How dare you tell my daughter she can’t adopt?
Note from Dan: The author was born in Franklin County, grew up in Henry County, worked for the federal government for 23 years in Washington, D.C., and has been involved in real estate with her husband in the Roanoke/Smith Mountain Lake area since the early 1980’s. More on this later — but read it to the end!
By Helen Prillaman McCullough
I grew up in Henry County, went to school in Roanoke and I had no real concept of what our federal, state and local governments were about until my years in Washington where I was exposed to the good and bad of how our governing systems really work. I became a Conservative Republican over a period of time in hopes the conservative politicians would one day end the out of control spending at local, state, and federal levels. I did not know that one day I would be embarrassed to admit I am a Republican because of the radical social issues promoted by members of my party. I do believe in separation of church and state and I believe that God did not create any living things without a purpose.
During my years in Washington, I watched the waste of money in federal agencies which made me angry and cynical—from the lowly clerks to the top bureau and department heads we all learned how to be self serving one way or the other. I truly believe you could remove half the federal, state, and local employees and have a more efficient government both in spending and services. And so, Mr. McDonnell, I voted for you because I believed you were a person of principle, would work for fiscal responsibilities, and one who would not allow his personal opinions or social beliefs of others to govern our state.
After reading recently that you took it upon yourself to strike down the opportunity for children in this State to be adopted into what I know would and could be loving homes with parents of high standards, I wept. You passed judgment on a group of people you obviously know nothing about and you made a judgment call that put a black mark right over the head of my beautiful 6-year-old, well adjusted granddaughter who lives with her two moms in Virginia.
While still single, I unknowingly moved into an apartment building where there were several gay couples living. Of course, this was the 60s and no one ever mentioned the fact there were gays living ordinary lives. Over a period of years, I got to know these intelligent and wonderful people and watched how carefully they lived so as not to offend those of us who are “straight.” There was never once a discussion on sexual orientation. I learned they were just like me, except they had to hide a part of their life because they were university professors or administrators, lobbyists, federal government officials, and other professional men and women. I went to gatherings at the Bobby Kennedy house in Northern Virginia, I meet many top Congressmen and Senators at political parties, and I would never have had that opportunity had I not been friends with a gay male lobbyist who knew them all on a first name basis. How sad I felt for my friends and neighbors because our society had condemned them to a “lower level” of human beings.
As I watched our beautiful, fun loving, outgoing and happy daughter grow up, I always felt she was somehow “different” as a teenager. But she hung out with both boys and girls, went to church on Sundays, and was very active in school. Every once in a while, I would read in the paper about a teenager who for no know reason had committed suicide. I could not help but wonder if this was a result of not being “normal” in the sense of knowing who you are by our society’s standards. Our daughter seemed very “normal” and so I put my doubts aside.
After graduating from college, our daughter moved back to the Washington area. One day she told us she “thought she might be gay” and I think she was terrified of the consequences of what she was saying. We love our daughter and we wept not because she was gay but for what we feared for her in this judgmental and biased society we lived in — and obviously some almost 20 years later still live in. We encouraged her to seek therapy— not to “cure” herself from being gay but to learn to live with who she is. And I believe there was a period when she struggled because of rejection by some of her friends and her own self doubts. But our extended family never faltered in their love and support for her and this gave her strength to come to terms with the fact this was not a choice. Her dad continued to worry about her and he asked her if she would change her sexual orientation if she could. She very clearly stated she would not change because this is who she is. He immediately stopped being concerned about her happiness and what was ahead in her life.
Before I go on with my daughter’s journey, I want to mention a couple of things including your poor judgment on something you obviously know nothing about. I recently had an opportunity to experience something almost as disgusting as what you have done to the homosexual community. I had the unpleasant experience of being in the company of the chairman of a Tea Party here in Virginia who I had just met. At first he spoke of his religious beliefs and moved on to the disgusting sinful homosexuals. I listened, excused him for being ignorant, and had no comment. Then he spoke of his wife’s expertise as a school counselor at a Virginia school and she has determined all children of gay parents are unstable and have adjustment problems.
I had a lot to say at that point which I will not repeat here except to say a person who is responsible for treating all children equally should not be allowed in a school with these predetermined biases. I have trouble thinking this person could one day be in the same school as my granddaughter. I ask you, Mr. McDonnell, how well would your children do if they were exposed to such biases in their young life? Would they feel bullied when the other kids start to taut them? Did your children come with some guarantee that they are not going to discover they are homosexuals and not be what you consider makes a stable parent? Your attitude as an adult and parent— to say nothing of being the head of our great state — is why children put a gun to their head when they are 16 and believe they are “unacceptable” to their parents, their friends, and society in general.
My daughter has been in a monogamous relationship for 16 years. She and her partner work hard at being a family while living in a state which constantly reminds them they are not entitled to equal rights as guaranteed to the rest of us under our Constitution. They have friends you would define as “normal” parents and some who are gay parents you have defined as “unfit” and the children play together. At this age, the children do not seem to find it unusual that some have two moms or two dads, and some children have a mom and a dad. I worry for the day our granddaughter and her friends with gay parents have to meet children from homes like yours and the Tea Party chairman or face a homophobic school official. They will be bullied and made fun of and yes they could become unstable because you confirmed that their state government officials believe they and their parents are “different.”
I have a niece, with a Phd in early childhood development, who is an administrator at a high-profile private school and she tells me the gay parents she has worked with are extremely attentive and their children do well both academically and socially. On the other hand, I talked to a medical doctor recently about his gay daughter. He told me while medically he understands being gay is never a choice, he cannot reconcile this with what he reads in the Bible. As a religious man, I have trouble believing he cannot see his daughter as one of God’s creations who deserves to be loved and honored as any other human being. But then the governor of our state has deemed my daughter and the doctor’s daughter to be unfit to care for children so it must reinforce the fears of those like the doctor who have doubts about this issue.
You have proven you do not represent all our citizen on an equal basis so I hope your political ambitions end with this position you now hold. In some cases, your action has deprived needy children with the possibility of a loving home. I pity your children if they should turn out in later life not to meet the standards you have set for my child and grandchild. I believe God will one day have to explain to these ignorant people who believe all active gays are sinners that heaven is full of homosexuals and they might want to spend eternity in another place more suited to their attitude.