RavenKaldera.org » Gender & Sexual Activism

Book Review
Fatherhood for Gay Men: An Emotional and Practical Guide to Becoming a Gay Dad

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By Kevin McGarry, Haworth Press, 2003
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Review by Raven Kaldera

This is one of the best books that Haworth Press has ever sent me to review. Author Kevin McGarry has built a slim but information-packed book whose time has definitely come: the definitive guide to adopting children if you're a gay man or a gay couple. As a queer parent myself, I could relate to his worries about whether he was truly entitled to be a parent, especially a single one, and his decision to take on the adoption of two children in spite of cultural bias.

McGarry adopted his two sons overseas in Vietnam - one of the issues he covers is that of dealing with the bigotry of outsiders and relatives when your adopted children are of a different race - and he allows us into his journal entries for the emotional overseas trips to obtain them. He discusses frankly the benefits and drawbacks to overseas adoptions (cultural biases and national laws against gay people, bribes, high in-country fees, baby-selling, multiple airline flight fares, bad water, dishonest medical reports, and recalcitrant, unhelpful officials) as compared to domestic adoptions (cultural biases and state laws against gay people, birth parent problems, and recalcitrant, unhelpful officials). He also covers such sensitive issues as surrogacy and co- parenting, and walks the reader through homestudy questions and estimation of costs.

Indeed, the thoroughness of the resources in this book was one of the most impressive things about it. They include an appendix of useful websites and listservs for the potential gay adoptive parent, and a state-by-state guide to the legalities of single gay adoption and gay second- parent adoption across the country. However, even through the practical no-nonsense issues of resources and jumping roadblocks, the one sustained note of McGarry's writing is the unswerving conviction that queerfolk are wholly worthy of being parents, and that no one's sexual preference should hold them back from the joy of raising children when that urge is a definite part of their character. It's a note of hope in a grey landscape, and a gift for those in the queer community who are not just resorting to an ephemeral partying lifestyle or accepting the Norman Rockwell biases of the rest of the world, but who are trying to develop a code of real family values based in acceptance and loving bonds between any combination of people.