Over the past couple of weeks, our focus along with many other LGBTQ individuals has been at the Supreme Court of the United States. As a collective group, we are awaiting decisions on two different cases. One case involves California’s Proposition 8 and the second involves the discriminatory federal Defense of Marriage Act known as DOMA. These two cases are front and center in the movement for equality and the very apparent shift in public opinion.
Since the beginning of June, I have caught myself reading live updates via the SCOTUS Blog on each and every opinion day. If you aren’t familiar with the use of SCOTUS, it stands for Supreme Court of the United States. I consistently set a reminder on my phone to make the loudest possible noise to remind myself to join the 15,000+ other individuals that watch for instant updates. The SCOTUS Blog has a representative (Lyle) in the Supreme Court press-room providing information as it happens. Every time there is an update in the “chat window” you hear a specific sound. When I hear this sound, it seems as if I begin to hold my breath.
I am writing this blog on Monday June 17, 2013. Today is my birthday, my 34th birthday. For the first part of the year, I was telling everyone it would be my 33rd. It was either Matthew growing tired of telling everyone that I actually would be turning 34 or I finally accepted the fact and started welcoming the idea of 34. I think one thing that has made adding another year to my age easier is the quirky fact that my father was 34 when I entered the world and made him a father. That day was Father’s Day (June 17th) in 1979. Want another fun fact? Matthew is the same age as his father was when he was born. This September we will become fathers at the same age as our fathers became fathers for the first time. Can you say that three times fast?
This morning at 10:00, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hand down opinions on cases from this term. I am multitasking and trying not to miss any updates. It is currently 9:56 EDT and there are only a couple of minutes left before the information starts coming in from today’s proceedings. The landscape of marriage equality and the lives of so many could change within the next few moments. Just heard the sound of an update, and I immediately caught my breath. It’s Lyle from the SCOTUS Blog, and he is providing information on the first opinion. I am going to pause writing and take in the moment and watch and hope for what today might bring.
Today wasn’t the day. We now focus on the next scheduled decision day which is this Thursday. There isn’t any insight on when we might get a ruling. Most experts point to the end of the current term, which is the end of June. If it isn’t this Thursday, we will wait for Monday and possibly the following Thursday to find out the Supreme Court’s opinion(s) on Hollingsworth v. Perry (Prop 8) and United States v Windsor (DOMA). We are so close.
June is National Pride Month and there are pride events going on every weekend throughout the United States. Seeing the news and images from these different events reminds me of my first pride experience. It was last October when we were beginning our adoption journey to become dads. Matthew and I had just travelled to Atlanta to meet with our adoption agency and had no clue that Atlanta Pride was happening the same weekend. You can click here to read about that journey. I am amazed how much progress Matthew and I have seen in just a few short months. This progress would not have been possible if it were not for the LGBTQ individuals that educated and pushed the need for equality in the past five decades.
When mentioning those that have paved the way, I have to mention one particular individual. Matthew’s Uncle Dan. He epitomizes all that one would desire or need in a role model. Dan has spent a majority of his life working towards equality in our community and does not shy away from an opportunity to educate about the lack of equality.
In 2008, I can honestly say I was clueless about the Stonewall Riots or the equality movement in general. I didn’t even know that some of it revolved around Judy Garland. Uncle Dan, as I now call him, eagerly and eloquently shared his story and the history I felt embarrassed not to know. During a longer than the usual car ride from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, he opened the door to things I hadn’t really thought of and things I hadn’t even noticed. It was obvious that this community has come a long way but still has a long way to go. Oh, I also got to see a burning RV.
Dan and his husband Josh were present and wed the first day California granted same-sex marriages. That was five years ago today, June 17, 2008 (my birthday by the way). They have travelled across the United States showing their support by getting married again and again in each of the states as they legalized same-sex marriage. Dan and Josh demonstrated by saying “I Do” over and over that we are getting closer and closer to being able to say “I Do” just once and it counts 50 times. Dan and Josh thank you for making this moment in history possible. As silly as it sounds, if it wasn’t for couples like you, I wouldn’t be getting excited to watch the SCOTUS Blog and patiently (not really) wait for decisions on marriage equality.
June is here. I am truly excited! June has always been one of my favorite months of the year. Maybe it’s because my birthday falls in the month of June. Is it possible to have two favorites? Just consider it a tie between June and December. I love the excitement and happiness people show around the holidays and not to mention the cooler weather. The heat and humidity in Tennessee can be a little too much, and I have already reached that point this year. This June is going to be much different from any before.
We both have settled back into routine following our wonderful visit to Abilene to meet the expectant family that we have matched with. I can honestly say that some part of me is still there emotionally, and I guess physically, I think I left a sock at the hotel. Today marks 98 days from the anticipated due date. 98 days! That seems so soon and yet so far away. What do we do? What needs to get accomplished between now and then? We turn our focus to the month of June.
