Archive for the ‘queer’ Category

The theoretical becomes possible.

June 27, 2013

So, the Supreme Court overturned the Defence of (heterosexual) Marriage Act. I think this means we could all theoretically move to Country A, at least as soon as marriage equality passes in law here. Then our civil partnership could be ‘upgraded’ to a marriage. And then, as far as I understand, the federal government of Country A would have to legally recognise our marriage and we would have a legal leg to stand on if we wished to immigrate.

If I have that wrong, someone please enlighten me.

I read a few minute ago about a binational couple – one was in the midst of being deported when the SCOTUS ruling came out, and the judge immediately stopped the proceeding because, lo and behold, this couple was legally married in a right on state, and therefore entitled to federal benefits…including immigration. Big stuff.

Of course, the rest of the dominos need to fall, the rest of that country needs marriage equality otherwise it is all a colossal head fuck, but still.

This brings real questions about our life up. I have dual citizenship, as do the children. So we could move elsewhere without any legal hassle if we wanted to move back.

But moving to Country A would require such a lifestyle overhaul. I’d probably have to be the one to work while TMD stayed home. We would have to move to a gay friendly state, namely worrying about insurance. Over here, everyone has ‘free’ healthcare. I could break my leg tomorrow and not have to worry about how today for x rays or painkillers. As far as I understand, some states (and most companies) do not allow benefits for same sex partners. Does the ruling stop this? What is the reality of insurance in that country? I’ve never been a real adult there, so I don’t know.

Home education would be protected in the areas we would ever consider moving to. So that isn’t an issue.

But JOBS.

Let’s be real, I know what field I would be ready to step back into….though I’d prefer TMD to do it….but it is an incompatible job for married people with a family. Totally time consuming and all encompassing.

I like our lifestyle here. I think moving across the planet is a huge undertaking, even when you are moving back to a country you have lived before. People move on, things change, and when you have lived abroad since your early twenties, well, there’s a lot to learn.

I’d love to live near my family, but I love living here.

I don’t think my mother understands the SCOTUS ruling or the implications. It’s always been easy to try to fob off the guilt trips, considering my relationship had no legal status in Country A. I have a bit more buffer time until the marriage equality law changes here, but the process has already started and it is only a matter of time. Once we are legally married, and Country A is forced to recognise that marriage, well…..no longer am I an exile. No longer do I HAVE to choose between my wife/family and my birth country.

But you know what, this is my country, too. My home.

No matter where we live, one of us will be far from family. I don’t doubt we would figure things out, probably be very happy in either place. But man, what a lot to think about.

Adoption update.

May 24, 2013

So, are those kids finally adopted yet, you ask?

Here’s the deal. We submitted the application to court about a month ago. You need three months between the submission of the intent to adopt and the actual application. Through colossal screw ups that were not our fault, the time requirement had not been met. So everything was returned to us.

I went last Monday to submit everything again. The legal team needed TMD to go in to sign something they’d missed spotting the first time around. And now we wait.

The next step is the final hearing, which we are not expected to attend. I guess it is when the judge goes through everything and issues the adoption order. After that is the celebrationary hearing, which is when the adoption certificates are issued. This is when the judge makes a big deal out of it, you can invite your family and friends, and it is like a party in court. For normal adoption proceedings, I think this is nice.

For our particular circumstances, I think it is shit. We don’t want two almost four year olds to have to question things – they are very observant and curious. It would be nightmare. We want to explain things to them organically and in our own time, not because a judge arbitrarily says TMD is now their mother. That’s crap.

So we have talked to the court and elected to not attend the celebration hearing. We will need to confirm it nearer to the date, but our plan is to have all of our documents and the certificates mailed to us. In theory this should all go without a hitch.

The adoption process has taken much longer than we expected, but all in all it has been smooth and easy. Nice social workers, friendly court people, straightforward process. Looking forward to it being done, though! Maybe I’ll host a blog celebration when it happens, which will hopefully be within the next month. We shall see.

Adoption.

March 17, 2013

Since I know there is at least one other lesbian family that reads this blog and may choose to do a step parent adoption, let me outline our process:

First, we contacted social services to get put on their wait list. After an eternity, we were finally allocated a social worker and also gave permission for a student social worker to help. Our expectation was that it would be a fairly brief process, since this social worker needed to complete the work in under two months. Meetings were every fortnight.

