Category Archives: LGBT Equality

Coming This Summer!

Domestic Dyke and family are going on the road this summer! I am expanding my blogging to travel writing and photographing, and looking forward to some amazing adventures starting summer 2014!
We are starting our journey with the whole fam loading up in June to Golden, Colorado, and probably some visits to Denver while we are there as well. In July, the wife and I will be traveling to San Francisco and Napa Valley, and plan to visit some cool, LGBT friendly venues as well. I will take tons of pictures – like I always do – and write up blog reviews as we go. I want to be able to pass on all of the good to all of our peeps, especially the LGBT friendly ones! Somewhere in there, hopefully sooner than later, I want to book a trip to one of our favorite spots – Little Rock, Arkansas – now that marriage equality has landed there! Hopefully there will be a lot more LGBT traffic in that beautiful, green state now that marriage is a reality. So if you have any destinations that you have been to and can recommend that might be interested in hosting us/me in exchange for a photo blog review, send me a message or list it in the comments – and I will check it out! Who knows…maybe I’ll be visiting in a town near you. If I do, let me know and let’s have a drink!

travel pic

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.

The Pathology

3/18/2013

It’s Monday, March 18th.  My sweet Noah’s 13th birthday.  I can’t believe this kid is already thirteen; nor can I believe how crazy I am about him (despite him being 13…hahaha)!  It is also the day that I hope to hear back from the doctor, all the while knowing that it could very likely be tomorrow.  By about 3 PM, I have given up most hopes of getting a phone call today with my biopsy results, so I start planning for a short trip to the store before Noah gets out of school at 4 PM.  I still feel lousy, but I need to make Noah’s birthday dinner, so I change clothes and head off with my list to the Kroger around the corner.  It’s 3:45 PM, and I am two steps out of my Jeep when my phone rings; a familiar Dallas number pops up and I stop, frozen in my tracks.

“This is Tanya.”

“Hi Tanya.  This is Dr. Seiler at UT Southwestern Medical Center.  Do you have a minute?”

Really?  No.  Do I have a minute?  Like I’m going to say, “Now isn’t a good time to find out about my cancer.  Can I call you back?”  Sorry.  Inner sarcasm comes out during times of high stress.

“Of course!  Let me jump back into my Jeep and turn some air on.”

From there, his calm, soothing voice led me through every step of the pathology report that he has so far.  He went in the same order that he performed the biopsies:

1.  The Stereotactic Biopsy of calcifications on the left breast – OK.  Fibroadenoma.  Benign changes.

2.  The mass on the right breast – OK.  A stromal hyperplasia.  Also benign changes.

3.  The mass on the left breast (the one that I felt) – Cancer.  Invasive Ductal Carcinoma In Situ.  The most common form of breast cancer, he said.  In the ducts and outside of the ducts.  Wonderful.

4.  The lymph node area of the left armpit – Cancer.

4.0.4

Big, deep breath.  Okay.  Do we have a stage yet?  No.  The specimens are being sent off for further testing and staging.  It is Grade 3, which is the highest grade – and the worst.  It got a score of 8 out of 9, which I guess is bad.  My next step, he tells me, is to see a surgeon.  They might do more testing (like MRIs and xrays), but they will formulate a treatment plan and decide if surgery will be needed first or chemotherapy first.  He answered all of my questions, and made sure to ask me at the end if I had any OTHER questions.

I then spoke with Amanda, the coordinator at UT Southwestern with the nurses at Moncrief Cancer Center, the program that funded my mammograms, sonograms, and biopsies.  She put me on hold, contacted my nurse there, and came back to tell me that they will begin the process of Medicaid paperwork for me, and not to worry about any of it for the time being.  She said that I would get a call the next day from the nurse handling my case, and they would get me in to finish up paperwork, and it would take 6-10 business days to get an active Medicaid number.  Once I have that, I can make the appointment with a surgeon that they refer me to, and hopefully get a good plan in place for treatment.  More waiting.

I know that if I had insurance, I would just pick up the phone to the surgeon of my choice (who accepted my plan, of course), and make the appointment.  Things are different for the non-insured, but thankfully, I am no longer panicked at the thought of having to self-pay EVERYTHING.  Now, I know that Medicaid does not pay for everything, and I will have out-of-pocket expenses; and thankfully I have wonderful people in my life (and in others’ lives) who have already started a fund for that!  And if anyone is wondering how I am able to get Medicaid, it is because we live in a state that does not recognize our marriage (as well as on a federal level).  Therefore, Erikka, in the eyes of Texas, is considered my roommate; and I am considered a single mother of two children at home (since I legally adopted Harrison).  Crazy, huh?

