food, to not go to bed, to please go to Disneyland this weekend and to request of his parents that they please don't ever dance or sing in public.

We are patently aware that this particular period in our time with Jack is finite (he's seven now), so unless we are bleeding or trapped under heavy furniture, the answer to the question, "Will you play with me?" is always "Yes," because we know that his focus will be diverted elsewhere more and more as time compresses.

Sometimes, we've felt bad that we've really done nothing to earn the rights and freedoms that we have, other than to be born at the right time. It would have been inconceivable to previous generations of gays and lesbians that they might get married, easily adopt a child and be welcomed into a nice neighbourhood in Vancouver full of other kids and families, without causing a ripple of controversy. But that's exactly what we've done. My handsome husband and I found each other and then got pretty much everything else we could have wanted. We're ridiculously lucky.

In some of our more challenging parenting moments, Drew and I have wondered if the universe making us gay was its way of subtly suggesting that we would make lousy parents. In any case, we've clearly ignored that warning and pushed on; s as my mother might say, we've made our bed and now we have to lie in it. And we will be joined in that bed by our son, his security blanket, food remnants and a house pet or two, just to keep the reality of that choice readily apparent.

And we love it. And we wouldn't want it any other way.

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  • Cat Cora

    Cat Cora of "Iron Chef" and her partner Jennifer Cora have four boys together, Thatcher Julius, Nash Lemuel, Zoran and Caje. They were pregnant at the same time and implanted with each other's fertilized egg while carrying Thatcher and Nash. The same sperm donor was used for all four children. "We have agreed that <a href="http://celebritybabies.people.com/2010/02/06/cat-cora-any-additional-kids-will-be-adopted/">if we ever wanted more children</a>, we would only do it by giving back and adopting," says Cat.

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  • Clay Aiken And Jaymes Foster

    In 2008, "American Idol" star Clay Aiken and his best friend Jaymes Foster welcomed their son Parker by vitro fertilization. "He's an incredible caregiver. As far as changing the diapers and seeing what's wrong with [Parker] and getting him to go sleep, <a href="http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20228644,00.html">Clay's a natural and he's really</a>, really good with that," says Foster.

  • Thomas Beatie

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  • Anne And Michael Hathaway

    Anne Hathaway would do anything for her gay brother, Michael, including leaving the Catholic church (along with the rest of her family) in which she grew up in, telling British GQ, "Why should I support an organization that has a limited view of my beloved brother?" The Hollywood starlet, who recently played Fantine in "Les Misérables," (she joked that her short haircut <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/26/anne-hathaway-gay-brother-short-haircut_n_2191371.html">left her looking like her gay brother</a>) has been a fervent support of the LGBT community, receiving the <a href="http://www.hrc.org/videos/category/c/california/videos-anne-hathaway-at-2008-hrc-los-angeles-dinner#.UPA0BEJAukA">HRC's "Ally For Equality" award in 2008</a> (VIDEO).

  • Melissa Etheridge

    Despite her <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/10/melissa-etheridge-tammy-l_n_1415816.html">very public divorce from Tammy Lynn Michaels</a> last year, Melissa Etheridge and Michaels share twins, daughter Johnnie Rose and son Miller. The rockstar also has two other children, daughter Bailey and son Beckett, from a previous relationship.

  • Ryan Murphy

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  • Cher

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  • Bishop Gene Robinson

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  • B.D. Wong

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  • Barbra Streisand

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  • Zach Wahls

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  • Vern Yip

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  • Annise Parker

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  • Sally Field

    Sally Field is a mother of three young men, one who is gay. "It's important to have a parent speak about raising a magnificent, proud, intelligent, funny, loveable, sexy gay son. There are so many parents who are frightened of that and who don't embrace their children and they struggle to embrace who they are and what nature intended them to be," says Field during her interview on "Oprah's Next Chapter".

  • Jane Lynch

    Much like her provocative, yet endearing character on "Glee," Jane Lynch never imagined she'd be a mother. In 2010, when Lynch tied the knot with her wife, Lara Embry, a clinical psychologist, she also became the stepmother of <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1332928/Gleeful-family-day-Jane-Lynch-stepdaughters.html">two girls</a>, Chase and Haden. “I’m almost 50, and I thought that possibility was behind me, so this is a real delight,” Lynch <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/06/fashion/weddings/06JLYNCH.html?_r=0">told <em>The New York Times</em></a> about her becoming a parent.

  • Dan Savage And Terry Miller

    The couple who started the prolific "It Gets Better" Project, Dan Savage and Terry Miller, <a href="http://nymag.com/nymetro/urban/gay/features/3367/">have a son together</a> named D.J. via adoption. In December 2012, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/06/dan-savage-gay-marriage-license_n_2252896.html">the two got their marriage license</a> in their home state of Washington, which passed same-sex marriage in the 2012 general election.