First meeting: the social worker and student came to our house. This was really just an introduction to each other and the process. The kids interrupted loads! Ha. The plan was laid out – the main objective was completing the adoption report. It was divided into manageable chunks; we would complete and email it to them prior to each visit, and the visits would be spent answering any additional questions.

Second visit: The student came on her own. Spent about an hour answering her questions, chatting,etc. This time we sat round the table as we thought the kids might interrupt less….it sort of worked. Ha.

Third visit: the student and social worker came. Again, they only had a few questions about the paperwork (as by this time we had Sussex they liked long, chatty essays for each question!). We discussed the next steps – they are chasing up various references (whoa, TMD needed a lot. Every position where she’d ever worked with children, three personal references, info from the fertility clinic, police check, etc)…. The fertility clinic, in particular, are being an ass. The lady in charge of the sperm is always shocking at getting back to people, but this time I’m seriously annoyed as if we can’t prove the donor has no legal rights, TMD can’t adopt. Ugh. Gave the social worker the contact details as I suspect an official request may bear more weight.

Next step is waiting to hear from the social workers regarding submitting our official application to the court for the adoption. The court then schedules a hearing within three weeks or so. Social workers want us to wait till the report is totally finished so we have no delays before court.

Fourth and final planned visit : cancelled as they don’t need to see us. Our last visit was actually really nice….they told us they may not need another, so I made sure to say a warm thank you for how respectful they have been of our family. We could not have asked for two nicer workers, particularly the student, who I suspect is actually the one doing all the work for our case! The social worker said it was really nice to just ‘get to see a really happy family for once.’

I will say I also asked about the process to foster or adopt further children from the care system. Got a detailed answer and this is not entirely off the table. This would be something we have to think very deeply about, as well as the impact it would have on Snort and Coconut. The average placement age is three years – and by that age, the potential for attachment disorders is just massive. Also not sure how the home educating stuff may influence their willingness to place a child with us. All stuff to think about for the future…

Will obviously update you all as things move forward. Maybe we will have a virtual adoption party! You can bring the streamers and balloons, I’ll bring the dressing up box and the cheese. Deal?

The longest post ever?

February 28, 2013

I have been sort of AWOL, lost in my own misery of intense chronic pain and the accompanying fears and despondency. It’s fun.

I am back in the land of the walking, but am in pain every second of the day. It’s not excruciating anymore, but it’s not great, either.

So that’s me.

We spent a lot of time at home last week, as I felt I needed a break (maybe I knew my body was about to collapse?), which sort of sucks as this week we had to spend a good chunk inside as the pain has been so bad. But as I said, I’m mostly physically functioning. We even went swimming yesterday.

I am scared, though. My last lot of pain injections were on the kids’ second birthday. I think they must have worn off by now, but recent pain is making me worry that they have only just worn off, and this is my true pain baseline, and I’m going to be like this forever.

I feel like this every single time I have a relapse. Like crippling hopelessness, terror, deep exhaustion from coping with the pain. Every single time I worry that this is forever.

And every single time I recover.

This painful blip has been going on for almost two months. It’s the longest it’s ever happened. I’ve also had recent pelvic instability – we are talking my pelvis full on wobbling around, with the gross accompanying clicks and cracking noises. I’ve not been like this since pregnancy.

So my blues are a little more blue this time. I think that’s okay, I think that’s expected.

But it sucks as I have little to no motivation to do things that need doing, especially as it exacerbates the pain. Tomorrow is our third social worker visit, and normally I’d spend a Thursday morning cleaning bathrooms, clearing the dining table of the assorted crap it collects, randomly dusting, etc. It has become an ongoing joke that if we had a social worker visit a week, the house would always look fucking amazing. Though I must say, as nice as the social workers are, I can’t wait for this shit to be over.

The forms are incredibly discriminatory and insulting to families like ours. Questions about what makes TMD qualified to raise children, asking other people and herself how she keeps them safe, and on and on and on. I am only angry about this in small doses, and the social workers are apologetic and very understanding, and on the whole the process is very smooth and straightforward. Hopefully we have tomorrow’s visit, then just one more (four in total)- excepting the court date where the kids get formally adopted. Maybe we will go out for cake afterwards.

