It’s a Gay Thing…
The last couple of days have been wonderful. I’ve started back at school, and the students come back on Tuesday. It’s hard to believe that I’m starting my fourth year of teaching, but I’m glad for the distraction and routine to keep me occupied while we wait, and wait, and wait some more in this adoption. It’s so entirely nerve-wracking with everything we have to deal with: the lawyers, the home study, the judge. But we know it will be absolutely worth it in the end with we have our little baby home with us.
In the majority of adoptions, people decide they want to have a child and then get hooked up with a lawyer and a home study before waiting for a year or more for a placement. It was different for Erin and I. We wanted kids, but we were going to wait a couple of years before we started physically trying to have one of our own. Then we were literally chosen to be this child’s parents, and we couldn’t say no. When the Gods send you a blessing, you don’t ask why it was sent. We talked about this process for a long time. We were changing everything about our lives and our plans to accommodate a new addition. I mean, this wasn’t something we went out and worked for (we didn’t find a donor, or plan out when to start trying, or look at agencies or fostering), this adoption was brought to us with a simple question: I think you and Erin would make wonderful parents, and I know that you want to have children. What do you think about adopting?
It’s extremely powerful and flattering and amazing to be approached by someone and asked to adopt. I can’t even fully put it all into words because my mind is still blown away by it all.
Erin and I are now doing everything we need to do to get ready for the arrival of baby H-H. We went all of yesterday touring child care facilities, and some where better than others. The one we really liked starts teaching children from 6 weeks old onward. They track their milestones with weekly report cards and gives them plenty of opportunities to explore the world around them through art and water play, toys and tummy time. There are pictures EVERYWHERE of what the kids do every day, and it’s ratio of five infants for every one caregiver. I think it may be where we enroll. We’ve been given some baby clothes, and we bought the first object for the nursery: a tiny little owl.
We’re hoping and prayer every day that we get a judge that allows us to do a joint adoption. It’ll allow Erin and I to both adopt baby H-H without having to go through this process again. I spoke a few weeks ago to an old friend of mine who had a baby. She and her wife got married in DC, but live here in SC. I asked her if she and her wife were both legal parents, and she told me no. She said that since the baby has her wife’s last name just like she does, there isn’t a lot of questions asked, but legally, her wife is not the baby’s parent. She said they have to have a home study done, and get a lawyer, and they were saving the money up for it since it was expensive. I can’t imagine having to do this process all over again, so I’m just hoping and praying for a good outcome.
See, that’s the problem with living in an “inequality state” like South Carolina: we don’t have the same rights as other families. We pay go to work, pay taxes, live has honest citizens of the United States, and yet… we aren’t recognized as a true family unit. Yes, the law doesn’t define what a family really is, but when it comes to legalities… It’s important stuff. Legally speaking, any non-legal parent of a child can’t make medical or educational decisions for that child. They’re like a glorified baby sitter.
If we can’t get the joint adoption because we have a judge who doesn’t like it, then we’ll have a power of attorney done that will allow Erin to make all those decisions legally. This child isn’t going to be “mine” or “hers.” This child is ours. Then, when things become more accepting we’ll go through this process all over again and have a second-parent adoption completed. It’s really dumb the hoops we have to jump through.
I was thinking the other day about getting married, actually. Now that we have this baby coming, I’m not really worried about having a ring or a fancy wedding or a reception any time soon. Our family is what is important. But I wondered if being legally married would help the adoption any. Would having that paper nudge a judge towards doing the joint adoption or not? I love Erin more than I’ve ever loved anyone before in my life. I can’t imagine my life without her; in fact, doing so usually makes me cry. We work well together, we support each other, we are trying to help the other be the best that she can be, and it’s an absolutely wonderful process. We have so much love and support surrounding us as well: my family love her, Erin’s family loves me, our friends all believe that we are a shining example of what true love really is, and it’s wonderful.
So my thing was: why wait? Let’s go to DC in a couple weeks and elope. We have the information, all we have to do is pay the minister, and it’s a done deal. We could drive up there, get married, and drive back. But then what? What’s going to change with that once we move back and could it possibly be more trouble than it’s worth?
We’d have to file our state taxes as single, but our federal taxes and joint. If we don’t get the joint adoption, then I claim the baby on my taxes but she doesn’t? There’s a federal adoption tax credit that we would qualify for, but if she can’t claim the baby but I can, do we have to file separately on our federal even though we’re married? It’s all very confusing. I don’t think we’d be able to file our taxes without the help of someone else. If things were equal, though, I wouldn’t have to ask these questions.
In the end, we’ll probably wait until it’s legal to get married in South Carolina to tie the knot. We know it’s going to happen, at this point, everything else is just formalities.