Friday, February 06, 2009

Kids

I suppose this post is a little more on the personal side (as if all my other ones aren't). It's a touchy subject because I think people tend to get up in arms about it, and it produces a variety of emotions and conflict in folks, myself included. Mainly, it's about the desire for children.

There are very few people I know who don't want kids. In fact, I can count them on one hand. There are four of them; two couples who both made the conscious decision to not have kids. Everyone else I know either has kids or wants them, no matter their age, gender, or sexual persuasion. I think it's safe to say that the desire to raise a child (not necessarily procreate) is a fundamental human desire. It's not present in everyone, but it's present enough.

I'm also not without this desire. I want kids. I want at least one of my own, and the rest of my life's work is to be dedicated to kids. I've been a camp counselor, I'm going to be a teacher, I want to be involved in youth an children ministries in whatever church becomes my home down the line. These things are non-negotiable. I can't imagine my life without young people in it. The only problem, of course, is that I'm a celibate gay man.

Now, that's not a big problem when it comes to the teacher thing. I'll be a teacher no matter what, and nothing except my own failure from college (which, thank God, doesn't seem likely), or my failure to find a job at a school (ha, yeah right), will get in the way of that. When it comes to my potential involvement in church youth groups, my orientation could become a bit of a problem. I want to be open about my sexual struggles with church leaders and my peers, just like I am now, but I don't want those struggles to keep me from serving and assisting with youth. I fear, just based on anecdotal evidence from contacts and friends, that that will happen, and it really scares me. As Peter Ould recently pointed out, there is homophobia in the church, even towards people who are chaste, and it freaks me out when I think something like that could get in the way of doing what I think God has called me to do. I want to be honest and involved, and I don't want to sacrifice one at the hands of the other.

Now, when it comes to adopting on my own, that's when it gets really tricky. Even though I am not and never will be of the idea that having a baby on one's own is somehow a death sentence for a child (as many conservatives like to use in their scare tactics, like this recent Ann Coulter piece), I'm still pretty aware that two parents is probably best. But one parent with a decent paycheck and a lot of devotion is still better than no parents, right? I know a few single dads, and most of them adopted the "unadoptable" (or the older kids who are more likely to get shuffled through foster care, as opposed to the cute international children that are popular nowadays). I'd be willing to do that, and I think I'd be able to do it rather well.

But I'd also want support from my church community if I did that, and the fact that I tend to run in more conservative circles freaks me out a bit (yet again). There is always suspicion around a man wanting to adopt on his own, even among "secular" society. How much worse would it be in a church? I know, that's a horrible thing to ask. Maybe I'm just paranoid, but I do think my fears have merit. It's not that I want everyone to support every decision I make. If I did, I wouldn't have gotten as far in life as I already have. However, I would hope that in any faith community in which I find myself a part, my decisions to have a child on my own would be accepted. Of course, there's still the chance that I'll get married and have kids the good old fashioned way, but right now, this looks like the more likely option.

This brings up a lot of questioning about my desire to have kids in the first place. Some might say that if I'm willing to bring up a child without a mother, then I am harming a child and don't have their best interests at heart. I can understand that point of view, but like I said, when it comes to adoption, I'd be adopting someone without either parent. And also, does any parent really have a child just for the child's sake? I'd think that even among the most Christian parents there's a bit of selfishness in it. Not only do we want to provide a home and bring someone up in the Lord, but we want people to devote our time to, to watch grow just as we have grown, and to hopefully care for us in our older years. And honestly, I don't think those things are wrong. They certainly factor into my reasons, even if they aren't the main one.

I guess it's all just very far away, so I don't really have to worry about it right now. What I do know is that I want to have kids, not only to raise as a father but also as a teacher and mentor. And I don't think such a strong desire can go unfulfilled for me.

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