Who gains when right to adopt is denied?
By Craig Wilson
By Craig Wilson
I have a new neighbor. She moved in last week. Her name is Josephina, but everyone on the block already calls her Josie.
I don't know a lot about her. She hasn't shared much yet. But she has a great laugh, which is better than anything she could say.
She especially likes it when I put her bare foot in my mouth. It drives her crazy, in fact, sending her into fits of laughter. Hiccups, even. I'm not surprised. Most everyone seems to enjoy that little trick of mine.
Josie is 10 months old (a Leo, so there's trouble ahead) and came to play among us from Guatemala.
Her new single mom spent most of the winter with her there, waiting for all the paperwork to be completed and the adoption to be approved. It took five months.
Josie moves more quickly. She has adapted to her new life here with ease. Strolls in the park with her already-protective dog, Jake. Stoop-sitting with the neighbors at dusk. Snacks of whole-wheat Cheerios with Mom.
It will be fun to watch her grow up. Like Ben, another young neighbor who once lived next door, I suspect Josie, too, will appear regularly at our kitchen window.
"What's up?" Ben used to ask.
Translation: "Do you have any cookies in there?"
Every time I see Josie, I can't help but wonder what her life would have been like if she hadn't been adopted, if she had been left to grow up in a Guatemalan orphanage. Who would she have become?
I thought the same thing when we visited an orphanage in Ethiopia in February. We stopped by to drop off items from a neighbor who had adopted her son there last year.
Dozens of children surrounded us, the boys playing kickball in the courtyard, the girls giggling at the foreigners in their midst.
Then one girl, 10 or so, asked the woman who was giving us a tour of the property whether we were her "family" who had come to take her home.
I had to turn away when the guide translated what she had just said. I almost lost it.
But what struck me was that she didn't ask whether we were her new all-American, Leave It to Beaver parents. She just asked whether we were her "family." It didn't seem to matter to her that standing before her were two balding, middle-aged gay men.
I would have taken her home on the spot. I would have taken them all home.
Easier said than done, of course.
Florida already bans all adoptions by gays. Ohio was the first state this year to introduce such a bill, but seven states filed similar measures last year. And a half-dozen more are expected to follow suit.
Some people, including John Joanette of Indiana Equality, which is fighting a proposed ban on gay adoption in that state, say such legislation could be interpreted more broadly — to include unmarried couples and even singles.
"It's slippery-slope stuff," he says. "This is very intended."
If so, the Josies of the world wouldn't get moms, the single moms of the world wouldn't get Josies, and I wouldn't get a little brown face peering in my kitchen window every morning.
Seems to me a losing proposition all around.