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November 24, 2003

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Two Men And A Baby
I was thrilled to see your cover story on the gay baby boom [“Gay With Children,” by David Usborne, November 3], with happy parents and children spilling from every page. But your readers should know that the road to parenting for gay people is not without its perils. There are many fertility clinics, sperm banks, adoption agencies, and social workers who refuse to work with gay couples. Our adoption agency, once we found one that would work with us, was adamant that any discussion of us as a gay couple had to be done on the phone—no e-mail, no correspondence, no paper trail. So when you see those happy gay couples with their beautiful, smiling children, tip your hat to them. They really wanted those kids, and they no doubt jumped through a lot of hoops to get them.
—Roseann Henry, Bayside

Lowering The Boom
I was confounded by “Gay With Children.” That a few well-heeled gay couples decide to share their wealth is not to say that a baby-adoption boom is under way in the gay community.
—Gray Douglas, Manhattan

How The Other Half Lives
While “Gay With Children” captures the experiences of a unique group of men and women who are forming and maintaining families, I invite you to also consider how working- and middle-class black and Latina gay women are searching for and experiencing family life. They live in communities like the South Bronx, Harlem, and Bedford-Stuyvesant, where their identities as gay people are not displayed as outwardly as those who live in Chelsea or Greenwich Village. They are solidly employed but cannot afford to vacation in East Hampton or send their children to elite private schools. Instead, they spend a great deal of time worrying about getting their children into decent public schools and keeping them safe from the dangers in their neighborhoods.
—Mignon R. Moore, Manhattan

Profiles In Wealth
As Michelangelo Signorile correctly points out, having kids is often a “luxury, not a mandate” for many gays and lesbians. David Usborne’s story would have benefited from some economic diversity, perhaps by profiling a gay dad who has to work two jobs to support his child, or a lesbian mom who manages to care for her baby without the help of a nanny or au pair. The only thing that “Gay With Children” illustrates is that rich gays and lesbians now feel comfortable enough to be every bit as obnoxious and self-involved as the straight couples who shuttle their kids from private Manhattan schools to their Hamptons beach houses. This is progress?
—Lisa Tuntigian, Astoria

Fostering Family
I was so pleased to read “Gay With Children.” I only wish Mr. Usborne had interviewed those of us who have decided to become parents through the foster-care system. My partner and I first got the ball rolling in March 2002. After a three-month training program, background checks, home inspections, and a lot of waiting, we were finally approved as a foster boarding home in the spring of 2003. More waiting. Were we being denied because we were a gay couple? As we began to settle into the belief that maybe this would not work, the phone call came. “We have an infant girl who was exposed to . . .” It did not matter. We went to the hospital that weekend, spent a few hours with her, fed her, looked at her, and envisioned our new life with her. She is still with us, and is now 4 months old. We hope and pray daily, as do our friends and family, that she will be ours permanently. She has touched our world in a way that cannot be put into words.
—Jeff Robinson, Plainfield, N.J.

Queer Questions
What about gay parenting outside New York City? Sure, here everybody pretty much accepts one another, but is this the only city with this new trend? How is it different in the rest of America? It struck me that many of the parents mentioned in the article had children because they couldn’t face a life without them. But what about the hardships their children will face because they have gay parents?
—Katherine Dudina, Manhattan

Virtually Normal
We are the second wave of the gay-adoption revolution. We don’t live in Chelsea and we’ve never been to Fire Island. We live in middle-class Stuyvesant Town and weekend with our extended families in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey. We are the only gay couple with a child that any of our family, friends, and neighbors know, and we have encountered nothing but support from all these people.
—Mitchell Adam, Manhattan

China Girl
Did Tony Traxler ever stop to think how his admission of lying to Chinese authorities about his sexual orientation in an affidavit might affect the opportunities of others, gay and straight, to deal with that government? Or was it more important for him to legitimize his experience by seeing it in print?
—Ron Halper, Manhattan

New Traditionalists
I am a transplanted New Yorker now living just outside Philadelphia. I am divorced, in my fifties, the mother of a son and a daughter, both of whom are married and successful. I am also in a relationship with my female partner of over thirteen years, and we are raising our 5-year- old daughter together. My older children’s spouses are Emily’s godmother and godfather, and she was a flower girl at each of their weddings last year. Although we are without the option of marriage or the advantage of domestic-partner benefits, we mirror more conventional families’ commitment and daily lifestyle. Are we cutting-edge, or just a new version of traditional?
—Barbara H. Kase, Narberth, PA.

The Parenting Trap
I applaud the normalization of child rearing in the gay community, particularly among gay men. However, I caution new fathers not to underestimate the gravitas of a twenty-year parenting commitment, and I sincerely hope that parenting doesn’t become the newest form of one-upmanship in the gay community.
—Jim Sullivan, Manhattan

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