Sunday, January 29, 2017

His Name Was Christopher

"Yes, I know."

"Yes, I'm sorry."

"Of course, you are right, I can't understand."

A few months ago I was in conflict with a woman who was the mother of a child with an intellectual disability. She and I had been in discussion about the sharing, or in my opinion, the over-sharing, of the private details of children with disabilities lives by parents on social media. I thought it was a discussion we were having. It wasn't. She got angry really, really, really, quickly. She let me know that parents had every right in the world to share information about their children, that "parents know best" and that "parents needs support too" and finally that I would never understand because I'd never been a parent.

The situation we were in was semi-professional and I understood that I needed to, at that moment, stand down. I didn't change my opinion, because I can't do that on command, but I did apologize for having an opinion when, apparently I had no right to one. Because I'd never been a parent.

Those words flew out of her mouth with the intention of putting me in my place. They were spoken with a freedom and a privilege that she simply didn't understand. My job was staying calm while she called me out, called me down and spat out her observation about something incredibly personal. In the back of my mind I screamed the words: HOW FUCKING DARE YOU!!!

I am a 64 year old gay man who has been in a relationship with another man for 46 years. Do you know what that means? Do you? It means we lived at a time when it wasn't okay to be a couple. When Joe and I met, our love was a crime. A fucking crime! Do you think we even spoke about children? Do you think we'd ever be allowed to adopt a child. We came from the time when we were all called pedophiles and accused of all being child molesters. We came from that time. HOW FUCKING DARE YOU!!!

Did you know that years ago, by chance, I was working, weekends, providing recreational service to children with physical disabilities when I met a little boy who had been abandoned on the street by his parents? A boy who needed medication every single day to live? Dumped. Too much bother. No meds. No food. No clothing. Dumped. He was 6. I took him on an outing to the CNE and when going on a ride with him he said, "They think you're my dad," pointing at the staff at the ride, "I wish you were my dad." He cried a little. I comforted him and cried when I got home.

We actually spoke to a social worker about adopting him. No one wanted him. He was 6. He had a disability. He needed pills every day. He would probably die very young. We got through the paperwork. The social worker said that there had never been a gay adoption in the province but she would try. He needed a home. We had one. The visits happened. We answered questions, insulting ones, fully.

Then, the parents showed up. They were apologetic. APOLOGETIC! They dumped him on the street. Alone. He was found by a police officer. He talked about pills, needing his pills. They took him to a hospital. Then, to where I met him. But hey, they apologized. They were given him back. Because a weak straight apology was better than a strong gay home.

He died, months later, because they didn't feel like giving him his pills.

He'd just turned seven.

So no.

I don't have kids.

No I will never have kids.

Yet you shoot your mouth off assuming that only you have a story. That only you have history. That only you have feelings. I am a professional. I support. That's what I do. So I fucking apologized.

But let me be clear ...

... in my mind ...

... and in my heart ...

... and in my soul ...

... I screamed: HOW FUCKING DARE YOU!!!

10 comments:

leslie sobel said...

I am so sorry - that's the sort of loss you don't get to "officially" grieve - and I think that makes it even more dreadful. No words - that poor child - you would have been great parents.

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

The world can never apologize enough for what has been done to gay people, to people with AIDS, to children whose skin happens to be any color other than 'white,' to Jews, and Muslims, and anyone of a different religion...

We can't apologize enough to that little boy, who might have been your son, and still be alive.

Or to the child whose mother feels comfortable revealing personal information about as if he were property.

I couldn't agree with you more: how dare she?

Rachel S said...

I wonder what she's going to think about oversharing his personal information when he's an adult? Or if other people do it? Because that's the funny thing about people born with disabilities...we grow up, to become actual adults, perhaps with opinions about what get shared about us. Not so cute now, huh? Not getting so much of the "You have to put up with SO MUCH, Mom!" in return for oversharing anymore, huh?

I'm not a parent either but I'm sure glad she's not mine.

Sherry-Lynn K said...

She attacked you, and she had was offended because, as a person who is not a parent, you had the NERVE to have the opinion that our children have a right dignity and privacy more that we have a right to share their personal, private details??? Wow.

Sherry-Lynn K said...

I wanted to say, too, that I wish that little boy had become your little boy... someone who actually wanted him and would have loved and cared for him. :(

Liz Miller said...

i am holding you and Joe in my thoughts

Purpletta said...

I am so sorry, Dave. For your loss of what could have been. I am certain you would have been great parents. I am sorry for that young boy that we let him down. We as a society. I am sure his day with you at the CNE was a special one and that his visits with you let him know he was loved deeply. I can hear it in your voice in your writing this many years later so I am certain it was clear to him then. Thank you for honoring him by sharing his story with us...Christopher...

Amanda said...

I'm sorry that you and Joe and that boy were deprived of the chance to be a family, to give each other your love (obviously you and Joe still have, but I mean the three of you)...Even if he hadn't lived any longer with you, his life would have been immeasurably better-I'm sure of that.

And I'm sorry that you had to apologize to someone who was making assumptions about you and dismissing you. :(

Dylan Mcbane said...

I am so sorry that you had to experience that and never got the chance to be parents. Reading your blogs, i could imagine that you would of made a great father. it is a disgrace that society is the way that it is, and the lady that told you you didn't understand because you aren't a parent clearly didn't have a clue what you went through. I am so amazed how professional you kept yourself when you had so much anger and more to say, that is truly inspiring. i have been following your blog for the last few weeks and i would like to say how much you have taught me working in this field. Out of all your blogs, this one stood out the most to me, not only how heartbreaking it made me feel for you and your husband, but how mature and professional you handled yourself. You truly are an amazing person Dave and you keep your head up,and stay as strong as you are because you are leaving a mark in people's hearts and minds, like myself.

JIBIN V J said...

It is an inspirational blog and I am so inspired about Dave. His thoughts are very thought provoking. Davis life experiences are so helpful; and gives me encouragement to work with people disabilities. As the DSW student it is very helpful during placement and work place. Every blog inspired me a lot but the blog posted on February 4th “the magic flute and the guy in the line” explain about self-defense mechanism. I understand that if we face any situation or issues in the field I can use this tool as self-defense mechanism. The blog little thing also guide me a lot. I completely agree small things makes big difference’s you explained a common human behavior which gave me an insight when working with people having with disabilities. Am really thankful for all your blogs which made changes in me a lot. I enjoyed reading your daily post.