Whose Family Values Are They, Anyway? Happy Adoption Day!

I wrote this post almost four years ago. In that four-year time, gay marriage has become law in almost half the states in the Union and yesterday Tylenol ran a new ad that celebrated all the different types of families you can imagine — including some that look like mine.  To celebrate #HowWeFamily, here’s this post again…

My extended family will officially, legally, extend by one more person today, August 29.

My brother is going to become a father.

It’s very exciting and my mom has gone out west to join him for the big day.  They’ll meet at the courthouse where the papers will be finalized and then they’ll go out to lunch: my brother, my mom, my now-official nephew, his mother, and a few assorted other relatives.

It’s an event that would make Michelle Bachmann’s well-groomed toes curl in horror and make all of Rick Perry’s hair stand up straight (Michelle’s would stand up straight, too, except she uses too much hairspray. Come to think of it, maybe Rick does too).  In fact, my brother is pissing off the entire cohort of the Far Right today, with one simple action.

My single gay brother is legally adopting his biological offspring, the result of a single woman’s trip to a sperm bank some fifteen years ago.

Let’s back up, shall we? A long time ago, way back in the 20th century, my brother entered a management training program. He was fresh out of college and dazzled by the fat paycheck: he hung out in bars, drove a fast car, and was bored out of his gourd. “Look,” he said to me one night, “I like music, cars, and movies. I’m moving to LA.”

And he did. Maybe he quit the management training program, maybe he was—ahem—asked to leave; the details have always been a tad fuzzy.

But off he went, to LaLa Land, intent on making his fortune in The Biz. He didn’t want to act (sensible child); he wanted to be like Mike Ovitz–a player–so he started, where so many others have started before him, in the mail room of a talent agency.

In the mail room, meaning he was pretty much broke. He drove to work in a VW convertible bug that, while adorable, had all the speed and handling ability of a John Deere riding lawnmower, plus the pesky little problem of being unable to pass the emissions test, so it couldn’t be parked on the street for more than an hour or so.

Broke. What’s a guy to do if he needs a little extra cashaloola?  Yep. Make a deposit. Each desposit: fifty bucks.

And let’s be clear: my brother is chromosomal gold, people, chromosomal gold: smart, funny, handsome, athletic, well-educated, kind.

Flash forward ten years or so: my lovely brother has become…well, he’s a player. Drives a Porsche (handles better than the VW lawn mower and passes the emissions test with flying colors). Lives in the Hollywood Hills. Does deals. Has a BlackBerry, takes meetings, rolls umpteen-zillion calls a day.

Plus he’s still really a nice guy, with eyelashes so long they sometimes sweep against the inside of his sunglasses. You’d think maybe either of his sister would’ve gotten those eyelashes but noooo….he got’em.

So one day my long-lashed brother is flipping through GQ and comes across an article written by a man who, in his youth, had made a LOT of donations to a sperm bank, and is now tempted by something called the Donor Sibling Registry, which helps the “donor conceived” get in touch with other possible siblings and/or with the donor him or herself (the DSR is for recipients of egg donations, sperm donations, etc).

Hmm…thinks my brother and clicks over to the DSR himself. Whereupon he finds…a message querying his donor information from a boy and his (still single) mother.

Flash forward again, a few months later: my brother flies to off to meet the boy and his mother.  Brother says that if the woman had a partner, he wouldn’t have gotten involved, but she doesn’t so he did.

And fell in love. With this boy, whose smile lights up the room; who plays the piano beautifully (like our grandfather!); who loves to skateboard (okay, not our side of the family); who is gentle and kind and has long, long eyelashes.

Nephew came to our family holidays and family reunions; he and my brother see each other maybe once a month or so.  My brother flies him to LA or flies out to his city—he was there for 8th grade graduation, for the big piano recital, for birthdays.  No, my bro didn’t weather the 4AM feedings or the tantrums of a three-year old, but he has become a firm part of N.’s life and today he’s making sure that N. knows he’ll be there forever.  N. isn’t leaving his mother or the city where he lives, but this legal step gives N. a guardian if god forbid something should happen to his mom, makes him my brother’s legal heir, establishes clearly N.’s paternity.

