Dads writing notes have hit the blogsphere lately. Two of them, one horrific and one good, have gone viral. I am not going to belabor their history, but assume that if you are reading this, you are already well aware.
The first was not a recent note…it was written five years ago, but posted a few days ago, by the son to whom it was sent. The passage of time does not lessen its impact, it merely solidifies it, as the cold disregard it represents seems to be as fresh in the son’s life now as it was when it was sent . The second was written by a man who was moved by the first note. He is a new father and he addresses his son, but twenty years from now.
The first letter comes from a father that the religious right would embrace. They would see him as a man of principle and a man of “tough love”. They would see the second dad as weak, misguided… but still within the rights to be a dad.
I, on the other hand, am their worst nightmare. I am a gay single dad. I am the parent that Bryan Fischer targets in a tweet about a hypothetical “underground railroad” to “save” kids from gay parents. I have been told to my face that my boys and I are not “God’s best plan for a family”. Since the events that lead to the formation of our family seemed very much by the Grace of God, I have to say that I do not agree with their opinion.
My sons, Jason and Jesse are 10 years old. They were born to different drug addicted mothers, and I became their foster parent, and then their adoptive parent, and have had them since they were newborns. My partner at the time and I are their Daddy (me) and Papa (him). Papa loves and sees them on visitations, but has other life-driving events that have taken him out of our immediate family. The boys love him and even though he is not physically present much, he is very much a spiritual part of their lives.
So, to recap…. Gay, divorced, single parent…. The nightmare to the religious right. And yet, here I am, about to step up and share my perspective about these letters, not really from thoughts as a gay man, but from the heart of a parent…. As a Dad. So, I would like to address the two fathers and their notes…and then to address my sons with a note of my own.
To the man of the first note: I cannot in good conscience call you a dad. In our modern society, the parental verb “to father” means to contribute DNA material to an unborn child. You did that. Congratulations, you are now at the level of thousands of foolish teenage boys. You may have been at one time an actual Dad as well… loving, caring and wanting what is best for his child. Five years ago, you wrote a note to your biological son, however, at a time when he needed you most…and gave him less than the least you had to offer. In my opinion, on that day, you ceased to be a Dad. Your son is now the child of us, the world, and we will nurture him and love him the way you should have, and we will pray that he knows that we are there for him in the ways that you are not.
We recently witnessed the spirit of a true Dad in the face of Tom Sullivan as he desperately tried to locate his son Alex at a movieplex in Aurora Colorado. Tom held the true terror in his eyes that only a loving Dad could, that something horrible may have happened to the son he held most dear.
And I can’t see the screen right now as I type this through the tears remembering the horror that, in fact, Tom’s worst fears were true and that Alex lay slain inside.
I cannot fathom the pain that Tom felt, and probably still feels. If it were either of my sons in that situation, and I in Tom’s place, all I can find in myself is a place without oxygen, without life, and a darkness so horrifying, that I don’t know if I could recover. Those are the feelings of a Dad losing a son. Those should be the feelings of a Dad losing a son.
It is from that vantage point, that I look at what you have done…willfully, voluntarily. To walk away as you have is not, in my opinion, just ignorant…. It is hate-filled, ugly and evil. I am sure there is some “walk-in-my-shoes” point of view here that I could be good enough to try and see, but right now, I do not see it, and no matter what it is, I cannot see a justification for what you have done.
To the man of the second note, the AskYourDadBlog Dad : You are a good guy… and going to be a great Dad. That being said, your vision of your conversation with your future gay son…and the conversation I will have with mine, differ significantly.
Here is a letter that represents what I will be communicating to my sons in the not too distant future. And therein lies a major difference… I don’t want my sons to feel the need to hide in a closet to have “that” conversation at a later date. About anything. That may not be totally realistic but as they walk their path of self-awareness, I want them to have someone to talk to along the way…their Dad.
Dear Jesse and Jason,
Hi guys. You are about to become teen agers. Wow. It seems like just yesterday when God brought us into each other’s lives, that we found each other through adoption, and I had the absolute honor of becoming your Dad.
I am so amazed by each of you. You are becoming fine young men, and when I have told you that I “love you more than anything” every single day for the last ten years , I have meant it. I love our talks, our sharing, and how you tell me all about your days…how you feel about your friends. I love sharing books and movies and even hearing about the latest dilemmas and conquests within your Pokemon games. I even love that you tell me what you are afraid of, so we can face those things together.
When you were babies, I imagined what you each would be like grown. What your interests would be, what your hopes would entail and what your lives would be like. You are now about half way there, and I have to tell you… I could not be more thrilled. Getting to know you each and the bond that we have in our souls is the most profound adventure I have ever known.