It just keeps coming back to me that all of those who are opposed to same-sex marriage, for whatever messed up reason, have no clue how it can, and DOES, hurt real people, in real families to keep a “separate but equal” mentality anymore.  The Defense of Marriage Act has no good merits, except to discriminate and divide.  Having marriage legal in all states for some people, yet only legal in certain states for others, will do nothing but complicate matters large and small, on many levels.

And breast cancer is no small matter.

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

Lincoln Had it Right

As seen this week on TheNextFamily.com (7/3/2012):

So we’re kind of at a stand still right now with Harrison’s adoption.  After we found out that we had to have an ad litem attorney (in San Antonio) to represent Harrison, that is where things have slowed down.  Everything else is done, and now we are waiting for this last step to fall into place so that we can get a court date.  I anxiously await for the phone call that says when we can go!

In the meantime, all across the nation, LGBT Pride was celebrated throughout the month of June.  Dallas has its Pride parade each year in September, rather than June (like the rest of the world).  But while most of the world celebrates equality and pride, there are still hate crimes and suicides happening to young gay and lesbians in our country.  Just last week, in Portland, Texas (a suburb of Corpus Christi) a young lesbian couple was found in a waterside park, having each been shot in the head.  One of the young ladies, Mollie, died from her injuries; her girlfriend, Kristene, remains in the hospital, recovering from hers.  It did not make the news here in Dallas, but word traveled swiftly on news websites and social media.  Soon, LGBT communities across the country reacted, planning candlelight vigils on behalf of Mollie and Kristene, signing and sending rainbow flags to their families, and raising money to assist Kristene’s family with her growing medical bills.  Sadness, anger, outrage, and fear have spread throughout our communities, and only recently is there hope – the Portland police have reported that they have a possible suspect.  The shooting has, however, been minimized in some media outlets, saying that they “aren’t sure that it was a hate crime.”  Um, really?  Somebody took this young couple and SHOT THEM IN THE HEAD.  Whether or not it was because they were gay is irrelevant – it was fueled by hate.

Dallas Candlelight Vigil for Mollie & Kristene

Last weekend, before we headed to Dallas for the candlelight vigil in our gayborhood, we dropped the kids off with my mother and decided to catch a movie.  We went to see Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter for some mindless entertainment.  Since I have degrees in History, and we both enjoy a good vampire movie, we thought it would be right up our alley for a good time.  Now, there wasn’t a whole lot about it that was historically accurate, except maybe for some names and dates, and few events.  But when it got toward the end of the movie, and President Lincoln was delivering the Gettysburg Address, it hit me – Abraham Lincoln GOT IT.  He valued life – ALL life – and maintained that all man[kind] deserved freedom and equality, as set forth by our founding fathers.  Think about it:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

 Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.”

 The second paragraph reminds me of the LGBT community now, in 2012, and what could be equated as a modern “great civil war.”  We are engaged in our great civil war, testing whether WE, so conceived and so dedicated, can endure.  How many have given their lives so that WE, as a community, might live?  How many Harvey Milks have there been over the years?  How many young men and women have lost their fight on the battlefield of homophobia, and taken their own lives?  How many Mollie and Kristenes have their been, losing their lives to hatred and violence?

“But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” ~ President Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 19, 1863

 Just like President Lincoln being unable to consecrate the ground in Gettysburg, neither we can consecrate or hallow any ground where our LGBT sisters and brothers have lost their fight.  It is they who do so for us.  And while we have our marches, our rallies, our parades, and our vigils, most of what is said will be soon forgotten by our peers.  But we cannot forget those lives, and we must always resolve that they, too, will not have died in vain.  We can see change on the horizon, but there is still so much work to be done.  I have hope that I will see our new birth of freedom during my lifetime, and that our government will return to the thought (and hopefully practice) that it is one of the people, by the people, and FOR the people – ALL people.

Lincoln had it right, even in 1863.

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?

A Morning with Rick Santorum in North Texas

As seen this week on TheNextFamily.com (2/15/2012):

So as most people already know, we are well into an election year.  We have been watching for weeks as various Conservatives battle for the position of Republican party candidate.  It seems as if each passing week brings us new levels of crazy among them, and I shudder at the thought of any of them in a position of power or leadership.

Among the candidacy-seeking, we find Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum (thank God Rick Perry has already dropped out of the race).  Last week, Santorum visited our area and met with local pastors.  I was planning on going to cover the event in person, take photos, and try to get a question in to the ultra-conservative campaigner.  When I couldn’t find anyone to watch the baby, I thought about taking her and introducing her to all the fundies as our gaybie, but ultimately decided to just stay home and watch the live feed.

The event was to be at the Bella Donna Chapel in McKinney, Texas.  It’s not a church but a beautiful event and wedding venue not too far from where I live.  It was supposed to start at 9:30 AM, but Santorum was late.  Once he did finally arrive, they ushered him in where he and his wife, Karen, were seated on the first row pew.  One of the chapel owners, Donna, introduced the event and Santorum by talking about plans for painting angels in the arches of the chapel.  She revealed a painting of Santorum’s daughter (who battles with a childhood disability), and told them that she was to be painted on one of the arches in the ceiling (her name is Bella).  She said it was a “God thing,” and also gave Bella a key to the chapel on a necklace, saying that the family was always welcome there.  After this presentation, she introduced Rick Santorum and he stepped up to take the microphone.


