Friday, April 9, 2010

Give me an "8"...Give me an "0"...

Today marks an important anniversary for us. It was 5 years ago today that Adrian was born into our lives. Five years ago today we created our forever family. For those of you who have been stalking me since my MySpace days, I forgive the repost below. The story that follows is not necessarily all about the very day Adrian came into our hearts, rather the entire process of making him a part of our family. The picture, below, is the very first picture we took of our sweet, sweet boy. It was taken, literally, the second the social worker brought him into our house and handed him to Jed. It is my all time favorite picture of Adrian (with the exception of his picture with his first bout of pink eye!)

Today closed the last chapter in a long story of our quest to become parents, and starts a whole new sequel to the story that has yet to unfolded. My baby daddy officially inked his adoption of our son today making it official that Adrian now has TWO daddies. I mentioned a few days ago that I would talk about the process, and now that he's done, I can tell the story. Some details will have to wait 16 years to come out, because most of the story is his to tell. But this, my readers, is our story.

There is a television station here in Austin called News 8 Austin. It's one of those CNNesque television news stations that repeats the daily news in an endless loop 24 hours a day. On Sundays they run a segment called Forever Families which showcases "hard-to-place" children available in the Texas CPS system. One Sunday in about August of 2004 they showcased a sibling group of three adorable little African American girls ages 2, 8, and 14. They were about to sever the child group because it was too difficult to not only place three children together, much less when one of them was a teenager. It broke my heart to know that these three girls; whom had already lost their parents were about to be split up. Having wanted children myself since my 20s, and also wanted to have had them by the time I turned 35, I told Jed, Now is the time. I want these kids.

We contacted CPS in September and attended their orientation meeting that is required of all new prospective foster/adoptive parents. In the meeting they talked about the "damaged children" they had available and how it was almost impossible to ever get these kids to bond with adoptive parents. They were all physically abuse, sexually abused, chemically abused, or emotionally abused. Almost all of them had learning disabilities or some time of physical abnormality due to abuse and neglect. Jed and I decided to forge forward. We were told almost immediately that the chances of the sisters being available by the time we completed the process would be slim to none. We were also told that a majority of people who start the process rarely finish, and some of those would never have children placed with them. We decided to take our chances and do it anyway.

From the second we started the process, our families, while for adopting children, were against adopting children from CPS. Many of them cited the same difficulties of parenting a child in the child welfare system as the agency itself did. We got many offers from relatives to give us money to go to another country to adopt a child from another place, but we stood our ground. Jed and I firmly believed that a child in our own backyard, one that had no family of his or her own was just as deserving of a home as a child in Russia or Guatemala. We decided to take a chance and see where we landed.

We got home from the meeting on the first Tuesday in September and filled out the 20 page application to enter the program. Unlike any "normal" couple that can get drunk and fuck in the back of a Chevy pickup truck and have a happy accident, we had to fill out questions about our family, our health, our prior sexual experiences, and our reasons for wanting children in the first place. What normally should have taken a week to fill out and mail back in, took as about 5 hours to fill out into the wee hours of the morning. We weren't about to delay the process any longer. I mailed the forms the following morning and waited just a few weeks before getting a letter stating that we were approved to start the mandatory 30 hours of parenting classes in October.

Mid-October we started attending weekly 3-hour classes to learn how to parent a child that was in protective custody. In all honesty, these classes taught nothing about parenting. Rather each week focused on a different type of abusive situation that would normally land a child in CPS custody and the unique circumstances with which to deal with them. "How to teach your 3 year old to cope with gonorrhea" or "How to tell your 5 year old that no means no" were some of the delightful topics covered. It was, at times, mind-numbing and discouraging to say the least. We completed the classes a week before Christmas and were told, "Congratulations, you've completed the classes and we'll be in touch with you soon to let you know if you've been approved". The entire time I had been under the false impression that just by being accepted into the program and completing the classes that we were, in fact, already approved. I couldn't have been more wrong.

Towards the end of January we were contacted by a social worker who needed to meet with us to start our interview process. We each needed to meet with her separately to answer identical questions. We each had to draft a 20 page biography answering many very intrusive questions about our families mental, emotional, physical status; our own sexual histories including names, addresses and phone numbers of everyone we have had sex with; our own current mental state of mind; our desires to become parents fully explained. None of the things, mind you, that "normal" people have to do. As if writing these things down for anonymous strangers wasn't bad enough, we actually had to sit in front of a woman we had never met before and give a partner-by-partner run down of every person we had been with sexually, why it didn't work out; and whether or not we were still in contact. We had to basically regurgitate verbally everything that we had written down. We had to discuss hypothetical scenarios about how we would each parent, discipline, raise a child. We had to, without having the benefit of discussing it together, match our answers to be sure we were on the same page. Fortunately, Jed and I know each other well enough that we may as well have been sitting next to each other the whole time.

