Monthly Archives: March 2007

A parenting expert till I had one of my own…

No one should be able to offer parenting expertise until s/he has at least one of his/her own!

My son was the sweetest child until he was 2 years old.  He never recovered from the terrible twos until the Marines got a hold of him!  While that is a bit of an exaggeration, he is now back to his  sweet old self.

From the time that he was adopted, he was  my little bundle of  joy.   He was a little bundle of energy, a little bundle of mischief,  a little bundle of “what can I get into next?”  But such a wonderful sweet child!

There were two periods in my life prior to 2002, before 1984 and after 1984. Before 1984, I was an expert on parenting and could easily tell you how other parents should be raising their children. After 1984, I wasn’t sure what other parents should be doing because I discovered it wasn’t as easy as I assumed.

Before 1984,  I spent a lot of time working in ministry, a little time working household. After 1984, I worked 40 hours in ministry,  parented  40 hours, and spent 40 hours doing household related stuff. I use to wonder about all the time I wasted before 1984!

In his junior and senior years, things were easier.  My little bundle of joy became a big bundle of joy and he could do some things for himself. He could cook his own meals, but couldn’t find the dishwasher. He could trim and shave his facial hair but forget to clean the sink afterwards. He could get himself up and off to school but not remember to take his key.  I am sure the neighbors wondered about this guy that spent so much time sitting on the front step! (I locked the door when I went to work.)

Everyone learns sooner orlater… and so did my big bundle of joy. After hs graduation, he went off to join the Marines.  He quickly learned all the things he was having trouble remembering at home!

Presently in his second deployment to Iraq, we surround our big bundle of joy with our prayers and strength.

© 2007 dr pers

A mother’s fierce love for her gay son

While my parents have always been suportive of me, even in my coming out, the following editorial reflects the unusual courage of a mother in Vermont. I don’t know how I missed this seven years ago, but it still holds it’s fire power.

This editorial is from Sunday’s Concord Monitor.
Sunday, April 30, 2000
By Sharon Underwood
For the Valley News (White River Junction, VT/Hanover, NH)

As the mother of a gay son, I’ve seen firsthand how cruel and misguided people can be.

Many letters have been sent to the Valley News concerning the homosexual menace in Vermont. I am the mother of a gay son and I’ve taken enough from you good people.

I’m tired of your foolish rhetoric about the “homosexual agenda” and your allegations that accepting homosexuality is the same thing as advocating sex with children. You are cruel and ignorant. You have been robbing me of the joys of motherhood ever since my children were tiny. My firstborn son started suffering at the hands of the moral little thugs from your moral, upright families from the time he was in the first grade. He was physically and verbally abused from first grade straight through high school because he was perceived to be gay. He never professed to be gay or had any association with anything gay, but he had the misfortune not to walk or have gestures like the other boys. He was called “fag” incessantly, starting when he was 6.

In high school, while your children were doing what kids that age should be doing, mine labored over a suicide note, drafting and redrafting it to be sure his family knew how much he loved them. My sobbing 17-year-old tore the heart out of me as he choked out that he just couldn’t bear to continue living any longer, that he didn’t want to be gay and that he couldn’t face a life without dignity.

You have the audacity to talk about protecting families and children from the homosexual menace, while you yourselves tear apart families and drive children to despair. I don’t know why my son is gay, but I do know that God didn’t put him, and millions like him, on this Earth to give you someone to abuse.  God gave you brains so that you could think, and it’s about time you started doing that.

At the core of all your misguided beliefs is the belief that this could never happen to you, that there is some kind of subculture out there that people have chosen to join. The fact is that if it can happen to my family, it can happen to yours, and you won’t get to choose. Whether it is genetic or whether something occurs during a critical time of fetal development, I don’t know. I can only tell you with an absolute certainty that it is inborn.

If you want to tout your own morality, you’d best come up with something more substantive than your heterosexuality. You did nothing to earn it; it was given to you. If you disagree, I would be interested in hearing your story, because my own heterosexuality was a blessing I received with no effort whatsoever on my part. It is so woven into the very soul of me that nothing could ever change it. For those of you who reduce sexual orientation to a simple choice, a character issue, a bad habit or something that can be changed by a 10-step program, I’m puzzled.  Are you saying that your own sexual orientation is nothing more than something you have chosen, that you could change it at will?  If that’s not the case, then why would you suggest that someone else can?

A popular theme in your letters is that Vermont has been infiltrated by outsiders. Both sides of my family have lived in Vermont for generations. I am heart and soul a Vermonter, so I’ll thank you to stop saying that you are speaking for “true Vermonters.”

You invoke the memory of the brave people who have fought on the battlefield for this great country, saying that they didn’t give their lives so that the “homosexual agenda” could tear down the principles they died defending. My 83-year-old father fought in some of the most horrific battles of World War II, was wounded and awarded the Purple Heart.

