Category Archives: LGBT Relationships

When is it ENOUGH for YOU?

13 June 2016

I had my first radiation treatment today.  I will go every weekday for the next three weeks. When walking into the facility, my beautiful wife reached out to hold my hand – and I was nervous, in a way that I haven’t been in a long time.  It reminded me of all of the times that we have gone dancing, or to play Gaybingo, here in Dallas, or out to the theater in NYC.  In those moments, we are safe (or so we think). 13394187_10153754358297309_8892603861900442623_nWe can securely hold hands, dance together, share a kiss. Yesterday, in the early morning hours, a deranged man with assault weapons stormed an Orlando nightclub, filled with members of the LGBT community, along with their friends, allies, and club employees. Those who were at the club, Pulse, this past weekend were in a safe, secure space where they could be themselves without fear. Have you ever felt afraid to show love or affection towards the one that you love in public? Every time I think of it, I shudder, because that could have been US, pre-baby days when we went dancing more often, or went out to socialize with friends for a drink at one of our “safe havens.” It has sickened me to see tweets from not only high profile figures like Dan Patrick or Donald Trump, hours after a massacre, using phrases like “you reap what you sow” or blaming current administration. It has sickened me even more to see people I know – people who are supposedly my friends that care about me – posting similar “reap what you sow” statements. It’s too much, and I almost just. can’t. even.

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When is it ENOUGH for YOU?

What the hell is wrong with people? This massacre of human life did not happen as a result of our current political administration – how ridiculous is it that anyone would even utter those sentiments?!  It isn’t the parents’ fault. It isn’t because “God has been taken out of schools” – I NEVER prayed in school growing up. It is unbridled, unmitigated and uncontrolled HATRED.  It was not carried out by someone in our country illegally – this was a US citizen, born in New York.  It was not carried out by someone who conducted a back-alley gun purchase with no criminal background check – this was a military grade assault weapon that was purchased legally through a FLAWED system. If background checks came back clear (and federal background checks were obviously NOT done, or done correctly), then something is seriously wrong, considering the murderer had a history of domestic violence and had been investigated by the FBI not once, but at least twice; yet he still was able to not only purchase the murder weapon, but also hold a job in security.  I don’t really care anymore if I piss someone off with my distaste for guns – enough is ENOUGH.  Something MUST be done, and NOW!  I see all of the screaming that Obama and Hillary are trying to take away guns, and second amendment bullshit – but have yet to see any evidence of such attempts to take away weapons OR rights.  Just because someone states that there needs to be gun reform, that doesn’t equate to “taking away my guns!”  Just today, I read an article of a mom in Philadelphia who had the ability to purchase one of these heinous weapons of mortal combat in SEVEN MINUTES. Yes, you read that correctly. SEVEN minutes. No waiting period – HA! That is laughable! I want to know how in the hell that is possible! I want to know how a 20 year old kid with an expired driver’s license was able to also go and buy one of these weapons in FIVE MINUTES?! THIS. THIS is part of the huge overlying problem.  A very, very flawed system for background checks that is the biggest joke that any of us have ever seen! So yes, as Samantha Bee has said on her show this week, we DO want to take away your guns, if they are military grade assault rifles! So come on people, how can you see children get gunned down at school, or a nightclub full of people be systematically murdered by the spray of bullets from an assault weapon that only belongs in a military combat situation?!  When is it going to be ENOUGH for everyone?  sandyhook-heart

 

Twenty children and six adults at Sandy Hook obviously wasn’t enough.  Forty-nine more people are dead today, and more than that are injured, some may not recover, but all are never to be the same – is this not enough?  Do these lives not matter as much because many of them were LGBT?  People screaming back and forth at each other angrily about their stance on guns, or radicals, or LGBT citizens does nothing but create more noise, overtaking the sound of the tears and sorrow for those who were lost.  Is today the day that you, or I, have to be right? We may not ever agree on who is right, but I hope we can agree that it is most definitely ENOUGH! Those of us who feel this pain for our brothers & sisters who perished, who feel the outrage at the loss of life being overshadowed by arguments about politics or gun control; we still see you, the silent ones who normally pray for every tragedy or post your condolences when the unthinkable happens. We see you and notice the absolute absence of commentary from you on THIS particular tragedy – what is THAT about?   13407221_10153450633247820_179011674951000247_n

When is it ENOUGH for you?

Hatred for that which is different from ourselves can take on an ugly life of its own.  It seems that somewhere along the path in the life of these terrorists, this kind of hatred became perfectly acceptable. Most of us, civilized human beings, are mortified by the atrocities of the Holocaust during WWII, asking over and over why more people didn’t step in and stop the systematic murders of millions.  We are appalled when we hear of those who stood by and let it happen, not willing to step out of their fear and stand up to the obvious wrong that was happening before their very eyes. But that was something in our history books, right?  Yet here we are again, only the murders aren’t by the millions, in another country out of sight.  It’s 26 here, 50 there, a high school or a movie theater in Colorado. When WE see hate directed towards another, and we say nothing, then WE are saying that we are okay with it. When WE see hate physically manifested towards another, and we take no action, then WE are saying that we are okay with it. When WE hear a teen call another faggot, or tell them that they’re “gay” when they really mean “dumb or stupid,” and WE don’t call them out on it, then the message we give is that we don’t have a problem with that kind of hate speech. When is it ENOUGH for YOU?  Will it be enough when it’s YOUR child, YOUR brother or sister, YOUR childhood best friend who was dancing in a nightclub, but then is on your television screen as just one among the bodies? Will you be arguing about your guns then? Will you be pointing fingers at politicians then? Or will you be face to the ground, arms around a stranger who mourns next to you, because THEIR person silently lays among the carnage next to YOUR person? When is it ENOUGH for YOU?

