Dan Bucatinsky shares his adventures in fatherhood in his memoir Does This Baby Make Me Look Straight? Confessions of a Gay Dad -- the good, the bad, the ugly, and the downright depressing. He writes about the ups and downs of parenthood -- helping his then-four-year-old daughter provide a urine sample, feeling hurt when his kids make a Valentine's Day card for his husband and not for him, hoping no one will end up on an episode of Intervention. Bucatinsky is not afraid to make fun of himself and see the humor in being a gay dad, nor does he hold back from revealing his insecurities. The result is a funny and heartwarming read.
Bucatinsky and his husband, writer and director Don Roos, first adopted a girl, and later a boy, from the same birth mother. Bucatinsky went into detail about how they wooed one particular potential pregnant birth mother, but ended up breaking the deal after a blood test came up positive for -- whoops! -- methamphetamine (this was just one of many other problems they'd had with this woman). Two months later, they found that woman who would give birth to their two children.
Bucatinsky recalled their thrill when they found out they would have a girl: Girls seemed, at least to us, the better option for first-time parents. We assumed they'd be easier and sweeter and less likely to want us to play something horrible with them like football or smear-the-queer.
They were also excited to have a son, but Bucatinsky admitted to having mixed feelings about raising a boy who might resemble the ones who tormented him in his youth: Jonah has that same familiar bowlegged swagger, the confidence and the mischievous grin. Just walk, I want to tell myself each time he comes bounding toward me down the hall. But luckily, he's still small enough for me to just scoop him up, kiss his neck, and deflate my junior high school nightmares.
Bucatinsky shows his vulnerable side when he describes feeling like the second fiddle father to his husband. He admits, for example, to being jealous when the kids prefer riding in the car with their other dad. He wrote about one particularly depressing Valentine's Day when he didn't get a crafty gift from the kids, even though he helped them paint a frame for their other dad. The author drew a comparison with Amy Chua, who described tearing up the birthday cards her daughters made for her in her 2011 book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, on the grounds that they didn't put enough effort into them (which her daughter later admitted was true in an open letter in the New York Post).
I started to feel something bubbling deep within me that I can only describe as a battle hymn, Bucatinsky wrote. That's right. My inner Tiger Mom was only wishing I had a card I could throw back in their faces to put a little more thought into.
He wrote about getting over it all later: And when I saw the whole bag of stupid Disney ads masquerading as valentines in the trash at the end of the night, I realized where my real valentines were. They were fast asleep in their little beds upstairs, open books in their laps, lollipop sticks stuck in their hair, crashed out from all the sugar.
Traumatized by the show Intervention, Bucatinsky wrote about his fears that his kids will turn out badly one day, even though he and his husband work so hard to make sure they are being the best dads they can be.
Every single porn star has a parent somewhere with a photo album of the kid in a onesie with a pacifier in his or her mouth - the same mouth that, eighteen years later, will be jammed by a ten-inch schlong! Probably pierced!, he wrote. Who can I pay to make sure they don't get molested by some neighbor, cousin, or babysitter's boyfriend and then numb the pain by doing heroin, crack, or porn?
Bucatinsky is not afraid to make jokes about being a gay dad, but one of the nice things about his book is that any mom or dad -- gay or straight -- will find something relatable. It would have been more helpful to potential adoptive parents had he discussed the adoption process more in-depth -- although actress Nia Vardalos' upcoming memoir on adoption promises to fill that void -- but Does This Baby Make Me Look Straight? is a fun, meaningful read all the same. Bucatinsky's willingness to open up and admit his insecurities, and make fun of himself from time to time, answers the question the book's title poses. No, the baby (or, in his case, babies) does not make him look straight. And it doesn't have to.
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