So, big news. This month, while traveling, we were able to complete a second-parent adoption. I am now Bram’s equal, legal parent. The state we live in (but in which we did not/could not do second parent adoption) will have to reissue my son’s birth certificate with my name on it. His new birth certificate should arrive in the next two months. My name will be on the “father” line, but it will be there.
I can’t tell you where we went to make this happen without jeopardizing this process for future families. All I can say is that we were informed of a judge in another state who is taking advantage of a loophole in that state’s adoption code to grand second-parent adoptions to queer families in other states. $5,000 + travel expenses + the invasion of a home study + lots of emotional turmoil later and we are in possession of a legally-binding adoption decree.
We have been told to be very (read: extremely. read: painstakingly) cautious with this information. If word got out to the media, this loophole could easily be shut down. Or the judge’s life could be threatened. I want to write about it here, though, because I know we have readers whose families are legally vulnerable. If that’s you, please write to me and I’ll private message you with details. We need to be very careful with this information, but I don’t want to be so careful that I keep other families for such necessary protections. So, this is how we’re handling it. I also don’t want to be completely silent because: I’m a legal parent now! This is a big, big deal, and it doesn’t feel fair that I should have to keep that fact a secret.
There’s also been some fallout to all of this. It’s complicated emotionally, and that’s the kind of thing that I bring here. First of all, spending that kind of money after seven total rounds of TTC + a sickening amount of medical bills after losing EE has been hard on us. Then there’s the home study. Ours went great: our social worker was AMAZING, and she never treated this like anything but a formality. In fact, since this seemed like the perfect chance to open up our family to adoption (since we were paying for the home study anyway), she made our conversations very much about future placement, and less about Bram. Still, someone came into my home to see if I’m a fit parent for my own child. This feels (is) degrading. Then there’s traveling for the purposes of adopting your own son. And the vulnerability of standing there before judge and attorney feeling (even if sweetly, lovingly so) scrutinized. There’s the “congratulations” that abound afterwards, which make you feel both happy and somehow hurt because you’re being congratulated on something you never should have had to do. It feels sweet. It feels insulting.
I hope to the gods I don’t sound ungrateful because I am full of gratitude. My son will see my name on his birth certificate. And I got to fight for him, which I’d do a thousand times over. He’ll know that: that I am always always always willing to fight for him. If gods forbid, anything ever happened to J, my place as B’s mama would not be threatened. I can sleep at night (you know, when he lets me). This adoption will be part of our family’s narrative, and I [mostly] love that fact. My wife was so sweet on the stand; she called me a “born mom” when asked if I was a good mother. Still, she was asked if I was a good mother. On the stand. In a courtroom. This is so much more complex than it seems at first glance.
I feel like I’m dealing with a lot of emotional fallout. Just like after the birth. Only, no one writes second-parent adoption stories the way they write birth stories. Maybe I should try: take the time to trace out the process, from that first phone call from our lawyer to reading the adoption decree on the plane home. Would that be of value to anyone?
Anyway, some photos. Here’s our last family photo, pre-adoption. Bram seems to be giving the whole notion the bird:
Also, J’s mom was able to travel there to be with us, which meant so much to all of us:
Finally, this is the first photo of us as a legal family of three, which we took with the retired judge who comes in several times a year just to do this. Just to do this. For families like ours. We live in a country with heroes: