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Family Matters


Roger, Lucas and Steve are a lesson in love

These days, there's a lot of talk about restoring good, old-fashioned family values to America. For many people, this brings up an image of mom, dad, two kids and a dog. The image usually includes Dad and Bobby playing catch on the lawn, while Mom teaches Sally to cook in the kitchen. It's the American dream, right?


Jen's 80's clothes

These days, however, this is hardly how American families look. Single adults are choosing to have children on their own. Parents are adopting children of different races and ethnicities. And gay and lesbian couples are raising kids in loving homes. More and more Americans have begun creating "alternative" families that meet their needs instead.

Jen and I met two families in Dallas, Texas who have chosen a different family type than their parents did. These couples are creating history by changing what our society sees as an "acceptable" family.


We first visited Robin and Karen, a lesbian couple with two adopted children. Ten years ago, Robin and Karen started thinking about raising a child in their home. When they saw an ad for a "considering parenthood" workshop, they decided to attend. Since then, they have adopted two beautiful children: Ethan, a Vietnamese-American boy, and Emmie, a toddler born in Vietnam.

By the time Emmie grows up, maybe "Alternative Families" won't seem so alternative

Jen and I also met with Roger and Steve, a gay couple who are raising an adopted son. Although they tell me "the majority of gay men figure they have to give up being a father," Roger always knew that someday he would have a child. When he started dating Steve, he immediately told him this idea. Steve eventually agreed with Roger that the two were up to the task of parenting. They adopted Lucas (an extremely bright, kind and mature young man!) from Laredo, Texas almost eight years ago, and have become the ideal parents since then.

So what would you expect the house of an alternative family to look like? Would you be surprised to hear that it probably looks very much like yours? The Sunday that we met these families, Robin had just come back from racing Ethan to hockey practice. Karen was in charge of Emmie for the day, getting some work done while Em took her afternoon nap. Roger and Steve had gone to church that morning with Lucas, before spending the afternoon at a 2nd grade birthday party. Just like other families, these parents concentrate on getting the kids to school on time, checking to see that everyone's homework is done properly, and fitting soccer practice into their busy schedules. Both sets of parents are very involved at their kids' schools, and are eager to educate people about their families whenever they can.

Our daily issues are the same issues everybody's got

The two couples know that they have to be very out and open about their homosexuality, so their kids see it as normal and are proud of their parents. They have made an effort to live, work and play in places where they know they will be accepted, and have had great reactions from people around them. With schools, churches and temples, both couples made sure that these places would be receptive to their lifestyle choices, before they or their kids became involved. Unfortunately, as alternative families become more popular, the backlash from some people becomes stronger to try and keep these families from forming.

Ethan understands that all families are different

To combat this discrimination, it is important that we change the false image of the perfect "American Dream." Stable, loving relationships, and care for the well being of children can come in many different forms. Once our society accepts that each family is different in its own way, this variety will enhance all of our lives.

Where there's love, "good, old-fashioned family values" can look like just about anything.

When Robin plays the board game LIFE with her son Ethan, she chooses two pink pegs to put in the front seat of her car game piece. Ethan chooses a blue peg and a pink peg for his car, and that's ok too. Because in this house, the most important rule to the game of LIFE is that everyone accept each other's differences. Just as Robin and Karen, Roger and Steve chose the path that they needed to follow, they will encourage their kids to choose relationships that feel right to them.


Please email me at: rebecca@ustrek.org


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