He will be (legally) mine

To Whom It May Concern:

I have examined the patient, C, and have found her to be in good health. I have no reason to believe that the patient’s health status will in any way compromise her ability to be an adoptive parent.

1972448_10103694651286023_1656771591_nThose are the contents of the letter I obtained today from a local urgent care clinic so that I can submit the step parent adoption process to finally call E my legal son. I am stopping by the courthouse first thing in the morning to drop off the mighty load of paperwork required for the process.

I’ve heard a number of same-sex couples who were legally married last Saturday have already begun filing the paperwork for step parent adoption and are being assigned caseworkers. Step parent adoption, as opposed to second parent adoption, is for legally married couples. Second parent adoption would then be reserved for committed, but not married, couples, but is not currently available because of the stay issued by the Sixth Circuit Court. Truth be told, I don’t love the emphasis on biological vs. non-biological connection to a child conveyed by the title “step parent,” but it seems like a streamlined process that will provide me with the same legal rights to my child, which matters more to me.

After I submit the paperwork and a case worker is assigned, I will have an initial interview with the case worker, pay for fingerprinting, and then schedule and pay for a second assessment, which I think is actually a home study. At that point, it will go to the judge for consideration and, hopefully, finalization.

I was initially quoted $1,500 to go through the process with a knowledgeable family law attorney, and that was what we had planned to do. We spoke with a friend of ours who is also a family law attorney, who encouraged us to submit the paperwork quickly and without the hiring an attorney. The paperwork is really straightforward and is available with instructions on the County’s website.

In about 12 hours, the ball will officially be rolling, folks! We can use your positive energy, prayers, and good thoughts for an ideal and expedited outcome for the sake of our family.

Continuing to Come Out

They say that coming out is a lifetime process. As our identities evolve, as we meet new people, there’s always new opportunities to tell our stories. Such has been the theme as of late.

I’m an active member of an online chat group that is a social spin-off of a cloth diapering focused community. The group of mostly women and a few men is raunchy, sassy and uplifting. There are few rules, but the ones they have mostly involve not judging each others’ choices, especially as it relates to parenting. I’ve developed a really good rapport with the group members and the moderators have become friends of mine.

To that end, I decided to take a risk and come out to the group. I posted the photo of K and I holding our legal marriage license and told our story. Group members had a lot of questions, which I answered openly and honestly. I talked about E’s birth story and told them how proud I am of my amazingly brave husband. I continue to be overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and encouragement from people who know so little about transgender identity and the complexities of gender, sex, and reproduction.

Ever since Saturday, I’ve been hearing from friends and coworkers that they keep seeing the footage of K and I holding our marriage license in local news broadcasts. It occurred me late on Sunday night that someone at E’s daycare may have seen one of the broadcasts and could very well ask us about it. We decided that we should prepare for this possibility and coordinate the messaging we felt comfortable conveying to them. Nothing is worse than being caught by surprise, stammering or rambling while coming out to someone. It certainly doesn’t communicate confidence in your identity.

It’s a good thing we prepared because when K picked E up from daycare on Monday, one of the teachers in E’s room said that the lead teacher mentioned that she’d seen us on the news. K told the teacher about his trans identity and explained that the law views us as a same-sex couple, even though that’s not how we identify. We decided not to tell the daycare, at this point, about E’s birth story. As we suspected would be the case, the teacher was really supportive.

It’s nice to feel a renewed sense of authenticity and feel the warmth of new allies. What was your last coming out experience and to whom?

We Did!

Many of you by now have likely heard about Judge Bernard Friedman declaring Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional on Friday evening in the case of DeBoer v. Snyder and Schuette. Because of this decision and our awesome ally of a County Clerk deciding to open for special hours on Saturday to issue marriage licenses, K and I were one of 142 couples to legally wed in our county that day.

It all happened so fast, but we knew that, even though K was miserably sick and I was doing everything in my power to not succumb to the same illness, we needed to make this happen for our family. We knew that a stay was likely inevitable and that we’d have this very tiny window before another potentially long wait for the rights we all deserve. To that end, we got up early on Saturday morning, hustled to get out the door, and made it to the courthouse about 45 minutes before they opened.

I’m not quite sure what I expected but I was surprised that there weren’t more people already there. There were maybe 30-40 couples in line in front of us and there was enough room for us to squeeze inside the building instead of having to wait in the cold. There was very few members of the media present, despite the historic day. At around 9 a.m., security began letting people through and the line then snaked down a long hallway toward the Clerk’s desks.

10147514_10154010548020287_171026002_oA former coworker and her partner were in line behind us and it made the experience even more enjoyable. It was fun to see so many people we knew being able to share an anniversary with us. The Clerk’s staff were all so chipper on their day off, working so hard to make sure as many people as possible could get their licenses before the office closed for the day. We completed our paperwork, paid the fee for the license and to have the clerk preside over our ceremony, and then walked down the long hallway to the County Commissioners’ Auditorium, stopping to change E’s diaper on our way.

