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Kergan Edwards-Stout

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An Open Letter to Rick Santorum

Posted: 01/10/12 05:06 PM ET

Dear Mr. Santorum,

You were recently quoted as saying that a jailed parent would be better for a child than being raised by a same-sex couple. You noted that if a same-sex couple were to raise a child, they would be "robbing children of something they need, they deserve, they have a right to." You continued, asserting, "You may rationalize that that isn't true, but in your own life and in your own heart, you know it's true."

Mr. Santorum, the only reason my partner Russ and I even have one of our children is because that boy's birth parents thought it appropriate, when he was a mere 6 months old, to take him to a crack house, which was then raided by police. He was promptly placed into foster care, and numerous attempts were made to reunite him with his birth parents. However, as one was incarcerated due to attempted murder and the other would not submit to drug testing, that was difficult to achieve. In fact, when they placed this boy into his birth mother's arms, he would burst into tears. Further, prior to his crack house adventure, his birth mother found time to pierce both his ears but could not see fit to give him adequate nutritional care, nor to fix his club feet.

Our other child, in case you are wondering, had a much easier start in life. His birth mother recognized, while still pregnant, that her situation was not the optimum one in which to raise a child, and reached out to us, two white, gay men, to whom she entrusted her African-American baby. My bond with her was so strong that she allowed me to be in the delivery room when my son was born, and I am forever grateful for the gift she gave us.

Apparently, though, you feel that you know better, and that her long-considered, heartbreaking choice was not the best option. Would you have preferred that she instead struggle to raise her son anyway, when she fully realized she was ill-equipped to do so? Would you also have preferred that my other son remain with his birth parents, given their ongoing issues with the law, drug use, and poor parenting decisions?

Perhaps, Mr. Santorum, you are merely indulging in a hypothetical discussion of "what is best for the child." I'd be more than happy to have just such a discussion, once every child who needs a home has one. Then we can talk gay households vs. straight, and how all studies confirm that it is not who is in the household that matters but how a child is raised, loved, and taught. You may also be unaware that there are approximately 100,000 foster care children awaiting adoption, and one study estimates that over 2 million LGBT individuals have considered adoption, but many cannot, given their discriminatory state laws. Do the math, Mr. Santorum. Give each kid a home, then let's talk about what's "best."

Ultimately, Mr. Santorum, I'm sorry if our parenting skills or situation don't meet your rigid requirements of what you deem "appropriate." Neither my partner nor I is perfect, nor have we ever claimed to be. We've made mistakes during our 12 years of parenting and will likely make many more over the years to come. Nevertheless, I'm happy to report that our youngest child, who could barely walk when we first got him due to the surgery needed to correct his club feet, is now an avid dancer and terrific runner. This same child, who first greeted us with a vacant stare and could hardly communicate, is now is a happy, lively, and chatty 9-year-old whom we can barely shut up.

Mr. Santorum, I'm sorry if you feel I'm not a good parent, but I'm hopeful that one day our boys will disagree.

Sincerely,
Kergan Edwards-Stout

A version of this post originally appeared on kerganedwards-stout.com.