Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Stopped in at our former neighborhood bar last night. Stephan was working, though he told me he only works there on Monday nights these days. He’s a big handsome gym queen, and he always asks about Adinah. First he always asks, ‘What’s your daughter’s name again?’ Last night, when I walked in, he stopped talking to the young man sitting at the bar, immediately switched to English, and pumped me with so many questions about our family that I had to remind him that I had also come for a drink.
Stephan has always wanted to have a kid. Or at least, whenever he sees me, he likes to think and talk about having a kid. He seems like a sweet man. It’s probably been two years since I’ve seen him.
So last night he had lots of questions about V. ‘So she’s your foster kid?’ ‘How is that different from an adopted kid?’ ‘Is it expensive?’ ‘Is there a lot of paperwork to do?’ ‘How long did it take to get her?’ And so forth. Culminating with the last question, the one he always returns to when I return to his bar, ‘Do you think I could have a foster kid, even though I don’t have a partner?’
I told him, ‘Yes, I think you could. We know a lesbian couple who have two foster kids.’
His young friend at the bar disagreed. ‘Surely not, Stephan,” he said in German. “No way.” He said a single gay man could never become a foster father in this super Catholic country. But I began to doubt this character’s judgement over the next hour plus as I listened to him see-saw between complaining about Austrian provincialism and exhibiting it.
Mostly I was struck again by the fact that some people just want to have kids, whether or not it’s practical or even possible. Even without a boyfriend or a husband, some men think, ‘I want to be a papa.’ Women too: our friend K was like this—she was determined to adopt or become a foster parent, and when she met her girlfriend, she said, ‘Think twice before you get involved with me—I’m pregnant.’
I know this is accepted, or explained away as a ‘parenting urge’ or some such, but still I find it remarkable. In Stephan’s case, maybe it’s just a fantasy, nothing serious, not something he will ever make happen. Still, isn’t it amazing that even in these completely crazy times, some folks just want to step up to the plate and take on all this work and joy and heartbreak and other stuff?
I’m muttering again, I know, but I think that’s amazing.