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Today I laid on a table in a cold room, alone, with a mask locked tight around my face, while a huge machine clicked and buzzed while circling my head, giving me the radiation that we hope will keep me alive. FullSizeRender-7 I had to remain completely still. I fought the urge to scream, to freak out in claustrophobic madness. I fought the tears as panic tried to take over. I gritted my teeth in anger, knowing that if I don’t do this, my chances of winning – of living – become markedly lower. FullSizeRender-8 

 

 

Today, fifty people will also lie on a table in a cold room, alone – no mask on their face needed. They will remain completely still, too; no fighting panic like they surely experienced during the moments before they died.  I cannot imagine the terror that went through their hearts and minds during those final moments.  They no longer have the urge to scream, or cry, or panic; their lives were cut short by a terrorist who hated them, just for BEING. Is this too harsh for you to read?  When is it ENOUGH for YOU?? Most of the victims were young, with a full and productive life ahead of them.  Some were coupled, some were not.  Some were out, others were not.  Some were there with friends, others were there with a supportive parent.  But rather than give this terrorist a minute of time learning his background – hell, even learning his name – I choose to remember as many of the names of those who perished that I possibly can.  I will try to remember their stories, as I hear them.  

Like Amanda Alvear. She was 25 and was at the club Pulse with her best friend, celebrating having lost 200 pounds. And Brenda McCool, age 49. She was a two-time cancer survivor.  She raised twelve children, and was at Pulse dancing with one of her sons, who survived the shooting, but had to watch his mother die. Stanley Almodovar III was 23 and a pharmacy tech. Cory Connell, age 21, was leaving the club with his girlfriend when they came upon the shooter.  He was a college student who hoped to become a firefighter.  

They were all people just like you and I. Instead of everyone standing around with raised fists in the air, angry and indignant about who or what to blame, why don’t we learn what we can about the only people who really matter in all of this.  Click on their name; if there is an available profile, the link will take you to it:

 

When is it ENOUGH for YOU?

 

 

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Wow – it’s Been a Minute!

Hey there – long time no see! It’s been a while since I’ve been here apparently! The holidays cruised on by in a whirlwind of merriment and busy-ness, just like usual – I can’t believe that I didn’t sit down and write a post! Needless to say, 2015 was ushered in pretty low-key for us (even our simple plans of dinner and movie out were cut short from a migraine); we ended up back at home, and our fancy Napa bottle of wine that was chilling in the fridge to ring in the New Year is still there, unopened. We’ll get to it eventually, huh?
All this to say, now that school is back in session for the second semester, I’m not subbing hardly at all, so I have more time to focus on my photography, salsa, meal planning, and helping Krystal get Zoe’s Sweet Inspirations off the ground. Heck it’s February and all of our Christmas decorations are piled up on the dining room table and front living room, just waiting to be packed up and taken back out to the storage shed! But whatever….it’ll get done by St. Patrick’s Day I’m sure! LOL

All this to say…a new blog posting is coming soon (in the next few days, I hope) about my most recent chapter in the reconstruction saga. And next week I should have a post highlighting a local chef friend and her spring menu. Am hoping to have another chef spotlight in the next few weeks as well. You never know what you’re gonna find here! So stay tuned….

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If I Have Gay Children: Four Promises From A Christian Pastor/Parent

Reblog of this post by John Pavlovitz of North Carolina. This is the best and only way that I could think to thank him properly for his words and wisdom – and that is to share it with any and every human that I can.

john pavlovitz

KidsFiltered


Sometimes I wonder if I’ll have gay children.

I’m not sure if other parents think about this, but I do; quite often.

Maybe it’s because I have many gay people in my family and circle of friends. It’s in my genes and in my tribe.
Maybe it’s because, as a pastor of students, I’ve seen and heard the horror stories of gay Christian kids, from both inside and outside of the closet, trying to be part of the Church.
Maybe it’s because, as a Christian, I interact with so many people who find homosexuality to be the most repulsive thing imaginable, and who make that abundantly clear at every conceivable opportunity.

For whatever reason, it’s something that I ponder frequently. As a pastor and a parent, I wanted to make some promises to you, and to my two kids right now…

1) If I have gay children, you’ll all know it.

