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Dan Savage – The Kid

August 8, 2013

57. The Kid: What Happened After My Boyfriend and I Decided To Go Get Pregnant: An Adoption Story by Dan Savage (1999)

Read By: Dan Savage
Length: 7 hours 33 min (246 pages)

Genre: Memoir

Started: 17 July 2013
Finished: 21 July 2013

Where did it come from? From Penguin Audio for review.
Why do I have it? I’m a longtime fan of Savage’s but I’ve still read relatively few of his books.

All Dan wants is to
be a father… and that’s all
his husband wants too.

Summary: When Dan Savage decided he was ready to be a father, the process was a bit more complicated then for most people. Because Dan is gay, he and his boyfriend Terry were limited in their options for having children. They had had discussions with lesbian friends about fathering a biological child, but in the end, they decided that adoption represented the only practical solution. But in the late ’90s, adoption by gay parents was legal in only a handful of states, and even in the liberal and progressive Pacific Northwest, Dan and Terry worried if a birth mom would ever pick a gay couple to raise her child. But as they entered the adoption process, they found that had surprises and challenges and heartbreak and joy in store for them that they never would have anticipated.

Review: I’ve been a fan of Dan Savage’s for a long time. Probably since about the time he published this book, in fact. But prior to this year, I’d only read one of his books. So I knew this book was out there, and knew it was something I’d probably enjoy (despite the fact that memoirs are typically not a favorite genre of mine). I also knew, at least in broad outline, the story of how Dan and Terry adopted DJ, their son. Savage is an advice columnist, focused on the lives of the people asking for advice, so he doesn’t talk a lot about his family and his personal life on his blog or in his podcasts. But I’d assimilated enough pieces over time to put together at least a vague idea of the story. The book, of course, goes into a lot more detail than I’d heard before. I think that’s one of the things that made this such an interesting reading experience: the fact that it was a memoir, that it was personal, that we get to see inside Dan’s everyday life, and see Terry as a person rather than a passing mention.

While the subject matter isn’t something that would have made me pick this book up if I hadn’t been familiar with the author – gay adoption stories, or even adoption stories in general, aren’t something that holds a particular interest for me – I thought The Kid was not only an interesting look into the adoption process, but also an interesting read due to its very clear place in time. I was worried that this book would be dated – DJ, who isn’t born until near the end of the book, is now a 15-year-old kid. And it was dated, but in such a way that made me surprisingly happy. So much has changed in the arena of gay rights in the past 15 years; among other things, Savage writes in the book about Terry being his boyfriend (he dislikes the word “partner”), and how he doesn’t think that he’ll see marriage equality in his lifetime. I was hoping that the audiobook production, which was just recorded this year (well after Terry and Dan were married in Washington state), would include a new foreword or afterword in which Savage addresses some of the changes the past 15 years have wrought. It didn’t, sadly, but I suppose I know Savage’s opinion well enough from having read his column all this time.

Listening to Savage read this book was a great experience. I didn’t have the same problems with The Kid as I did with American Savage – perhaps because it’s an older book and Savage has a little more distance on it, or perhaps because it’s material that was new to me, but I thought his reading sounded natural and lively but still distinct from the off-the-cuff style of his podcasts. Hearing the story not only from his perspective, but also in his voice, really brought the book to life, and I laughed out loud in quite a few places, but I also surprised myself by tearing up several times – especially since I already knew how the story ended. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Unlike American Savage, I think The Kid is perfectly accessible to readers who aren’t already fans of Savage’s, but who are interested in issues of gay rights, adoption, and/or memoirs with a snarky sense of humor.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: The Betty and Boo Chronicles
Couldn’t find any others, probably because it’s fairly old. Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: My boyfriend likes to listen to dance music when he drives.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 8, 2013 2:38 pm

    We have quite a few friends and neighbors who have adopted and I know the process can be quite the ordeal. This sounds good to me.

    • August 9, 2013 3:24 pm

      Kathy – Dan and Terry were committed to the idea of open adoption, where the birth mother remains part of the child’s life. It wasn’t something I knew much about, but it was interesting to hear how it worked.

  2. August 9, 2013 3:16 pm

    How lovely that he has been able to see (at least some) marriage equality in his time. He posted a thing — did you see? — that absolutely shredded me, how when DOMA was overturned, Matthew Shepard’s mother said that Matthew had asked her one time if she thought gay marriage would ever be legal. And she said she didn’t think it would be in her lifetime, but she was sure it would in his.

    (Tears in my eyes ONCE AGAIN writing that.)

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