Santorum started off saying that he really believes that the foundation of our country rests on two institutions:  the family and the church.  He said, “Without those two institutions, we can’t be free.  Faith + Family = Freedom.”  Now once upon a time I would have believed every word that this man said, simply because he claims to be a “man of God.”  I’m so thankful that I woke up to the blind follower that I had been raised to be, and now think for myself.  He also said that he doesn’t like the term “freedom of worship” instead of “freedom of religion” that is often used.  He says it’s not about just WHEN you worship, but what you do in public.  He says that the Obama administration’s “attack on religion” is about trying to stop people from living their faith in public.  Every time I hear one of these candidates speaking of “Obama’s attack, or war, on religion,” I am always surprised!  I have never gotten that impression from him or his family, and I thought I had been paying attention!  Silly me!
Santorum soon moved into his topic of choice:  abortion.  He said, “I don’t think that God will bless this country when this country chooses to take over one million innocent lives per year through abortion.  There’s one thing about VOTING pro-life, and there’s another thing about TALKING pro-life.  You can be the most conservative person ever, vote for no government, and you’re fine.  But once you speak out on moral issues, you will have your head out of the trenches, and you will be shot at.”  But wait a minute…didn’t Santorum’s wife have an abortion?

While fighting for moral issues and against partial-birth abortion, Santorum’s wife became pregnant with their fourth child.  When they had the sonogram, the doctor told them that the baby was going to die.  They went to a children’s hospital and had a doctor perform surgery on the baby in utero – it was successful.  Everything would be fine, the doctors warned, unless his wife got a fever, which would indicate an infection in her uterus.  Ultimately, she DID get an infection and developed a fever, and Santorum was called home.  They were told that she was going to die if she didn’t “deliver,” and the baby boy was going to die.  She labored and she delivered him alive, where he lived for two hours; they named him Gabriel.  So is it an abortion if he was born alive, just way too early and unable to sustain life?  The definition of abortion, in the dictionary, includes the following:  the removal of an embryo or fetus from the uterus in order to end a pregnancy; any of various surgical methods for terminating a pregnancy, especially during the first six months; an immature and nonviable fetus.  In the Santorums’ case, it was technically an abortion, because all parties involved knew that the baby would NOT survive once extracted from the womb.  And this is the same man who has publicly said that even in the event of rape or health crisis, that a pregnancy resulting from it should be carried to term no matter what.

He then started sharing about his daughter, Bella.  They found out about her disability four days after her birth, and were told that they were lucky that she was alive because babies usually die in utero from this particular condition.  They were told to let her go.  Bella lived for ten days in the NICU, and they brought her home on hospice care; they celebrated her birthday every week.  But she didn’t die.  Santorum said that he had to be “the rock, and had to detach from Bella a little.  I loved her, but I had to detach from her, treat her a little different.”  When she almost died, he was reminded by his other daughter that he hadn’t done anything to save her.  This woke him up and he decided that he couldn’t hold back from her any longer.  This is why, according to him, he is SO outspoken about abortion – because of his disabled daughter.  Even for a dude that I absolutely cannot stand, and I believe that he is a homophobic bigot who is brainwashed, I was still touched by his stories about his children.

Once he finished, he was supposed to take questions from the pastors and then go outside to take questions from the media and his constituents.  I guess because he was late, he was only able to take a couple of questions from the pastors.  The first question, which I couldn’t hear, was something about intolerance.  His answer started out talking about the 9th circuit court decision regarding Prop 8 the day before in California.  He said that “it is intolerance to say that people are bigots and haters if you believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.  The intolerance of the left, the intolerance of the secular ideology is a religion unto itself – it is just not a religious-based religion.  It is completely intolerant of dissent.  They want their worldview to be accepted without question.”  He was talking, and I just kept hearing “blah blah blah” and watching as countless sheep blindly nodded in agreement.

The second question was asking Santorum who his favorite Supreme Court Justice is, to which he answered Clarence Thomas.  “Because he [Thomas] sees the Constitution itself, but also sees the Constitution in relation to the Declaration.  Because he sees that there is more to America than just the Constitution itself.  Scalia seems to focus a little too much on the original words of the Constitution and its meaning….”  What the what???  Are you kidding me Rick Santorum???  See, I knew that this yahoo has probably never even read the original Constitution – well, and he and his kind are constantly trying to amend and change it to fit their beliefs.

