I have started this post a million times over and still find a hard time getting through it. The political climate while trying to grow a family is kind of a lot. Everything around us seems like a contradiction.
Written June 14, 2017
We spent this past weekend participating in the Texas March for Equality at the Capitol in Austin. It was wonderful to be around families like ours and comforting to know we are not alone in the struggles we face and that there is light at the end of the tunnel. We got to hear from several great speakers and activists like Annise Parker, the former mayor of Houston, and the inimitable Ray Hill, whose activism has spanned the past five decades. We definitely never imagined ourselves on the side of the oppressed, but here we are... in 2017.
It's easy to go on through life assuming that everyone else will fight your fight and that things will just fall into place. But there comes a point when reality hits and you learn that you truly have to work to create the life you want and deserve. I'm not talking about making the money for the things you need or want, but to actually have the freedom that you're apparently to have by default of being born a US Citizen. Unfortunately for us, not only were we born in Texas, but we were also born as hispanic women who also happen to love women. Evidently the states' conservative bigots believe that they have a say over my freedom and human rights regardless of how and where I was born.
I've been a resident of San Antonio for nearly eight years. Moving here was an opportunity at a fresh slate. No one knew who I was and I had nothing to hide. For the first time in my adult life I got to be myself and take my time figuring out exactly who that "self" was. I come from an extremely small-minded town full of conservative cultural ideas and knack for laying on the shame. My family specifically prides themselves on their ability to project a facade of perfection, and that includes masking me.
Don't get me wrong, they love and support me, but mostly only the parts of me that they are comfortable acknowledging. I remember specifics regarding every reaction to my coming out. I remember all the times my girlfriends have been treated civilly by them, but not acknowledged as a significant other. I have the wedding pictures full of sour faces and memories of uncomfortable interactions to accompany what is supposed to be one of the most special days of my life.
I remember June 26, 2015 vividly. I was at work and got a CNN notification that the United States Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage across the nation. Tears streamed down my face, I was so thrilled! I spent the day celebrating and at night we went out to celebrate some more. I kept running into friends and we'd hug and cry and it was so wonderfully emotional. We talked about where we were when we got the news or what we were doing. Every single person had some sort of familial support. "I was at work and my mom called me crying!" "My phone has been ringing all day with my family calling to congratulate me!" "My sister and I hugged and cried for like an hour!" And literally, to this day, not a single family member has said one single thing to me about it. Years have gone by, and not one thing.
What I can't remember is a single time that they have openly talked about me being gay. I can't remember a single time that they talked about politics and how they felt about the way things were going. Forget so much as a single conversation about what they are doing to show support and advocate for change, to fight for what is right and to show me that they truly believe I deserve the same legal rights as they have. My family loves me and are supportive but only as long as they are comfortable.
When you are building a family and are coming into the "adulthood" you thought would never come, it's important to surround yourself with genuine and positive people. Sometimes this means that your support system looks a little different than you thought it would, and you have to find peace with that. Jessica and I have found this peace and are so grateful to those who stand by us. This entry was difficult to put out there, but after mulling it over so much, I decided that this is part of our truth and our story and that it's important to not just share the fun stuff. While we are going through this journey, we continue to find comfort in the connections we make with people who have gone through the things we have gone through. The point of this little project is hopefully be helpful to someone, some day, who will go down this same path and that includes letting them know that they are not alone through the difficult things.
With that, thank you for sticking by us, continuing to read and engaging with us through all of this. Your support means the world to us.
July 4th, 2017
While the country is being distracted with idiocies in Washington, terrible things are happening in Texas. Specifically pertinent to us is House Bill 3859. This bill makes it legal for state-funded adoption agencies in Texas to discriminate against same-sex couples and non-Christians under the guise of “sincerely held religious beliefs.” We are trying to have a baby!! And guess what, because Jessica and I are not biologically able to physically conceive a child together, in order for the baby to be legally hers she has to go through a formal adoption. It makes no sense, but we understand and are willing to do what we need to to make it happen. Now this law comes around and we have another hurdle to jump. We love each other and are trying to create a family. We are both working hard to make our dream a reality for this child we so deeply want. Not that this is applicable to all, but there are irresponsible straight people who get pregnant without wanting to and end up throwing babies in dumpsters! Why is two people in love who want this so hard? This truly breaks my heart.
Recently the Texas Supreme Court decided that the 2013 United States Supreme Court ruling that the federal same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional coupled with the 2015 Defense of Marriage Act did not apply to them. A week ago, the Texas Supreme Court unanimously declared Friday that cities in the state may not have to honor the higher courts ruling. This means that Texas will no longer be obligated to recognize marital benefits for same sex couples which include matters like property protection, merging separate health insurance plans into a family plan, the legal rights associated with a child’s birth, inheritance tax exemption, healthcare benefits, intestacy, loss of consortium damages, workers compensation, listing both parents on birth certificate, and including a spouse’s name on a death certificate. The means that for my family to stay safe, we will eventually have to leave Texas... and so the hunt begins.
In the mean time, we have a wonderful attorney who is helping us prepare for all possible situations and is committed to making sure that we have a successful legal process from start to finish. In regards to the adoption laws that just changed, these will not apply to us - at least for this first kid. Since we are already underway with conceiving and a private adoption, we are covered with our legal processes. However, when we go to adopt a child from an agency (which is something we want to do down the road), we will have to be selective about the agency we choose. Basically this law is sending us back to 1954 when everything was segregated. It is making it so that each religion will have it's own agency, each sexual orientation or gender identification situation will have it's own agency, and so on and so forth. Again, Texas is stuck pre Civil Rights Era and I just don't understand.
However, thanks to Suzanne, we are better prepared. Not only with navigating through the adoption, but we are also now equipped with the "Significant Seven"- the documents that protect our family regardless of the states' bigotry. These include:
- Medical Power of Attorney/ HIPPA Release
- Statutory Durable Power of Attorney
- Declaration of Guardian in Case of Later Incompetence/ Need
- Directive to Physicians, Family and Surrogates (Living Will)
- Appointment of Agent to Control Disposition of Remains
- Domestic Partnership Agreement/ Marriage License
All we have left to do is make copies and get them out to the family. Thank you Suzanne, for easing our stress so that all we need to worry about for a while is making a baby. Most of those forms are free and just need to be signed in front of a notary. If you need them, click here to download them from Suzanne's site, and no this isn't just if you're gay- we all need these kinds of protections in place for our families. (Look under the "Basic Documents" section.) For the items that say consult with attorney- if you are like us and don't have a whole lot of assets to manage, LegalZoom is an excellent option. It's fast, easy and typically not as expensive as it could be if you went to an attorney. If you do have a lot of assets to manage, an attorney is going to be your best bet since it can get confusing and overwhelming.
To my best friend and amazing wife - Honey, I could do not do all this without you. I'm indebted to the universe for bringing you to me.