My nephew Chance turned one years old a few days ago. I cannot help but think back to last year when my sister and I were preparing for our hospital stay. Chance was a surprise, a sweet and much welcomed surprise, but a surprise no less. Things were a bit rough for my sister, a lot of financial worries. When my sister asked me to be her coach and help deliver Chance, I said “yes.”
The nurses knew that I was her sister. Now, that I have had a year to process it, I have put myself in the place of a LGBT parent. Would the hospital have treated me any differently if they thought I had been my sister’s gay partner? Would I have been able to sleep in the cot next to her, waiting for little Chance to arrive?
The challenges of gay parents
LGBT parents are not always accepted by hospitals or given fair treatment. Some LGBT parents struggle more after a child is born. Hospitals have denied treatment to children of gay parents. Some doctors will not take on gay parents and their kids as patients.
Then, there are those formative years. While things have improved for gay parents under President Barack Obama, there are still issues. Children of gay parents still get bullied and currently, LGBT parents cannot serve as Boy Scout leaders, their kids also experiencing discrimination at times.
What if the hospital knew that I was gay? Would it have made a difference? I wonder if I would have experienced an air of coldness from the nurses.
Caring for a newborn is a challenge, something I discovered during the first three months of Chance’s life. His digestive system took a bit longer to adjust, which meant much crying at times. How much harder is it for gay parents, who have the stress of a newborn baby and outside discrimination and pressures?
It takes a village to raise a child
“It takes a village to raise a child,” said Hillary Clinton at the National Democratic Convention in 1996.
Many gay parents work harder to find this “village,” researching gay friendly doctors, churches, and support groups. While the ultimate reward of belonging and family support is worth the effort, it can be draining. Some LGBT parents have also lost support of friends of family who do not approve of their sexual orientation or decision to start a family.
Nobody who is fit to be parent, gay, straight, or transgender, should be robbed of the chance to raise a child. Whether it is via birth, adoption, or foster care, we all deserve an equal shot at parenting.
My mother loved to tell me the story of my birth on my birthday. She said that when she first looked at me, she saw God’s face in mine. When Chance first arrived into this world and I saw his sweet face and red hair, I finally understand what my mother meant.
Even as aunt, I could see a power greater than me, as well as my hopes for Chance’s happy life, his journey just beginning. Happy birthday, Chance.