Wednesday, June 28, 2006

David's Story Part 24: Reflecting on David's Decision

Rossecorp who makes me feel loved and appreciated by commenting here often (I reallly like comments) recently wrote a post about David's decision to separate from his brothers. It is also a comment about the social workers willingness to accept it.

My initial reaction was both admiration of David for being willing to do that, and anger at the world that it should make sense for him to do it. Unlike Rossecorp it never occured to me that the social workers should have fought that decision.

I don't know if anyone tried to talk him out of it. I don't know if anyone recognized the complexity of the problem and told him that they would look for a family that would really take care of his younger brothers so that he did not have to, and love him too. Certainly there was no documentation in his file of that being an issue. Just the note that they were put up separately but with notes that adoptive parents should work to keep the kids in contact with each other. I did not meet him until after his brothers had been placed in an adoptive home and David had been accepted into my agency.

Though the notation in the file was clear, if you asked David at that time what he felt about being separated he would tell you that he was relieved, that he had taken care of his brothers all his life and it felt good to just be a teenager.

I do understand Rossecorp's anger though. I remember when I first started caring for Carl and it would make me so angry when people who said things like, "He is so lucky to have found you." When Carl was giving us a little grief early on a social worker, who happens to be gay, told him, "This family is a gift from God. You know that, right? We don't have another one like them."

The problem with these comments can be seen using Rossecorps analogy. Would anyone tell a biracial child that he should be grateful that they finally found the one white foster family in the area that would treat him like a human?

Things do seem to be getting better though. Hubby was asked to represent PFLAG at a conference for state social workers a year and a half ago where they were all told that failing to be accepting and affirming of gay kids could result in losing their licenses. A friend of mine was told by a director of a private group home that contracts with the state, that he was unwelcome on the property. The director was told by the state that he had to reverse his policy on homosexual foster parents or lose all of his state contracts. Foster parents, at least at my agency, that homosexuality is on the non-discrimination policy they all have to sign.

So it is looking up, at least at the policy level.

I hope this post does not sound like I am trying to argue with anything that Rossecorp has to say. I actually agree and her post brought up all the feelings of outrage and sadness I had not felt for a long time.

I survive on hope. I lobby the legislators. I write the letters. I go to PLFAG meetings. I take every opportunity I have to educate. Sometimes I get angry and want to cry. Sometimes I do cry.

I also see more and more out gay kids. When Carl came out, he was the only one at the high school. David was cheerful, out and well-liked and other kids followed him out of the closet and into the world. Evan went to the high school and found other out kids already there, some of which had followed David out the year before.

So I see a gradual improvement for my boys, even in Our Small Town in this reddest of the red states.

David's Story Part 1: The Beginning
David's Story Part 25: David's New Counselor

2 comments:

  1. Both your post and Rossecorp's are very interesting to me.

    Sometimes I get tired of being thankful for having supportive family and accepting friends. Does everyone else feel so blessed that they haven't been harrassed in a while? I hate that I'm aware of it and that I am actively thankful of it. Sometimes I wish it was easier.

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  2. Sarah8:31 PM

    Putting myself in that social worker's shoes, what a tough decision to make. Rossecorp is right - by agreeing to the split they were at some level affirming the fact that David is unwanted. Those types of messages matter, especially when they are coming from one of the few allies he had. And it's unfair and unreasonble that he has to live in a world where this is even an issue. And so maybe the social worker should have held out, argued against the split, looked harder for the right family.

    On the other hand, David was right. It is an issue, however much we wish it wasn't. If the social worker had refused to split them, maybe the right family would have been found - but if they weren't, wouldn't the waiting and hoping confirm to David that he was unwanted just as much as the social worker agreeing to the split did?

    I guess the other thought I had is that there are other reasons for being nervous about parenting a gay teen besides homophobia, just as there are other reasons for choosing not to adopt transracially besides racism. Which is not to deny that both homophobia and racism exist, and are huge problems - Beth, you are constantly making me appreciate my very blue region. But I'm not sure I'd argue that every family who chose not to take David was not treating him like a valuable human being.

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