A mother, who wishes to remain anonymous, reflects on her experience of coming to cherish her adopted son and struggling with the hard reality of life.
As I navigated the crowded city streets half a world from home, my backpack held most precious cargo—a one-year-old child. We were waiting for governments to declare would be my son. We made a fairly unusual sight in that part of the world—white woman, brown baby. A local man, probably in his early 20s, stopped to ask about our story. Years later, I remember little of the conversation except the sentence: “This will be a great man.”
Even then, I took the words to be a blessing. It had been a difficult trip, a strenuous process, and many obstacles remained before my baby and I would be able to board the plane for home. Those words gave me a handhold along the journey of unknowns. As in the encounter of Simeon with Mary, whose own baby was born into the most difficult of circumstances, I believed the Holy Spirit spoke through this man, promising better days to come if I would just hang on.
And like Mary, I didn’t realize how much I would need the promise. As the years have gone by, another reality has been revealed: My son is gay.
I have known it since he was hardly past toddler-hood. He himself expressed it as boyhood met the threshold of manhood and self-realization dawned.
There is no need to describe signs and symptoms, no purpose in wrestling with the reasons why—although I have. The present is what must be dealt with, the flesh and blood and heartbeat that are my beloved son.
In a world where sexual identity has become an issue wrought with political, theological, and ideological overtones, my husband and I have faced the challenge of raising this creative, intelligent, wounded, vulnerable child to fulfill the words spoken to me more than a decade ago—words I continue to believe with all my heart. In the light of present circumstances, there is only one kind of greatness I care about for him. I want my son to love God and to know how much God loves him.
But this is no simple proposition in a conflicted and contradictory world. The world abandoned my son at birth and is abandoning him now. On one side homosexuality is couched in threatening, alienating terms while on the other, more accepting front, the accompanying lifestyle often seems welcomed with abandon. For the most part, “solutions” are parried about in very simplistic terms that don’t account for practical or spiritual realities.
I struggle with sin, as do my husband, my other children, my family and friends—bad tempers, lousy appetites, a desire for things we shouldn’t have, even marital unfaithfulness. But my son struggles with his very personhood. The line demarcated in the Garden of Eden between man and woman, the very definition of masculinity and femininity are confused—whether by environment or genetics or, more likely, according to recent research, a combination of both. At a time in life when every human being struggles to come to terms with his or her identity, my son knows and feels at some level—reinforced by the cacophony of argument and vehemence around him—that he simply doesn’t fit, that his identity is wrong.
And, can I be honest here? Can we all please, at least for a moment, be honest? As a parent, a believer in the Word and—I pray each day—a child of God, I don’t have the answers. When you see someone you love so much and in whom you have invested so much of yourself struggle with a fate you don’t understand; when you hear the voices of those who dismiss a circumstance few would choose as “choice” and categorically write off God’s sons and daughters as abused, deviant profligates, it turns “truth” on its head and raises serious questions about the voices speaking it. At the same time, we live in a world that is being destroyed by lawlessness and unholy human desire. More to the point, I see the struggle, the alienation, the sorrow my son experiences within his own heart and mind, outside of these external pressures. And I have come to believe that no declaration of affinity or lifestyle choice can truly set him free.
I have reached out to ministries and received well meaning but often hurtful or even what I believe to be harmful direction. While I do not have easy answers, I have seen first-hand that the “cure” can be worse than the disease. I have wept and prayed and carried on innumerable conversations with my husband about what this all means. In the end, the only place of peace I’ve found is in trusting my son’s future to my friend and his, Jesus.
Intimacy does not come easily for my son. But one day, shortly after his recent baptism, I sensed he was struggling with the idea that his feelings and perspectives had not magically changed after being lowered into the water. I also knew, that as he grows older, he will encounter the dismissive and unaccepting attitudes of those who don’t understand—who have not had the reality check life has delivered us. So I took him into a room alone and explained to him that, no matter what happened, home would always be a safe place for him, that daddy and I would always love him and that God felt even more that way than we did. Then I hugged him, for a very long time. His eyes filled with tears, and he did not pull away.
“This will be a great man”—because ours is a great God.
Image: Icon "Sretenie" (Anunciation Cathedral, Moscow)
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/5349