Dissent Of The Day

A reader writes:

Like many people, I found your piece on the unique quality of heterosexual marriage very thorough and moving. But I wanted to draw your attention to a perhaps unintended consequence of your words. As a birth mother whose biological daughter was adopted three years ago, I felt stung by the phrase "we...look after our own biological children (and also those abandoned by their biological parents)."

I don't think you intended your words as a slight toward those who become pregnant and chose adoption, but they felt like one. Adopted children have not been abandoned; their birth parents have chosen to entrust them to the care of other people - people who are spiritually, financially, emotionally, and psychologically prepared for the task of parenthood, people who have made the choice to become parents. I have maintained close, warm contact with the parents of the little girl I gave birth to, and know of many cases of gay couples who remain in close, warm contact with the birth mothers of their children (Dan Savage is one such prominent example).

I suspect that you chose the word "abandoned" because it gives the sense that same-sex parents are stepping in where some biological, heterosexual parents have failed, because it strengthens the (true and important) narrative that same-sex marriage is actually a pro-family choice while pointing out that heterosexual coupling is both flawed and sometimes unreliable. But to me it seems vitally important that many birth mothers made a conscious, deliberate decision to place their biological offspring in the care of a same-sex couple. To discount that choice and what it means by calling these children "abandoned" is insensitive and misguided.