The Kid (What Happened After My Boyfriend and I Decided to Get Pregnant):
An Adoption Story
by Dan Savage
E.P. Dutton, 1999

Reviewed by Marilyn G. Roy

     Having researched this book on Amazon.com’s web site, I know that the majority of individuals who have posted their own reviews give author Dan Savage’s The Kid at the very least a “B” rating. By majority, I mean 80% pro versus 20% con, matching the opinions of writers and national newspaper reviewers whose opinions were solicited for the book’s cover.
     For better or worse, this reviewer sides with the minority, for several reasons, mainly the language. Readers of Operation Identity’s Newsletter can draw their own conclusions, but be forewarned: Dan Savage is a nationally known sex columnist, whose first book, Savage Love, was peppered with terms like “breeder boys,” “bareback sex,” and other terms used by some gay men to describe themselves and their sexual activities. He spares us none of this colorful language in The Kid.
     In 1999, Savage and his partner, Terry Miller, decided to adopt a child through the Portland, OR-based agency Open Adoption and Family Services, Inc. Divided into four sections (Fertilization, Gestation, Birth, and After Birth), the book follows Savage and Miller’s journey as gay men through the hills and valleys of Oregon’s and Washington’s legal and adoption systems. They live in Seattle. After talking with a straight couple who had gone the “open” route with their two adopted children, Savage and Miller quickly decided to do the same. The Kid is actually a remarkable blend of very blunt, to-the-point-of-graphic descriptions of the couple’s personal lives, their intimate relationships, their hobbies (clubbing, drinking, watching porn), their family and friends, combined with the very moving, sometimes unbearably trying story of their effort to adopt.
     Along the way, we meet their caseworker, Laurie, a very grounded and non-judgmental woman in her mid-40s, who becomes mentor, guide, and advocate early on. The two begin their quest in the Lloyd’s Center Shopping Mall in Portland, where they meet other potential adoptive parents at a two-day seminar called “Adoption, a Lifelong Process.” We are treated to some humorous passages wherein the two gay partners contemplate their responses during such workshops as “Grieving Your Infertility.” We learn about their own yearnings for a “bio-kid,” and their (actually Dan’s) efforts to conceive with a lesbian couple and, as he describes her, a “lesbian single.” The women’s names are never revealed, but we do meet some of the seminar’s couples, two of whom befriend Savage and Miller, betting that, of all the attendees, the two men will ultimately be the first to be “picked” by a birth mother.
     And, they are right. Within eight weeks of their application (checks written, physicals completed, etc.), Melissa appears, seven months pregnant, 16 years old, and by choice, living on the streets of Portland. She, too, has decided on open adoption for her unborn child, and to her credit, gave up using drugs and alcohol upon discovering her pregnancy, albeit at about four and a half months along.
     Rather than retell the entire story, suffice it to say that we also learn about the dynamics between this couple, their real reasons for adopting, and Savage’s political views. Savage is definitely the dominant partner; Terry is the “quiet man,” and the first to fall in love with “David Kevin Daryl Jude Miller-Savage,” immediately upon holding him in the first few hours after his birth. Their son, now six years old, was ultimately named Daryl Jude Pierce, “D.J.,” for one each of Terry’s and Dan’s parents, and for his birth mother, Melissa Pierce.
     I believe readers will find this book both challenging and moving. A gay friend of mine said simply, “Anyone who is not politically liberal would not want to read him,” meaning Dan Savage. As a birth mother, I would say, “Read on.” Whether seeking to adopt, or seeking adoptive parents—gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, or straight—this is a story of great promise. However, it is not the best first glimpse of gay men as potential parents. As I said at the beginning, be forewarned!

Marilyn Roy is a writer and reunited birth mother who lives in Lawrence, Kansas. She periodically reviews books for this newsletter.

Excerpted from the January 2007 edition of the Operation Identitiy Newsletter
© 2007 Operation Identity