June 2013 has the potential to change everything as we currently know it. The LGBT community is no longer years and months away from a ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) on issues surrounding marriage equality. We are now only days away from the decisions on California’s Proposition 8 and the much broader Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). It is time for forward movement and time to leave inequality behind. No longer talks of separate but equal. It is time for just equal. There are a lot of people anxious for the month of June to hurry along.
I have always tried to figure out a way to celebrate June as my birthday month, and I have been unsuccessful. This year it will be somewhat a month long celebration. June 2013 has been designated as LGBT Pride Month. That is exciting. An entire month! The 17th will be my day though. A day I will be celebrating my 33rd birthday (34th as Matthew would say). We plan to use this month to spend time with family and friends as we continue to prepare for the arrival of Baby T-Rex in September. Since it is officially LGBT Pride Month, I wanted to share an excerpt of an interview we did in the first couple of months of our adoption journey. Sometimes it is good to look back and reminisce. You can read the whole interview here. We are so happy to share our story with you and are excited that you are a part of our journey.
Q What obstacles have you run into as a hopeful adoptive gay couple?
Finding the right agency for us was a definite obstacle. There are a lot of Christian-based adoption agencies in our region as well as in our surrounding states. We both are Christian, and we were shocked about how we were received when it came to our desire to adopt. One agency offered to let us pay them their fee, but they would not promote us like other families. If we found the birth family, they would proceed with the steps to complete the adoption. This was very disappointing to both of us, but we didn’t veer off course.
Q What’s been the best part?
When you make the enormous decision on what journey you will take to growing your family you then learn what it will take to get there. You basically open up your life to be reviewed. Everything from medical history and medical tests to financial stability is scrutinized. Someone even comes into your home, on multiple occasions, and decides if you are going to have a child. Then you create marketing material. The text gets reviewed and edited along with pictures and layout. You read books and attend a weekend intensive course. It takes months to complete.
You might be thinking how does this have anything to do with the best part? The day when everything is complete, and you are an approved waiting family, you feel like an overnight success. An overnight success that took four months. We received our Dear Birthmother Letter when Matthew was working. I waited what seemed like days for him to get home so we could share the joy of opening them together. This is no joke, it felt absolutely amazing to see our very own letter after seeing so many of them of the families before us. We felt like we truly worked hard to represent who we are as individuals and as a couple, and we were truly happy how it turned out
Q Why do you think there’s still so much opposition to gay adoption?
I personally think that the opposition comes from misinformation as well as ideas and a thought process that is outdated and taught. There are a lot of people and organizations that are working hard to educate people that there isn’t any difference in a child raised by a heterosexual couple versus a same-sex couple. While you have one group using recent data from research saying there is no issue, there is another group using data from research several decades ago that didn’t even include same-sex couples in their research.
Q Do you think attitudes are changing?
We both feel positive and optimistic about new studies and commentary that show the tide is changing among individuals in the United States. It is also encouraging by all the changes happening around the world. The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on DOMA and Prop 8, as well as the push for equality is full steam ahead. We have great representation and positive images of gay individuals as well as couples in numerous television shows and media outlets. I guess I will use my chance to reference Dan Savage. I honestly believe that every day it gets better.
Q What do you know about the open adoption process now that you wish you had known when you started?
I wish we had known that we didn’t need to worry about “the what-ifs.” We didn’t need to fit into a certain box to become parents and we didn’t need to say this or that to become parents. All we had to do was be ourselves, and everything else would happen when it is/was supposed to. Fortunately, we learned it truly early on in our journey.
Thanks for reading. You can read the rest of the interview here.
By Trey Darnell
Matthew and I matched with a wonderful expecting couple more than a month ago. The time had come for us to travel west and meet them. This past Thursday we said goodbye to our cats and flew to Texas. Our flight arrived in Dallas, and we rented a car to complete a three-hour drive to Abilene, Texas. I am sure most of you are aware of our love of In-N-Out Burger. Driving through Dallas-Forth Worth, we spotted several locations, but we did not stop. We were on a tight schedule and needed to be in Abilene for our match meeting early that afternoon.
To be truly honest, Matthew and I had a lot of anxiety leading up to this meeting. It seemed to escalate while driving to Abilene. A counselor from our agency, Independent Adoption Center, would facilitate the meeting. This would be the first time that we would meet the expecting mother and father. We were overly excited and nervous to meet both of them. The moments leading up to the meeting felt like a first date. We had built a foundation of communication over the past several weeks and now it was time to meet each other.
Our counselor had reserved the children’s activity room at the Abilene Public Library Mockingbird Branch for everyone to get together and participate in the match meeting. There was not much about this exceptionally large room that indicated children or activity. It was full of six-foot tables and chairs. It did not have that small quaint feeling that we hoped for. We picked a table in the middle of the room and allowed our anticipation and nerves to build even more. We heard a library representative say, “The activity room is located in the back”. We stopped breathing.