But right now, the bigger picture for ME is thinking about how I hope I can walk into court without crutches, without pain, without having to always be conscious of how my body moves.

This afternoon we are going over to a friend’s house. We have started a tearaway rebellious new home education meet, a small group of families who rotate houses on Thursdays. We want our younger children to build up good friendships and have regular contact with the same kids, especially as these children will be some of the ones they grow up with and attend various classes and groups with. It’s an interesting group as two of the children have Asberger’s, one more severely and probably leaning towards full on autism. All in all, I like all the people, children and adults alike, and look forward to all our friendships growing. I’ll probably write more about this group in future, especially as I need advice on what to do if a fellow mama steals a toy from your house. Ha. No shit.

But today a family is ill, so it’s just us and this other family. I love the mum, love her to bits, and it is always a quiet relief to hang out with like minded people. Especially when they are all creative and shit, and there is no tv in their lounge, and you can see water from their back windows.

Tomorrow.

January 31, 2013

Tomorrow afternoon is our first visit with the social worker. Nervous.

Aaaaand adoption kicks off!

January 10, 2013

Holy crap, you guys, we have a social worker!!

For those not in the loop, here in Country B if a lesbian couple who is legally partnered go through fertility treatment at a clinic, both are automatically listed on the birth certificate. This was not always the case. In fact, the law changed to this more equality and reality driven model a scant four months after we conceived. This means we have had to do a lot of shit to protect our family – wills in case I died in childbirth, a brief court trip and some paperwork to get TMD parental responsibility, etc. we have also been on the waiting list for TMD to officially adopt Snort and Coconut since they were infants.

Once they are adopted, their birth certificates will be amended. We view this as rectifying an error and not as traditional adoption, seeing as we are the only family unit the children have ever known. It will also offer us more security and possibly affect immigration issues. So it’s a big deal.

I’ve been desperate for this to happen before they were school age for many reasons. The major thing I am concerned about is the confusion or distress the process may cause them. TMD clarified our situation with the manager today and hopefully the worker and her student will be sensitive to our unique family needs. The second reason is the slight chance we may slip through the net and be able to remain unknown as home educators. It doesn’t really matter too much if we become known, but there are potential pains in the asses I would like to avoid.

So last week I wrote a letter explaining all of my concerns as a parent and a professional (I’m a trained, qualified, and eligible for accreditation counselor, for those who don’t know). I sent it to two friends to have a read and elicit opinions. All I needed to do was hunt down the addresses for the main point of contact and some other influential bigwigs so we could post this thing next week.

Anyway, I got a text from TMD saying, ‘The universe read your letter. We have a social worker!’

And it gets better.

She needs to begin work with us immediately, as the whole thing needs to be wrapped up in SIX WEEKS. There may be a delay in our court date, but all the meetings and paperwork will be done. A-fucking-men, am I right?

Now that this whole thing is starting, I’m a bit angry we have to go through it in the first place. Also a bit anxious, despite knowing we will fly through. Despite my negative feelings, I am super excited this is finally happening for us. We were told before that there are no concerns for our children’s welfare, so we were unlikely to ever be allocated a social worker as we were not priority. I reckon this woman is going off on maternity leave or has handed in her notice or something, so she needs short pieces of work that are really a matter of ticking boxes.

So YAY.

I sometimes like to think my blog can help other families or individuals in similar situations to us, but I suspect in this case we are the last lesbian couple in Country B to need to undergo this process, due to the law change. Still, I guess if any of you get knocked up at home with donor sperm, or you marry a new partner who wants to adopt your children, the following weeks may be of help to you. Anyone who has undergone this process, we welcome info.

The manager today said we will be going through observations as a family. Uh, okay. Observe us, people, because WE ARE AWESOME.

Fin.

IVF – round two.

August 14, 2012

We can say we have officially begun our IVF protocol, since myself, my wife, and the egg recipient are now all on the pill. For those who aren’t sure of what’s going on, I’ll be stimulating my ovaries to produce a nice crop of eggs, then giving half to my wife and half to an anonymous recipient. I’ve actually shared eggs with this same anonymous woman in the past, so it’s nice to try to help her expand her family again.

