Abbie Goldberg ’99 is the author of the new book Gay Dads: Transitions to Adoptive Fatherhood , published by New York University Press, which collects stories and empirical data from interviews with 70 gay men, taking a close look at societal and political issues in gay parenthood.
Introducing the book with a vignette of two new adoptive fathers, Carter and Patrick, Goldberg dives into a discussion of the mazes of adoption agencies, couples’ decisions to openly present themselves as gay, the social implications of parenthood, and the changes in career commitment.
“Exploration of the experiences of gay adoptive fathers,” Goldberg writes, “has the capacity to stretch and enrich our national understanding of the sexuality, gender, and race contours of ‘family.’”
The place of gay parenthood in society is now becoming more recognized, she says, with popular television and movies positively depicting same-sex couples and their adopted children.
From her interviews, Goldberg finds that gay men who decide to adopt face societal scrutiny, stereotyped as being less effective caretakers than women. With recent political progress in the realm of gay civil rights, as well the overall increase in gay-parent families, more and more couples have realized their own ability to become good parents.
Parenthood for gay men is very deliberate and most often informed by the stability of the couple’s relationship as well as their financial and career stability. The process of adoption, expensive to begin with, provides additional stresses and challenges as gay couples attempt to work around state laws and adoption agency restrictions.
While heteronormativity still governs the institutions and discussions of the “average American family,” Goldberg argues that gay couples are now more interested in raising children than they were just 20 years ago. By focusing specifically on gay male couples, Goldberg examines how these men defy traditional ideas of masculinity and father roles to create new, more diverse identities for both themselves and their family.
Goldberg is associate professor of psychology at Clark University in Worcester, Mass., as well as a senior research fellow at the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. She previously published the book Lesbian and Gay Parents and Their Children: Research on the Family Life Cycle (Contemporary Perspectives on Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Psychology) with the American Psychological Association.