In the next few years you are going to change. You are going to grow up. You are going to discover within yourselves new tastes, new ideas and new instincts. You know we have rules and principles to live by that make us good citizens, help us to never harm others and to be loving caring beings. With those, I hope you guide the new and developing you that emerges. I also hope that you continue to feel free to share with me about feelings, thoughts, aspirations and dreams that you have.
Someday, you will fall in love. As we have talked about… there are men who fall in love with women, quite a lot of them actually, and then there are men who fall in love with other men…like Papa and I did. As you develop into the men you are going to be, your instincts will tell you which of these you are. Your instincts may also tell you that you are both. I don’t know.
Here is the important point, however– I won’t care. I only care that you be happy and be the best you that you can be. I care that you strive for your dreams, that you are in touch with the spirit of the universe, I call Him God—what you call him/her or it will be up to you, and that you treat all people well along the way. I won’t care about the gender or ethnicity of your future spouse…all I will care about is that you honor and nurture each other and support each other’s value, that neither lose their identity behind the desires of the other.
Guys, I did not have you by accident. I did not have you because other people thought I should. I had you because I wanted you more than I have wanted anything… and I want to give you the greatest life possible. And I got you, I believe, because God intended for us to be a family. I mentioned before about your dreams? Well, you just heard mine.
There are things you will win, there are things you will lose and through each, you will have a champion, your Dad. I am here for you, and I always will be.
You make me proud.
In our house, closets are now, and in the future, for clothes. V6728Q948WDJ
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It’s strange really, being a bisexual and not wanting ‘the coming out scenario’, I’ve always tried to teach sexuality as a fact of life, and in the same sense.
But with my oldest son, (I have two boys, and two girls). It wasn’t so easy, he never asked ‘the questions’ or opened a discussion as kids do, (The questions/discussions like the one where you asked your son if he’d marry a boy or a girl, these questions if answered right can abolish any ‘coming out scenario’, but with him being on the autism spectrum I didn’t know what, or even if he would ask me anything).
So like you I sat down and wrote a note, I never published it though, but it was put to a side for when I felt the time was right… but then one day, out of the blue, the question came.
He got home from school, after the ‘how was your day chat’, he walked half way up the stairs, stopped, turned, and asked, ‘They call me gay at school, what does gay mean?’
I told him that it’s when a man loves another man. And that, that was the only difference between being gay and straight, the person you fall in love with, everything else is the same.
Satisfied with the answer, he continued upstairs to get changed out of his uniform.
The following day, he told me that he’d got a gay friend at school, before adding that it was all right, (Which made me smile).
I have since gotten rid of my note, personally, it’s not something I feel is needed any more.
Take care. Louise
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Well said. All children need and deserve the love and support of their parents. Full stop. Your relationship with your boys is a perfect example for others to follow. xo
Yeah – this. All day every day.
Thanks for sharing your heart 🙂
What a beautiful letter!! Both fathers ( the author of the second letter as well as this letter) are the kind of dads that all children deserve! I cannot imagine what could possess a father to make him write such a letter as the first one….it is certainly NOT a loving god! I am not religious, but my dad was a Christian. His faith was not about hate and retribution. His faith was about love and acceptance. When he died ten years ago, I heard over and over again what a good man he was, but what really stood out was the number of people who told me, “You know, I never heard your dad say a bad word about anyone.” Perhaps my father chose to worship a loving god rather than a vengeful one because that was his nature. Perhaps, his faith in a loving god made him a better man. Either way, my dad accepted people as they were. The father in the first letter may reject his son in the name of his faith, but if so, his faith is misplaced!!! Our sexual nature is not of our choosing! To disown a child due to his/her sexual orientation makes no more sense than to disavow him/her because he/she is left handed. Someday, our children and grandchildren will look back at this time in stunned disbelief, just as we find it hard to believe than not long ago people were ridiculed and punished for being left handed! It will all be seen as some horrid superstition! That day cannot come soon enough!
The easiest solution would be to get rid of the “God” bullshit from peoples’ lives.
That might be the solution for you. It is not the solution for everyone. Some people use God as a crutch or as a club, but many of us – the great majority of us – feel a connection to a Higher Power that is both liberating and connecting – and it leads to greater love. Apparently you have not had that experience in your life – but that is no reason to denigrate it with the word “bullshit”. If you don’t like how some religious people act, call them on it and be specific. To attack and dismiss with such disrespect all people who believe and have faith in a Higher Power makes you as bigoted as those whose prejudices involve race, ethnicity, gender or sexuality.