And, of course, our hopes are to expand our family again, too. While the emotional part of me would LOVE another set of twins, the rational part knows we should be aiming for a single baby this time. And TMD certainly is in the singleton camp.

So, I’ll be gearing up to share all the nitty gritty. I know last time I heard from quite a few people who were undergoing IVF. I hope to help people again this time.

This time the focus will be on what happens when a married lesbian couple wants eggs from one partner to turn into embryos for the other partner to carry. And, of course, egg sharing and the whole TTC process. Please do share with people who may benefit from the information. I haven’t seen many blogs explicitly cover how the whole lesbians carrying their partner’s egg thing works, and I know I’ve been curious in the past. The next couple of months is a chance for us all to learn!

I’ve missed the dildocam.

June 19, 2012

Road trip to Country W today. I’m having my antral follicle count – to see how many follicles (and therefore possible eggs) I produce in a natural cycle. It’s day 4 of my period.

Let’s hope things look good, as TMD and I are moving forward with various screening tests. And, an additional cool thing, I mentioned to the clinic that the woman I previously shared eggs with had requested to be informed if I donated in future. She’s apparently thrilled, grateful, and already on the pill waiting to be synched with my cycle.

So half my eggs to TMD, half to this other woman. Unfortunately our same sperm donor is not available, but we don’t really mind that much. This new baby is OUR baby, you know? Whether they have green hair or purple eyes is irrelevant.

The most interesting part of today is TMD’s dad. He has to come along as I’ll have the kids. No doubt I’ll have to take them on my own at some point, but this first appointment it’ll be nice to have them in the waiting room with FIL.

I have consequently discovered a neat little trick to end any conversation. I simply say ‘ovaries’ or something similar.

So, I’ll update you later! Peace out, yo.

Why I’m not overjoicing over a bone being thrown in my general direction.

May 10, 2012

I woke up this morning to my Facebook newsfeed flooded with news about Obama. In case you live under a rock, he said:

”I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.”

Okay, swell.

But my first reaction was not that of abject gratitude, which many of my gay friends in America seem to be having. Like that picture circulating of Obama riding a unicorn, rainbows shooting out of his bad ass gay loving hands. I guess I’m just an ungrateful second class citizen.

My reaction was, ‘It’s not enough.’ Don’t get me wrong. I get that it’s a big deal for a sitting American president to come out in favour of (gay) marriage. Fine. But they are just words.

He continued to say that he believes it needs to be an issue tackled state by state. For those keeping count, 32 states have passed laws or ammendments to their state constitutions banning gay unions or marriages. Laws have been passed saying they no longer recognise marriages from out-of-state. I have friends – lesbian headed families like our own – who literally never leave their state because all the protection for them ceases at the borders. And even within those borders, they have to carry around adoption certificates to prove they have the right to make decisions for their child.

If you are in a man-woman marriage with kids, imagine being alone with your kids while one of them falls and smashes their head in. Imagine not being allowed to make medical decisions or even see your kid. That is the reality for gay families in America.

State changes are not enough. Equality needs to be handled on a federal level – this ensures legal rights are protected across the entire country. It also means immigration is impacted….which means families like mine might actually be able to make a choice about whether they want to live in Obama land or continue to reside in their top secret, equality loving country. You know, as opposed to feeling abject terror every time they visit family in that country, because one half of the couple could be REFUSED ENTRY to America because they are married to an American same-sex partner.

Every major civil rights issue has this in common. Read up on women getting the vote, on interracial marriage. All were originally state issues. Until people realised how fucked up that was, because individual states were were millions of years away from all coming to an agreement. So the federal government stepped up – and however you feel about government involvement in ‘private’ life, I think we can all agree that women should vote, interracial couples should be able to marry, that same sex couples should be able to marry.

I only hope the federal government grows a pair and deals with this issue – and that it is an equality supporter like Obama that heads the government when that mighty day finally comes.

Have an extra six minutes? Watch this.

Give and take.

May 1, 2012

The awesome pajamamommas (go see their blog!) says: I’m curious to hear more about what it’s like to live in a country that’s not the one you grew up in. What do you miss most about Country A? What wierd cultural differences have you encountered? (if you can say without giving away your top-secret location).