Matthew quickly stated what I think we all were feeling. “I know we are all extremely nervous”. The ice had been broken. Questions were posed to both couples and with each one it seemed to get more and more comfortable. Thirty minutes quickly turned into an hour and a half. During this time, we learned about the expecting mother and father as individuals and as a couple. Looking back on the match meeting, all the anxiety left as we said goodbye to the counselor and began our weekend in Abilene. I am thankful for the anxieties as it allowed us to be aware of this truly memorable moment and prepare us for the spectacular time we would have the rest of the weekend
Over the next few days, we were welcomed into this energetic, funny and loving family. We were able to spend time with parents, grandparents, siblings and cousins. Each and every one of them made an extra effort to spend time with us and show their support for us as a couple and potential adoptive parents of their future daughter, granddaughter, great-granddaughter, niece and cousin. We told stories and listened to stories. Needless to say, some were embarrassing. We learned about them, and they learned about us. We laughed a lot. Family members commuted from hours away, and everyone made sure they had ample time away from work to meet and support the mother and father and Matthew and I. We felt so welcome and loved by this family, and we are extremely excited to merge them with ours.
The final night was marked by an epic family barbeque Texas style. Many hours went into the preparation of the BBQ. Cloth napkins, table decorations, a T-Rex and a roadrunner. The menu was overloaded with superb food. The menu included brisket, baby back ribs, sausage, green peppers stuffed with cream cheese wrapped in bacon and then grilled to perfection. This evening was certainly a celebration, a family celebration that we were a part of. There was not a better way to end our visit to Abilene than enjoying each other’s company after a terrific Texas BBQ.
I have to say it was a little emotional to say goodbye to everyone that night. Over the previous three days, we felt as if we were a part of their family. We know that this goodbye is only for a short period of time because in just 16 weeks baby T-Rex makes her arrival. We are extremely excited for what the future holds for our entire family, which has now grown much larger. We have already started talking about future family vacations.
Oh, we did stop at In-N-Out on our way back to Dallas before flying home to Tennessee.
By – Trey Darnell
A very hot topic for individuals going through the adoption process is what to do about the nursery. Get the nursery ready? Wait until being matched? Wait until the baby is home? Will working on the nursery jinx adopting? What if it is a boy? What if it is a girl? Why are there so many questions?
There are many people that have told us not to worry about the nursery until after the baby comes. A common theme is family would have everything ready when you return home with the new baby. No offense to our family, but Matthew and I looked at each other and quickly determined that we wanted to work on the nursery during our wait and make it exactly what we wanted. Being able to walk into what has transformed from an empty room into what will one day be filled with rocking, changing diapers, feeding, laughter, crying and a little spit up, we could not be any happier. Would you like to see the result?
Colors – Choosing a neutral color usually means picking a shade of green, tan or yellow. In my opinion, there is nothing exciting about any of those. Matthew and I are fond of the color gray, and when all else fails, it is the color of choice. Valspar’s Colonial Woodlawn Gray has the record of our go to color. Our two favorite colors are gray and white. So it would be easy to guess that the nursery furniture color would be white.
Glider – The glider is by far my favorite piece of furniture in the room. From the very first moment we talked about growing our family, we would visit Pottery Barn Kids and relax in the various rockers and gliders. In the process of constructing the nursery, we have easily tested over 50 different rocker/glider combinations. Nothing ever seemed perfect. On a recent trip to Las Vegas, the first stop was not to In-N-Out Burger (surprising I know) but rather to Pottery Barn Kids. We vetted all of the options available and shared our adoption story to the staff and everyone helped in making the choice. What an excellent decision it was? Looking back, we should have gotten two.
Crib – The crib was also a result of the visit to Pottery Barn Kids. We had looked at various different baby and furniture stores locally. Everything was exceptionally specific to gender or a certain traditional style. Pottery Barn Kids had that special crib that matched the color, look and style that we had pictured.
Bookcases & Dresser – The bookcases are a neat feature of the room and hold a little personal sentiment. They are identical bookcases from Ikea with a twist. Instead of using the particleboard backing, we repurposed twenty year-old lumber that belonged to my parents. This completely changed the look of the bookcases. With the addition of a little lighting it helped finish the room, once bolted to the wall.
Accents – The accents in the room are neutral and have a variety of different textures. The side table next to the glider is a repurposed telephone pole. We have children’s books that Matthew and I both read in our childhood. We also added books that help show the positive message of adoption and having same-sex parents. Birds have become a popular theme in the room. Maybe it has to do with my love of flight. There are two accent pieces that will have a new color once we know the sex of the baby. A baby boy would produce the color blue, and if a little girl we would repaint purple.