My children won’t…

View original post 949 more words

The Versatile Blogger Awards 2014

February 26, 2014

*I’m not sure why none of my spacing in between paragraphs made it here.  I inserted space in three different times, and every time I save my work, it takes it away.  My apologies for everything being crammed together 😉

So I was looking at my blog tonight, and making sure that all of my “About Me” information was current, when I noticed that like, two years ago, a follower of my blog bestowed upon me a Versatile Blogger Award!  And somehow, somewhere, it completely got past me and I never knew!  Now how dumb do I feel??!!  But I read through the entire post from October 25, 2011 and was so honored to have been mentioned among her choices for versatile bloggers from all walks of life.  Plus I LOVE the idea of an annual list of awardees to come up with and share with readers, so that all of MY favorite blogs can get a public head knod and hopefully increase their traffic each year!  So thank you first and foremost to Kana Tyler of Kana’s Chronicles (http://kanatyler.com/) for giving me this awesome honor so long ago – and my apologies for not offering my thanks sooner!

Now, for those of you out there who write – especially if I have missed your blog or didn’t realize that you have one – this is a pay-it-forward award, so you can also participate and have your own award show over there on your page as well.  Also, you can comment on my blog with a link to your site, for my benefit as well as for my readers.  Here are the rules:

  1. Thank your nominator with a link to their blog.

  2. Bestow the award on 10 bloggers (sharing links to their sites, and letting them know) – I, however, am bestowing it on 11 bloggers, because I’m just crazy like that

  3. List seven things about yourself.

Easy peasy.  So here we go.the-versitle-blogger-award

Domestic Dyke’s Versatile Blogger Awards 2014 (in no particular order of importance):

* Gayby Boom Blog (http://blog.chron.com/gaybyboom) – dads Michael and Matthew Burrus-Pearce with their humoros quips about life with a toddler daughter and new infant son

* The Robot Mommy (http://therobotmommy.com) – follow along with this SAHM, as she shares her “grumps” pics, and TCIF memes (Thank Coffee It’s Friday, right?)

* The Herzy Journey (www.theherzyjourney.com) – Jenny Herzberger’s wild ride through breast cancer, treatments, and reconstruction

* Happy Herbivore Blog (www.happyherbivore.com/blog) – Our favorite resource for all things plant-based (diet, that is)!

* A Journey Through the Carcinoma Wonderland (http://mapelba.wordpress.com) – Austinite wife and artist blogging her way through breast cancer… and all that comes with it

* Slap Dash Mom (www.slapdashmom.com) – the adventures of Sadie Lankford, her wife Rachel, and their three daughters (the oldest has her own jewelry line! www.slapdashthings.com) about anything from cooking/baking, to school, to crafting, to movies, to LGBT rights, to whatever they encounter in their new home of Arizona

* Madgew-musings (http://madgew-musings.blogspot.com/) – the inner workings of Madge Woods, her friends, her family, and her travels around the U.S. and abroad!

* The Next Family (www.thenextfamily.com) – a wonderful compilation of blogs that come from a diverse family of writers on a wide variety of unique topics

* Simple Life Yoga (www.simplelifeyoga.com) – Brandie Sellers’ blog about her journey that led her to yoga, its teachings (and hers in turn as a yoga instructor), life coaching, vegetarian cooking, health & wellness, and her own experience as a breast cancer survivor

* Online with Zoe (www.onlinewithzoe.com) – amazing tales and treasures from the mind of Zoe Nicholson, human rights activist and feminist who has been on the forefront of activism, writing and speaking for many years, her writing is full of rich experiences and historical significance

* The Davey Diaries (http://daveydiaries.com) – follow along as David Mailloux rips open his insecurities to share them with others, as a white, male, educated, openly-gay recovering alcoholic…one day at a time, one step at a time

Congratulations to all of you versatile bloggers!  And thanks for sharing yourself with the rest of us!

Now for my obligatory 7 things about me (according to the rules listed above):

1.  I am still mildly addicted to Friends, the television show.  I watch at least one episode pretty much every night of my life.

2.  I once adopted two poodles from a shelter, naming the female Phoebe and the male Chandler (see?  A little addicted).

3.  I could eat tacos, in some form, every day, I think.  Egg, beef, chicken, fish, shrimp, veggie, black bean, crispy, soft….I could go on and on.

4.  I have had 4 models of Jeep in my life:  Wrangler, Cherokee, Grand Cherokee, and Grand Wagoneer.

5.  I took tap, jazz, and ballet for several years as a kid (yes, with the big tutus and everything), and my mother wouldn’t let me be in any sports because that was for boys.  Yeah.

6.  When I was in 5th grade, my best friend was visiting her grandmother in Wylie, Texas the night that Candace Montgomery murdered Betty Gore with an ax (and was found “not guilty” after using a self-defense argument).  Shortly after that, there were rumors that the murderer and her kids moved onto my street, one block down; never found out if they were true or not.

7.  I do not now, nor have I ever, played Candy Crush Saga.

With THAT, I say, “Keep writing my friends!  Keep reading my friends!  Keep sharing my friends!”

And take care of each other.

Life is Good!

As seen this week on TheNextFamily.com (9/12/2012):

So what has been going on around Dodd-Hise Paradise since the adoption excitement three weeks ago?  Life as usual – never stopping and moving at breakneck speeds.  It is rare that we are just sitting around, without anything to do or anywhere to go.  Some days it drives me crazy to be so busy all of the time; other days I am totally comfortable in the ADHD world in which I live.

