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Monday, May 30, 2011

Judgement Day

Graisyn was growing leaps and bounds. She had just surpassed two months old at the time our adoption hearing was scheduled to occur. It was December 30, 2008, the second to last day of 2008 and the last day that we would have to claim Graisyn's adoption on our 2008 tax filings. It was bitter cold. It was snowy. It was hours of driving to LaCrosse, the one reliably "friendly" court in Wisconsin, for our hearing with a colicky baby.

Yes. Our baby had colic. She was everything we had expected and oh, so much more. You know, I used to judge those who could not quiet their babies. I'll admit it. Then I was one of them. I think it was God's way of punishing me for casting judgement. Got it now. Thanks, God. You win. Now please silence this much wanted, much tried for, bouncing bundle of joy.

We packed up our little Graisyn and began our journey. We were gratefully accompanied by my mother-in-law and my little sister. They were our witnesses for the adoption hearing, having extended family there as requested by the lawyers, and our sanity during the long drive with a wailing infant. To this day, my baby sister does not want children. At that time, I could not pass blame on her. I too was questioning my parenthood, but you get what you get and you make due with what you have.

Graisyn was relatively good on the ride to LaCrosse. We made it to the courthouse safe and sound and still sane. In the courthouse we waited for our attorney with the other homosexual families who were there to stake their claim as the rightful parents to their children. You know, even in the "gay world" as it has been so graciously defined, there are all sorts of families. Sara and I used me as the incubator for Graisyn with donor sperm to conceive her. There was another couple who had their eggs harvested and fertilized by donor sperm only to them implanted in the opposite partner (and I thought we were a legal nightmare). There was yet another couple who had a known donor for the conception of their child. Yes, even those families who are gay can be as brightly colored as those who are straight.

Each family met individually with the guardian ad litem. We had to explain why we were at the courthouse that day and why we chose to be parents. We had to justify ourselves all over again. Trust me when I say that I had the fees from that meeting waived. God forbid she had actually captured that information from the phone interview we already had with her and that she already charged for. Umm, no friend. Recalculate please. And she did without question.

After our interviews, we waited to be called into the courtroom. There was a sense of nervousness in the air which I am sure was only due to the fact that we all ready to be granted or denied legal rights to our children. Still, we chatted amongst ourselves like the experience was nothing out of sorts, completely normal.

Then we were called into the courtroom. We moseyed in like nomads on the move. We had our children, our legal paperwork, our respective friends and/or family members, strollers, diaper bags, bottles. All of us took our seats. The judge addressed us. She had a compassion to her voice that made most of my nerves dissipate. One by one she called us up. Each parent had to testify to their desire to care for and raise to the best of their ability the child/children in question. The birthing parent had to terminate their rights, though only for a matter of minutes, so that the child could be legally adopted by a same sex couple. This is simply because, in Wisconsin, as Graisyn's birth mother and legal parent, I could not select a female to adopt and raise her with me. As her legal parent, I could only select a male. Making her a ward of the state gave Sara and I equal rights to adopt her. In short, it's a loophole in the Wisconsin legal system.

Within an hour a total of three families, ours included, had successfully been created in the eyes of the law. My wife, Sara, was officially Graisyn's mother, though in my eyes she had been since the day Graisyn was conceived. Sara's parents were legally defined as Graisyn's grandparents, though, again, they had anxiously adopted that title well before Graisyn's birth. The ramifications of that day in court created more family ties and offered Sara, Graisyn, and I a sense of legal protection that I cannot even define. It is amazing to me what an hour in a courtroom and thousands of dollars can do. I still am emotional about it today.

The drive home after our hearing was exhausting. Snow heaved from the sky for the duration of our tour home. Though relieved at the outcome of our hearing, I think it was fair to say that the hours of screaming from Graisyn coupled with the ill road conditions the entire way home tested all of our tempers. We arrived home, tired and grumbly, but in one piece and as one family. It was time to shovel.

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