The nursery has become my favorite room in the house. I used to think of the nursery from Father of the Bride II. It was beautiful, soft and warm. I could be biased, but our nursery has all of those feelings and then some. There are days that the door to the nursery is open, and we sit and enjoy what will be. There are days the door remains closed. As I mentioned in the last blog, we are expecting a little one in late summer. This is an exciting time for us and allows us to add the pops of color to match the gender of baby T-Rex.
To see other photos showing the creation of the nursery visit our Pinterest at pinterest.com/mattandtrey
By: Rob Watson
George Bernard Shaw once described straight parenting as having ”no test of fitness”. LGBTQ parents are beyond the “test” In recent scrutiny by representatives of the Catholic Church and a group of authors speaking at the Heritage Foundation, the raking LGBTQ parents have received has been unfounded, ridiculous, untrue and frankly, bizarre. At best, it is bitterly unfair. At the Heritage Foundation, authors Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson and Dr. Robert P. George compared LGBTQ parenting to straight parenting and declared ”We should get rid of the idea that mommies can be good daddies and daddies can be good mommies.” They declared the heterosexual sex act sacrosanct and placed it as the core of the parenting structure. It is the same theory that the Pope and his team espouse, that the ability to physically make a baby is directly related to one’s ability to effectively parent it. They would have us believe that the act most parents fear their sexually-able teens might do irresponsibly is somehow transformed into the very factor that would define them as knowledgeable responsible parents.
The theme of straight parents being innately better was also the basis of a study a number of months ago by Mark Regnerus, a sociologist at the University of Texas, who called biological straight parents “the gold standard” of parenting. His study was incredibly weighted and biased in favor of attempting to make straight parents look superior to the point that even he himself had to acknowledge, ““I’m not claiming that sexual orientation is at fault here, or that I know about kids who are presently being raised by gay or lesbian parents. Their parents may be forging more stable relationships in an era that is more accepting and supportive of gay and lesbian couples.”
As a gay dad in the real world, I can assure Mr. Regnerus—of course we are. To compare stable heteronormative families of the last 20 year to ones in which gay members were persecuted, vilified, ostracized and rejected is obviously…. unfair. It was unfair to attempt to construct a comparison. In the present time, motivated gay people, thrilled for the opportunity we thought was denied us, are becoming parents. Higher percentages of us are adopting needy kids than our straight counterparts. A comparison between us will be unfair to a percentage of straight parents of today participating in the status quo who will come off badly. There are ten factors that make this so:
1. We have to live up to scrutiny We are not seen as “just” parents. We are the LGBTQ parents. Any mis-step is an indictment on all LGBTQ parents.
2. Prospective LGBTQ parents have less external pressure Straight newly weds apparently start getting pressure to baby up within months, weeks and hours of their nuptials. Most LGBTQ couples do not. We are given the freedom to decide on kids when we feel we are ready.
3. LGBTQ parents step up to challenges more readily I know many heroic parents, LGBTQ and straight. One lesbian mom couple took responsibility for a foster baby girl whom they had to rush to emergency and spend sleepless nights a dozen times in her first weeks of life. The birth parents asked just to be informed on how it all went. Meanwhile, as I held my newborn son and chatted with an acquaintance, she remarked, “My sister almost adopted, but it did not work out. The baby was ethnic, you know, and there was drug exposure involved” She then looked down, and her face went red . She had just described the son that I adored beyond measure who was asleep in my arms. LGBTQ parents step up and we invest more than biological parents do.
4. LGBTQ parents are not tied to pre-determined roles There are a million things that need to be done in the course of parenting. In straight households, these are often divvied up by gender, tradition and assumed roles. In the LGBTQ household, they are generally done by the parent best equipped and interested.
5. Maturity LGBTQ couples tend to come into parenting later in their adulthood in their 30s and 40s. Parenting can be emotionally, financially and intellectually challenging. I know that I was not as prepared for it in my 20s as I was in my 40s. Personal wisdom is a handy asset.
6. LGBTQ parents more readily invest in their children’s uniqueness We know what it is like to be forced into someone else’s pre-conceived box
7. We are compelled to communicate more with our kids We prepare them for what they might hear, what the truth is, and what they might respond.
8. We are compelled to communicate more with our co-parents We talk about who does what, as we blaze new trails.
9. LGBTQ parents plan for children It Is virtually impossible for there to be an “unplanned” gay “pregnancy”. This is an important factor according to Dr. Irving Leon, PhD , University of Michigan . He states, ““More than half of all pregnancies are unplanned. While unplanned does not inevitably mean unwanted, when parents are not prepared or motivated to parent, their children suffer. … One study (Golombok et al., 1993) suggests that adoptive parents and biological parents who experienced infertility demonstrated significantly greater parental warmth, maternal emotional involvement, and parental interaction than their peers…Parenting is such a daunting task and such an important responsibility, not having sufficient motivation is a recipe for disaster. .Adoptive parenthood chooses and wants to parent first, a propitious beginning for all parenthood.”