The end of August came and went, and Noah started back to school, beginning the 7th grade.  Last year was a struggle for most of the year, both socially AND academically for him.  We had all spent many a breath over the summer talking to him about chalking up 6th grade as a learning experience, but now it is time to get it together and take care of business.  His mornings now consist of tennis practice before school, advanced classes throughout the day, sectionals and/or band practice each day after school.  It is my deepest hope that all of these activities will be enough to fill his time and keep trouble at bay.  He still is adjusting to having to get up quite a bit earlier than before, and our mornings have been a bit rocky, to say the least.  He still doesn’t have the door back on his bedroom (from having it removed over the summer), and has very limited video game privileges.  Our main goal in life with Noah right now is to help him succeed in all that he is doing right now:  academics, tennis, and band.  For some families, we understand that these things come easy and there is rarely an issue with making sure that they’re done.  For other families with extraordinary children, it takes more creativity, structure, and observation.  Many outsiders look at us interact with Noah and say that we are too hard on him, or that we should cut him some slack, give him a break.  But they haven’t had to help get him out the door on time before school.  So I am currently reading some books to help us with re-direction, as well as working WITH him in those areas in which he struggles.  I am hoping that we can quickly implement some new strategies that will take some of the stress off of him, as well as us, and give us all some relaxed mornings.

1st Day of School – 7th Grade 2012

Harrison is now 10 ½ months old, if you can believe THAT!  Since the adoption, absolutely nothing has changed in her little world.  She still has her two mommies that love her beyond anything else that she has ever known, and the addition of the adoption papers meant nothing whatsoever to her.  For me, it means the world (obviously), and while nothing has changed in my heart or mind, it has taken the legal weight of the world OFF of my shoulders and given me the security that I needed to finally relax for my family.

Nicholas and Krystal Fay, as some of you may remember, are expecting a baby at the beginning of January.  She is about 23 weeks along, I believe, and it has taken me most of that time (since they told us at around five weeks) to get used to the idea of even being a grandmother.  For a while there, I couldn’t even bring myself to SAY the word – mainly because I felt way too young, not because I didn’t think I would love the little tot!  And besides, Erikka is going to be 37 when their baby is born – even younger!  But it is what it is, and I am okay with the fact that they love each other and seem to have a strong and secure marriage.  Yes, they are young.  But I told Nicholas that I was young when he was born, and that he just needs to get used to us older folks making comments about the fact that they are young – it’s true!  We found out in the last couple of weeks that the baby is a girl, and can’t wait to welcome Zoe Nora-Jayne into our family.  I hope that Harrison and Zoe become the best of friends from the beginning, and I know that Noah will be a fantastic uncle.  After talking to a new friend the other night at dinner, and discovering what HER grandkids call her, I decided to totally steal it and use it for Zoe.  I will be…YaYa!  Doesn’t sound grandmotherly, just like I wanted!  The process has already started in going through Harrison’s things and loading them up for the kids to take home for Zoe.

The Dodd-Hise Family all together for Nicholas’s 21st Birthday

Erikka and I are just cruising along, doing our thing like we do, and already anticipating Harrison’s first birthday at the end of October. It’s hard to believe that a year has already passed almost, but yet, it has.  We look at her and think of how much she has changed in ten short months – the time went too quickly!  Erikka is working all the time:  full-time as an attorney, and part-time teaching business law classes online.  I have several photo shoots scheduled at Noah’s school for various groups, as well as some family holiday shoots on the books already.  We are so blessed to have the opportunity for me to stay home with Harrison, and to work when I can.  And we are so thankful for all of these blessings that we share in this crazy life with our amazing kids (and soon-to-be grandkid).  Life is good!

I Adopted My Own Daughter

As seen on August 22, 2012 on TheNextFamily.com:

Three Weeks Ago:

I get the phone call that I had been waiting for, from my best friend and attorney, Kim.  She had finally gotten ahold of the ad litem attorney in San Antonio, and they were trying to pin down a date for court.  I had wanted to go on my birthday, August 6th, but it wasn’t feasible as they were still waiting for one last document from Austin.  So what about the 10th of August?  Kim thought it would be okay, but then upon examination of my dear wife’s work schedule, she said there was no way that she would be able to go on the 10th.  Since we were aiming at a Friday, in order for all of the attorneys involved (Kim and Erikka primarily) to only miss one day in the office, I then asked for the next Friday – August 17th.  It seemed to work for everyone, and all she had to do was get it confirmed with our ad litem attorney.  I awaited confirmation (impatiently, as usual) so that I could book rooms, reserve a rental vehicle, etc.  A few days later I got the text:  August 17, 2012 @ 11:15 A.M. in front of Judge Peter Sakai, 4th floor Bexar County Courthouse.  Hot damn we have a court date!  Finally – it’s REALLY going to happen!  I am finally going to adopt our baby girl – for real!

