Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Book Review: The Kid: What Happened After My Boyfriend and I Decided to Go Get Pregnant: An Adoption Story, by Dan Savage

The Kid: What Happened After My Boyfriend and I Decided to Go Get Pregnant: An Adoption Story
by Dan Savage
246 pages

Can I just say, right from the get-go, that I love Dan Savage? Love. Him. I'd heard of his sex-advice column "Savage Love" before his phenomenal "It Gets Better" project, but The Kid is the first book of Savage's I've read.

And I love this book too. I mean, I don't think there was a page - hell, probably a paragraph - that didn't have me either laughing or or smiling knowingly (as knowingly as I could smile without actually not having gone through the adoption process per se - we came pretty close to it - but especially at the parts early in the book where Savage writes about being at a seminar with other infertile couples pursuing adoption.)

"When I hit puberty, I got the news that I was functionally infertile. But the straight couples at the seminar had only recently gotten that news, and they were still adjusting to it.  How much we had in common with them was driven home by the rhetoric the counselors used during the seminar. It was the rhetoric of coming out. The straight couples were encouraged to accept what they could not change. In time, they'd see their 'problem' as a blessing. It was important to tell family and friends the truth, even if they might not understand at first. They might in their ignorance ask hurtful questions, but be patient and try to answer. And while it is possible to live a lie, possible to adopt a child and pass it off as your biological child, no one can spend a lifetime in the closet. Now we all had some common ground." (pg. 26)

Savage takes his reader through the entire adoption process, from his and Terry's decision to adopt, to the seminar mentioned above, to asking their neighbors (whom they either didn't know well or not at all) for letters of recommendation, to writing a Dear Birthparent letter and meeting a birthmother. (Savage's satirical "anti-birthparent letter" makes for some of the most hilarious reading in The Kid):

"We are Terry and Dan. Yes, we are both men, and we would like to adopt your baby! .... We have been with each other for three months. We hope to adopt a baby soon, as gay relationships don't usually last longer than six or seven months. ....Dan is fifty-nine years old, has heart trouble, smokes three packs a day, and will be the sole means of support for our little family.  Terry is seventeen years old and emulates Martha Stewart in every possible way, including Martha's emotional distance and passive-aggressiveness.  ....Most of our friends are in the music industry and addicted to hard drugs. They are all very excited about baby-sitting! As most of them use only heroin and not dangerous hallucinogenics, the odds that one of them will pop the baby into the microwave are pretty low."  (pg. 89-90)

At one point, you begin to wonder if this adoption thing is really going to work itself out for Dan and Terry.  (I'll let you read the book for yourself to find out.)  I was completely hooked and invested in this story and could not put this down, especially for the last third of the book. In a very good way, Dan takes his reader along for the the good, the bad, and the ugly of this adoption ride - a hilarious one, by the way, because his descriptions of arguing with Terry over the music played in the car during their frequent seven hour rides from Seattle to Portland are priceless ... and universal to all relationships, gay or straight.

Now, that all being said, this book is not going to appeal to everyone ... say, umm ... folks identifying with certain religious or political groups. Savage is no-holds-barred here when talking about his life and relationship with Terry (and, well ... certain religious and political groups). There's more than a decent share of description of certain private acts and whatnot, which might offend some people ... but then again, if you're offended by certain words and different lifestyles, you're probably not going to be picking up and reading a book with the subtitle "What Happened After My Boyfriend and I Decided to Go Get Pregnant."

Savage knows that, and that's okay with him.

It's a surreal experience, knowing that this book was published in 1999 and reading it 14 years later.

"Until same-sex marriage was legal, something I expected to happen around the time my children's children's children were long dead, I could only call Terry my husband or spouse if I was willing to say those words with little quotation marks stuck on each end. This I was unwilling to do." pg. 11

Savage is akin to Nostradamus with some of his thoughts ("If the religious right is serious about 'washing the stain of homosexuality off the face of this great nation,' as one fundy web site I read puts it, there will have to be more murders. Few gays and lesbians will subject themselves to 'reparative therapy' quacks and the vast majority of us have no interest in becoming 'ex-gay.' Homosexual behavior cannot be eliminated without eliminating homosexual people." pg. 19). 

Remember, this is 1999.

As funny as The Kid is, this is also an incredibly personal book.  Savage's writing about the impact of his parents' divorce and his relationship with his father are especially revealing. By bringing his family and Terry's into the narrative, too, and again, we see dynamics of our own extended family relationships and realize that perhaps ... maybe we're not so different after all.

copyright 2013, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

1 comment:

Ali said...

A perfect review for this week! 1999 seems so long ago in some ways, I'm glad that the "historical" aspect of the book didn't detract.