I know these high-tech birth stories don’t always end so happily, just as they don’t all look like “The Kids Are All Right,” either.  It would’ve been easy for my brother to have ignored the listing in DSR four years ago, or to have decided that hell no, he didn’t want a teen-age boy in his life.  He’s chosen the more difficult path and I wonder how on earth anyone could find fault with his decision. Isn’t my brother seeking out and embracing “family?” Shouldn’t that make the party of “family values” really happy? Shouldn’t the Bachmanns, the Perrys, the Palins, be celebrating this extension of family, instead of seeing my brother as some lesser minion of Satan? How can a simple declaration of love make people so afraid that they spit venom?

In one sense, nothing will change after the adoption ceremony: my brother will fly back to LA, rolling calls the entire way; Nephew will go back to high school, piano lessons, and the skate park; my mom will go back to Indiana.

Nothing will have change and yet, everything will have changed.  Our family grew today and no one can take that away.

photo: my brother dressed for his high school prom, back in the day. Dapper even before he’d come out of the closet. We should’ve known!

This post from the archives is my submission in the final round of freefringes lovelinks contest. The winner of the contest gets a blog button for an entire month on the website of the brilliant, profane, fearless, hysterically funny Bloggess, courtesy of the amazing Erica at freefringes.  You get one vote…and obviously my ENTIRE FAMILY hopes you’ll vote for me (not to put too much pressure on you or anything), but if you don’t like this post, then click around and read some of the other posts and, if you must, cast your vote in their direction.  And even if you can’t vote at ALL because you’re like the human equivalent of Switzerland or something, you should come back to lovelinks every week and see who’s posted what.

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30 Responses to Whose Family Values Are They, Anyway? Happy Adoption Day!

  1. Jeanellen August 29, 2011 at 1:53 pm #

    This story made me tear up and my heart grew three sizes today. I always knew your family would be amazing.

  2. Susan williams August 29, 2011 at 11:12 pm #

    Deborah, you have so beautifully captured the momentous magic of today’s adoption…and you were not even there! We felt your love, though, all the way from Abu Dhabi. And, yes, it was a day to make a mom uber proud of her son…and her “new” grandson.

  3. Alexandra August 29, 2011 at 11:53 pm #


    What a tremendous story.

    This, right here, I love it.

    My heart burst at the love I already heard in your description of your nephew, playing piano.

    This is exciting.

    Tremendous slice of life post, and thank you.

  4. Stasha August 30, 2011 at 4:12 am #

    Congratulation Aunt Deb! Thank you for sharing this, just another little gem that made my day happy.
    BTW what did you think of The Kids are all right?

  5. marilynn August 30, 2011 at 2:04 pm #

    Family Scholars linked to this story. I help people like him find their kids. This is THE BEST STORY I EVER READ OMG! OMG.

  6. The Flying Chalupa August 30, 2011 at 7:12 pm #

    Wow – that is one HELLUVA story. So exciting and wonderful. Family can be defined in many ways and that will always be a GOOD thing.

    Congrats to your bro.

  7. Robin August 31, 2011 at 5:14 am #

    Wow, did he find any other offspring? Of not, I’m sure there is more than one! And, I have heard of the DSR and I just think it is a wonderful website, connecting biological families 🙂

  8. Lady Jennie August 31, 2011 at 1:35 pm #

    All I can say is COOL!!!!!!!!

  9. KSB September 1, 2011 at 9:12 pm #

    Wow, congratulations to your brother and your entire family! I’m so happy to hear this love story!

  10. sarah September 12, 2011 at 1:37 pm #

    Really enjoyed this. Thank you for sharing your brother’s story. There is no one way to make a family, except love. Glad your nephew has such a cool family!

  11. Kati September 12, 2011 at 8:30 pm #

    I think this is AWESOME! It makes my heart warm!