One Week Ago:

We had originally planned to travel to San Antonio the Thursday evening before court, and stay through the weekend as a mini-vacation for our family.  Turns out, however, that I would have a wedding to photograph on the 18th of August. (It had been a little up-in-the-air for a few weeks there and we thought that it might be postponed.)  So it was decided that we would go to San Antonio on Wednesday, take the kids to Sea World on Thursday, Erikka’s parents and Kim would all arrive Thursday afternoon/evening, court on Friday morning with lunch after to celebrate, and then travel home Friday afternoon so that I could be at the wedding Saturday evening.  Dear Lord if I had only known THEN how exhausting all of that was really going to be!

Wednesday, August 15th:

Our morning was, as most starts to trips can be, a bit chaotic.  Did you pack this?  Did we remember to put that in the car?  Do we have the baby’s bath seat?  We took the dog to my mom’s last night, right?  Extra food and water for the cats – check.  OK.  Let’s load up.  Noah, do you have your headphones, iPod, Kindle, and my laptop for watching movies?

Noah happily enjoying all of his travel amenities :)

Sheesh.  Do you remember how WE had to travel when we were kids?  A piece of duct tape down the middle of the back seat so that my brother couldn’t get on my side, no books for me because I got car sick, and we were stuck listening to whatever Mom and/or Dad was listening to on the radio.  Oh but there was always the alphabet game with billboards or license plates!  But most of our travel time was actually spent fighting, pushing, or trying to go to sleep to get through the boredom that my younger A.D.H.D. brain was raging against.  But I digress.  We get all loaded up and make our way through Dallas.  We get to Hillsboro, Texas (just North of Waco) when I have to stop and pee already.  Just before I stop I gasp as I realize that, HOLY CRAP, I forgot to pack the diapers.  ANY diapers.  Not a one.  Great.

Harrison giving me her scruntchy face when I said I had forgotten to pack diapers

Here I am, off on the trip of my life – to adopt my baby girl – and I forget to pack her diapers.  But at least I remembered to buckle in her carseat before I put her in it!  A quick stop in Waco at the Wal Mart, and we were back in business, with a full package of diapers in the back.  We made pitstops in Austin for lunch, and New Braunfels to visit the new Bucee’s roadside stop (like a couple of fanatical loons, I might add), until finally we were in San Antonio and checking in at our bed & breakfast.  After getting our stuff to our room and cleaning up a bit, we headed out for a wonderful dinner with our awesome friends, Jay and Christopher.  It was a great ending to our travel day, and we soon were back at the B&B and falling into bed with a very cranky baby girl.

Thursday, August 16th:



After a long night with very little sleep, thanks to our beautiful baby girl, we got up, had breakfast, and got ready for a day at Sea World.  We loaded up and took off, spending the day with both of our children having fun just being a family.  Harrison loved all of the Sesame Street characters that were out and about, and smiled and giggled every time she got near one.  We took her on her first carousel ride, and even Noah willingly rode, too.  I love that he will do things like that for and with his baby sister, and simply because he loves her so much.  She was so much fun to watch because she seemed absolutely amazed about everything – it was awesome!  By about 5 PM we were all pretty much worn out and ready to go, so we headed back to the B&B to meet Erikka’s parents, who had arrived earlier in the afternoon.  We all went to dinner before coming back and passing out again, eagerly anticipating court in the morning.

Friday, August 17th:

I was awake before the alarm went off – which almost NEVER happens.  It was finally here!  This was the day that I had waited almost ten months for – the day that our baby girl would legally be mine.  I was finally going to be recognized, under the law, as her mother…just like Erikka.  Soon, everyone was up, including Kim and Erikka’s parents.  We had breakfast and began getting ready for pictures, as I had hired a photographer to come and take some family photos, as well as to take photos during the proceedings at court.  Photos were taken outside of the B&B, and soon we were on our way to the courthouse, which was about two blocks away.

I was nervous, although I’m not sure why – I guess because I had never anticipated that the judge might say “no.”  While we waited for our court appointment, we all sat outside of the courtroom on old, wooden benches, where Kim prepped me for how things would go, and we finally all got to meet Harrison’s attorney (the ad litem).  I had, in my mind, of how the courtroom would look and that it would be filled with other people awaiting their turn (like when Noah’s dad adopted Nicholas), so I was shocked when we were ushered inside to a small courtroom that was completely empty.  It was just going to be our family, our attorneys, and the judge.  Wow!  Harrison had fallen asleep while waiting in the hallway, so I was starting to get her out of the stroller when the judge came in.  It was weird because I’m not sure how many of us noticed him come in, until I said, “Oh hey there’s the judge!”  We were all invited to come up to the front of the courtroom, in front of the judge – Us, Noah, Erikka’s parents – we were all invited to join in!  The photographer moved about however she wanted, which was awesome!  The judge wanted to know who everyone was, and we all went around and gave our names.  Kim then introduced me as the adoptive parent, and established for the judge my relationship with Harrison; then she did the same with Erikka.  She had laid out a plan of questions for me, Erikka, and even Noah, but before she was able to carry them out, the judge kind of took over.  He asked me if I knew that it was irreversible, with “no exchanges, returns, or refunds,” and asked us both to promise to raise her in a loving home, educate her, and help her grow into an honest and upstanding citizen.  We promised that we would, and before any of us knew it, he had granted the adoption and it was over!  Just like that!  I think the whole process took five minutes!

