THIS IS WHAT A FAMILY LOOKS LIKE

April 9, 2013

We went to Oregon, to take the little boy on his first plane ride, and to see our dear, dear friends Courtney and John.  Traveling between Portland, Eugene, and Pacific City and reveling in the northwest’s spring and the company of folks we love so much did my soul much good.  I wish I had taken more pictures, of crocuses, daffodils, cherry blossoms, of all the good meals and the glorious shelves at Powell’s, of every texture, from the charming, windswept ocean-side to the snow-capped peak of Mt. Hood, but I was too busy soaking it all in to stop.

Oregon 2013

There was cooking and much good talk, and there was the ocean, and a baby who learned how to crawl (!).  There were long hours reading in a sunny chair, and there was lots of coffee and an overly-ambitious puzzle, and absolutely no schoolwork of any kind.  There were sunset walks and big breakfasts and naps and dyed eggs for Easter.  And then there was a very exciting email informing us that we had secured a court appointment with a San Antonio judge who was gay-and-lesbian friendly and willing to finalize our adoption.

So, just a few days after flying home, we drove to the Bexar County Courthouse and stood in the judge’s chambers on a Friday morning and became Shiv’s legal parents for ever and ever, raising our right hands and promising to love and care for our son for the rest of our lives.  It was the very first time our relationship has ever been acknowledged in any legal way.

adoption day

Without getting into the nitty-gritty details, I will say that up to that point, we had encountered some resistance and difficulty in securing legal status for our family. While we are lucky that our state does not ban same-sex adoption outright (as some do), it does not necessarily make it easy, either.  Ultimately, thankfully, with the help of our wonderful lawyer and the assistance of our adoption agency, it is all said and done.

I grew up with a set of fairly gentle circumstances when it came to the impact of my sexuality on my daily life.  Yes, I’ve been called a “dyke.”  No, I could not bring my girlfriend to my senior prom.  Yes, my parents and I fought for many years, and I struggled with my identity and my sense of comfort in my own skin.  But compared to what most before me—and some after me—have lived (or not lived) through, I know how tremendously lucky I am.

This adoption was really the first time I have felt the limits of what is available to me as an American in a same-sex relationship.  Sure, I knew the laundry list of inequalities on paper: no federal protection against job discrimination, no legal status for partners as next-of-kin, inability to file taxes as a couple, inability to collect a partner’s Social Security, inability to take FMLA for a partner, and on and on.  But that was abstract, on paper—annoying, but distant—things we had to work around.

But now that I have stood in a room with my love, with our son, and have tasted a sample of what many people take for granted every day—the ability to stand in front of a legal authority and show all of your cards, to not have to hide your personhood, your commitment, your love, or your family—it is no longer abstract.  It’s my life, and the reality my son will grow up into.  Jill and I are now legally related to Shiv, and it is my deep hope and intention that, before too long, he will be able to witness the moment when she and I stand in another courtroom and become legally related to each other as well.

Oregon sunset

 

27 Comments »

  1. Amen to that. Congrats. Mwah to you and Jill!

    Comment by Deborah Melanson — April 10, 2013 @ 12:19 am

  2. And what a beautiful family you are. When Cindy and I got legally married in Wash DC, i was amazed as well with the feeling of honor and pride as we stood before the judge and answered those age old questions so indelibly linked with marriage. I understand…… it does make a difference.

    Comment by Lois — April 10, 2013 @ 7:18 am

  3. Nishta!! You have me all teary this morning. Your words, these photos — Wow. Amazing, amazing, amazing. So much love to you three. xoxo.

    Comment by Jess — April 10, 2013 @ 8:36 am

  4. Nishta, what a beautiful post! We share our love for Ms. Courtney and the amazing restorative powers of the Oregon coast. I hope, no, I believe, that one day you and Jill WILL stand in that courtroom, and legally become the couple that you already are, in your hearts and souls.

    Comment by fredi Bleeker Franks — April 10, 2013 @ 9:55 am

  5. LOVE. Miss you gorgeous, gorgeous people so much.

    Comment by Ari Zwartjes — April 10, 2013 @ 11:27 am

  6. Congratulations on the adoption finally being final. I’ve never been so happy to see a photo of legal papers. When you finally are able to marry in Texas, maybe it will be at the courthouse, maybe it will be in your backyard or at the Bay or in a sacred space or any place you choose. CHOICE, that’s what we want. Love you all.

    Comment by carolyn truedell — April 10, 2013 @ 11:43 am

  7. Right on.

    Comment by Simmons — April 10, 2013 @ 12:36 pm

  8. Beautifully written, as always. I love Shiv’s matching shirt and socks on his adoption day. Congratulations!

    Comment by Meg — April 10, 2013 @ 1:08 pm

  9. Big steps! Congratulations and please invite me to the wedding. You are the most gorgeous family!

    Comment by Sally Williams — April 10, 2013 @ 2:08 pm

  10. Congratulations you two. I am so happy for you. Shiv is a blessing to our whole family. My Love to all 3 of you. Very nice article by the way.

