TNF: Tell me about your family. Are you married?
AMBER: My partner, Amy, and I have three children. We have a three-year-old daughter and twin ten-month-old boys. We also have a Golden Retriever who is almost two, so it feels like we have four kids. On our best days we feel like we are balancing a well-run circus act, but on most days we are just trying to keep everyone fed and happy—though not necessarily at the same time.
Amy and I moved to Vermont after college and had a civil union ceremony in 2001. When Vermont passed the same-sex marriage law, we got married in 2010 on our anniversary date. Amy was pregnant with our daughter and we wanted to take advantage of every piece of paper that might protect our family.
TNF: How did you meet your wife?
AMBER: Amy and I met in college at Penn State University. I was a mere freshman to her sophomore status, but she needed players for her intramural basketball team so she took pity on me and asked me to join her team, but not that team. Not yet.
I knew I was gay when I was five, and I was out to a few friends while I was in high school. I was excited to find ways to be out in college, but I was more interested in making friends. I was nervous to come out to the people I was starting to form friendships with for fear they would turn on me.
It didn’t take long to fall in love with Amy; within weeks we were best friends and within months I was totally smitten. Luckily, the feeling was mutual, but Amy had never considered she could be gay. It took her longer to accept who she was and the uncertainty and challenges that come with being gay.
TNF: Do you feel different from other families? If so, how so?
AMBER: I usually don’t feel different from other families. Having twins feels unique at times, but as far as being a same-sex couple raising kids, I feel like any other mom or parent. I’m exhausted. I’m always covered in something that came from one of my kids, whether it’s vomit, food, or a sparkly sticker. And I wish I had more time to myself. I also wish Amy and I could get out for more date nights, but that will get easier as the kids get older. Right now it takes two people to manage our three young kids. Our circus barely pays for itself, so paying two babysitters is out of the question.
I feel different when the media flares up with news of anti-gay laws being passed or when I learn about a person or family being discriminated against because of their sexuality. I feel angry and repressed when I am reminded of the ignorance and intolerance in our country.
I also feel different and frustrated when we spend money on lawyer fees and legal documents necessary to protect my family when heterosexual couples are given the same rights without question. Amy is the biological mama, but in Vermont I am on the kids’ birth certificates as their mother and second parent.
However, that is not the case everywhere. We thought it was best for me to legally adopt my kids. We did the second-parent adoption with our daughter, but still need to do it for the boys. The whole process feels like a kick in the teeth.
TNF: Is it tough being a gay couple where you live? Do you feel accepted?
AMBER: I feel very fortunate to live in Vermont, especially as a gay couple. The state is beautiful, progressive, and incredibly accepting. When we travel, I realize just how good I have it here. Sometimes I forget I’m gay because it’s really not a big deal where we live. But when we travel, I am quickly reminded it can be a big deal. I am very lucky to be in a place where I feel safe and accepted.
I am also part owner of VT Mommies, an online magazine supporting moms through stories, social events, and charitable causes. I am one of the featured writers and have been sharing my family’s story for two years. I have only received praise, love, and support from my readers. Parents may not agree with my parenting style, but it has nothing to do with my sexuality.
TNF: What has having a family meant to you?
AMBER: To me, family means home. When I met Amy for the first time, I felt safe. I felt happy. I felt loved, and she became my home. We then surrounded ourselves with people who love us and accept us unconditionally for who we are. Those people, our friends and family, gave us the support we needed when we decided to have kids.
From trying to get pregnant and the stress of pregnancy to the never-ending work of parenting, our friends are our family and the amazing support we receive from them and strangers who accept me and my family is overwhelming.
Having kids is tough, but it’s the best thing that has ever happened to me. There is not one day that goes by where I take for granted just how fortunate I am to have three healthy kids. Nor is there a day that goes by when I’m not shocked that Amy and I have three kids!
Amy and I were just two closeted girls who fell in love. And now we’re adults, with a mortgage and kids. We’re a family. And the little everyday things that happen in our home are the memories we are creating for our children. Having a family has strengthened my sense of home and love.
Thank you for sharing your beautiful family with us!