 

She is finally legally my daughter.  While everyone who knows us knows that Harrison is my little girl, now I finally have the letter of the law declaring that she is such, and no one can ever take her away from me.  We walked out of the courthouse knowing that the security of our family was finally in place, and there is no longer a fear hanging over my head.  It is such a huge burden taken off of my shoulders, and while it was a pain to have to go down this road, I can say that in the end it was totally and completely worth every bit of it to give me the peace of mind that I now have.  It was a day that changed my life forever.

Taking a Stand

As seen this week on TheNextFamily.com (8/1/2012):

So we all know and have heard the latest broohaha regarding fast food chain Chick-Fil-A.  Our social network sites have blown up with constant updates, stories, blogs, feeds, protests, counter-protests and such about it.  Most people, by now, are pretty sick of it – at times, myself included.  About a week or so after the news broke that the CEO openly and proudly declared his stance as anti-marriage equality (and thus speaking for the entire company, franchises and all), I read an interesting blog written on The Huffington Post regarding the whole situation.  Here was my comment about the blog, as well as a link to the blog itself:

“It is sometimes so hard to sit by while people who say they are my friend/family who care about MY family, will also say that they have no intentions of boycotting anything. That’s fine. As long as they are fully aware that their money goes to organizations who are determined to keep my family from being equal to theirs. It’s not about the chicken sandwich. And yes, everyone is entitled to free speech, freedom of religion, and an opinion. But please think about it, before you go and spend your money there, of all the times that you have said that you support my family – and then don’t. Either don’t spend your money at a business that supports inequality, or don’t tell me that you love and adore my family. These are the kinds of organizations that keep MY marriage from being recognized, and require ME to adopt my own daughter. Just so you know.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/conor-gaughan/chick-fil-a-homophobia_b_1711566.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false

I encourage anyone who reads my blog to read Conor Gaughan’s piece.  It is just another real person writing from his real perspective, trying to reach his readers so that they can see where he is REALLY coming from.

So the supporters have now planned a Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day on August 1st, and the opposers have planned all sorts of protests on the same day.  There will be same-sex PDAs/kiss-ins at some chains, while others plan to wait in line and order water, or order food and then cancel.  To me this seems like an open show of hostility that will only make us, the LGBT community, seem petty and ridiculous.  Get mad at me if you want, but I think that the best way to show our opposition to the company’s declared stance is to first NOT GO THERE.  And if we choose to go there for an organized protest, then fine, exercise the right to peaceably gather with signs that show our thoughts and feelings (grammatically and spelled correct, of course).

www.thenextfamily.com

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Protest Rally @ White House – May 2010

All of this has also got me to thinking about my children.  What would I want my children to learn about all of this?  Yes, we used to eat at Chick-fil-A, but it has been a long time, as we stopped going there over a year ago when we first learned of the company’s donations towards hate and anti-equality groups.  Now, Noah is twelve, and when we stopped going there, he didn’t really get it, and we didn’t really try to explain it.  But now that he IS twelve, with all of it in the news and on the lips of virtually everyone, I did try to explain to him the reason why WE, our family, doesn’t go there anymore.  I’m not sure if he understands completely, but I wanted to take the time to explain to him this stand that we are taking.  I also explained to him that yes, one small group (ie: our family) CAN make a difference in the bottom line when there are lots and lots of small groups doing the same thing.  I also explained to him that it is no difference than in school, where I expect him to stand up for anyone who is getting treated differently, for any reason, because it is simply the right thing to do.  Nicholas, on the other hand, is a grown man who lives on his own.  He worked at our local Chick-Fil-A when he was a teenager, and has decidedly chosen to continue to frequent there.  Sure, it is disappointing to hear him say that he loves his gay moms, but he also loves their chicken sandwich.  Did I not teach him to take a stand against bigotry and inequality?  I thought I had, but once they are grown and gone, it really isn’t my decision to make for him.  I love him regardless of where he eats.  And I know that he is young, and one day he will be faced with something in HIS life that will force him to either make a stand for what is right, even if it means giving up something he likes or doing something that might be uncomfortable.

This is the conclusion that I have come to, since I have many conservative friends and family, who think that all of us should just “shut up and get over it:”  It doesn’t affect them personally, so it isn’t as important to most as it is to those of us fighting for marriage equality and equal treatment.  Their marriage is always recognized, and they enjoy all of the rights and privileges that go along with that.  But as for me and my house, I will always and continually teach them about taking a stand in the face of something that is wrong.  And I will continue to teach them to take a stand against anybody doing wrong against another group, whether it directly affects them or not.

“In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock”

 ~ Thomas Jefferson

Now We Wait

As seen this week on TheNextFamily.com (6/20/2012):

Fingerprinting was the step that I took to kick off our adoption process.  My next step, which I did the day after my trip to the police station, was to meet with my attorney (aka, BFF Kim).  I had filled out the Adoption Intake Form, which I have blogged about previously, to take to her, along with a copy of our marriage license and a copy of Harrison’s birth certificate.