Is there anything wrong with having God in your life …. no! Do some of us have a very major issue with some of the religious nuts out there that use religion to manipulate, belittle and harm others that do not share your opinion …… You bet we do!!!
I’m atheist and I think you response was perfect. While I personally abhor those who use religion as a weapon, I respect those wh truly “walk with God”. Not sharing a belief does not justify denigrating said belief. I behave in this way in the hope that others will offer me the same respect.
that was very beautiful thank you for the amazing 2nd letter it gives me hope to raise a great son in the future with my partner when the time is right……i send my love to all those that turned out to be just amazing as this dad here. my father is the best father i have ever had. he was a straight man but he excepted me for who i am his gay son…he loved me as a good son and my mom i know she still needs time to adjust to the situation but she is making progress and i love her for it those are the two parents im so proud to have and had in my life. i know my father is watching me from up in the clouds of heaven making sure i’m ok. i know i can be a great dad i want to teach my kid or kids how to go fishing, how to hunt, how to swim, and all of the small things like brushing teeth, and that there are no monsters under his or her bed. it would be a complete life if i could do that. i know i could be an amazing father…. thank you for this….god bless
good story ever
Beautiful – this is the kind of love and respect every parent should express to their children
What a lovely heart warming letter from someone who deserves to be called a dad beautiful x
very nice..i’m touched..it took me 43 years of my life before i came out…i was scared to be different..I thought i won’t be accepted by the people that i care the most…i was wrong…my son accepted me right away..no questions ask, hatred or disappointment.he quietly listened to what i was saying….i was more shaken…i couldn’t say the word “I’m gay…or lesbian”..without stuttering…he stopped me at the middle of my sentence and said..”Mom just say it…you are acting like a teenager.” He left me speechless…that is when i release a sigh…and then smiled. I told myself I will be o.k. we will be o.k. My journey is not over yet..i know that.
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What a wonderful message, that, from my perspective seems so ordinary. A positive message should be expected from a genuinely loving parent. Shame on those who might not appreciate you as the nurturing soul, the parent, that you are.
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Perhaps the dad of the first letter will come around. Time has a way of healing. Just hope its not too late when he does.
Wow! How could someone be as cruel as the guy from the first letter? It saddens me that there are people like that in the world. . . The second guy has awesome points of view, however, and so do you! Your boys are lucky to have you as their dad! ^_^
Wow, what a great dad your boys have. I am so happy for your loving family and thank you for sharing this with us. Every child regardless of their orientation needs to be loved and cherished!
You are a wonderful voice for the Gay community which is still more silent then it should be. I grew in a world, where being Gay was normal. I have two Uncles who are Gay, and one day I will write both of their stories… I applaud you as a father, role model, and as a person. All of this ascertained, by reading your poignant, and beautiful words. My tissue, is duly soaked…
Beautifully put, my friend. Giving your boys full license to become who they are without limitation. What I hope we can all strive for as parents.
John here. Author of letter #2. I must say, I was very touched by your letter. I’ve been quite humbled by the original response to mine, and in many ways, I believe yours surpasses it.
One point of clarification on my part: I also never want my children to have to be “in the closet.” The letter itself was more if a thought experiment on how I would react if faced with the exact situation presented in letter #1 – a “coming out” that is a surprise. Ideally, in my family, that wouldn’t happen. Still, I think most parents are eventually surprised by their children’s sexuality no matter where it lies on the spectrum.
Anyway, bravo and beautiful letter. My very best to you and your family,
Hi John! I am so thrilled that you stopped by out blog! You are one of the coolest guys on the planet, and your son (when is he due?) is already one of the luckiest kids around.
I am very humbled by your kind words. I think your piece and mine are very different and yours is perfect in every way. I was working on mine when yours came out and did not want to ignore it, plus, I did see a different perspective from the “gay dad” point of view. I think it is very understandable that most parents would think their kids were straight, and want them to be…if for no other reason to avoid the horrible pain the son of the “other father” that you and I both addressed, went through. As a gay dad– NOT making that assumption is a more present mindset… I look at my boys and have no preconceived notion as to their orientation.
So– your piece set the stage beautifully and really did address a thought process that , quite frankly, I am sure pushed a lot of parents’ comfort zone envelopes. Then… I came a long and challenged them to take it all the way to the post office! I was actually surprised that I did not get pushback…and maybe I did but they were screened, I don’t know.
Bottomline… your piece was spectacular and worthy of all the attention it received. You are going to be the all star of Dads… and I am proud to be fighting the fight on the same side as you are to help all kids get the dad-love they deserve !!!
