By Amber Leventry
I have to-do lists scattered around the house. I have an everyday to-do list, a weekly to-do list, and an overall, things that need to be done soon, to-do list. Here are a few of the things on my overall list: thank you notes; snow tires; adoption paperwork.
I need to adopt my twin boys. I need to repeat the same ten-step, lengthy and expensive process of adopting them that I did when I adopted Eva. Putting snow tires on the car to protect the kids seems more important than paperwork, but it’s another necessary level of protection for my family.
When I came out of the closet years ago it wasn’t particularly fun, but it was liberating. It really was rainbows and flag waving, at least with the people who supported me. For a few years I focused on being gay. Being gay wasn’t new to me, but being out was a new identity, and I felt like when a super hero who had discovered her powers. Once I started to focus on bigger picture, adult stuff, I started to understand that many people, laws, and politicians were very much against my right to live and love.
I was angry, shocked, and hurt by the amount of fear and hate surrounding the LGBTQ community. I became less naïve and more jaded. I did and still think a law prohibiting gays and lesbians the same rights as heterosexuals is just as offensive as a hate crime. Fortunately, change is happening. More states allow same-sex marriage; more laws provide equal rights; and gay, lesbian, and transgender people are finding it a little bit easier to become parents.
Unfortunately, not all equal rights are equal. While my marriage is recognized in Vermont, and at a federal level, it is not recognized in all states. The same goes for my parental rights over my kids. I am listed as second parent on all three of my children’s birth certificates, but because I am not the biological parent, that status will not hold up in all places.
So, sitting next to the grocery and Christmas lists—lists that indicate family and everyday life—is a packet from our lawyer regarding Second Parent Adoption. Since we are not traveling anywhere soon, I haven’t felt an urgency to make an appointment at the sheriff’s office to have my fingerprints taken so they can check my criminal and abuse records. But it’s been on my mind and it is something I need to do.
I’m not shocked anymore. I still get angry, but I’m more tired by the arguments and ignorance of those who think my sexuality is a sin. And it’s rare that I feel hurt, but just like it did when I adopted Eva, it stings to have to go through the process of formally taking guardianship over what has been mine since Amy and I decided to have kids.
I worry. I hope. I love. And no amount of paperwork will ever make my kids more mine.
I’ll probably use my time off around Christmas to get the paperwork started. And when all of the paperwork is final, and I am legally a second parent to the twins, we will celebrate. Not because I will be more of a parent, but because I can cross one more thing off of my to-do list and get back to being the parent my boys have always known.
Happily pulled in many directions as a partner, parent, and business owner, Amber is a writer for VT Mommies and InventorSpot where she reviews products for parents and kids. She loves the challenge of learning how to relax. This article was originally published on VT Mommies.