We went over what else needed to be done, and I wrote the first check to her for the first phase.

Once we were past the initial paperwork and the fingerprinting (which I turned over to her), my next step was to get ahold of the social worker that Kim had for us to use for our home study.  In the very beginning, when we first started talking and planning for the adoption, I had wanted Kim to petition the court to waive the home study, given that I thought it was absolutely ridiculous that I had to do it in order to adopt my own child.  Unfortunately, after speaking with some advising attorneys, she didn’t feel that it was worth it to even attempt a waiver of the home study – after all, we DO live in conservative Texas.  With every step I want to stomp my feet and rebel against the system, or go to the state capital building in Austin and scream at Rick Perry while throwing tomatoes at the beautiful, domed rotunda.  However, I won’t, since I would rather be granted this adoption instead of spending time behind bars…haha.

I was soon put into contact with the woman who would either become my new best friend, or who could possibly decide my fate in a less-than-positive way.  My experience (which has been one time) with a social worker was several years ago, when Noah’s father was doing a step-parent adoption of Nicholas.  That home study, with a social worker chosen from a list, was very nerve wracking for me.  Hours of tense questions and answers, delving deep into our pasts – and he was MY kid!  I wasn’t even the one adopting him!  So when I knew that I would have to have a home study for Harrison’s adoption, all I could think about was how stressful the last one was.  I spoke with her on the phone to schedule the visit, and she was very warm and laid back, telling me that she preferred to have two visits in order to cover everything that she needed to for a complete report.  We scheduled it for a Monday, and I spent the days leading up to it tidying the house of clutter and cleaning what I could, without making it look TOO polished and unlived in.  When she arrived, I was instantly put at ease by her capri pants and flip flops, along with her reassuring smile and personality.  She took a quick tour of the house, not very in depth at all (which made me VERY happy), then we sat down in the den for almost three hours and talked, just she and I.  She asked me questions about my marital history (now THAT was fun to explain), my history with Erikka, and about my relationships with both Noah and Harrison.  She didn’t ask very many questions about Nicholas; I’m sure mainly because he is off and married now.  It was very relaxing, and I felt like I was sitting and chatting with a new friend.  When it came time for her to go, I called Erikka and we scheduled the second visit – for the next day.  No time like the present, right?

Our wonderful social worker, Anne, with Harrison & I on her second visit :)

So she returned the next afternoon, where she visited with Erikka for a bit, and then the two of us together.  It was a wonderful experience, with no negatives whatsoever.  Within two days, she emailed me her report and asked me to look over it before she sent it over to Kim for submission to the court.  I couldn’t believe that the process was going this quickly!  This could soon be a reality, one that is signed, sealed, and delivered in court!  Our adoption process for Bud to adopt Nicholas took from August until December the year that we did it; this might very well all be done within a month or six weeks.  I am simply amazed that it has gone this smoothly – and pray that it continues to do so.

Tomorrow I meet with Kim again to hand over a few more documents that we had to sign and have notarized.  She found out at the end of last week that we will have to also hire an ad litem attorney in San Antonio – an attorney who will represent Harrison (also another ridiculous, but required, expense).  I will cut a check to Kim for this attorney’s fees tomorrow, and then I believe that we will be done with all of the steps, aside from traveling to Bexar county to attend a hearing in court.  She will send off my fingerprints to the DPS in Austin, and then all we have to do is wait for my criminal history report to be submitted to the court, as well as back to Kim.  That’s it.  Now we wait.  I’m not very good at waiting…

The Adoption Journey Begins…With Fingerprinting!!

As seen this week on TheNextFamily.com (6/6/2012):

“You don’t choose your family.  They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.”  ~Desmond Tutu

The time has finally arrived, and the adoption journey has begun.  While we had to wait until Harrison was at least six months old to do it, it ended up being 7 1/2 months for financial reasons.  Now I am sure that some of you have gotten the impression from me before, but I will say it again – it is utterly ridiculous and unfair that we have to go through all of these extra steps and a lot of extra money for me to adopt my own daughter.  Every step of the process is just a reminder of the fact that we live under a state that is willing to change a constitution to make discrimination state law.  But no matter how unfair it is, how inconvenient it is, how infuriating it is, or how expensive it is…I will do it, because it is THAT important to me that this little girl is legally and forever mine, too.  I look at her, and she flashes me that crinkled-up-nose snaggly-one-toothed grin, and all I know is that I will do whatever it takes to make it happen.

And the first step in my journey to becoming Harrison’s other mommy legally…began with some fingerprints.


I have known for a while all of the things that have to be done to get this adoption completed:  file the petition with the district court in San Antonio, have a home study done by a social worker, get a set of fingerprints for my attorney to send to Austin for a report, then plan our trip down to San Antonio for our court date.  I don’t know if there is a particular order, but I decided to go ahead and get the fingerprinting done, so that when I visited the attorney (aka my BFF Kim) with the paperwork to get started, then I could also have those with me for her to send off.

