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Gay Plus Four in Israel

My 15-year-old adopted son asked me why we couldn't adopt a girl from Israel into the family. Because Dad is unfit, I answered

Tom Salama
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The Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem, 2016.
The Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem, 2016.Credit: Michal Fattal
Tom Salama

A new drama series I wrote will soon be aired by the cable network Hot. It’s a small story about one guy, me. My part is being played by Ran Danker. The guy wants to be a father, so he travels far away to adopt a child because in his country, they don’t allow him to.

In a High Court of Justice hearing on a petition submitted by the Israel Religious Action Center and the NGO Gay Dads, the state responded that same-sex parents should not be allowed to adopt children, and thus it determined that about 8 percent of the population are defective, unfit. I might not have noticed this if my 15-year-old adopted son had not asked me whether this meant we could not adopt another girl into the family. We could, I answered, if we travel to a Third World country, pay tens of thousands of dollars to adoption agencies in Israel and a few thousand more to adoption agencies abroad, and a few bribes here and there. Why not a girl from Israel, he asked. Because Dad is unfit, he’s defective, I answered.

Fourteen years ago, when I adopted my eldest son, I received a home visit from a social worker. Excited, I sat opposite her on my green velvet sofa, behind a wall with gold and red stripes, in the center of which a giant zebra head was hanging (leftover scenery from my work in television). Why don’t you get married, she asked, and her eyes rose to the zebra head, staring at it with gleaming eyes, as if asking: “Are you serious, sister?” I looked at her silently and she overcame an embarrassed look. At that moment I understood that she was just filling out a form that was composed by ignorant clerks.

Today I have four adopted children and a partner. My eldest son is smart and handsome and socially involved. My daughter is Israel’s champion in apparatus gymnastics, speaks three languages and is the most beautiful girl in Israel. The two other boys are in sports for the gifted, they’re good-looking too, and good-hearted. They’re all full of humor and love and they all have two fathers, Lord have mercy. Ah, yes, and they’re all adopted. From there, not from here; here it’s not allowed, like in Iran or Chechnya. And that’s after it was recently reported that the state had pledged to “Mrs. Putin” not to allow LGBT people to adopt children from Russia.

To remind you, last month tens of thousands of gay tourists came to the Tel Aviv gay pride parade. They filled the restaurants and the bars, rented cars and bikes, stayed at hotels and brought big money into the country, so there would be money to pay municipal taxes for “orphanages” where abandoned children are housed, or to pay for foster families that the state prefers raise the children.

And if we’re already discussing parenting permits, here are a few statistics about the typical gay family unit. Surveys show that most members of the LGBT community hold high-level positions, earn high salaries, are university-educated, groundbreakers and opinion leaders.

This is crazy. The state prefers children to be closed up in institutions and in foster families instead of giving them the option of a future in families that can and want to give them a home. Dealing with the question of whether gay people can be as good parents as straight people is illogical, shameful and insulting.

I wanted to have another girl. She can be black or white, Jewish or Arab. A girl, to invest in, to nurture, to maximize her potential, to help her succeed and be healthy in mind and body, like the rest of my children, who are not from here. They are from there, because here it’s not allowed, because here I’m unfit.

The author is a scriptwriter and creator on the series "Miguel" (based on the story of his life) to be broadcast by Hot. He lives with his partner and their four children.

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