    Comment by Merlene — April 10, 2013 @ 2:19 pm

  11. Every time you post a blog entry, it is like I got a little gift in my inbox. Thank you. Beautiful as always.

    Comment by Lisa — April 10, 2013 @ 2:49 pm

  12. Thank you for writing, Nishta. Congratulations to you, Jill and Shiv! Love and blessings to your beautiful family!

    Comment by Terri Turilli — April 10, 2013 @ 3:26 pm

  13. Yay! So excited for you guys and proud of San Antonio!

    Comment by Tricia S. — April 10, 2013 @ 3:36 pm

  14. Yes. Yes, Ma’am.

    Comment by Courtney — April 10, 2013 @ 4:32 pm

  15. Congratulations to all, and especially to Shiv. He is one lucky little fellow to have you both for his parents.

    Comment by Dragana — April 10, 2013 @ 4:32 pm

  16. Nishta, this was such a beautiful post. I am SO, SO, SO happy for you and Jill! And based on all the pictures I’ve seen since you first brought Shiv home, you have both been (and will be) amazing parents. He looks so happy and well-loved. Congratulations!!

    Comment by Phyllis — April 10, 2013 @ 6:06 pm

  17. This is indeed what a family looks like. Glad you’re part of mine and that I’m part of yours. Love.

    Comment by Katherine — April 11, 2013 @ 10:57 am

  18. I’m beaming at this post, and really want to cry happy tears! They are starting to well up. 🙂

    I am so proud of you and your family, and I hope that your every wish to be recognized as a family in every way will soon be your destiny.

    Congratulations to you and Jill.

    Comment by Karin B — April 11, 2013 @ 11:50 am

  19. I am so happy for you and Jill, and for Shiv, who will know love from two parents in a way that some children never get.
    And I can’t wait for the day when it seems odd that there was ever a reason you and Jill and Shiv wouldn’t be a perfectly average family, just like anyone else’s. So much love. SO so much love. 🙂

    Comment by Johanna — April 11, 2013 @ 1:55 pm

  20. Such a lovely post. So happy for you!!

    Comment by Gemma — April 11, 2013 @ 2:40 pm

  21. This is such a wonderful story. I am so excited for you, and hope eventually you can be married. This IS what a family looks like. Best wishes for a fabulous life for the three of you!

    Comment by Tiff — April 11, 2013 @ 6:23 pm

  22. My husband and I also stood in a judge’s chambers in San Antonio ten years ago with our 3 year old son (quite possibly before the same judge!). I can’t describe the feeling that happens in that room when a family is created, real, forever and under the law, but I imagine you two felt it too. It’s a wonderful thing. Congratulations to you and Jill and Shiv!

    Comment by Jeff — April 16, 2013 @ 5:08 pm

  23. I feel blown away and blessed by all of your comments.

    Deborah–thank you so much

    Lois–it’s great to hear that you had a similar experience. I was surprised by how much of a difference it did make.

    Jess–thank you, dear one. if I made you teary, know that the reverse has happened many times. xoxo

    Fredi–yes to both the awesomeness of Courtney and of the Oregon coast! we were lucky to be around both this spring. and yes, I am with you on that one–it’s going to happen, and soon I hope!

    Ari–miss you, too. xo

    Carolyn–it’s amazing the power that papers can have when you have waited for them a while. thank you for always supporting and loving our family so well.

    Simmons–I don’t know how to visually represent a fist bump, but I’m sending one 🙂

    Meg–thank you so much. and yes, I will admit to having planned his coordinated outfit…what you can’t see is that it’s even preppier than it appears: there’s an argyle pattern on the front of that polo!

    Sally–you are so sweet, thank you.

    Merlene–it means so much to us to have you say that. Shiv is lucky to have such a wonderful extended family!

    Lisa–I think that’s one of the best things anyone has ever said to me. thank you.

    Terri–thank you so much! we will take all of the love and blessings we can get.

    Tricia–yay! and yay San Antonio, indeed! a bonus of going there for the adoption was the Tex-Mex we got to eat after 🙂

    Courtney–the only thing that was missing was your presence (and John’s, and Tillie’s, though I don’t think they let dogs into the courthouse…)

    Dragana–you are so kind to say that. we honestly feel lucky to have him in our lives and to have been given the opportunity to walk with him as he explores the world!

    Phyllis–thank you for your sweet words! we hope we are doing right by him; he’s a very happy, good-natured boy and we have lots of fun 🙂

    K–lucky to be part of yours and to have you in mine. it’s one of my life’s biggest blessings.

    Karin–thank you for always sending love and good wishes and encouragement to us! they really mean so much.

    Jo–I think that day will come, as my students are already in a place where they find it hard to believe that anyone CARES that I want to marry another woman. they give me hope. and thank you so much for all of your love and for sharing in our joy!

    Gemma–thank you so much!

    Tiff–lovely to hear from you, and thank you so much for the good wishes.

    Jeff–yes, I know that we must have felt the same indescribable feeling. thank you for your congratulations, and I loved hearing your story. Judge Sakai?

    Comment by Blue Jean Gourmet — April 21, 2013 @ 2:57 pm

  24. Love you so much and so very proud of the woman you are.

    Comment by Allison — May 1, 2013 @ 7:21 am

  25. Just started browsing your site from a comment you left on Wednesday Chef, and clicked onto this – made me get misty eyed. As my peeps say, MAZAL TOV! How wonderful and beautiful.

    Comment by Yana — June 5, 2013 @ 8:06 am

  26. Yana–I really appreciate your sweet note! and glad to have you browsing here. I know a little bit about your peeps, as I have the pleasure of teaching at a Jewish school, so I’ll say Todah Robah!

    Comment by Blue Jean Gourmet — June 5, 2013 @ 8:33 am

  27. But she is related to you now – by virtue of adoption, she’s the mother of your son!

    Comment by Stephen Milano — June 26, 2013 @ 10:24 pm

Leave a comment