10. Children in LGBTQ families are wanted While the traditionalists decry gender “role models”, they obscure the single most important factor in raising a physically and emotionally well equipped children… whether or not that child was WANTED In straight families, at least 34% were mistimed and accepted, and 5% were unwanted. LGBTQ parents want their children and we are willing to fight a barrage of indignities in order to have them.
Adriano Pessina, director of bioethics at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart recently stated that no one has the “right” to children. He was misguidedly trying to compare LGBTQ and straight parents due to physical procreation standards. This is not only unfair, it causes him to miss the bigger point. He is correct that no one has the right to children. The US foster care system represents several million children whose procreating straight biological parents are learning that fact first hand. They do not have the right to abuse and neglect the children they have made.
Rather that demonizing the gay families looking to help, as well as plan children from other means, he should be praying for more families like ours to come forward. Love not only makes families, it sometimes saves lives. it is only fair to recognize that fact instead of spending time on insipid comparisons that help no one.
I originally had something else planned to share today, but chose to share something different with all of you. Matthew and I have debated what we want to share as well as to what extent. We began our adoption process in August 2012 and became a “live” waiting family December 17, 2012. We just reached the four-month mark as a waiting family.
In my first post with The Next Family, I shared our excitement and sense of optimism after seeing the number of same-sex families that have matched and placed with the Independent Adoption Center (IAC). The Atlanta, Georgia office has two different bulletin boards. One of the boards portrays the brochures of waiting families that have matched and the other shows the brochures of families that have placed along with a picture of the new addition. The number of same-sex families that appeared on both of these boards was inspiring to Matthew and me.
This past week I received a photo from our counselor located in our agency’s Atlanta, Georgia office. The picture also included this message. “Thought you might enjoy seeing your letter on the match board.”
The past two weeks of our adoption journey have been filled with so much excitement. This picture prompted so much emotion for both of us. We struggled with just the imagination of our letter making it onto the board. This was a special morning for us and for her to take the time to send us the picture helped us both realize that this was actually happening. In this case, pictures speak just as loud as words. Matthew and I have matched with an amazing expecting mother. We will share more in the future as we await the arrival of baby “T-Rex” in late summer.
We decided we wanted to share this with all of you. We will share the blog that was supposed to post today “A Shade of Gray” next time.
By Trey Darnell
Air travel is stressful, emotional, and exhausting -and that’s just when traveling alone. Add a child, diaper bag, stroller, car seat, and blanky and you begin to question humanity, Dora the Explorer, and why you ever left the house. We are on our journey to grow our family through adoption, so the answer is no, I do not have real parental experience with what I am about to write, but I have seen it countless times as a commercial airline pilot. Like George Washington, I will not tell a lie. I giggle, laugh, and sometimes shake my head in disbelief watching the massive amount of child-related stuff moving down an airplane aisle and through the airport.
Traveling through many airports during a week, I think I have seen it all and very little of it makes sense. Airports are no longer the enjoyable environments of the 1970s and 1980s. They now resemble overcrowded ant colonies. Don’t forget that obnoxiously loud siren on the oversized golf carts and people movers. Stressed, tired, and uncomfortable describes most passengers. Frankly, there are too many people and not enough space in the airport itself, let alone on an airplane. Add a couple Finding Nemo roller bags being tugged upside down and you have hassle for the parents rather than short-lived enjoyment for the children. Most of the time you see the parent carrying the child and the Nemo roller bag while trying to pull their own carry-on bag and attempt this fast-walk-occasional-jog to make their connection. Exhausting!
Stress brought on by traveling with children is manageable…with planning and preparation. Customers will often know the departure date, location, as well as destination and length of stay before shopping for airfare. Most Americans are looking to book the cheapest flight possible. From my experience, this is not the greatest way to book air travel, especially when traveling with a child. Cheaper fares usually have less desirable options like longer ground time, smaller planes, and multiple connections.
Airlines will create a flight schedule to allow customers the least amount of connections with the shortest amount of ground time. Customers searching for travel reservations can look at the total time spent from the departure point until arriving at the destination. This includes time spent waiting for a connection. This flight might only be a couple of dollars more than that extremely low airfare that has two connections with a 3-hour layover in each city. When traveling with children, you should always choose the shortest amount of time from departure to destination. This is worth $10-$25 more per ticket. Most of the time it is only a few dollars.
Example – This is a search for one-way air travel on Delta Airlines for June 1, 2013 from New York City to Dallas-Fort Worth. Less than two months until departure isn’t the ideal time for price shopping.
The first flight option departs New York’s LaGuardia at 8:10am and arrives at 11:15am in Dallas. Total travel time is four hours and five minutes. This would be the ideal flight choice for traveling with a child. The second option departs New York’s La Guardia at 7:59am and arrives in Dallas at 12:39pm. This flight segment makes a stop in ATL and the total travel time is one hour and 35 minutes longer than the first choice. The connection, additional time, and stress only saved $16.10. Sounds like a no-brainer.
