Monday, June 02, 2008

LGBT Families Day: Rights or No Rights, We’re Still Parents

Fall soccer forms due August 8th, doctor’s appointments for summer camp forms and dinner cooked- but not yet eaten- by 4PM today. There is a little league baseball game and Zachary is pitching. By the time we get home, the baseball player will be too tired to wait another twenty minutes for the water to boil, the pasta to cook.

It’s another day of parenting. Not incredibly exciting or sexy but incredibly rewarding. I often am too tired at the end of the day to remember all that I did- the pick ups, drop offs, uniforms cleaned and lunches packed. But it always feels good.

Except when it doesn’t. Like when someone is sick, fighting about doing his or her homework or arguing over a toy.

Today is the third annual blogging for LGBT families day. Most of the posts are in the morning because we’re all too tired by night.

I find it fascinating that my neighbors have more rights than I do. I don’t see them as particularly better parents- or worse- we’re all simply trying to get our kids to bed at a decent hour and everyone to brush their teeth.

The only reason those parents have more rights is because they are heterosexual. They get to be married and recognized federally and internationally. There is no question about parenthood, or rights, or visitation, or inheritance or all the other rights heterosexuals enjoy in this country.

Not for my kids. My kids are being raised in a somewhat unusual family. My wife Jeanine and I decided many years ago that we wanted to have a family. Women all over the country were starting to have kids on their own, going to sperm banks and buying the best fit on paper.

Or at least what we thought was a good fit. It’s a complicated decision, to say the least.

We were reading about the ground breaking second parent adoption cases and realized we could have a baby. Raise a family. Things we never thought were possible when we were young lesbians, coming out in a world not so friendly.

We talked about it endlessly. We talked about names, how many and how we couldn’t wait to teach them how to throw a ball.

We also talked about what we valued, how we wanted our kids to be in the world. How we wanted strong girls and thoughtful boys. We talked about how we would deal with the homophobia they would face.

We never expected the reality. The long nights of wakeful babies ready to play at 3AM or the time that Ben, our oldest, was so nervous at his preschool graduation he threw up all over Jeanine.

Who had lifted him to her shoulders.

We did not expect to find such an accepting community. Or how our families of origin would open their arms to us. (Especially those Iowa people.)

We prepared endlessly for the “Where’s my Daddy?” question. The answer ended up being a simple, but firm, We are your parents, assuring our sons that in fact, they had parents like everyone else.

Because we are the boys parents. It may not have been either of our sperm, but we indeed created these kids. We chose to do it and it was not a simple process. There was no support in the greater world for our decision and while a loving community cushioned us, we were also denied insurance payments. We sought out a LGBT friendly doctor. We researched the best hospital to go to that would accept the other parent without question.

There are no “oops” babies in our house. AND we’ve always been clear this was a choice, a choice we made not only for ourselves but also for our children.

We’ve worked hard to create a family to address the kids’ needs. To have positive male role models, indeed surrogate dads to step into their lives. Sometimes, we’ve been right.

Sometimes we’ve been wrong. Pretty much like every other parent in the neighborhood.

In some ways, it is not any different at all. We all worry about high fevers or the cost of college. How to get them to pick up dirty socks or use the potty.

The only real difference? Some of us have rights, and some of us don’t. The irony is, it’s not going to stop us from raising families. Being parents.

Or putting our very tired starting pitcher’s to bed.

After all… I’m here. I’m queer. And I have to get to bed before 9:30PM or I’ll never be able to get up with the kids.

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Blogger Seda said...

Hard to follow up that post, Sara. It is so right on. No comment I make can add to it, so I'll just say...

6:07 AM  
Anonymous donald said...

you are all doing a great job!

the walls continue to fall, and one day we will all see that the rights we have been fighting for for years, are ours too!

7:17 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

just a small reply to the thing that turned up in my reading: the charge that non-straight people are using their kids as political footballs. the image names say it all:\

8:53 AM  
Anonymous Markus said...

Good JoB! :)

12:55 PM  
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10:54 PM  

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