Friday morning I was pulling into CVS to buy baby sunscreen in anticipation of the Homeboy Family Picnic. A basic errand, but compare it to the day of last year’s Homeboy Family Picnic, when I was trying to finish four grants and text with a potential birthmom who ended up dumping me later that day, all before getting on a plane to New Zealand. I mean, the New Zealand part was good, but I was appreciating this year’s hard-won simplicity.
|My coworker Sierra with two-year-old Marla. Sierra claims to hate kids. Clearly.|
As he continued to talk, and I sat in the same CVS parking lot where I’d once called AAA for a dead battery, I soon found myself in tears, the kind that come when a weight you didn’t even know you were carrying is finally lifted.
People say this about finalizing an adoption: Sure, you’re out of the danger zone as soon as your child’s birthmom signs her papers, but there’s nothing like a court saying that you are your child’s parent and no different from any other child’s parent in the eyes of the law. No more agency visits, no more limbo, no more wondering if the mosquito bite on your baby’s shoulder will prompt his daycare to call DCFS, which will then open a case, and how would that look to a judge?
Same-sex marriage has been legal-ish in California for years. It’s hard to keep up with the laws and court cases, but it was clear that we, and the rest of the country, were moving in the direction of LGBT acceptance. There were fits and starts, but there was It Gets Better and Laverne Cox, and Ellen DeGeneres had long ago stopped being the face of controversy and become shorthand for soccer-mom TV.
|The enormity of being able.|
I think I learned the phrase “burden of proof” in high school, probably when we were studying the supreme court. I use it more than the average non-lawyer. I was raised by a highly logical engineer who himself grew up being told to keep quiet and stop asking so many questions and just eat your oatmeal please by stiff English grandparents. So he thought he was doing me a favor—and he was—by letting me argue my case as much as I wanted, so long as I could make a case. It turned me into a good mini attorney and a good critical thinker, but it also instilled in me a sense that the burden of proof was always on me. Doing something or being something because it appealed to me wasn’t enough; I had to prove it was a Good, Responsible Idea.
|In L.A., this house would go for somewhere in the low 400's.|
Anyway. Once you are your child’s parent in the eyes of the law, his adoption will still and always be part of his story, his life, his identity. But it belongs to him and to you. Maybe there will always be a part of you that feels a little less legit than women who can talk about their epidurals or say He has his father’s ears, but there will also be a part of you that feels more legit, for having fought. And while you might feel like you have to prove yourself, technically you won’t. I think there are parallels here, with all struggle.
|Stephen and Pedro at brunch, the meal of our people.|