Most major airlines consider a car seat and stroller as not part of the standard baggage allowance. This means you can check the stroller or car seat to your destination via curbside check-in or at a ticket counter for no additional fee. If you are travelling with less than two children and have short connection times, checking the stroller to your destination is a good idea. There is an additional option to gate check the stroller at no extra charge. This allows access of the stroller until you board the airplane. The downside to this option: you wait for the stroller after completion of the flight. This can take an additional 10-15 minutes after getting off the airplane. Waiting for the stroller is not ideal when your connection flight has started boarding in a different terminal.
Parents often like to bring a child’s car seat to use on-board the aircraft. The car seat needs to have FAA approval and a FAA placard on the car seat for use.
FAA APPROVED IN ACCORDANCE WITH 14 CFR 21.805 (d) APPROVED FOR AIRCRAFT USE ONLY
The FAA does not approve most of the car seats that parents try using on-board the plane and you can click the above placard to see if your car seat is approved. In the case that your car seat is not FAA approved, it will be gate checked. This usually results in a very upset parent. Once you deplane, you would be required to wait for the car seat. If it isn’t FAA approved, check it to your destination at no additional charge via the ticket counter or curbside check-in.
I think I could go on for days about tips for the beginner and frequent traveler on how to make their travel experience easier. If you have any questions, please share in the comments section below. My experience includes traveling alone as a child to being a pilot for a commercial airline. I have seen just about everything that happens during the emotional day(s) in the airports. If your children would like to stop by and see the cockpit just ask the Flight Attendant and they will let them poke their heads in and take a look around. Dads, you don’t necessarily need to have a child to get a peek inside the flight deck; just ask.
I encourage every parent to visit babiestravellite.com.
You can also visit our adoption page at mattandtreyadopt.com
By Trey Darnell
Hurry up and wait. I am not sure there is a better phrase to describe the adoption process. There is no known equation to determine how long the wait might last. The time spent waiting has the potential to lead some down a path of self-reflection and endless questioning. I often see posts made by other waiting families that have even started questioning whether they will become parents at all. An adoption agency, a facilitator, and an attorney put in a lot of effort in representing their waiting families equally and positively. A waiting family can and should help promote their wish to adopt. The goal is standing out to that one expecting mom.
There are countless articles, blogs and recommendations for what a person could and might want to do while waiting to meet an expecting family. Designing picture books and profile brochures. Printing business cards with all of your contact information. Email, Facebook and Twitter, oh my! A simple Google search will produce thousands of pages of families and people who are trying to navigate their way through adoption. When we wrote our first draft of our profile letter it was twice as long as our agency recommended. I must say it is very difficult to condense everything you want to say in fewer than 1,000 words.
As a same-sex couple, Matthew and I have a unique opportunity to share our story of growing our family through adoption. Instead of marketing ourselves as a couple hoping to adopt, we have a platform to promote gay couples parenting in general. There has been no greater moment than now for us to open up about our lives. Today, the Supreme Court will begin hearing testimony and discussions about marriage equality. Now is the time for Matthew and me to share and speak. When we started the adoption process, it was our wish to grow our family with a child and three months into our wait it has become much more than we could have imagined.
This past week we received an invitation to share our adoption story with H.E.R.O.E.S., a LGBTQ support group for students at East Tennessee State University. This wonderful group meets weekly and works to promote equality through advocacy, education, and support. Going into the evening, we both expected to give a few statistics and answer several questions. Thirty minutes turned into an hour that quickly reached an hour and a half. We both left the meeting feeling proud and encouraged. Any apprehension we might have felt about opening up and sharing the ups and downs we have experienced quickly vanished for both of us. We never thought of ourselves as activists but we hope by sharing our story that it will educate and make it easier for those who come after us. Adoption will be part of us for a lifetime.
Our local newspaper asked permission to visit our home to interview us about adopting. There were several concerns but we were very optimistic about how our community would relate to the story. The interview turned from one scheduled morning into two separate days with a photographer. We gained a friend and ally in the journalist -whether the story printed or not.
Waiting for Baby – Local Couple Look to Adopt ran in a recent Sunday edition and by mid-afternoon we had received an email from a same-sex couple in our area. Excitement was the only way to describe how we felt about them reaching out to us. This adorable, sweet couple shared their rollercoaster journey to adoption and showed excitement in ours. Our biggest concerns when starting the adoption process were the home study and the finalization process. They were successful in two adoption finalization hearings for a same-sex couple in East Tennessee and were eager to share their contacts and experiences to make it easier for us. Matthew and I are thankful to the Johnson City Press for sharing our story because it allowed this couple to find us. Reaction from the article has been nothing but positive.
