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.
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.
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.