Thursday, January 15, 2009
WHO IS HURT BY THIS?
Every year the controversy over same sex marriage and gay adoptions make headlines. With the gay marriage ban in California protests are being held nation wide. Below is a story that comes from the Burlington Post. This couple has been together for almost 18 years and are demonstrating a committment that is present in precious few heterosexual relationships - so what's the problem?
TO ORIGINAL STORY
Halton couple shares adoption success story
Same-sex partners adopt three siblings out of foster care
Melanie Cummings, Special To Burlington Post
Published on Jan 11, 2009
Yo Mustafa and Paul Groulx went from zero to three children in a matter of six months.
The adoptive parents’ days are now filled with the stuff of most attentive, loving parents: meals, laundry, chauffeuring, overseeing homework and chores amid feelings of worry, joy, frustration and laughter. And all of this is followed by a general weariness that comes from a full day of activity.
Their three boys, Adam, 13, and 11-year-old twins James and Matthew (not their real names) Groulx-Mustafa are absorbed in sports, arts, playing with friends and a myriad of other interests typical for their age.
For Yo and Paul, their previous life of dining out daily and free time outside of work spent relaxing or socializing has been replaced by kid-focused errands, parent-teacher interviews, soccer game schedules and daily dinner time chats at home.
In fact, friends and family were more worried that Yo and Paul would be unable to take on the role of parenting because of their extroverted ways, not because they are a same-sex couple raising children.
Both say that when they made their vows to each other in a Quaker-style commitment ceremony back on July 21, 1991 — two years after they had met — becoming parents was a mutual goal.
Four years ago that dream came true. Back in July 2003 the pair started their search by attending an Adoption Council of Ontario information evening. The council is a non-profit collective of the adoption community, such as children’s aid societies.
The two men had no preference for age or gender prior to their search, which is another way their story smashes the myths surrounding adoption in so many ways. Older children do need and want adoptive families and all types of people are eligible to adopt, from single adults to families with children, to same-sex couples.
Mustafa and Groulx’s only stipulations were to adopt within Canada.
“International adoption was wrong for us,” said Yo. And while each could adopt as a single dad, neither Paul nor Yo were keen on going that route either. They preferred to adopt as a duo.
When confronted with the breadth of the need at that information evening, “I was an emotional mess,” said Yo. Currently, there are more than 2,500 children legally available for adoption in Ontario. Left to search through a bevy of booths detailing heartwrenching stories of the province’s youngest citizens, Paul continued on and found the three brothers.
It was neglect that brought Adam, James and Matthew into the care of Children’s Aid. At the time, Adam was six years old and the twins 3-1/2. They were in foster care two years before they came to Paul and Yo’s attention.
To expedite the average two-year wait for the Halton CAS to do a home study for two years, the prospective parents hired a private practitioner footing the $2,000-$3,000 expense. Over six weeks the social worker interviewed the couple — four times together and each separately — probing Paul and Yo’s financial, medical and physical states. Each had to get a police background check done and provide adoption authorities with seven reference letters.
The pair also attended a three-day parenting workshop learning about setting limits, attachment and issues faced by children from institutional and foster homes. No matter how many workshops they attended, preparing for life with a three-dimensional child in the house was a different story, said Paul.
“It was an emotional roller coaster,” said Yo.
Nevertheless, the hard work paid off. Paul and Yo were given the nod for multiple adoptions. They sent their application for the three boys to Sudbury and one week later were on their way to the Northern Ontario city.
“We made a five-hour trip in record time,” said Yo of their shared excitement and anxiety about meeting the boys they had seen only in photos. The first meeting went well. Paul brought a photo album of their pets, nieces and nephews to give the boys a glimpse of the lives he and Yo had built together. While the twins James and Matthew were amenable to them, the eldest, Adam, expressed reservations. His questions of these two strangers were simple and direct. He asked Paul and Yo, ‘Are you gay?’, ‘Do you love each other?’ and ‘Who would be the stay-at-home parent?’ To the first two Paul and Yo replied with a firm, truthful and obviously convincing ‘Yes’. To the third question, Yo assured that he would design his work schedule around their school life, working only between 9 a. m. and 3 p. m. Adam gave his resounding approval by replying, ‘Cool’.
After that initial introduction, Paul and Yo were speechless and unable to sleep that night. “We were so emotionally, physically and mentally exhausted,” said Yo. They stayed the weekend, taking the kids to lunch and a movie, playing games and chatting. “It felt like the most natural arrangement. We loved it,” said Paul. By Sunday dinner even the foster mom had given her blessing to the adoption. “I cried all the way home,” said Yo.
Between March 19 and May 15 and on top of their demanding work weeks — Paul is a family lawyer and Yo is an actor/instructor — they dutifully drove up every weekend staying at the foster family’s home and eventually taking over the parenting role. Paul felt the chemistry. He could see the twins were starving for affection and he and Yo were both willing to fill their need. Adam, ever the worrier, warmed up to them eventually.
In short order Paul became ‘Dad’ and Yo ‘Baba’ — a nod to his Turkish culture — which means Dad. Friends organized a shower to celebrate their new arrivals.
Yo, Paul and the boys almost immediately outgrew their two-bedroom downtown Oakville apartment — where the appeal of shopping, restaurants and entertainment was quickly substituted with the suburban, family-friendly atmosphere of Milton. They moved four years ago from a two-bedroom apartment to a two-storey home.
These parents firmly stick by the self-imposed rule not to speak ill of the boys’ birth mom and encourage them to stay in touch with their natural sisters aged 19 and 18. “We have to think of things from the kids’ perspective,” said Paul.
“I’m so proud of all three boys,” said Yo. While eyebrows sometimes are raised upon discovering the boys have two dads, Adam, James and Matthew take it all in stride.
“Our lives together have never been about shocking people but about education and love,” said Paul.
Posted by Nikki at 1/15/2009 01:37:00 PM