Not trying to sound cliché, but the truth is, the wait will be as long as it will be. We have no idea the length until we look back and reminisce. This is just one small step in our journey to parenthood. For now, we will share our story and happily promote the positives of gay parenting. We are very thankful for the support from our community and feel blessed by those that are now a part of this adventure with us. Adoption touches so many lives in so many ways and being able to hear the joys and the heartache provides more encouragement and optimism for us both. Excitement is filling us as we continue to speak. The truth is we will not have much time when the kiddo finally arrives.
Find out more about Matt and Trey’s adoption journey at mattandtreyadopt.com
Fostercare/Adoption: The 5 Reasons You Might Not Want to Do It, and the 5 Greater Reasons Why You Do
By Rob Watson
Probably one of the most mind-numbingly obtuse excuses anti-marriage equality advocates have for opposing same sex couples getting married is that same sex couples “can’t procreate naturally”. They say that like it’s a bad thing.
They say it as if we are deeply afraid our population is dwindling and that rampant heterosexuality is not doing its job. Well, the bumper-to-bumper traffic I just went through says that it is.
Of course, it is not true that same sex couples are unable to procreate. We are fully capable of procreating with the help of surrogacy, or we can also pursue private adoption, which, while not biological procreation, is pro- creation of a family.
Another way allows same sex couples to be pro-creative of a family and help others. That is foster care/adoption. A number of weeks ago, I mentioned this societal benefit in an article about why Christians should support gay marriage. One of the reasons was to save disenfranchised children .
Both of my sons came into my family from foster care. For that alone, I owe the system a debt that I will never, ever be able to repay. There are over 100,000 children in the system that can be adopted instantly, and there are over 300,000 that are in foster care whose cases could lead to adoption. I do not wish to imply that the road through foster care is a cakewalk. It is daunting at times, but doable.
Here are five reasons that might make you not want to pursue this avenue. If you are discouraged from it, and it certainly is not for everyone, then you should not do it. No harm, no foul.
Foster care/adoption was the way for me. There are possibly some children out there that are hoping that it is the way for you as well. Here, however, are the reasons to avoid it:
(Disclosure: This is based on my experience in the California system. Other systems and your experience are likely to vary.)
Paperwork and Training: The paperwork to get into the system, and the bureaucracy around it makes the IRS look fun by comparison. The paper work then leads to training classes. While those seem to be a nuisance and unrequired from other means of having children, I am of the opinion that training for parenthood is a good thing. You have to take classes and pass exams to operate a car; to operate another human being’s life should require nothing less.
Judgment: Then social workers check you out. The fear of their judgment is usually worse than the reality—they won’t care how you dust, or fold laundry, even though before their visit, you will run around doing both. Where you will be judged, and will have to fight the temptation to fight back , is from the birth parents. These are scared, angry, and often defensive people who are on the verge of losing their children, for good reason. They often need a target at which to lash. It can easily be you.
Lack of Rights: When going to court for the birth parent’s case there are lots of lawyers. The birth parent has one (often a public defender), the state has one (the child is technically their ward), the child has one. YOU…do not have one. It can be frustrating, but the way to navigate is to maintain a good and cooperative relationship with your child’s representative and the one from the state.
Test of Character: Your child in many cases will be in need of emotional healing. Sometimes this plays out through bad behavior. Your good intentions are foreign and even though healthy, may not be embraced immediately or in the way you hope and expect. The process will demand patience and determination to get through. The process also demands that you care enough for a child who may become your permanent adoptive child, but also that you are lovingly detached enough to let go if the birth parent is successful in completing their reunification requirements. The system was designed to protect and be optimal for the child, which unfortunately may require super human qualities from the foster parent.
Heartbreak: There are cases where the birth parent is a good person who made mistakes, gets their act together, and everyone, including you, is cheering at their success in getting their child back. There are cases where the birth parent is so blatantly incapable of caring for the child that everyone knows that it is not a matter of if, but of when, the child will be yours. The hardest cases are the ones in the middle. It is those where you have to give a child you have come to adore back to go into a situation with a parent who was successful in their requirements, but whom you do not trust. You have to let go, and hope for the best.
Risk: They are not universal, and as I said before, they can vary. For some people, those reasons are enough to run. For other people who recognize that they can do it, here are even greater reasons to “go for it”, starting from the lesser reason to the best one:
5. There is no more economically reasonable way to start a family: Your adoption comes to you without the charges of private adoption. There is no surrogate to pay, there are no hospital costs. If this is your only reason for adopting through foster care, you need to re-think your motivation, but as a starter, it is at least a small reward for what it took to get there.
4. You will be doing probably the best thing you ever did in your life: Looking for purpose? A reason to feel good about yourself? There is virtually none better than this. While other parents are creating a life that would not be here, you are saving a life that would have died without you. You are taking a child who had no hope for a happy productive life and giving them a viable future. There are very few accomplishments that you could hope to have that measure up to this one.
3. It will change who you are: You will be somebody’s dad or mom. You will be indelible. Priceless. Wait until they call you that name for the first time… then call me and tell me if I was wrong.
