Tuesday, April 22, 2008

passports - funny moments in gay parenting

We have been hedging
on getting passports done

It stresses me just thinking about it
Gathering all of the adoption info
Birth names
Adoption certificates.
That was so hard to get initially.
So we hedge
Can I really hand over those docs?
I fear what they will ask us
In this small town
Of course,
We have been waiting until the last possible moment
We have a cruise in July – so this is it
No wiggle room
We load up the car
Grumbly children on an errand
The postal worker asks – are both parents present
We both sigh – yup
He kinda looks at us
Dykey moms
Black babies
He goes back to work
I get nervous
Jessie is tense
We fill out all pages
With the eyes and hands of forensic scientists
We will leave no space for error
No room to deny us
Place of birth, date of birth…
Cross every T
We walk up to the counter
Pictures taken
Two older white men behind the counter
With the power
One looks at us
Okay ladies
“Who want to be the father?” He smiles with a small smile
"That would be me" I say
I whisper to Jessie – "Honey I’m a daddy!"
The other man
Just looks at us
And then said
In a very serious voice
“You’d think they could finally figure out a system that works for everyone by now eh, other agencies have"
Have a good trip.
I love people
I love this town
I laugh, we smile
I’m a dad.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

father-daughter dance - advice

Dear Evolved Moms: What do we do when the annual father-daughter dance arrives - and there is no dad? Two moms :(

Dear Two concerned Moms.
This is a complicated one.

I would say the best place to start is a place of understanding
and a freaking big deep breath!

Fighting a school is hard
so if you are going to jump in
have your eyes open and be ready to go all the way.

My assumption, unless I am missing some facts in your situation
is that the father daughter dance is a tradition
brimming with good intentions,

Norman Rockwellian moments and yearbook photo ops
no intent to exclude,

no intent to make things harder for you, for us
for anyone different
but unfortunately, like many school events, like most life events
same-sex parented households, gay people, gay students, gay teachers
and yes, unfortunately, children of gay and lesbian parents
are and will be
constructively and automatically

excluded from many of these “traditional moments”
life milestones
at least until the world catches up

90% of the time
the exclusion exists with no intent on the part of the school
but also
with no forethought either (how hard would it have been to assume someone could be excluded really? Or to think ahead of potential impacts – surely they knew you were there? Hmmm)

Sadie Hawkin's dance, kissing booths, prom, sex ed, and yes,
the historic father-daughter dances too, are long standing traditional school events.

the purpose I suppose
- to celebrate the parent-child relationship
and the typical traditional father-daughter relationship

the events are
loved, planned, feverishly waited for
and yes – exclusive
As you know.
School administrators these days are playing a big game of catch up
And at the same time, also playing politics,
please the system,
please the parents,
please the teachers and
don’t step on any toes in the process
In the ever-changing America
The game gets pretty complicated
– I don’t envy the principals of today – but I also think they are often pretty wimpy where it counts and maybe it’s time they start hearing about it a bit, eh?

Certainly most are not spending their time
sitting around debating and wondering:
how does a gay student feel at our prom or will having a kissing booth make anyone feel uncomfortable or how would a gay family feel chaperoning at one of these dances? Or how does a lesbian teacher feels at part of my teaching team or what it is like to be a gay family in their school community?
Even the curriculum in most places is quite exclusive of diversity and gay families – luckily not in ours but in that regard I would bet we are an anomaly.

I would assume unfortunately
That your school never saw this conversation coming
After taking a BIG breath here is what I would do:
I would broach it peacefully
With an eye to awareness and education
Looking for common ground and common understanding
This dance does exclude lesbian-headed households - but many others as well.

I would start with normalizing:
If the intent is to celebrate the parent-child relationship, can we expand that definition a bit?
- Tell them the percentage of children in your area that are being raised by single moms,
- number of families that have 2 moms or 2 dads
- the percentage of kids living w/foster parents, grandparents or a sibling
- family w/no daughters who are simply excluded by birth alone
- all caring family who would love to participate...

Next I would:
Give them a copy of -Involved, Invisible, Ignored this can begin to help them understand what what it FEELS like to be a GLBT family in their community.

-Then I would ask about short term alternatives:
For this year, can we?
-Can we send a very important uncle?
-or can a mom go?
- Can we change the name to parent-child dance?