After this, the group of pastors gathered around Santorum, laid hands on him and prayed for him.  He then went back out the side door; was supposed to answer media and voter questions outside, but the feed went dark, so I assume that it didn’t happen.

Wow.  It was pretty insightful to watch him speaking in a small forum, versus the large crowds that we typically see him in front of on television.  I’m glad I didn’t go.  It would have been hard to keep my mouth shut.  I’m very afraid for the future of equality in our country if this man has even a remote chance of becoming President here.  He has openly declared that if he were to win, he would reverse virtually every act of legislature that has occurred in the name of marriage equality, or equality in general.  I have plenty of friends and family who are hardcore Republicans, having grown up both in the south AND in the church.  It gets really hard to choke down the knowledge that people who claim to love me and my family will vote for whomever is the Republican candidate, simply because they are Republican.  The question is constantly swirling around:  If you love me, love my family, and believe in equality, why and HOW can you possibly give your vote away to a person who is openly and blatantly against ME, my family, and equality???  Just because they are Republican?  Shouldn’t our vote be behind the person who represents the closest of those values that we hold dear to our hearts?

Needless to say…it should be interesting indeed.

Mama on a Soapbox

As seen this week on TheNextFamily.com (2/1/2012):

So I may have mentioned this previously, but it annoys the hell out of me that I have to adopt my daughter.  Yes, it makes me want to run, kicking and screaming at the top of my lungs, about the unfairness of it all.  Well, when it comes right down to it, it pisses me off in a way that I don’t think many things have.  Every time I think about when a hetero couple has a baby, the father’s parentage is automatically assumed, solely on the word of the birth mother saying that yes, this dude is the baby daddy.  The dude doesn’t have to go through the process of having to adopt the kid, just because he didn’t birth it – so why should I???  Because our relationship and our family is dictated by a government full of assholes who SAY that they want smaller government, yet have to keep their fingers in countless people’s lives, marriages, and families.

It’s very hard to be part of an openly gay marriage, as well as be the non-biological mother to our child, when living in a conservative, Southern state.  It’s hard to hear, over and over for years and years, that my marriage isn’t real or legitimate or legal (all three of which it completely IS).  It’s hard to know that people look down their noses at us when we’re all together, disgusted by all of our same-sexness.  It’s hard to be out in public during the day with the baby, and have people assume that I am her aunt or baby sitter, because I can’t possibly be her mother, given the way that I look.  It’s really hard to sit back and watch hypocrites run for office who are SO against marriage equality, yet have in their own history adultery and divorce…multiple times!

In the very near future, I will have to shell out the money for my BFF (aka attorney) to file a petition to the state asking permission to adopt my sweet baby girl.  After that, I will have to shell out even more money (of which I will have to put aside, since it’s not just lying around) to a social worker.  This is my favorite part.  The social worker will come to our house to complete a Home Study – she will examine our home, interrogate me, Erikka, both of us together, and maybe even Noah.  She will decide whether or not she thinks that I should be allowed to adopt Harrison.  If she says she doesn’t think that I should, then what happens?  Well, the adoption won’t happen, but nothing else.  I will still continue to live here and always be her mama, but without those legal protections.  If she says that she thinks it will be okay, I think we then proceed to going to court to stand before a judge.  At that time, then HE or SHE will decide whether or not they think I should be allowed to adopt my own daughter.  Here is where it all comes down to it.  If the judge says no, that’s it, I’m screwed.  IF my adoption request is denied, there is no opportunity to try it again.  That’s it.  I could get all of the recommendation letters in the world, and if we don’t get the right judge, it could all be for nothing.

And THIS, my friends, is why I am pissed off.

There is no question whatsoever, or at least there shouldn’t be, as to whether this little girl is mine.  She has been mine, along with Erikka’s, since the moment that I watched the doctor perform the intra-uterine insemination.  Since the moment we laid the cell phone on the bed, speakerphone on, as the nurse told us that the blood test was positive.  I went to all of the doctor’s appointments, saw all of the sonograms, shopped, worried over her and Erikka’s health, changed my diet along with Erikka, painted, and helped build her little Dr. Seuss world in her nursery to prepare for her arrival.  I got to meet her before anyone else, and I took care of her while her other mommy was recuperating after the birth.

I have bathed her, clothed her, fed her, changed her, sung to her, and rocked her to sleep.  Beyond all of these things or none of these things, I have loved her.  Because she is MY daughter.  I shouldn’t have to prove this, to a social worker or to a judge, just to have the legal protections that I rightfully should.


We need a change in this country, in this state.  We need a LOT of change.  The government needs to stop being such a puss and make the declaration that they have a hell of a lot more to worry about than same-sex couples marrying or having families.  They need to grow a spine and make the decision that they are going to stay out of it, and they are going to cease allowing any of us to vote on anyone else’s equality.  Sigh.  Sounds good, huh?  Too bad it is unlikely to happen.

Soapbox empty now.