Homosexual Parenting?

When Love is Not Enough?

One woman describes her confusion and trauma— and how she overcame them.

by Scott DeNicole

Advocates of homosexual adoption routinely paint a picture of familial bliss--needy children welcomed into loving homes; gay parents just as capable as married couples to raise kids. Groups with names like Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere and Second Generation, trumpet with pride that their members have gay or lesbian parents.

For others, having a homosexual parent is nothing to celebrate.

Suzanne Cook remembers when, as a 7-year-old, she saw her father kissing another man at her front door--a scene that confused her and left her desperate for an explanation.

Three years later, her parents divorced, her father having already moved into an apartment with another man.

"I loved my dad and had no choice about accepting his homosexuality and having really self-destructive values imposed on me," Cook said. "I had to make homosexuality ‘OK.’"

"I remember as a kid when I did not want to go see my dad and his partner every other weekend--I was told I had to go. I had no choice. It was beyond what I could handle."

Today Cook serves on the staff of Portland Fellowship, a ministry to recovering homosexuals. She also speaks out about her childhood experience, sharing her story before legislators and the media. Cook doesn’t relish recounting her painful past, but does so if for no other reason than to show that homosexuality and good parenting don’t always go hand-in-hand.

Teen-age turmoil
Cook says her father’s sexual orientation threw her own sexual development into turmoil: In no uncertain terms, her father told Cook that the female body repulsed him. Adding to the confusion were episodes in which she and her father found themselves attracted to the same young men.

Being exposed to and accepting the homosexual lifestyle at such a young age, Cook says, warped her own ability to set sexual boundaries.

"I was in so much conflict for so long, I ended up adopting a moral compass that was way off the charts," she says. "When I had to say, ‘Homosexuality is OK,’ then what isn’t?

Cook had her first sexual encounter at age 12--"My first boyfriend ... was older than my dad," she said--and later aborted two pregnancies and experimented with drugs.

"Dad was not able to affirm my femininity in any meaningful way." she says. "I sought out other men to find validation of my femininity, using a series of sexual experiences in an attempt to fill my basic human need to accept myself."

Cook’s brother suffered, too. He was sexually abused by two of his father’s friends.

Good Intentions
Regardless of the trauma and confusion, Cook’s love for her father remained constant. To this day she genuinely believes her father tried his best to care for her.

"Did my father intend for my life to go this way? Cook asks. "No, he did not. Did he sincerely try to be a good father? Yes, he did--but sincerity has nothing to do with it."

The mantra of gay-adoption advocates is, "Love makes a family." But from her own experience, Cook says it takes more than love for proper parenting.

"My dad loved me, and he was always trying to do what was best for me while living his life the way he wanted to. I was loved, but I was in a very sick family and have suffered greatly as an adult because of it."

Cook’s destructive life turned to a path of healing at the age of 26 when she committed her life to Christ.

"I was radically saved," Cook says. "I had someone to follow--Jesus--and realized I’d have to learn everything all over."

One important lesson was finding the true meaning of sacrificial love--something Cook says she did not see evidence of in her father’s lifestyle.

"I didn’t understand what ‘sacrifice’ was--because homosexuality is a selfish lifestyle."

Called to action
Now married with a daughter of her own, Cook has an even deeper appreciation of the link between good parenting and sacrifice. She’s also discovered how sacrifice can turn tragedy into triumph. For Cook, that sacrifice has translated into telling her own story, and thus countering the claims that society has nothing to worry about when it comes to homosexual parenting.

Cook says it was a Focus on the Family radio broadcast that triggered her to begin sharing about her painful past. The broadcast featured a guest describing how homosexuals were being permitted to adopt children because there was no "legal" evidence that having gay parents was detrimental to a child’s development.

"It was like a lightning bolt struck me," Cook recalls. She realized she couldn’t speak for everybody with a gay or lesbian parent, but she did have the evidence of her own life.

"I have information that a whole lot of people don’t have," she says. "I come from a unique world where many children are not willing to talk about their experience--or even can."

Speaking out against gay adoption, Cook says, "isn’t rooted in revenge or retribution. It isn’t something that, on my own, I’d choose to do. But the homosexual issue is forcing me out. I have to tell the truth."

Cook knows her critics will insist that many children have few such struggles accepting and living with a parent’s homosexuality. But she refuses to concede that gay parenting is healthy for any child, adding that children are unable to assess the impact that same-sex parenting will have on their future development.

"I try not to generalize," she says. "But why would we put a child in a home with two people who cannot relate to the opposite sex? That’s a signal to society that they’ve got a problem. Children should be raised to learn to relate to the opposite sex."

Cook has also provided testimony in Oregon and Washington state in favor of proposed bans on same-sex marriage. (In Oregon a ban passed in the state Senate but last summer died in the House. The Washington state legislature in February overrode Gov. Gary Locke’s veto and enacted a ban.)

Dad’s love
Cook’s opponents aren’t surprising: Both the American Civil Liberties Union and gay-rights activists are doing their best to discredit her testimony.

But when it comes to Cook’s allies, there’s one in particular who’s quite significant, and most unexpected: her father. Instead of getting angry over Cook’s crusade against homosexual parenting--"I literally thought I would lose my father over this calling," she says--her father has come to support her position.

"He doesn’t think homosexual adoption is a good idea. My father and I agree: If you put children’s well-being first, homosexuality and raising healthy children exclude each other."

At long last, Cook’s father has given her what she craved from him for so many years: sacrificial love.

"He has actually been instrumental in my healing process. He has finally been able to be a father to me--to sacrifice and apologize. He’s seen the long-term effect his lifestyle ‘choice’ has had on his own children."

Citizen Magazine, June, 1998, Vol. 12, No. 6, published by Focus on the Family. Copyright 1998. Focus on the Family. All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured. Used by Permission.