After the verbal quizzing, we had to complete a round of home inspections. We had to have a home health/safety inspection, wherein the city health department came in and inspected multiple aspects of our home. We had to have a city fire marshal come to the house for a fire safety inspection ensuring there were smoke detectors in every room of the house. He also wanted to see a documented fire escape route, which I spent HOURS doing a power point presentation on (that he never bothered to look at). We had to have full physicals completed by our family physician to determine whether or not we were healthy enough to raise children. We had to have THE DOGS inspected by a veterinarian to determine whether or not they were suitable to be around children. We had to have criminal background checks completed by both the local authorities AND the FBI. We had to sit down and discuss with our social worker what types of children we were interested in; what types of physical, emotional, sexual dysfunctions we would be willing to parent; chose a race, gender, and age of a child we would be willing to accept. We had to create a family photo album of pictures of ourselves, our home, our family, and our friends to be given to any potential child and/or child social worker to show them what type of home environment that child would be going to. In short, we were put under a microscope, stripped naked, and taken through an emotional ringer. AND, after all this was done, we were told ONCE AGAIN, that we would soon be notified whether or not we had been approved by the agency.

Around the first week of March our social worker called us to let us know that we were OFFICIALLY LICENSED Foster/Adoptive parents. Yes, I can proudly say, I AM A LICENSED PARENT MOTHER FUCKER. She then told us that she was going to start looking for a child for us and to not contact her, she would contact us when she found a child. Towards the end of March I started losing my patience. I pretty much told Jed that I was over the whole process and wanted to call our Social Worker and tell her to just withdraw us as potential parents. Jed encouraged me to be patient and not to worry about it.

April 7, 2005 my phone rang at 1030 pm. Anybody who knows me knows that if you would like to maintain a healthy friendship with me you should not bother calling me after 9. Knowing that some member of my immediate family or close friend must be in dire straights, I answered the phone. It was our social worker and she was calling to give us the real birthing experience. She had just located the perfect child for us. His name was Adrian; he was 9 months old; he had been in foster care since he was 2 months old; he had food allergies, but was otherwise in good health; he had black hair and "fat cheeks". This was all the information we were given. We were told to think about it, discuss it, and call her back in the morning if we were interested in this child. We couldn't sleep. We called our parents and told them the same tiny bits of information about the child that we had received. We talked it over between the two of us, and we decided to jump on this chance. We conference called her the next morning and told her we were interested in taking Adrian, and she immediately forwarded a picture of our sweet little boy via email and said, well then let me introduce you to your new son. He had the sweetest little face and we both fell in love with him immediately. We were to spend the afternoon with him on Saturday and Sunday, and then placement was to occur on Monday. I sent the word around my office to tell them effective immediately I would be on maternity leave and took the next 8 weeks off. Saturday came, our social worker brought Adrian to the house. He immediately nestled into Jed's arms and looked like he had been there for the previous 9 months. It's still one of my favorite pictures of him. The way things turned out, we didn't even have to wait until Monday for the official placement, Adrian came to live with us the following afternoon.

We knew going into placement with Adrian that he was a legal risk placement. Meaning that his mother had already terminated her parental rights, but they were trying to locate the father to terminate his. There was a slim chance that he would be reunited with his biological father. We had three months to wait before we would be in the clear. It was a very anxious time trying to bond with a loving child, yet trying not to get to attached because of the possibility that he may be removed at any moment. Our three months passed and we were given the green light to transition from a foster placement to an adoptive placement. Our families, who had once been so dead set against adopting a child from CPS, instantly fell in love with this beautiful, perfect child. To hear my older sister tell it, my parents don't even realize they already have 7 other grand-kids.

November 17, 2005 the three of us took a trip to the Courthouse to participate in National Adoption Day. As the primary adoptive parent, I was getting my day in court to finalize our "Forever Family", giving Adrian the loving family that every child deserves to have. It was a bitter sweet day for me personally. While I was able to fulfill my dream of having a child, I was sad for Jed because he was essentially treated like a bystander through the entire process, even though he had been a fully participating active parent in Adrian's life. It was a wonderful day for me and Adrian knowing that he would forever be tangled in my web of life. Since fags cant marry in Texas, nor can they adopt as a couple (unlike married couples), we had to make other arrangements for Jed's parental rights. It has been a long legal struggle for us to complete this. I immediately consulted with an attorney and updated my Will to name Jed successor to myself in the event of my death. We also started the wheels in motion to petition the court for second parent adoption for Jed to be legally named a parent of Adrian. While we couldnt adopt together, or on the same day, we could name Jed as a second parent legally. It just took a little effort.

So today, May 2, 2006, my child officially has two parents. My child finally has his complete forever family. My partner has the same legal rights under the law as I do to care for our child; enroll our child in school; take our child to the doctor; and travel about the country with our child. Society has made it so completely difficult for us to be a family, but we have persevered and like it or not, WE ARE A FAMILY.

Whether a child has one mother and one father; or two mothers; or two fathers; or one loving parent, or two separated parents, a family is a family. What makes the family is the love that is shared between the parties, and not the gender make up of the family. You can bet that none of the repugnants out there that are trying to ban gay parent adoptions have gone through a quarter of the battle that Jed and I, and so many other gay families, have had to go through just to be loving parents to a very deserving child. To everyone out there that thinks my family is sick, all I have to say is Thank you. I thank you for having the children that continuously get lost in our system so that we can show them what real love is all about. If it wasn't for sick bastards like you; beating your children; sexually abusing them; cutting off their limbs; drowning them in the trunks of your car; setting them on fire; and every other sick thing you people can think to do with your children, we wouldn't have the opportunities to set the world straight. Absolutely no pun intended.