The most defining characteristic of my family, if I press myself to name one, is that we are capable of turning any flat surface into a mountain of crap. Give one of us a few days and you'll find tables, stools, dining chairs and even partitioned sections of floor piled high with magazines, books and unopened mail. Maybe there's a candy dish on top, sweetly stocked with Peanut M&Ms. When I ask myself what will make my children, who will be adopted, fit into the family tree, I have to wonder: will they be instinctive hoarders, or will there be training involved?
I have been sure that I want to adopt since I was roughly 15 years-old. I know that whenever I settle down with whomever I'm naturally inclined to settle down with, we'll be biologically incapable of having kids together. (This person will be a man, FYI.) Adoption is therefore something I've had time to consider, and consider it I have. I've always been a big planner and parenthood is an inexhaustible source for mental list making. Names, alternative hyphenate-appropriate names, the best schools from Montessori to Stanford; everything is on the table, for no real reason except that I've never had any particularly productive hobbies. I've considered the hard questions: Will they know their birth parents? And the even harder questions: Will the other parents let me Instagram our kids' playdates?
There are details I've considered in earnest, if prematurely: should they be American? If foreign, will they grow up speaking their native tongue? My time living and teaching abroad in China served as an emotional testing ground of sorts: here is a group of children from the other side of the world -- can you see yourself as father to one of them? All of them? The answer to which is possibly found in the title of a Facebook photo album I created at the time, Sean No Mate Plus Eight.
As a gay man looking forward to raising a family, I find myself frustrated that women seem allowed to excitedly anticipate having kids, whereas my certainty that I'd like to adopt is met with incredulity. "Really?" people exclaim, as if I've just informed them I'm looking forward to living on the moon. While I admit I have no real conception of what raising a child would require of me, having had the opportunity to become familiar with some awesome under-fives was at the very least eye-opening and emotionally enlightening. I like kids. I like to imagine how I'll raise my family and I, like anyone who looks forward to having children, like to imagine how much better behaved my kids will be than all the rest, whose parents have obviously not taken to the Kosher organic sugarless gluten-free family miracle diet I saw on Pinterest.
Do I want a kid right now? No. Do I have a partner with whom I'm discussing this? No. Do I want to masochistically scare away any potential life partners with an essay about how I've already named our unborn children? Maybe. Adoption isn't a pressing issue, per se -- it's just that these thoughts have been piling up and I needed to clear some head-space.