Dawn Stefanowicz explains her experience being raised by a gay parent

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

I was listening to a 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.

Have you ever considered what effect it has on a child that they have to grow up without their mother or their father? Is that good for them? Is that something that we should be promoting so that there is more of it? It’s a sad thing to tell adults that they cannot do whatever they want, but it’s a sadder thing to harm children just so that adults can do whatever they want. We need to choose to be careful not to harm children by making poor decisions.

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

  1. I don’t really see the value in this type of story. All it really shows is that this woman’s experience growing up with a homosexual father wasn’t a good one. There are other stories of people who have grown up with same-sex parents testifying of their positive experiences. Should we not then make much of their positive experiences? Well, we should, if we are to make much of the experiences of those like Dawn Stefanowicz’s. If we don’t know, however, then neither should make much of this woman’s story.


      1. Those studies are in contradiction to the APA’s statement that:

        “Overall, results of research suggest that the development, adjustment, and well-being of children with lesbian and gay parents do not differ markedly from that of children with heterosexual parents”.


        1. There is an article in the related posts about the APA. They are hopelessly biased and there are flaws with the early studies that they are citing, like selection bias and small sample sizes. Meanwhile, we have research from the last two years that is conclusive. This post is merely to take a look at what the recent, large-scale studies show with a low-level case study.


          1. I was actually just looking over that post you referred to on the APA. I understand that you think it’s “hopelessly biased” but the fact of the matter is, it represents the largest association of professional psychologists in the world, and is considered a highly reputable academic body for psychology in the United States and Canada. To simply dismiss it as hopelessly biased is to not take seriously its academic noteworthiness. Moreover, some of the studies referred to above seem questionable. For example, in the APA post that you link in the related posts section, there was a link to a research paper by the Family Research Council. I very much doubt the legitimacy of their research and/or claims, especially with their recent ascent to the status as a “hate” group by the Southern Poverty Law center.


          2. The paper by Family Research Council is not original research. It cites evidence from reputable sources, such as the U.S. Census Bureau, National Center for Health Statistics, Center for Disease Control, U.S. Department of Justice, etc. Peer-reviewed studies and academic works.

            Regarding the Southern Poverty Law Center, they are the ones who inspired the recent shooting the FRC with their “hate map”, which told the shooter exactly where to go for his mass murder:

            And keep in mind that the SPLC also labels Focus on the Family as a hate group, as well as the National Organization for Marriage, American Family Association, Traditional Values Coalition, and so on.

            Take a look:

            That’s the kind of people we are dealing with there. If you believe in traditional marriage, they brand you as a hate group. Do you believe in traditional marriage, JR4? If so, then you are a hateful bigot, according to the SPLC.


  2. I’ll look over the studies cited by the FRC (with caution). As for the SPLC, they aren’t responsible for the shooting, neither of course is CNN. The man was just nuts and clearly not in any normal mental state. Also, Focus on the Family, the National Organization for Marriage, and Traditional Values Coalition aren’t listed as hate groups by the SPLC. I didn’t find them listed in their list of hate groups. For the ones they have listed as hate groups (such as the FRC and AFA), the reasons they give for listing them as hate groups appear to be actually justified to a degree. I think you should reconsider the merit of some of these organizations and their agendas.

    And I don’t really believe in traditional marriage anymore, at least not from a legal standpoint. Even if I did, I don’t think the SPLC would classify me as a “hateful bigot”.


    1. Here’s NOM:

      That’s the largest pro-marriage group in America. They may be backing off of that now, but that’s just because their writings inspired the attempted mass murder at the Family Research Council. That’s the kind of group you are invoking against people like James Dobson. The Family Research Council is the think tank of Focus on the Family.

      Here’s the complete list on the SPLC web site:


      1. I checked further into these groups. While NOM is listed as an anti-gay group, it’s not listed as a hate group by the SPCL. That’s made clear in the introduction of that list from the SPLC that you provided above.Traditional Values Coalition was also listed as an anti-gay group, but with an asterisk indicating that they will be listed as hate group the following year of this 2010 report. Well it’s 2013 now and I still haven’t found their inclusion as a hate group in any of the current listings that I’ve seen from the SPLC. With respect to the FRC, they are a separate legal entity from Focus on the Family, and have been since 1992.


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