  12. Erica M October 2, 2011 at 10:25 am #

    I’m mushy again. I hate you. 🙂

  13. Alison@Mama Wants This October 4, 2011 at 5:32 am #

    I love this post. I love the sentiment in it. Your brother, your family – just amazing. Congratulations on the new addition!

  14. Jamie October 4, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

    What a story!!! I love hearing things like this, makes my heart happy!

    Good luck on lovelinks this week!

  15. XLMIC October 4, 2011 at 1:58 pm #

    Your brother is the coolest. And his son is so blessed to have such a father now in his life. To heck with the haters and the naysayers… love is love and family is beautiful. Great post… thanks so much for sharing this story 🙂

  16. Ado October 4, 2011 at 5:03 pm #

    Words escape me on this one – what a whopper of a good post.

  17. Carina October 4, 2011 at 6:58 pm #

    A lovely post about family and love and getting those family values out there. I’m with you – the world at large should be happy for this extending of family. In the past 7 or 8 years I’ve been extending my own family and it’s been a wonderful process. I love your story here.

  18. Ms. G October 5, 2011 at 2:27 pm #

    I think that it’s wonderful that they found each other! A loving family can come in any form and everyone deserves one.

  19. Danielle October 5, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

    What an AMAZING story! May not be “traditional” but still 100% a family, a family that works for them. Wonderful!!

  20. Kid Id October 6, 2011 at 8:02 pm #

    What an amazing story! What an amazing brother you have and a lucky nephew.

  21. Marinka October 10, 2011 at 9:26 am #

    I love everything about this. Especially the long eyelashes. I mean, the heartfelt telling. Congratulations on the growth of your family. Bachmann and Perry don’t know what they’re missing.

  22. kristin @mondayswithmac May 3, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

    Wow! What an amazing story!!! Thank-you so much for sharing it.
    kristin @mondayswithmac recently posted..Postcards from Parenthood Blog Carnival is LiveMy Profile

    • Deborah Quinn May 4, 2012 at 8:40 pm #

      not as amazing as yours – but a nice complement, I thought. thanks for stopping by (and sorry for doing the “look at my link” thing on your blog, but I just thought in this instance it made sense : )

  23. Lisa Weinstein May 4, 2012 at 4:58 am #

    This was such a wonderful, happy, positive story!! Yay for your brother!!! And thanks so much for sharing!!!
    Lisa Weinstein

    • Deborah Quinn May 4, 2012 at 8:37 pm #

      thank you for stopping by – yes, it was a very, very happy day for all of us. And a happy ending to a story that isn’t always happy, in other contexts. I am so proud of my bro – and love my nephew to bits.

  24. erin margolin August 15, 2012 at 5:25 pm #

    I love this and am going to link to it on the Gay Dad Project FB page! and will tweet, too!

    • Deborah Quinn August 15, 2012 at 11:18 pm #

      hey thanks–I’m glad you like it. your project sounds fantastic – what a good idea. i imagine there are a lot of kids out there (grown and not-grown), for whom “heather has two mommies” just ain’t gonna cut it. yay team gay dad.

  25. Karen July 21, 2015 at 4:48 pm #

    Hi Deborah, I’ve finally settled in AD and am trying to get my act together. This is the first thing I’ve read today and it’s so lovely and heart-warming! I love a personal story that gives hope in a world where more often that not, you read about disaster and suffering. So thanks for sharing and brightening my day with a great big ‘Awwwww’ and Happy Adoption Day to you and your family!
    Karen recently posted..Settling In – Our New CityMy Profile

  26. Joanna @ kids activities dubai August 5, 2015 at 2:39 pm #

    I believe that adopting is no more different than having a child of your own. Everyone deserves a love that’s sincere and heartfelt. This entry proves that!


  1. Here’s a new twist « Family Scholars - August 30, 2011

    […] MaNNaHaTTaMaMMa Blog My single gay brother is legally adopting his biological offspring, the result of a single woman’s trip to a sperm bank some fifteen years ago. […]

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