Country B does not have tablecloths as people in Country A know them.

It sounds simple, but that’s a pretty profound difference. Something that a whole country of people – jillions – barely think about. But if you want a tablecloth like that here? They literally do not exist. Other kitchen things are that a ‘spatula’ is referred to as a ‘fish slice,’ which grosses me out considerably because, well, I have a little problem with seafood. Remind me to tell you about that sometime.

I guess there are more important things to worry about than kitchen utensil themed linguistic differences, though. Like the people.

People over here are generally more aware of what is going on in the larger global community. Politics are discussed more in casual conversation (my mother found that quite difficult, particularly our family and friends being critical of Republicans!). Our media isn’t as biased or openly, uh, ignorant as many channels in Country A.

People don’t go camping in great big forests, but in wide open fields. This is one of my most difficult things to get over, and I don’t think I’ll ever reconcile myself with it. We have found a few places with trees to camp, but by and large big ass fields seem to be the order of the day. People also often equate trips to the beach with bringing a big windbreak (like a portable wall, seriously) and heavy rainfall.

What do I miss about Country A? My family and friends. Big expanses of land. Huge forests and bodies of water everywhere (where I grew up, you were never more than a mile from running water!).

Generally, though, I prefer it here. I like the history – you can be in a McDonald’s and it happens to be a building older than Country A. Political ideaology is a lot more progressive and liberal. We, as a gay family, have rights here that are probably years away in Country A. This year, in fact, our civil union will probably legally be changed to marriage.

I don’t like that the houses are waaaaay smaller. That closets really don’t exist. That most houses are attached to the houses on either side.

I used to not like the crazy ass driving – cars parked all over the fucking road, and you just weave back and forth over the centre line like nobody’s business. That doesn’t bother me anymore. Nor does driving a manual/stick shift – most cars here ARE manuals. If you can only drive an automatic it says so on your license, like, hey, check out THIS fucking loser!

I guess the odd thing for me is that I’ve lived virtually all of my adult life here. After I completed my first degree in Country A, I had a year in between where I alternately lived out in the middle of the woods – just me, alone, on 500 acres of woodland – and lived illegally with TMD in her dorm room in Country B. Then I moved.

It was difficult having to learn many skills I had previously learned whilst in university in Country A – everything was different. Cheques/checks, bus riding procedures, big ass city subways/tubes, just everything. Rather than being an adventure, it made my first year here rather difficult as we lived in the country’s largest city and I knew no one other than the other people on my MA course, and we were all mature students living all over. I’ve only kept in touch with one person from that course, and she’s probably reading this.

But many of the true adult skills I’ve learned – how to get a mortgage, starting a retirement fund, becoming a professional accredited counsellor – well, those are things that I would have to relearn if we ever moved back to Country A.

At this point, I’ve been here so long that I have to really stop and pause to think of the ‘Country A word’ for certain things. I’ve always felt more at home stepping off the plane here than when I go back to Country A. Again, ask me and I’ll tell you more about that sometime.

The main issue is really my family. I can’t help but think that we are all getting older, and I am cheating my mother and stepdad out of being involved with my children on a daily basis. That we are cheating ourselves out of being involved with them. My sister is the one we have appointed as legal guardian should anything truly terrible happen, yet she’s only met the kids twice.

I’m definitely past the point of thinking of my primary, immediate family as myself and my sister/parents. Now it has shifted to what is best for me, my wife, and our children. It is better for us to live here. Laws protect us here as lesbian women, as home educators, etc. Our lifestyle here matches what we want – to move to Country A would require massive rejigging of how we conceive of our family as working.

Do I miss nice, big gas guzzling environment killing cars? Sure. Sometimes. But do I love the ethos here of walking everywhere? Yes.

Do I love being able to stay home with our children, secure in the knowledge that no one questions we are both the moms and we can educate our children as we wish? Yes. Do I miss my family every day and long to live within a half hour of them, rather than half a world away?

Yes.

This post brought to you by my compelling desire to write, and complete inability to do so. Generous people have given me funny, thoughful, and factual suggestions for posts. Click here to see them, or add your own. I’ll work through them all in time.


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