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.