So last week I loaded up the baby and waited for a lull in the storms that were raging outside, and off we went to the police station around the corner.  When we arrived, I loaded her into the baby carrier and strapped her to my front, grabbed my camera and off we went.  My first stop was at the clerk’s window for the court, who directed me down a hall to another little window at the police station.  Once I got to THAT window, I was then directed to a door leading outside, and told to walk all the way around the police station’s building to the new jail entrance.  Ah.  Okay.  So off I went again, hoping that the dark, ominous sky would hold off until we got this done and back to the Jeep.  When I got to the jail’s entrance and waiting room, I was once again at a little window – with no one behind it.  Great.  Um, hellooooooo?  Anyone home??  I pressed a button on an intercom – nothing.  Finally, a few minutes later, I hear the nice Southern drawl of an older lady come on the intercom, “What can we help you with honey?”  Oh!  “I need to get my fingerprints.”  She came back with, “Alright sugar.  I’ll let the jailer know that you’re up there.  That’s an awfully pretty baby you have there.”  Thank you ma’am.

Soon a nice young police jailer dude was at the window, asking for my driver’s license.  He then called someone from somewhere in the back on his little batphone in there, and soon I heard locks clicking and he came out to the waiting area.  He humored me while I took pictures, and even assisted in taking some himself while he proceeded to take me through the fingerprinting process.  I asked him if he had ever fingerprinted anyone before who had a baby strapped to their chest, and he just laughed and said, “Well no.  This would be the first.”


He was very nice and helpful, and I was glad to be happily fingerprinted – and unfortunately, I have done it unhappily before!  Once he was done, we headed outside and trucked back over to the parking lot where I got Harrison back into her carseat just before the bottom dropped out and the torrential rains started again.  But I didn’t care.  I was thrilled to have taken the first step to begin the process!  It was a beautiful, beautiful day.

 

And So Here We Go!

As seen this week on TheNextFamily.com (4/18/2012):

So here we go.  Harrison is almost six months already. (Can you BELIEVE that???) Once she has been in my residence for six months, I can legally adopt her.  In case you don’t already know, this is a huge thorn in my side; a thorn that creates an anger within me that just boils until my face is red and flushed.  As we have already established, Harrison is my daughter.  Erikka birthed her, and together we are raising her.  But yes, because we live where we live, in a state that has determined that THEY can decide what and who constitutes a family, I have to go through the process of second-parent adoption to legally be my daughter’s parent.  Ridiculous.  Stupid.  Maddening.  UNFAIR.  I guess what really gets me is this:  if the courts do not grant this adoption, I can never try it again; but it changes nothing in our home.  I will still live here.  Harrison will still live here.  She will continue to always and forever be my daughter.  It will only mean that legally, as her parent, I will be screwed.  So I have to do whatever I can, as soon as I can, to ensure that we have the solidifying legal paperwork in place so that I can always protect her to the best of my ability as her non-biological mama.


The first step, of course, is paperwork.  My BFF, Kim (aka Auntie Kim to our Harrison), is the attorney who will be taking care of our adoption, as well as some other friends who are in our same situation.  She emailed me the paperwork that we all have to fill out, no matter if we are BFFs or not.  I printed out the five-page Adoption Intake Sheet, and will fill it out and get it back to her with the necessary documents and payment.  Another one of the reasons that I get so angry when approaching the matter:  all of the money that I, and many other couples such as us, will have to shell out to adopt their own children (now taking donations, by the way).  Fathers are automatically given the title of parent at birth, even though they don’t actually give birth, without having to adopt their own children.  It is SO NOT fair.  So back to the paperwork.

The first question asks if it is a step-parent adoption or a second-parent adoption.  I’m not sure how different these two really are, but this is why I am not an attorney – I am just surrounded by them!  It then launches into my name, relationship to the child, blah blah blah.  It asks for the name of the adoptive father, if applicable, name of adoptive mother (where I suppose I put all of my information again).  Then comes the information about the biological mother, and asks if she has received or been promised financial assistance in connection with her pregnancy, birth, or adoption placement.  Yes, I totally paid Erikka to adopt this baby.  Pbftttt.  I’m still trying to figure out how to pay what I actually DO have to pay to adopt her!  It then moves on to the marital status of the biological mother – but do I say that she is single or married?  We are married in Connecticut and all of the other states that recognize it.  But in Texas, where the adoption is taking place, we are considered unmarried.  See how ridiculous it gets when some states recognize marriage and others do not??  Do I say that she is divorced, since technically she is?  And where it asks for former spouse name, do I have to include that guy??

Then it moves on to biological father, if known.  Since we used a donor, do I just put his donor number in that blank??  We have to say why Erikka will not identify the “father’s” name.  I have to say that no, Erikka was not married to the donor, and no, there is not a paternity suit in process.  I have to also say that Harrison never lived with the donor, and he has never contributed to her support.  Then it finally gets to Harrison, with information about her “current name,” date of birth, who she lives with and where, and if her name will be changed.  That’s pretty much the end of the intake form.

The documents that are required to accompany this form include Harrison’s birth certificate, our marriage certificate, and any documents showing the biological father has relinquished rights.  Do we even have that?  When you use donor sperm and do artificial insemination, do they provide us with a form that says that he has no rights whatsoever?  It is so confusing.

And have I mentioned, it is SO ridiculous?