By: Meika Rouda
I have never been asked if I was gay before, let alone had to sign a sworn affidavit stating that I was not gay. But that is exactly what happened when my husband and I were adopting our son. We were in Florida, where our son was born in 2007, sitting in our lawyer’s office, signing a stack of papers so we could bring him home. When our lawyer looked at me and said, “Are you gay?”, I smiled at him and thought he was making some strange joke. But then he pointed to the paper and asked me again. “I know it is ridiculous, but Florida has a ban on gays adopting and I need you to answer me honestly and then sign the affidavit.” He was being serious and I was shocked. The blatant discrimination was not something I was used to, coming from the San Francisco Bay Area where rainbow flags fly high and diversity is celebrated. I signed the paper, feeling a tinge of sadness on what was otherwise the best day of my life.
A few weeks later, we were sharing the joy of our new son with some friends who are gay and who wanted to adopt a baby. As I was praising our agency and lawyer and handing over contact information, I realized they couldn’t use our lawyer; they couldn’t adopt in Florida. This couple had been together for 20 years, and were both successful, loving, generous men wanting to be parents — but that wasn’t enough because they were gay.
Last year when we went back to Florida to adopt our daughter, we were not asked to sign the affidavit. It was October, 2010 and a few weeks earlier the law had been overturned. It only took one couple to challenge the 33-year ban, fighting for the right to adopt two boys they had raised as foster parents for six years. Finally the ban was ruled unconstitutional. Gay parents who had been fostering kids were now pushing ahead with long anticipated adoptions and creating families.
So three cheers for Florida and a toast to all of the families who became legal this year!
Now we just need to get gay marriage settled.