2. Love will have new meaning: Before I had my kids, I romantically theorized about a man I would “die for”. Once I had them, I knew truly and deeply what that kind of love really meant. I truly was unaware that it was possible to love other human beings this completely with every ounce of my being.
And, most importantly:
1. It will change your life forever: Whoever you thought you were, whoever you think you will be… this adventure will change you into a better you. You will not be a person, you will be a family. Life won’t necessarily always be easy, but it promises to always be interesting, enriched and ultimately… worth it.
When I was considering this choice in my own life, I decided to make a “pros” and “cons” list. I started with the “cons”. Was I too old? How would I afford college? Terrible twos? Teens with car keys? The list went on. Then I made the “pros” list. I wrote the first one down: “the look of my child’s eyes on Christmas morning”. I stopped and looked at it.
I heard the noise of paper being tightly crumpled. It was the “cons” list in my other hand.
By Trey Darnell
Hello! We are Matthew and Trey from Johnson City, Tennessee, and we are adopting. We are a same-sex couple hoping to grow our family through open adoption. The hope of sharing our story is to give you a glimpse into our life, the adoption process for a same-sex couple, and the positive message of becoming gay parents.
Here is a very quick introduction. Matt is employed as a Registered Nurse and I am flying high as a Commercial Airline Captain. Matthew was born in Glendora, California and I am a native of Kingsport, Tennessee. Our story, as a couple, began in 2007 through the power of MySpace. (I am almost certain that got a few giggles.) Our connection sparked over a picture of Matthew in front of an In-N-Out Burger restaurant. We share our home with two cats named Barbara and Beezer. To be completely honest, they allow us to live with them. Matthew and I are best friends and we laugh a lot. We enjoy being competitive with each other, and we are very excited to become fathers. Do you want to know a guilty pleasure of ours? Nerf gun wars in the house.
Our journey to becoming parents started in August 2012 while on a road trip to Charlotte, North Carolina to- apologies to Crate & Barrel, Restoration Hardware, and West Elm- visit Ikea. Matthew wanted to browse through the modern-looking furniture, and I wanted the Swedish meatballs. We already had the usual criteria before starting a family, like solid careers, a large enough home, a big yard, and financial stability. So there we were in a Holiday Inn in Charlotte, North Carolina when we looked at each other and said, “Let’s adopt!”
What does anyone do when they want to find out how to do something? Google it. Excitement, giddiness and optimism were all reactions that we had. We did our due diligence researching the process of adopting, possible agencies, and the differences in open and closed adoptions. We decided on adoption over a surrogacy to prevent the choice of who would be the biological father. Matthew and I are indecisive when trying to decide where to have dinner; we could only imagine the process of deciding who would be the sperm donor. (It is a little embarrassing typing “sperm”.) Emails and information requests allowed the excitement to build. At this point, it was way past midnight and we needed sleep before our return home the next morning.
While still feeling the euphoria of all the positive information we obtained from our online research, we didn’t float back to Earth; we came crashing down. Matthew and I received the following email from a prominent domestic adoption agency,
Thanks for asking about our Domestic Program at Bethany Christian Services.
Our agency has not proven to be the best fit for same sex couples, as the birthparents looking to make an adoption plan for their child through Bethany are overwhelmingly looking for more traditional, married couples to place with. That tends to be the reason they come to our agency as opposed to working with other secular or public agencies. I certainly do not wish to mislead you or “just take your money” when the chances of receiving a placement would be unlikely. As you live in the Tri Cities, I would recommend that you contact Harmony Adoptions, Youth Villages or the Dept. of Children’s Services office in your area. These agencies, I believe, could serve you well.
A traditional married couple? Really? We would never fit into that category. Our state does not recognize marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships of same-sex couples. Questions of doubt started to form. What family would choose us? How will we ever be parents? What are people going to think and say? The email was not meant as hurtful but it was successful in being destructive. Now what do we do?
As I sit here with two cats staring at me, I can tell you we are proud of not being a traditional couple, and we feel ecstatic about our journey to becoming dads. How does one go from a pessimistic view to a very optimistic attitude? Exactly what anyone would do: go on vacation. So we took a weekend trip to Atlanta, Georgia to attend a free monthly informational session offered by the Independent Adoption Center (IAC). We were both surprised to learn that it was also the same weekend of Atlanta Gay Pride. I personally had never been to a gay pride event. Did you know Dykes on Bikes always start a gay pride parade?
I can honestly say that weekend with the IAC and the Pride events changed everything for us. Today we are proud to declare we are a same-sex Christian couple from East Tennessee, and we are on the way to becoming fantastic parents. The journey will consist of adoption and then eventually marriage. Can anyone say shotgun wedding? They say traditional. We say boring!
Read more about Matt and Trey’s quest to become parents on MattandTreyAdopt.Com