Dawn Stefanowicz explains her experience being raised by a gay parent

*** WARNING: This post is definitely for grown-ups only! ***

I was listening to the latest Dr. J podcast on “Why Marriage Matters”, and I heard about a woman named Dawn Stefanowicz, who was raised by her gay father in Toronto.

So, I looked around and found this interview with Dawn posted on MercatorNet. This is mature subject matter.


Gay marriage and gay adoption are being fiercely debated in a number of countries. Usually these issues are framed as a human rights issue. But whose rights? Patrick Meagher, MercatorNet’s contributing editor in Canada, recently interviewed a woman who was raised by a homosexual father. She feels that her rights as a child were completely ignored.

Dawn Stefanowicz (www.DawnStefanowicz.com) grew up in Toronto. Now in her 40s, she has written a book, Out From Under: Getting Clear of the Wreckage of a Sexually Disordered Home, to be released later this year. Stefanowicz has now been married for 22 years, is raising a family, and also works as an accountant. She has also testified about same-sex marriage in Washington and Ottawa.


MercatorNet: How did you feel about what was going on around you?

Stefanowicz: You become used to it and desensitised. I was told at eight years old not to talk about this but I knew that something was wrong. I was not thinking “this is right or wrong” but I was disturbed by what I was experiencing. I was unhappy, fearful, anxious and confused. I was not allowed to tell my father that his lifestyle upset me. You can be four-years-old and questioning, “Where is Daddy?” You sense women are not valued. You think Daddy doesn’t have time for you or Daddy is too busy to play a game with you. All this is hard because as a child this is the only experience you have.

MercatorNet: How did this affect your relationship with others?

Stefanowicz: I had a hard time concentrating in school on day-to-day subjects and with peers. I felt insecure. I was already stressed out by an early age. I’m now in my 40s. You’re looking at life-long issues. There is a lot of prolonged and unresolved grief in this kind of home environment and with what you witness in the subcultures.

It took me until I was into my 20s and 30s, after making major life choices, to begin to realise how being raised in this environment had affected me. Unfortunately, it was not until my father, his sexual partners and my mother had died, that I was free to speak publicly about my experiences.


MercatorNet: Why do so few children speak out?

Stefanowicz: You’re terrified. Absolutely terrified. Children who open up these family secrets are dependent on parents for everything. You carry the burden that you have to keep secrets. You learn to put on an image publicly of the happy family that is not reality. With same-sex legislation, children are further silenced. They believe there is no safe adult they can go to.

I noticed that Bill Muehlenberg has an even more controversial review of Dawn’s book about her childhood, too. When I was doing research on these issues, I read Dr. Jeffrey Satinover’s “Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth” and Dr. Joseph Nicolosi’s “A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality“. But I think I am going to buy Dawn’s book, too. It sounds like a tough read, but it may be necessary to understand what is really at stake, so my views can be formed by real data.

NOTE: Comments to this post will be strictly filtered in accordance with Obama’s hate crimes bill.

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8 thoughts on “Dawn Stefanowicz explains her experience being raised by a gay parent”

  1. Very good beginning in opening up this explosive topic. God has designed families the way He has for a purpose. That design is what is best for children and leads to the most security and maturity for those children. To take the baggage of homosexuality into the parent raising combo, is only adding to the already difficult task of raising children. You are right, the sadness about this is that it really isn’t about the well-being of the child, but some sense of normalcy those who are not normal are trying to have.

    Hopefully she won’t be just blasted as insensitive and relegated to the sidelines.


  2. I’m busy reading “Out of the Shadows” by Graham Ingram. You can find it on Amazon. It’s particularly interesting for me, because I knew him; he pastored the church I was a member of as a young Christian in the early 1980s.


  3. The question, of course, is just in what sense can one account–subjective and anecdotal–be considered “real data”? Not to diminish Dawn’s experiences, but she is only one person; this is exactly the opposite of “real data”. Plenty of children are raised by gay parents and never have the issues that Dawn is talking about: they simply never speak out about it because, in their minds, there is nothing to speak out against. To the above poster: you are indulging in circular reasoning there, but no matter: as long as you admit that your opposition to gay marriage and adoption are based on your religious preconceptions, I am happy.


  4. Jorg,

    You said that “Plenty of children are raised by gay parents and never have the issues that Dawn is talking about…” How do you know? Isn’t this just anecdotal evidence in itself?


    1. Of course it is. But I personally do not know of any person having problems of Dawn’s kind, although I know quite a few gay couples and people raised by such. Of course, I could be revolving in wrong circles, and I do not claim any certainty here; however, one can draw tentative conclusions: in general, only those with some beef will come forward, and we see precious few of those. Are you implying that it is more likely that people are intimidated into silence?


  5. Above are just some of the reasons why most adult children will never go public. I hear from so many, but only 9 have allowed me to post their stories publicly on my website at http://www.dawnstefanowicz.org under Resources>Adult Children>Our Stories… The major issue at hand is that when adult children go public, people try to diminish what they are saying about their experiences; meanwhile, adult rights are placed above children’s needs. Activists are funded by huge corporate sponsors while adult children have to overcome a lot of the wreckage left in their lives before even attempting to share their stories. We often wait until we are in our 40’s or older and possibly when our parent is no longer alive… There is so much more I could write here, but it is only a comment section. Thank you for addressing this crucial topic because children’s needs matter.


    1. Dawn,

      I saw a video in which you explained your experience, and read all of the stories from your resources section. My heart goes out to you, and all the children who have been hurt by their parents’ bad decisions. No child should need to live through that.

      Something that struck me was that, with only one exception—that of Robert Lopez—these stories follow a very similar pattern: one parent was gay, for some reason they married an opposite-sex partner, the family fell apart and the child was left dealing with a broken home and a gay parent coming to terms with their sexuality in the worst way.

      What possesses a gay person to marry an opposite-sex partner? Why would someone do such a thing, Dawn? You have lived through the consequences of this madness: unhappy families, infidelity, divorce and, ultimately, an insecure, confused adult throwing themselves into a lifestyle that pushes their child into second place.

      I’m a gay adult, and my fiancé will be moving to the UK soon for good. (We would do it the other way around, but DOMA means I would only be able to get a non-immigrant visa, and past experience has made it clear that it could be dangerous and painful to live in a country where my relationship would not be legally recognised.) When I was at university, there was a time when I felt a strong romantic attraction to a girl but no sexual attraction whatsoever. At the time I was in a relationship with my late (male) partner, and had to think seriously about what I wanted.

      In the end, I chose to stuck with him, and I’m glad. I’m glad, because these stories make it clear that even if I tried my best, I would certainly have hurt her, myself and our children if it got that far. I’m glad I understood myself well enough at that age to make the right decision, and I’m glad that I’ll soon be marrying a wonderful man.

      We plan to adopt in a few years, when we have settled down in our own house and I’m comfortable in my career. I want you to know that our children will never need to experience the pain you did. They will not lack for love or stability, nor will they lack for guidance as Robert feels he did—they will have plenty of aunts, uncles and older cousins, and we do not feel obliged to hide or segregate ourselves in a trailer! I’m glad we live in a country where the government understands that it’s important for same-sex couples and their families to have the same opportunity, protection and respect as opposite-sex couples

      Thanks for sharing your experience.


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