He shakes his head in sadness at the life his grandson has had to live. He says he fought alongside homosexuals in those battles, that they did their part and bothered no one. One of his best friends in the service was gay, and he never knew it until the end, and when he did find out, it mattered not at all. That wasn’t the measure of the man.

You religious folk just can’t bear the thought that as my son emerges from the hell that was his childhood he might like to find a lifelong companion and have a measure of happiness. It offends your sensibilities that he should request the right to visit that companion in the hospital, to make medical decisions for him or to benefit from tax laws governing inheritance. How dare he? you say. These outrageous requests  would threaten the very existence of your family, would undermine the sanctity of marriage.

You use religion to abdicate your responsibility to be thinking human beings. There are vast numbers of religious people who find your attitudes repugnant. God is not for the privileged majority, and God knows my son has committed no sin. The deep-thinking author of a letter to the April 12 Valley News who lectures about homosexual sin and tells us about “those of us who have been blessed with the benefits of a religious upbringing” asks: “What ever happened to the idea of striving . . . to be better human beings than we are?”

Indeed, sir, what ever happened to that?                                                           Sharon Underwood lives in White River Junction, Vt.  USA

  *dr pers salutes the courage of Sharon Underwood!

Downright personal is responsible for declining family values…

Thats right… I am taking responsibility for the decline of family values….someone has to!

1. I am clergy in a mainline denomination.
2. I adopted a son.
3. I am partnered with a woman for 6 years.
4. I am a loving daughter and sister.
5. I am lesbian.

I have been faithful to my partner, son, parents and sisters.
Somehow, according to many politicians and religious groups, giving my partner and I equal rights will lead to the decline of marriage and family values. (I always get lost in following this logic).

It just kills me when I hear someone like Newt Gingrich state that a constitutional amendment is needed to protect marriage and the traditional family from someone like me.  Marriage needs to be defended and protected from lesbians like me?
Oh plllllllease!

The decline of the institution of marriage is the result of hetereosexual behavior and attitudes. Newt admitted this month to yet another affair. He is a prime example of the behavior that erodes the institution of marriage.  Yet, he and his kind have the nerve to suggest that my faithful relationship  erodes family values?  Newt is doing enough damage all by himself!!!

Lesbians don’t cause heterosexuals to cheat on their spouses.
Lesbians don’t cause heterosexuals to neglect their children.
Lesbians don’t cause heterosexuals to marry or divorce.

Yes, its so obvious I’m responsible for the decline of marriage and family values!

©2007  dr pers

I met my partner online!

Imagine telling the world you found your partner online!
We’ve all heard stories of individuals lying about their identity and who they are. The internet seems to be saturated with pedophiles, rapists, psychos, heterosexuals, homosexuals and bisexuals!  Can you imagine meeting one of these internet personalities face to face?  It sounds scary!

The first online personality I met was a little cutie from Canada. We shared a similar sense of humor and our online interaction was hilarious.  We had wonderful, serious conversations about our families, values and goals in life.   I “came out” to my family and friends because of this woman.  In spite of being very compatible, the long distance became a deal breaker.  Both of us had sons who were 3-4 years away from hs graduation and we agreed that neither of us should move. While it broke my heart at the time, it wasn’t meant to be.

The second online personality I met, lived three hours away in Chicago.  Both of us had previously dated long distance, so we thought 3 hours would be a breeze!  Wendy was gracious, intelligent, and we too shared similar values.  Her business required that she travel extensively, so her time at home was limited.   After a few months, it became obvious that she was really too busy and closeted for a serious relationship.

After these two experiences, I was not “looking” for any serious involvement.  I had the good fortune to find a lesbian chat room where a regular group of 8-10 lesbians would meet regularly to visit.  There were a lot more women coming and going, but some of us regulars provided the foundation.

I don’t know what I was thinking when I agreed to meet a third online personality, a chat friend from Texas.  Texans have an attitude that can only be described by the unofficial motto “don’t mess with Texas.”  She showed up at my condo door one wintry afternoon, with the warmest Texas smile you ever saw.  My life has never been the same since.
dr pers © 2007

Unbelievably, I went to a lesbian chat room…

I expected God to bolt me with lightning when I entered a lesbian chat room!

When my hearing loss began to interfer with my pastoral duties, I moved to an administrative position that required less group communication. The move from a pastoral position began to loosen buried thoughts and emotions.  I began to give myself permission to explore what I had long suspected and suppressed for years.

A big question in my mind was, are there other gay people, other lesbians like me?  The stereotypes portrayed in the media were embarassing. The media often shows gays when they are dressed to the extreme for parades and portrays us as undesirable psychos.  I wanted to know if there were other ordinary-looking professional lesbians who valued monogamy, long term relationships, children, God and community?

