Illustration: Gloria Maximo
Illustration: Gloria Maximo
Chris Buchner reflects upon the tenuous odds behind the making of a modern family, in his inspiring memoir of adoption for Kid-in.
I had always wanted a child. Growing up gay, however, I’d already mourned then accepted the fact that I’d likely never be a parent. Then in 1996, same-sex adoption became legal in British Columbia. Suddenly, parenthood was a possibility.
My brother is gay. He and his partner were the first same-sex adoptive parents in the Province of Manitoba. Witnessing first-hand how adoption worked for them, I became determined to give it a go.
In BC, adoption takes two routes: the Ministry of Children and Families (child protection) and private not-for-profit adoption (relinquished babies). We applied through the MCFD because it jived with our values; stepping in to raise a baby that someone in our community cannot.
The process has multiple steps: you fill out an application, take eight weeks of training, complete an intensive home study with a social worker, then a criminal record check, health check, reference check. Then, you wait.
After one potential match that didn’t work out, our social worker told us of a newborn baby relinquished by his teenage mother. Despite the unfavorable odds (two-hundred families applied) we asked to have our names added to the list.
Five days later, we met the birth mother and grandmother. That was the highest stakes interview of our lives. We spoke for thirty minutes, then left, sick with hope. Fifteen minutes later, we got a call from our social worker. They had chosen us.
We went the next night to meet our two week-old son. I still remember laying eyes on him for the first time, picking him up, holding him in my arms. The following two weeks that we visited and the several months after Lukas was home were the most intense and joyous moments of my life.
I do not believe in fate. But, someone we had met for only thirty minutes chose Todd and me to raise her infant son. I’m still overwhelmed by the fragile combination of good fortune and serendipity upon which the most significant event of my life depends.
That was March 2009. Lukas turns three this year. He’s trained in the science of potty and obsessed with his drum set, as well as: jelly beans, the barber, dance parties, swimming, airplanes, motorbikes, singing Edelweiss, skating, juice, and determining whether everyone around him is “happy”.
We’re having his third birthday party, and guests will include long-time friends as well as neighbors. I don’t know what it’s like in the States, but if you can make it through high school, it’s good to be gay in Canada.
We’ve never experienced discrimination or overt homophobia – and today Lukas proudly announces, “I have TWO daddies”, as if he were bragging about having two cupcakes.
It’s our job to ensure that he always feels proud of his family and that love and a sense of safety get him through tough times. My mom is a lesbian. I know from experience that support, laughter and self-esteem help kids cruise through all sorts of adversity.