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
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
"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
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 doesnt relish recounting her painful past, but does
so if for no other reason than to show that homosexuality and good parenting dont
always go hand-in-hand.
Cook says her fathers 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 isnt?
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
"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."
Cooks brother suffered, too. He was sexually abused by two of his fathers
Regardless of the trauma and confusion, Cooks 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
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."
Cooks 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 Id 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 fathers lifestyle.
"I didnt 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. Shes 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
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 childs development.
"It was like a lightning bolt struck me," Cook recalls. She realized she
couldnt 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 dont 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, "isnt rooted in revenge or
retribution. It isnt something that, on my own, Id 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 parents 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? Thats a signal to
society that theyve 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
Lockes veto and enacted a ban.)
Cooks opponents arent surprising: Both the American Civil Liberties Union and
gay-rights activists are doing their best to discredit her testimony.
But when it comes to Cooks allies, theres one in particular whos
quite significant, and most unexpected: her father. Instead of getting angry over
Cooks 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 doesnt think homosexual adoption is a good idea. My father and I agree:
If you put childrens well-being first, homosexuality and raising healthy children
exclude each other."
At long last, Cooks 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. Hes seen the long-term effect his
lifestyle choice has had on his own children."