When we reached the auditorium, couples had their paperwork confirmed by the Deputy Clerk, and then we were legally wed in a mass ceremony of about 40 couples. It was really meaningful to us that our officiant was The Honorable Lisa Brown, our County Clerk, who had actually been called by the defense in marriage equality case. When she was called to testify, she essentially said that she hated being in the position of having to bar people from accessing the institution of marriage, but had to because that’s what was required of her by law, and that she could not wait to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The words she uttered during our mass ceremony were uplifting, heartwarming, and affirming of the struggle we’ve endured and will continue to endure. K and I kissed each other and then kissed E.

We then waited in a long line to have our paperwork signed by the Clerk and two witnesses. Once that was complete, we walked back down to the other end of the building again to the Clerk’s desks, walking past other couples waiting in line for their chance to legally wed, and were immediately issued our official marriage certificates. Each time a couple emerged with their certificates, the crowd cheered, and though I didn’t know all of them and the circumstances were hardly ideal, it felt like a large, loving family supporting our union.

One of our dear friends, who was there waiting for her own marriage license and certificate, took a photo of us with our official documents and, while she did, a local news station filmed it. They asked for an interview, which I gave, but they thankfully never aired my rambling. They did, however, air at least six seconds of us standing there, having our photograph taken with our marriage certificate, and several of my friends have mentioned seeing it on the news at different times.

Despite the stay being granted only a few hours later, the attorney who represented the Rowse-DeBoers in the marriage equality case is urging families to seek second parent adoptions, as she does not believe the stay will impede their ability to do so. I will be contacting local attorneys in the morning to try to move the process forward for the sake and stability of our family.

I have mixed emotions right now. I am elated that I am now K’s legal wife, though also baffled because, after living through the adoption of a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, I never thought I’d see this day. I am heartbroken for the families who continue to wait for the day when they will see equality. I am furious that Attorney General Bill Schuette continues to waste limited state resources on a losing cause, simply so he can kowtow to his party. I am grateful to those like Judge Bernard Friedman and Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown, who believe that equality is just. I feel forever indebted to April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, who have bravely fought for the rights of their family and so many others. I feel awash in the glow of love and support from my community, friends, and family members.

I have mentioned several times that this union was one of the least romantic set of circumstances one can imagine – snot pouring out of K’s nose, me wearing dirty, day-old jeans and unwashed hair, scrambling to make it in time. Upon further reflection, I’ve decided that sometimes love looks a lot more like loyalty, stability, and protection, and a lot less like passionate romance. We need room for all of this, and more, in our relationships, and I’m so thankful to have it with K.

Soon to be one!

While E is still merely on the verge of walking, I think it’s safe for us to classify him as a toddler. He’s certainly showing a lot of toddleresque behaviors. For example, where he used to roll with most of what came his way, he’s extraordinarily expressive of his feelings these days. He has a complete lay-on-the-floor meltdown with pouty lips and huge tears when I ruin his fun by taking away an unsafe obstacle or put on his coat to leave.

He’s also showing a lot of limit-testing behaviors. While K was out on Saturday morning, E and I spent a few hours in each other’s company. During that time, he played mostly independently while I put some laundry away. At one point, he crawled over to an electrical outlet (it’s covered, but I’d still like for him to stay away from it), reached his hand out and looked at me. I know he’s aware that it is a no-touch zone, so I made my “uh oh” sound, said, “Mommy doesn’t want you to touch that. It’s dangerous,” and redirected his behavior toward something he could touch. It happened a few more times and the last time, he had a total meltdown when I limited him.

Beware the silence of toddlers.

Beware the silence of toddlers.

It’s a challenge for me to discipline and this is a whole new set of behaviors around which to increase our parenting confidence. While my brain knows that setting boundaries is healthy and necessary, fear tends to creep in and I worry that it will impact his love for me. That same Saturday morning, it helped immensely to see that the exact opposite played out: just 20 minutes after he had recovered from the limit-setting meltdown, he hurt himself on a toy, cried, and reached out for me. We snuggled for several minutes – also a newer phenomenon – and it melted my heart to see evidence of him needing me and only me for comfort.

E is also looking less and less like a baby these days. I look over and see the child in him, and it makes me both sad and happy at the same time. His milestones are equally exciting and heartbreaking, 1912420_10103643907776423_1068056591_nas I witness behaviors become part of my dear child’s history instead of present. The only thing that truly helps me to feel better is to remind myself to stay present and appreciate what happens as it happens. It’s a tricky proposition for me, though.

He’s been working hard the past couple of weeks to stand for greater lengths on his own, and is cruising a lot. He gets excited when we hold his hands for support while he practices walking and I know that he’ll soon be walking on his own. He’s such a determined little character who spends all day working toward these goals.

Of COURSE we practiced with a cupcake.

Of COURSE we practiced with a cupcake.

We’ve gotten almost all of the details in order for his first birthday party. We ordered and received all decor, food/beverage accessories, and the favors. The musician is booked and we have about 30 people who will be in attendance. We ordered the cake – shaped like an acoustic guitar from my favorite gluten free bakery – and planned the snacks. E has even received his first birthday gift in the mail – a framed share of Facebook stock from K’s Aunt K who hosted our family baby shower. I’m excited about celebrating this milestone with our loved ones!

I can’t believe I’m about to be the mom of a one-year-old kid. I guess I can’t really call myself a new mom anymore, can I?