I’ve only just recently discovered your blog. It’s so easy to feel disheartened by the verbal filth that gets spewed these days from so many sources. It’s a breath of clean air to read your posts that patiently and firmly inform one reader at a time. I’m happy to believe that your notes will empower others in their own conversations. The conservatives may well see gays as “weeds” to be pulled from the community garden. However, weeds can grow despite the most harsh conditions and weeds can be seen pushing through the tightest spaces, slowly succeeding against massive resistance. Those weeds can provide bloom and beauty and provide green in a place where there would otherwise be none. As my gardener mother used to say, “a weed is just something that’s growing where it isn’t wanted.” It’s time for all of us to stop categorizing the good from the bad because one farmer’s weed is another gardener’s rose bush.
The love you show your children supersedes the love some children get from there heterosexual parents. You’re right, the children were given to you as a gift from the universe and you took on that responsibility and ran with, unlike some heterosexual men that run from it. Kudos to you Dad and to Papa, you have support from people you don’t even know now and I am one of them.
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Beautifully written Rob, I love you so much and count myself blessed to have you and the boys in my life.
what i mean to say is your kids are so lucky to have you and you are so lucky to have them. when i feel that low my adopted parents are the ones there to save me. Thank god for people like them that are there to let you feel low but to let you know that you were worth all the work and love they put into you. My adopted parents are my heros!
There are so many children out there that dont feel the love of a parent whether it be from being gay, being the wrong gender, or color, or just that the parent doesnt want their child but doesnt know what to do with it. I came from a situation where my birthmother had five children that she did not want. She let us know how horrible and disgusting we were. I was put into foster care where my little brother felt loved and safe enough to come out of the closet to my adopted parents. I still have feelings of doubt and sometimes feel less than human (how do i love myself when my own mother couldnt love me?) i know that is rediculous but sometimes it hits.
truly beautiful. i wish the best for your family, and send my love. thank you for posting!
Truly touching – I wrote a similar letter to my Daughter yesterday. She will be 11 in two weeks- my kids are the world to me- I got a letter disowning me after my kids were born- telling me I was an abomination and obviously perverted as I wanted to raise my kids in a life of sin. While it broke me, it ultimately made me stronger and more determined to be a father that my kids would trust to be honest loving and accepting for the rest of my natural life.
I agree with Ono. Tissue warning. This was beautiful!
I shall save this until my daughter is old enough to understand the wonderful words you have written. The love in your heart and the place you have created in the universe are truly special. Thank you for sharing.
Rob, How truly blessed you all are! I was going to say what lucky boys to have such an amazing Dad, and while that is true, I think you (if I might be so bold to say) are truly the lucky one! As a mom I know and feel exactly what you have talked about in your post and that is why I say you are truly the lucky one. Lucky that God chose you to be Dad to two such amazing little boys,(but then God doesn’t make mistakes), there is nothing in this world that can compare.
I could never imagine, as the father in the first letter did to his son, turning my back on either of my children. It goes against everything that is being a parent and the job of parent that God has entrusted us with. The need to love, care for, protect, give, to my children, (one of which is a grown man), is still so strong that at times it is almost a physical pain. A pain only in the feeling that somehow it just isn’t enough, do they know how I live and breath to love, honor and protect them?
You, Rob, are a shining example of the unconditional love of a Dad. Throughout their lives, no matter what they encounter, your boys will always have the bright light of your heart to call home!
Rob, you are an amazing man and wonderful Father. Your boys were truly a gift from God and you are their angel. I have read the letters you referenced and have been horrified by the thought a Father could seriously cut off ties with their child in that the way. I can’t find the compassion to try and understand. Thank you for your response to their letters and your amazing insight. Your letter to your boys moved me to tears. Beautiful! I thank God that there are people like you in the world to show others what love looks like. You are a model to me; someone to show me what it is to be a man.
That was an amazing post Rob! The one thing I’d like to add, as the gay son of a gay Mom that I didn’t come out to until I was 18, is that you should let them know that if they feel like they need to stay in the closet, that’s their decision, not yours. AND…that might mean they date a few girls, maybe even get a girlfriend, and that’s okay too. They don’t need to keep their true feelings from you just because they’ve got a bunch of hetero-normative high school needs that trump them.
Very good point, thomsense. And a fellow could be bi — and still feeling his way along, not wanting to make a bold statement that later turns out to be more limiting than he knew at the time. It’s his choice.
OMG Rob, that needs a warning label. How many tissues it will take to get to the end. I’m moved to tears, needless to say.