If the climate feels good to you. Feels safe to you, I would also:

. Reach out to: The PTA for support, and then

. Single moms at the school
· Reach out to other same-sex parents
· Look for all of our amazing allies in the non-gay community
· Sound infinitely reasonable in all of your conversations with the school (even though you know they are being short-sighted, imbecilic and archaic – which if you are hitting roadblocks you know they are)

Unfortunately, one of the components that goes hand-in-hand with being gay, and especially being a gay parent, is education
Acting in the realm of crisis
Will make it a crisis
And truthfully, once we throw out the gay card – people
As we have learned over time
Just simply become reactive
Even when we are not. There lies the rub.
Stay clear about your objectives
Try to be flexible
And be honest with your child about the goal
This sucks honey – lets see how we can make it fit for this dance and work on making it fabulous for next year. And truly – ask your child what they want.. If they even want to go, who they want to take them. If they want to go and they want you – why shouldn't you have the right to be there? Just make sure it is their fight.
Remember, this is your kid's community

you want to be reasonable first – you don’t want to have your kid go to school each day in a world that is full of chaos.
That said
When all else fails
If no one will listen and you really feel this is your fight and this is your time
When you have done everything reasonable, acted like a mature parent and concerned member of the community and feel that all roads have been blocked….
I would enlist some muscle.
Local media will scare the shit out of any red-blooded American principal
Gay media will certainly always have your back
Pflag and Family Equality have a well-respected, reasonable voice and presence

(great for bridge-building while still being scary!)
And any local lesbian biker club would surely be happy to offer you a dramatic
Ride to the event in question and I’m sure would be gallant escorts!

and if you're lucky to be able to pass, like me
you should adorn your most favorite coat and tie
and simply smile as you say
"hey, just trying to fit in"

Please let us know how it goes.

Here is your new mantra
Reasonable, respectable,
rejected, rebuffed,
react, radical,
rebel, rejoice

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Perfect day

I am learning
to put myself
things seem to fall in line
when we worry less
with time
with distance
I learned this month
to turn off the e-mail before bed
and not turn it on again
until after
I enjoy
my rice crispies
in peace
They can wait....
Life is seeming to fit
struggle less
breath seems easier
This Saturday was amazing
spring here in boston

14 years ago
in May
Jessie and I were married
My parents did not come to the wedding
9 years ago we told my mother
3 times
on 3 separate occasions
that we were adopting
trans racially
4 years ago, when marriage became legal
she came
On saturday
I walked into a hardware store
in my new town
to by rope (the really expensive purple kind)
and left Torin and my mother in the car
when I returned
my mother was reading
a gay family ABC book to my bi-racial daughter
without skipping a beat
"My mommies always choose vanilla, but I like chocolate best" she read
my kids spend the day swinging from a new rope swing
my parents worked on a new tree house for them
jessie's body did not hurt
in fact she hammered and climbed and soccered with the rest of us, amazing
Torin told us she hates ballet - that it's only "for boys!"
and Zion walked though the supermarket
with his face deep in a pink disney princess book
not even aware that many parents would shun
such behavior
silly limits and rules, makes me kinda laugh

flowers bloom
positive light grows stronger
life is good
what a perfect day
I am truly blessed.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Dodgeball - advice to dads in Atlanta

Dear Evolved Moms: My husband and I are looking at a few new areas in Atlanta to move to so our kids have access to a better school system. As gay dads what are some ways we can feel out the neighborhood and know if its welcoming to us? Pop and Papa (dads of 4 boys!)

Dear Pop and Papa,

to be honest
life as gay parents
is like dodge ball in 4th grade
you walk out onto the field
if you are chosen first
you know
your peers think you
are cool and unique
and will have your back
If you are chosen last
with hesitation
with fear and regret
you are about to get nailed
from all sides

My advice
walk out on the filed
hold hands
walk though the school
smile and be very
open and out
be who you truly are
If folks come to you
look you in the eyes
say appropriate things
you are on the A team
no worries
and can rest and visist and be social
in most any backyard in that neighborhood
as well as the PTA
and know support is with you.
If you feel eyes on you
notice discomfort
secret whispers
a shift in the air
kickball at 9:00!
I know life is not this simple
But finding a safe home really is
Unless you are willing to educate everyday
and worry
then find a place when you can just be at peace
and be one family in the community
not one different family
or one novel family (even though I know you are special!)
We live in the burbs - horse country!
but we really tested it out first
we walked to town
played with our African American kids at the playground
asked questions
Are there bigots here?
Sure, they are everywhere - that's life
but here they are polite and keep their comments to them selves
Difference exists and always will
but you deserve peace
as do your boys
Pick a town where you know
you can all go to the ice cream shop
holding hands
or to the 4th of July parade as a family
and just look at the floats
not looking over your shoulder
every moment
for the impending sting of the ball

Good luck!

