Ben and Nick adopted their two sons, Sawyer and Harrison, through Adoptions of Wisconsin in 2013 and 2015. Becoming a family of four has challenges in itself. Things that parents often focus on are adapting parenting styles to meet the needs of two children, communicating effectively as a couple and making time for themselves.
Nick and Ben have had the added challenges of being a two-dad family. They opened up about what it's like to be asked, "So who's the mom?" and how they've responded to acquaintances reactions to their family and lifestyle. Written by Ben, he explains his own perspective about adoption, being a two-dad family and overcoming gender stereotypes.
"So you are the mom?
That's a question I get asked a lot by fellow parents, friends, family and casual acquaintances. I used to laugh it off as something funny, but always felt it was brash and lacked tact frankly. I am a gay male who is also a parent to two adorable boys with another man. Does that, then, make it so one of us has to be the mother? It made me think of a few more questions I will dare to answer in this blog. Am I female? Am I trying to take a woman's place or roles? Am I trying to portray the stereotypical attributes of a motherly figure? Does society always feel the need to label or categorize?
First off, no I am not a female. I have never been a female nor do I ever have the desire to be one. I love women and respect them and many of my best friends are female. However, I am not a female. Repeat I am male and I love men. Totally love being a gay male.
Secondly, both my husband and I could never take the place of either of our children's birth mother or father for that matter. How could we? They conceived them and made the ultimate selfless sacrifice to give me the opportunity to parent their child. Not be a mother, but a parent. Obviously I want female role models and influences in my kids lives. They have experiences and knowledge that I certainly don't. Do women and men have to have set roles or responsibilities in parenting? Why? Do we still live in a society where men cannot cook and clean and women can work and have no interest in house work or shopping? I certainly hope we do and that these people aren’t seen as abnormal or “modern day families.” Furthermore, if all males and females and everyone else all were treated equally and didn't come with societal baggage or discrimination would it be as necessary to categorize their roles or choices in parenting? I don't know. That dream is sadly way far off.
Third, we certainly have societal views of what a woman's role in parenting is. A lot of this ties in with my response to question number 2. If by being compassionate, nurturing, loving, and affectionate with my kids that makes me a mom then I hope all parents are moms. Or if that means cooking, cleaning, driving my kids to and from practices or endless doctor's appointments then again I hope all parents are moms.
I know by this point this may seem like a lot of ranting and maybe it is. However, that is because I do feel like society likes to label or categorize us. In order for the majority of society to make sense of same sex parenting one person has to fill a certain role or expectation in people's minds. Society does the same thing to single parents or lesbian parents or any set of parenting situations. Not all of society is a heterosexual married couple living in suburbia with a cat and dog and 2.5 kids. Most of society isn't. Let's stop placing labels on people and just let them be what they want to be. I'm just trying to parent the best that I can. Let's leave it at that."
At Adoptions of Wisconsin, we support LGBTQ+ families in joining our agency programs. We feel that everyone should have the opportunity to parent if that is their desire. We are focused on providing the best adoption services possible and are hopeful that more families like Nick, Ben, Sawyer and Harrison will be created with our assistance. Thank you, Nick and Ben, for reaching out about your experiences and your willingness to help others in similar situations.