I have always loved children. Then my little brother became a dad, and when I laid eyes on my nephew for the first time, I knew I had to be a dad someday. If he could do it, then I had to, it was always my dream. And thankfully 20 years ago it was becoming easier for gay folks to adopt.
Fast forward a few years, I got sober and started to face my fears and look for companionship. I met a guy through an ad in the Village Voice and I will never forget, after dating for two weeks, we ended up in a toy store in SOHO, in NYC. He stated that the saddest thing for him about being gay, was that he couldn’t be a dad. I made it clear to him that I disagreed and expected to achieve the goal of being a parent someday. Two weeks into the relationship, that cemented everything.
The road to parenthood was a long one for us. He went to law school, we paid off debt, and we looked for an apartment together. We knew that we would not be approved to adopt a child while living in a studio apartment. For us, as with many people who want to adopt a child, we had to show that we were capable of providing a sound environment for that child. Whereas, almost no one else does. We literally had to be certified to become parents. This is for the protection of the child more than anything else, and these safeguards are not in place for most other roads to parenthood. We had to show financial stability to become parents, while many other families are created without this safety net, this is one area that Prevent Child Abuse America aims to support, to strengthen families!
We had to have a social worker visit and write a report proving that we were worthy of becoming parents. We got letters of testimony from friends and family. Other folks get pregnant in a few minutes, we worked on becoming parents over the course of several years.
Fast forward to the months after the arrival of the baby, we had to have another social worker visit us to write up a final report stating that we were performing well in our role as parents, and the child was safe. Five percent of the parents in America have to go through an approval process, while 95% are not checked on. That is why an organization like PCA America is so important, not everyone has had the practice and instruction on the care of a child, with approval from the court system. Yes, a judge had to give the final OK for us to be parents.
And here is the catch. Prospective adoptive parents in America have to jump through hoops to prove that they can adequately provide for the child, and also maintain a safe environment. Most other paths to parenthood require nothing like this, perhaps if it did, abuse would occur at a much lower rate, but it is completely impractical. Thank goodness for organizations like Prevent Child Abuse America who aim to support at-risk families, and more importantly, prevent abuse and neglect before it happens!
I was 44 and my spouse was 38. We were older parents and suspected our son would be an only child, with no mom, but rather, two dads. We were very conscious of how we wanted to proceed. My brother had three older children at this time, and my spouse’s siblings had children a little younger, with one cousin born two months after our son. We bought a car for the express purpose of being able to raise him in the presence of family every weekend. Grandmothers, aunts, and cousins, we were very conscious about providing a nurturing environment with every base covered for our son. We were blessed to have a large and supportive family to call on for help and support for the emotional well-being of our child. Having years to prepare helped us to map this out. So many families do not have this type of support, thankfully PCAA works hard to provide other avenues for families to receive financial, and also emotional, support!
Did you know that PCA America provides home services for families needing support through its Healthy Families America program? As I stated above, we have had support from our large extended family. We were able to choose to lease a car so that he could see his cousins every weekend while growing up. We had grandparents who visited on the average once a week for his first five years of life. We are the lucky few, and thankfully this agency can help to fill in somewhat to provide this extra support if needed. The Healthy Families America home visiting program from PCA America provides this extra support. It’s time to spread the word so more parents and caregivers can take advantage of this extra layer of support for their family, every extra action can help to prevent child abuse by starting at the core. Frustration leads to short tempers, which can lead to more frustration and possible abuse. PCA America aims to stop that in its tracks. The work starts with the youngest populations so that they can grow up to be productive and happy members of society.
Prevent Child Abuse America has a proven track record of 50 years supporting families and helping to prevent child abuse. Please join me in helping to support this great organization during this month’s Child Abuse Prevention Month, and help our fellow families to check out the resources available!