  • Wanda Sykes

    One of our favorite out comedians, Wanda Sykes, and her wife, Alex, <a href="http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20278746,00.html">welcomed twins</a>, daughter Olivia Lou and son Lucas Claude (Alex is French), in May 2009. “What I have learned so far, is that the Octomom is out of her freaking mind," Sykes said in an <a href="http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/media/content/wanda-sykes-being-new-parent-ive-learned-octomom-out-her-freakin-mind">interview with the <em>Tampa Bay Times</em></a>. "With two babies we are -- and there’s two of us -- we are pulling our hair out. We’re loving every minute of it. It is truly a blessing."

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    The Hollywood power couple, Warren Beatty and Annette Bening, have four children, of which their eldest, <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2175679/Warren-Beatty-Annette-Benings-son-Stephen-speaks-transgender.html">Stephen Ira Beatty is transgender</a>. Stephen <a href="http://wehappytrans.com/qa/7-questions-stephen/">made a video for transgender blog site, "We Happy Trans,"</a> back in March of 2012.

  • Matt Bomer

    In February 2012, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/13/matt-bomer-comes-out-gay-thanks-partner_n_1272997.html">Matt Bomer came out</a> by acknowledging his family -- <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2182801/Matt-Bomer-juggles-modern-family--nearly-takes-tumble-son-balanced-shoulders.html">three sons and his partner, Simon Halls</a> -- in a speech when he received the New Generation Arts and Activism Award for his work in the fight against HIV/AIDS. "I'd really especially like to thank my beautiful family: Simon, Kit, Walker, Henry," he continued. "Thank you for teaching me what unconditional love is. You will always be my proudest accomplishment."

  • Elton John And David Furnish

    Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John is the <a href="http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20453344,00.html">son of multi award-winning singer Sir Elton John and husband, David Furnish</a>. Zachary, who was born on December 2010, is the couple's first child. In January, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/10/elton-john-david-furnish-second-baby_n_2447602.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices#slide=1928627">false reports of the two having a second child surfaced</a>. Their PR rep told E! News that John and Furnish did not welcome another child. However, a week later <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/01/16/elton-john-confirms-hes-dad-to-elijah-joseph-_n_2484308.html">they confirmed they did indeed welcome a second child</a>, Elijah Joseph Daniel Furnish-John.

  • Rosie O'Donnell

    In January, Rosie O'Donnell <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/09/rosie-odonnell-michelle-rounds-baby-daughter-girl-dakota_n_2441939.html?utm_hp_ref=celebrity">welcomed her first child, Dakota, with second wife, Michelle Rounds</a>, tweeting the news and sharing an Instagram shot of the three for the first time. Dakota makes this O'Donnell's fifth child. The comedian shares four other children -- Blake, Vivienne, Parker and Chelsea -- with ex-wife Kelli Carpenter.

  • Ricky Martin

    We've always loved Ricky. So when he came out and opened up his life to the world in an <a href="http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2012/04/ricky-martin-kids-sons-parter">exclusive April 2012 issue of the Spanish edition of <em>Vanity Fair</em></a>, we fell deeper in love with the Latino pop sensation. During the interview, Martin candidly spoke about his coming out moment, work and his family; introducing his sons, Matteo and Valentino, and his partner, Carlos.

  • Alec Mapa

    Openly gay comic Alec Mapa and his husband, Jamison Hebert, <a href="http://www.aceshowbiz.com/news/view/w0004938.html">became fathers when they adopted their son</a> in 2010. Mapa, who often jokes about his biracial LGBT family is also the celebrity spokesman for <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/02/raise-a-child-lgbt-family-adopt-2012_n_2340710.html">RaiseAChild.US</a>, an organization that encourages same-sex couples to foster or adopt children.

  • Anna Paquin

    Bisexual Canadian actress and "True Blood" star Anna Paquin has fraternal twins born last September with her husband Steven Moyer. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/14/anna-paquin-stephen-moyer-twins-boy-girl-true-blood_n_2130030.html">The co-stars</a> also have two other children from Moyer's previous relationships.

  • Cynthia Nixon

    "Sex and the City" star Cynthia Nixon, along with her wife, Christine Marinoni, <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2151914/Cynthia-Nixon-wedding-SATC-star-new-wife-Christine-Marinoni-skip-honeymoon-family-time.html">have three children</a>. Two, Charles and Samantha, are from Nixon's previous relationship with photographer Danny Mozes, and the other is Max Ellington, whom Marinoni gave birth to in February 2011.

 

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