Evolved Mom - Stacey

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Sperm Allergy - Advice to a yucked out mama to be

Dear Evolved Moms: Do u think someone can be allergic to sperm? I know it's crazy but each time I go for an insemination session (4th month of trying) I feel totally gross, yucky and eventually itchy. Almost like a yeast infection. Am I crazy?

Dear Spermophobe: So, science first. There are actually a minority of people in the world who are allergic to sperm. According to Estronaut a web forum focusing on women's heath.

"Like just about any other substance, it is possible to be allergic to semen. An allergic reaction is the result of the immune system overreacting to a foreign substance. The immune system recognizes the presence of something that is not part of the body, and it rushes to the location where the unfamiliar material is detected."

For the record, actually being blessed with this allergy is extremely rare. So if you really believe this might be true, please go get checked out by your GYN and rule it out
before you read on.

Okay, now that you know you are not actually allergic to the nasty little suckers, let me offer you an alternative perspective.

If you are like me
or really like any other
red-blooded American
dyke on the planet
the idea of sperm completely freaks you out
you imagine creepy little faces swimming angrily in the test tube
and each and every little fishy
reminds you of the one time
you actually touched
or was close to having
to touch or see
an actual penis in high school
behind the bleachers
or playing truth or dare
or for me the memory is of larry's club house
on a rainy Saturday after Hebrew school
at 13
To be honest
I couldn't even type the word semen in this blog
I had to cut and paste it so I didn't have to
...shit .....I just wrote it... AHHHH

Okay, back to the point.
I think you have a big case of the Lezzies
look, sperm just ain't in our world, let alone our bodies!
totally normal and nothing to panic about

so without even charging you for an office visit
I have the perfect prescription for you

Focus with me

you want a baby with your wife
and, at least for now
try and try as you might (hee hee)
you just can't get her pregnant on your own
so you need something to get the ball rolling right?

Our 5 year old daughter
wanted to hear her birth story
after hearing her brother's adoption story
we told her we needed a special chemical
that a woman's body needs to make a baby
and the
doctor put it in mommy
and she began growing
and that is all you need
simple as that
all sperm is
is a faceless
non-childhood adolescent memory
to help you create your family.
Just like cars need gas to go
we need this awesome chemical called sperm
to get us moving

So focus on the result
and I bet the itch will go

Evolved Mom - Stacey

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

One Love - Advice to a closeted mom

Dear Evolved Moms: What is the best way to come out to your children? Mine are 7 and 5 and they have already been asking questions and want to see me kiss my girlfriend. I have explained a little bit to them. I told them that i liked girls...the kissing kind of like. They kind of understand, or so i thought. My daughter said, I'm gay because i like girls. like my friends at school and you... So i need some help explaining exactly what it means to be gay. Thanks
Dear Closeted Mom:
They know
in whatever way
a kid can understand
believe me
they get it
kids are super sensitive to difference
and wanting to fit in
They know your family looks different
and that had to not only be okay
but you need to be in charge of making it
almost a non issue
so when the comments fly
in 5th grade
or even when a curious 6 year old asks your kids where their daddy is
they can have a cool
and confident answer.
There is no room and no air to grow a family - in a closet.
I think all they need is love
and a little bit of exposure
the right words
and they will get it
Our kids are the same ages
But they have never had a day, when we weren't out
It's not about flaunting
its about living naturally
and letting them see
that you are proud of who you are
We have told our kids
Our love is the same love
as other mommies and daddies have for each other
They know the words gay and lesbian-they say them loud at times
- even louder than we might be ready for
"hey mom? Is she gay" - they bellow across the park
We tell them that there are all kinds of love
and we make sure to have many kid appropriate books that show
families like ours
We go to gay family events from time to time
Contact Family Equality to see what is in your area
But the only important thing
is to be open and honest
teach them to be proud of you and of themselves by example
you have nothing to hide
and kids are funny
sometimes they really get it and don't need to know more
they will ask you if they do
In our house
we have hot a whole new level
sometimes the kids seem sad when I say
- you know guys, you might not be gay and that's okay!
we will love you like crazy no matter what you are
and no matter who you love!
Be open - be proud - teach pride
Evolved mama - Stacey

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