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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

LaCrosse County

The thought of a family mulled around in my head the whole while I was growing up, but I think I thought I would never have one. Come to think of it, it took me at least a decade to admit to myself that I was gay. So, when I realized I was gay, I pushed the idea of a family out of my head entirely. Why? Because gay people don't have families. It isn't right in the eyes of everyone...whoever "everyone" is. But I am gay and I have a child. In fact, now I have two. Wow.

These were my thoughts as my family and I, the four of the six of us (excluding the two doggies), made our way to to the "friendly" courthouse in LaCrosse. It was June 8th, 2012. It was adoption day, and, as I drove along with my family, I realized, again, how lucky I was and am. I was a gay girl with the beautiful lover and the forbidden two children. I had one girl and one boy, both perfect in every way imaginable.

We left the house that morning before six. We needed to be at the courthouse before ten, so we wanted to give ourselves plenty of time for the normal traveling with kids know feedings, shittings, changing of outfits, gassing up the car, etc. Plus both Sara and I were concerned about the stress level in the car. When we had travelled to LaCrosse for Graisyn's adoption in December of 2008, she cried the entire way. It was dreadful. We did not want the same experience, not that there would have been much we could do to change it.

To our delight, the drive to LaCrosse was uneventful. The most excitement we experienced was possibility of three deer lunging out onto the highway in front of us. In all our luck, the deer remained properly stationed on the side of the highway. They must have valued their lives. Outside of that, I think we stopped a total of two times, once to pee and get gas in the car and once to pee and feed Kaz. There was minimal crying from Kazmer; only a sputtering when he was hungry. And Graisyn was very unlike Graisyn. She was saintly.

We arrived at the courthouse shortly after nine. As instructed by our lawyer, we made our way through security and up to the second floor where she was waiting. We made small talk. She cooed over the kids and Sara wandered off to pump. It wasn't too long before Kazmer's guardian ad litem made her appearance. She too ogled over Kazmer and raved at how big Graisyn is getting. I was quietly proud.

Sara soon rejoined us and said her hellos to the guardian ad litem. The prior court session, I think it was small claims, was just adjourning. It was ten. Our hearing was scheduled to begin. We corralled into the courtroom and took our seats. The guardian ad litem was at one table. We and our attorney sat at another, adjacent table. Sara held Kazmer. I held Graisyn. Everyone faced the judge.

Sara was sworn in first after the judged doled out beanie babies to Kaz and Grai. Toys come first, then business. Kaz sat quietly in Sara's arms as the questioning began. Did she understand what she was doing? Was she an equal participant in the conception of Kazmer? Was she coerced in any way? Did she understand that I would be an equal parent to Kazmer? Did she get that she would have to terminate her rights so that we could adopt him together? Was she aware that, if the adoption was granted and our relationship was dissolved, she could collect child support from me?

Grai and I heard the banter of questions in the background, but really I was trying to keep her entertained. She did fine except for one moment when it was my turn. Then, as the mic was slid across the table to me, she made it a point to say that this wasn't really her idea of fun. Silently, I agreed with her. No one in the courtroom acknowledged her statement and it was my turn to be questioned.

I hushed Graisyn moving her over to Sara's lap and taking Kazmer. I received nearly the same questioning as Sara, but was moved to tears when the judge informed me that, without this adoption, I had no legal rights to my son. Of course I already knew that, but there was something about hearing those words from a judge that made me feel sick and angry and defeated. It is always in that moment of understanding that I hate this state. It is always in that moment of understanding that I am bewildered by the ignorance of people. Then I move past it.

The judge quickly stopped my tears. She told me we didn't need the whole courtroom crying as she motioned our lawyer to get the box of tissue she had at her bench. I agreed, apologized, and calmed myself. Our lawyer finished the questioning, made a final statement, and turned to the judge for commentary. Gently the judge reminded us of our reasoning for being in her courtroom that day. She went through a summary of the questions and moved to grant the adoption. It was all done in a matter of thirty minutes.

After a successful hearing, The judge called us up for photos. She instructed Graisyn to take her seat at the bench. She reminded Graisyn that she remembered her adoption day and told her that it was an important job to be a big sister. She told Graisyn that someday that chair, the judges chair, might be her chair. She told her to do good things to change the world. Sara and I were humbled. We smiled for the camera and headed out of the courtroom in time for a Subway lunch and our long drive home.

Now I know it isn't fair that we have to adopt our own children. But, fact is, we do and I can't help but wonder if these people, our judge, and our lawyer, and our caseworker, and Kaz's guardian ad litem, know what a difference they make. With them, we have created a level of secret progress in a state that is so quick to directly deny our rights. Someday, families like mine won't have to do this. In the meantime, I suppose we are okay with paving the way. And, in the meantime, I can call my family mine.


  1. Oh Sam and Sara -
    I feel for you two... To have to adopt your own kids seems so wrong to me. You both are obviously very loving parents with great concern for your kids as all parents ought to be. Hopefully you are on the cutting edge of making change and and the courage you have shown will be an inspiration to others.

  2. I had tears in my eyes as I read your blog. How can you be so lucky (two beautiful babys and have each other)and, yet, the stupidity of people (who think they have the right to say who should get the right to love who?!) The judge sounds like such a great person - taking her job and the law seriously - yet doing what she can to make the world "right." Congratulations! And Love to you all!