Cobb, who was adopted himself, always wanted a child of his own. “I didn’t think there would be any particular challenge as a gay couple to have a kid. Of course, I was much more naïve at the time.”
Jas Prussmaon Jason Co n, b and th b son Jaco eir bb
By Michael Yost
Family Conscience: Navigating Same-sex Parent Adoptions As Catholic Charities threatens to halt adoption services in Colorado once civil unions begin May 1, one family demonstrates that a loving and nurturing home isn’t limited by traditional deﬁnitions. “We love spending time in the mountains,” said Jason Cobb, a lawyer who lives in Denver with his partner, Jason Prussman. Their adopted son, Jacobb, turned six years old in February. “He’s a very athletic kid. He plays soccer, and he’s going to rugby camp this spring. Most of our time is spent just trying to catch up with him.” Cobb, who was adopted himself, always wanted a child of his own. “I didn’t think there would be any particular challenge as a gay couple to have a kid. Of course, I was much more naïve at the time.” When Cobb and Prussman first began looking to start a family, they quickly discovered most adoption agencies had restrictions regarding placing children with same-sex parents. Adoption agencies often advised birth parents that the ideal household consisted of a married father and mother. “They didn’t have a very diverse outlook,” said Cobb. “I think that’s changing a bit, but it’s taken a concerted effort by agencies willing to work with diverse adopted
march 20, 13 | outfrontonline.com
families to incorporate that education into their counseling with birth parents.” After a lengthy search, Cobb and Prussman finally found an agency willing to work with them. But it still took a year of waiting before they received a call. “They set us down and said, ‘we’re not going to be adopting infants to anyone right now, but as a gay couple, there’s not a lot of people who would consider you anyway.’” It was 2006, the same year Amendment 43 was added to the Colorado Constitution defining marriage between a man and a woman. “Every dream that we had of living a normal life seemed to come apart that Fall.” But the New Year brought with it an unexpected development. Cobb was connected by a friend to a birth parent looking to place specifically with a male couple. There was one just one caveat – she was due in only a few weeks. The complicated process of vetting any couple for adoption takes six to nine months. “They pulled it off in three weeks,” said Cobb, referring to the organization Adoption Options which expedited the process. “Thankfully it was a non-sectarian private agency. They treated us with respect and dignity, and really busted their humps to make it happen before he [Jacobb] arrived.” In February of 2007, Cobb and Prussman brought Jacobb home – a day shy of the couple’s ninth anniversary. There are 115,000 same-sex households raising children nationwide, according to the 2010 Census. More than 4,000 of those households live in Colorado. Yet the debate over gay adoptions has never been more contentious. Catholic Charities of Denver has threatened to end their adoption program if the civil unions bill is signed into law without an amendment (called the “conscience clause”) which would exempt organizations citing religious beliefs from providing adoption services to same-sex couples. “Senate Bill 11 unduly restricts the freedom of child placement agencies like Catholic Charities,” the organization’s press release stated, adding that civil unions are a strike against religious liberties and limits the agency from partnering “with foster and adoptive families who share common purpose, and live common values.” Numerous health care professionals have rejected the notion that same-sex parents are somehow less nurturing. In 2004, the American Psychological Association released a statement, citing that “lesbian and gay parents are as likely as heterosexual parents to provide supportive and healthy environments for their children.” Cobb commented that there are children waiting for homes, and same-sex couples waiting to create a family. “I find it offensive that they [Catholic Charities] would suggest a child should be denied a home.” “It may be a principled stand,” he added, “but it is not a moral stand in my view.” Raising children carries its own set of challenges for any family, but Cobb worries the conscious clause would be used to blatantly discriminate against his family. “I still get a little bit of anxiety every time we go out of town.” said Cobb. “You have to live with the anxiety of not exactly knowing where you’re welcome, or where you can turn if there’s a problem. That’s the peace of mind that the socalled religious liberties exception robs us of.” On March 12, Colorado’s House of Representatives passed the civil unions bill – without a “conscience clause” – to the governor’s desk. As this goes to press, Governor Hickenlooper is expected to sign the bill within a week. Cobb had been filling out invitations for his son’s birthday party the morning he spoke with Out Front. It was almost six years ago he and Prussman visited their son at the hospital before bringing him home. It was an experience any parent can relate to. “Those first moments of bonding were so incredible. We got to hold him and feed him, going through what has to feel miraculous for everyone.” ]
[ [ liVinG ] ]
COVER STORY: Young, Gay and Broke: gay men who live outside the margins of traditional society.