As I searched the internet, I eventually ended up at a popular chat site.  It was here that I got to know some wonderful, mature women who had simular values and were also looking for lesbian friendships. For several years I chatted with this group.  Along the way, I became more and more comfortable with who I am and self acceptance.

Yes, there are ordinary, stable, moral, professional lesbians out there with similar values!     dr pers  © 2007

When I told my son I was a lesbian…

Not many parents look forward to telling their teens about their sexual orientation, this was no exception. From the time he was little, I used books as a springboard to discuss sexual issues. Whenever he asked a question, I answered matter of factly.  I had hoped that this would lay the foundation for discussions or questions about sex when he was older.

I met a woman online and was becoming seriously interested in her.  I felt that it was time to prepare my son for some questions that may arise.

In his 15 years, I had not dated anyone.  With a busy career and single parenting, my life was full.   He was aware that I had been chatting with some friends online. I shared with him that one of them was soon coming to visit.

Explaining that I had been thru a great deal of soul searching the last couple of years, I finally had come to the realization that I was a lesbian.  He calmly looked at me and hardly reacted.  I told him that  the online friend was also lesbian. It was my hope that he would be friendly and respectful to her. His response was, “that is fine, as long as she isn’t interested in you!”  I smiled and said, “we’ll see, you might like her too.”

After a few days of nothing, no comments, I cornered him after school.  I said, “you haven’t mentioned anything more about my Canadian friend who is coming next weekend.  Are you upset, do you have any more questions about my being a lesbian?”  He said, “mom, if I told you that I was gay, you’d accept me.  Why wouldn’t I accept you?”    In my eyes, my son became a gentle giant that day.         © 2007   dr pers

Children quickly identify a parent’s vulnerability…

Children choose our most vulnerable times to act up.  Parishioners would call me (their pastor) in the evening at home because they didn’t want to disturb me at the office during the day!   Whenever the phone rang, my young son would run for the refrigerator, open the door and proceed to climb the shelves.  I expected jars of condiments, bowls of food and beverages, to come crashing to the floor at any minute.  Yes, I maintained my understanding tone of voice with the parishioner while my eyes blazed flames of fire at my son (this was in the days before mobile phones and answering machines were widely used).

Another time, I returned from a study trip to Mexico and hadn’t seen my five year old son in two weeks.  We had been home for maybe an hour and the phone rang.  While I stepped into the office, this sweet child set off a large fire exstinguisher that blew its contents over the entire first level… office, bathroom, bedroom, dining room, living room and kitchen. It was an absolute mess.

My son quickly learned that when mom was on the phone, she was vulnerable and he could get away with murder!  dr pers  ©  2007

Choosing the gender and health of your child…

Choosing the gender and health of your child is a frightening idea to many.  However, when navigating the process of adoption, one is confronted with such a dilemma.

The adoption agency I worked with wanted to know: (1) did I prefer male or female; (2) was I open to a child of another race, if so, which ones; (3) would I accept a child with minor or major disabilities; (4) what kind of health issues were acceptable? Sections three and four were especially agonizing.

After much soul searching, my summary of preferences were as follows. I indicated that I preferred a female over a male, but it wasn’t a strong preference.  Any race was acceptable.

As I assessed the many health and disability factors, I evaluated the reality of my resources. Living and working in a rural area, I was attempting to adopt as a single parent. There were no child care centers within 30 miles and the small town hospital nearby provided basic medical care.  My parents and sister lived three hours away.

As a pastor to several small churches, my schedule was somewhat flexible but I was also “on call” most of the time.  Recognizing the high stress level of this occupation, the fact that there would be no spousal support and the “on call” nature of my profession, led me to decide that a healthy child was the most important factor for me.  I recognized that I did not realistically have the resources to adequately parent a child with special needs.

I also recognized that receiving a healthy baby was no guarantee that the child would not have health issues later.

As it turned out, a healthy, African American baby boy was offered and I joyfully accepted.
drpers   © 2007

Reasons to adopt a child…

There are many reasons for adopting a child, these were mine.

1.  My friends were adopting and recommended a nontraditional agency.

2.  I was 30 years old, single and family oriented.

3.  I owned a two story, 3 bedroom house, occupied by me, myself and I.

4.  Established in my career with a masters degree.

5.  Lonesome.

6.  Did I mention strong family values?

7.  Open to new learning, experience and personal growth.

8.  Ready to share my love with someone.

9.  Believed I could make a difference in a child’s life and provide a loving home.

10.  Searched for meaning and purpose beyond myself.

Whatever your reasons may be, it is important to be honest with yourself and have realistic expectations.  A wise old woman once said to me,  “parenting is the most difficult thing you’ll ever do, but also the most rewarding.”  I held onto that thought for 23 years  and recently attended my son’s wedding.  I imagine someday I’ll be passing along the wise old woman’s advice!   drpers  © 2007