Lucky (Blogging for LGBT Families a little bit late)
I've spent the last few days trying to decide what, exactly to blog about for Blogging for LGBT Families Day. With our internet outage, I've had extra time, but hadn't really reached any decision yet. Because, really, on the average day, we're just a family. We work at ordinary jobs and make far too little money for the energy put in. We adore our child and think that (almost) everything that comes out of her mouth is hilarious or brilliant. We wish we had more time in the world to do the things that are important to us. There is far too much clutter on our dining room table, and by the end of the week, we're exhausted and our house is a mess. Nothing about this is unique or revolutionary. It could be said about any family, regardless of parental sexual preference. And this is exactly why we're lucky.
Our families accept our family structure. While it might not have them jumping for joy, Jen's family respects me as Natalie's parent, and my family adores Natalie as their grandchild. We are lucky. We were able to do a second parent adoption, so legally I am as much Natalie's mother as Jen is. We are lucky. Jen's employer offers domestic partner benefits, which make it possible for me to stay insured while I care for our children next year. We are lucky. Both of our schools have been incredibly supportive as we've become more and more "out" in the process of creating our family. None of the families in my class have freaked out that a lesbian is teaching their children, and if they had, my principal would have backed me up as a qualified teacher. We are lucky. Our neighbors are friendly and are thrilled that we're having another child. We live in a part of the city where LGBT families are not uncommon, and we know other lesbian couples with children, and Natalie is certainly not the only child she knows with a family that doesn't fit the traditional mold. We are lucky. We have a child we adore, and another on the way. The dreams we had, independently and as a couple, of having children and being mothers are coming true. We are really, truly, incredibly lucky.
And yet, there are so many things in our life that straight families never have to think about. While I'm covered by Jen's health insurance, we pay taxes on the portion of the benefits covering me. This would not be the case if we were a married straight couple. We were audited by the IRS during Natalie's first year for something that would not have been an issue if we could file jointly. Our financial situation still has not recovered completely from the cost of Natalie's second parent adoption, and we have no idea how we're going to find the money to do it again. But we have to. The alternative is too scary. I carry around copies of the paperwork saying that I am Natalie's mom, and that I can visit Jen in the hospital, make decisions if she can't, etc. But if I ever don't have it in an emergency situation, I could very easily be denied access to either or both of them. At some point our daughter will either be the target of or a witness to some nasty comment (or worse) about her family. And then there are just the annoyances--not having an appropriate option to check for marital status, having to explain one's family to new doctors or random strangers on the street, dealing with quizzical looks when I tell uninformed people that Natalie will have a sibling in the fall.
In one of my "what should I post?" moments, I attempted to video an interview with Natalie about our family. It's so boring I'm not sure it's worth the effort to edit it into a coherent conversation. If only the rest of the world found our family as boring as Natalie does. Then maybe they'd leave us alone and just let us do all of the same things other families do. I'd love to consider myself lucky simply because I have a loving partner and a daughter to snuggle and tuck into bed at night, rather than lucky because being a family with them is not as much of a struggle as it could be.
As a bonus, here's a pic of Natalie this weekend at NJ Pride. She cried when she had to take that shirt off. "Want heart mom shirt."