Mickey Weems 「Alec Mapa: For The Love Of Zion」

Posted on August 26, 2014
Alec Mapa, his husband Jamie Hebert and their son Zion
PUBLISHED IN PRINT JUNE 2014 // Photos courtesy of Alec Mapa + Steven C. De La Cruz Photography
“Daddy and Papa”: this is how one 9-year-old boy knows Alec Mapa and his husband Jamie Hebert. Mapa is “Daddy,” a title that the flamboyant actor says no other person besides his son can say to him with a straight face. A seasoned veteran of television in shows such as 「Ugly Betty」, 「Desperate Housewives」, and 「Heartland」, Mapa stars in 「Baby Daddy」, a film that features his one-man show covering various topics such as hosting gay porn awards and becoming a father.

Hosting porn awards is great comic material. But fantasies of the hard-on are secondary to realities of the heart. Mapa shines when he talks about what he and Hebert went through to bring their son Zion home, and bring him home for good.

Adopting a child involves a series of choices that a future parent must make. It often includes a nerve-wracking time period when a birth parent may call the whole thing off. Mapa and Hebert knew that some choices were more likely to get them a child without fear of the birth parents taking the child back. This means finding someone that was stuck in the system. Many kids never get adopted because of their age and race.

What others did not want, Mapa and Hebert purposely sought with stubborn determination, thus increasing the odds that they would become permanent parents. In doing so, they gave hope to a youngster who had the doors to a permanent family slammed in his face multiple times. The combination of intelligence and compassion shown in their strategy speaks volumes about their integrity. Mapa, however, rejects the “rescuers” label for himself and his husband. ”We wanted to become a family,” he said, “and Zion made that happen. We’re the lucky ones because he’s the kid we wanted.”

When Zion entered their lives, there was no spark in his eyes, recalled Mapa about those early days some four years ago. But after a few weeks, the light returned. Zion’s light now fills the hearts of his fathers. All three of them made an appearance during this year’s Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival for the premiere of 「Baby Daddy」.

Mapa spoke with『eXpression!』about life with Hebert and Zion.

Tell us a bit about you and your husband.

We’ve been together 12 years and married eight. He makes documentary films and I’m an actor and comedian, but he’s the funny one in the relationship. He has what can only be described as a wrong sense of humor. He makes me laugh everyday — I’m starting to think that’s the secret to having a happy marriage.

You mentioned all the hoops you had to go through in order to adopt Zion. What was the toughest one?

Frankly, the hardest part of adopting Zion was waiting for the finalization. We knew he was our kid the minute we met him, but until the judge dropped the gavel and said we were his legal parents now and forever, we lived with the tension that it might not go our way. Luckily, it did.

Conventional wisdom says that being Asian and gay are detriments to getting gigs in show business. Which one is worse: Asian or gay?

I get hired for comedies because I’m funny and I can act. Neither one of those things has anything to do with my sexuality or ethnicity, and everything to do with being useful. It’s simple. There’s gonna be a lot of roles I won’t get because I’m Asian and gay, and lots of others I’ll get because I am. It all comes down to currency. I’ve been an actor for nearly 30 years. Sometimes I work a lot, sometimes I don’t. Last I heard, that was true for everyone else too.

Conventional wisdom also says that the deck is stacked against a black foster child past three years old.

Statistically, the most desirable placement is a Caucasian baby girl, seven times more likely to find a permanent placement than an African American boy over the age of three. I got nothing against little white girls. I’ve been one my entire life. But my husband and I wanted a 5-year-old. We had no objection to any race, and we got Zion. He’s an amazing kid. We hit the jackpot.

In the bureaucratic maze that is the adoption system, how did you find your son?

Our social worker introduced his case to us, told us his story, and informed us that he needed a placement immediately.

You mentioned that as soon as you met Zion, you guys would not give him up without a fight. But you knew that there was always the chance that you might have to let him go if things had gone differently.

Yeah. If the courts didn’t give him to us, it would’ve been pretty bad. I can’t even think about it. He was our kid from the get go. There’s no way I can accurately describe how that felt, but he became a part of me the minute I met him. Taking him away would’ve been like having my arm ripped off.

It sounds like you two spent years preparing for the moment when Zion came into your lives.

Nothing will prepare you. You can read all the books and take all the classes, and you should! But when a living, breathing, thinking human being comes into your life, everything changes. It’s no longer going to be about you. If you’re the type of person where everything has to be about you, I wouldn’t suggest having children. I think parenthood is a calling. Before Zion, both of us were longing to become parents. We could feel it in our bones.

What are the differences in your parenting styles?

I’m Filipino, so I yell a lot. My husband doesn’t yell. I have a much shorter fuse, but if my husband loses his temper, you’re in big trouble. We’re both pretty strict. Being respectful or having good manners doesn’t come naturally to children. You have to teach them that. Go to any supermarket or restaurant. If you see a kid acting like a complete jackass, there’s probably a parent nearby who shouldn’t have had kids in the first place.

Describe life with Zion.

He’s finishing up the third grade so life is busy. Weekdays he’s in school, but after school, he’s in little league baseball and aikido. Our lives are pretty much about how much can we get done before we have to pick him up and drive him to the next thing. Mornings are spent getting him ready, and evenings are spent doing homework and having dinner.
We’re just like any other American family. As parents we want the same things for our kids that straight people do. The only difference is we’re gay, so we want nicer things.

Has your fabulosity rubbed off on him?

Yes. We knew Zion was our kid when we were on a flight and he asked the flight attendant for a Pellegrino. With lime.

Your son will eventually become a teenager. Are you prepared for this?

Is anybody? Being gay uniquely qualifies me to be a parent because I’m not interested in being liked. I’ll probably make a lot of unpopular decisions when he’s a teen, but too bad. I’m not your friend, I’m your parent.

What advice would you have for LGBT couples looking to adopt?

My advice is educate yourself, think long and hard about your decision, and enjoy the time off now.

Author: Mickey Weems/Date: August 26, 2014/Source: http://www.expression808.com/home/2014/8/26/alec-mapa-for-the-love-of-zion.html

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