Op-Ed: Four times the love


Photo credit: Michael Collins

My family poses for a picture on Thanksgiving. We were visiting my grandma in Houston, Texas. Timed photos are a staple in my family because we always want to be together. In almost all of our family photos, it’s the five of us — all of my parents radiating their love for me. 

By Olivia Hallinan-Gan, Podcaster

As a 3-year-old girl, I thought my life was pretty normal. I liked finger-painting and adding glitter to all of my creations. I enjoyed ballet, riding my bike and eating cupcakes (but only with rainbow sprinkles). I also enjoyed watching “Modern Family”  with my moms on Friday nights.

This changed when I entered preschool, and a boy in my class asked “Where are your parents?” I pointed and answered, “There’s mommy and there’s momma.” A puzzled look remained on his face as he asked “Where’s your dad?” This simple question echoed in my brain. I wondered why I had two moms and no dad.

I was born on Mar. 20, 2008, and two months later, California’s Supreme Court reversed the state’s ban on gay marriage. Five months later, my moms got married. In order for both of them to be on my birth certificate, my biological father had to relinquish his rights to me. This gave my nonbiological mom the opportunity to adopt me.

A month after my adoption and parents marriage, Proposition 8 was passed, which banned same-sex marriage. My parents were among the 11,000 gay couples married before the proposition was passed

At school, I was the only kid with two moms and two last names, something my classmates had many questions about. This was the first time I realized I didn’t have a “traditional” family. I lived with my moms until I was 6, and my unconventional family changed when my parents got divorced.  This event brought me closer to my biological father. I first called him “dad” when I was 7 years old. This wasn’t forced upon me, but I noticed my peer’s relationships with their fathers and wanted one of my own.

My dad might not be my parent in the legal sense, but to me, he is — and so is his husband, Michael. And, although I don’t live with them, I still consider them my parents.

I realized I had four parents who were all a part of the LGBTQ+ community. This seemed to confuse my classmates yet again.

Now, circling in the news are the apparent “challenges” children with gay parents have. In an opinion piece from Fox News, journalist Keith Ablow draws upon information provided by The New Family Structures study and states that children of LGBTQ+ parents experience “more depression, suicide, lawlessness, drug use, sexually transmitted disease and economic hardship.”

The Fox News piece highlighted that parents who have participated in same-gender relationships raise children with more “trouble” and “challenges.” Ablow argued the claim “there are no differences between children with different family structures” is false.

I agree that all family structures can impact a child’s development. However, being raised by parents who are gay has not harmed me. Alternatively, a study done by the American Phycological Network found there were “no differences between families headed by gay versus straight parents.”

The NFSS study has since been reevaluated for its validity, but this hasn’t prevented others from using it to back their arguments regarding the “poor” development of children with gay parents. Yes, my family structure has influenced who I am today; I love music from the ’70s and ’80s because my moms would constantly play it when I was growing up. But, having gay parents has not influenced my development or made me more “troubled” than those with straight parents.

As I’ve matured, I realize just how important it is to have a family that loves and cares for you. I’ve grown up with two moms and two dads. Maybe not biologically or legally, but I have had four times the love every day of my life. Yes, they are gay, but that has not influenced how I choose to identify myself. Who they choose to love has not made me more depressed or suicidal, despite what the NFSS study believes.

Not all children with gay parents are the same. It’s as simple as that. Just like not all children with straight parents are the same. I encourage everyone to leave their stereotypes and prejudices behind.

I appreciate my parents and all the support they have given me. And, I am so grateful for the four people who have loved me continuously throughout my life.