Check off one more event in the adoption decathlon

from Markk Haertl's photostream
[Um, and no, that’s not me pictured above, not even a youthful me X years ago. Of the many “two kinds of people in this world,” there are those who would consider jumping over a hurdle, and those who would say Aw hell and scramble underneath it. Count me in the latter camp.]

Yesterday we had the social worker home visit, step # umpteen in the zillion-step, byzantine process of my becoming legal parent to the child whom I nurtured, in utero, helped catch, upon birth, and have diapered and bathed and fed and sung to and read to and listened to and slung on my hip and paraded on my shoulders and even quit my family un-friendly job for, lo these past two years. Yes, much to say about the whole business, but for the moment, suffice to say that it was positively icky to feel simultaneously nervous and enraged about a stranger’s coming to judge my parental fitness.

On the bright side, the stranger who came to visit was the best possible kind: a pro-Buddhist, feminist gal who recognized a ton of books on my bookshelf as reminiscent of her own. She did not tally the electric outlet socket covers, nor did she rummage in the closets searching for the steak knife juggling kits (wheew! I didn’t bury them very far back in there!). She did joke, at one point, about the mean social worker visit depicted on “The L-Word.” And get this: instead of presuming that, as lesbos, we would of course watch the show (as we would of course have also committed to memory the entire Melissa Ethridge oevre, etc.), she asked first. And then filled us in when we had to admit that we’re too cheap for Showtime.

For all us non-bio parents who are coupled up with bio-parents, the whole step-parent adoption odyssey is a bitter pill to swallow. Yet I’d wager most of us feel split right down the middle: irritated as f*ck that we have to do it at all, yet at the same time appreciative that we can do it at all, since our sisters and brothers in Colorado, Nebraska, Ohio, and Wisconsin, to my knowledge, explicitly can’t. My intel on this: the NGLTF map of what states permit second-parent adoption, and to what degrees. (opens PDF)

I know I’m fortunate. For the kindly social worker visit and more. Just three months after the lil’ monkey was born, I’d have enjoyed the expanded Domestic Partner benefit of presumptive parenthood in my home state. But I’ll still adopt kid #2. Redundant and repetitive? Paranoid? Yep, youbetcha. I’m with Abby Hoffman: Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.

[Update: check out the comments for some factoid revisions from sisters in Colorado and Utah.]

8 thoughts on “Check off one more event in the adoption decathlon”

  1. I’m finally “de-lurking” myself. I just wanted to let you know that in Colorado, while we currently don’t have second parent adoption we do have the ability to do a UPA (where two women can be listed as legal parents on the birth certificate). However I do believe that only women have been able to use this option. We do have a referendum coming up for a vote in November– Referendum I. It’s unclear whether this will allow two parent same-sex adoption or not. Love your blog btw!

  2. Don’t forget Utah. No adoption here. Though I’m jealous as all get out that you can adopt, I’m also furious that you have to. Make sense? It’s just the ridiculosity of the tangled legal web we’re forced to live in. I was going to say weave, to make the saying fit right, but we didn’t weave it, did we? We’re just doing our best to unweave it.

  3. Thank you for the factoid correction; I figured the story was lots more complex than the NGLTF map. May the winds of justice be blowing favorably for you all in November, and thank you for the blog props!

  4. The map is right, GA law is silent on the subject. But judges have granted them in 4 counties.

    We ended up successful in our quest to get a 2nd parent adoption for Jill, but it was a hideous journey. (That we’re grateful for, in that totally f*cked up way.)

    Our original home county has 10 judges, 9 of whom will grant 2nd parent adoptions to same sex couples. Two of the judges are apparently real pains about it, procedurally, but that just means it takes ages. We were prepared for that.

    We were not prepared when our case was assigned to the 10th judge. The one who won’t grant them, period.

    And the way our local court rules operate, there was no escaping this judge.

    Because we’re privileged enough that we could, we spent all of our savings moving to the adjoining county for 3 months. My parents and plenty of other people thought we were nuts, but we wanted unquestionable family security for Noah, from as early in his life as possible.

    The adoption was finalized when he was 4.5 months old. And we moved back to the original county and our original home the next weekend.

  5. You’re not paranoid. As you may already know, the National Center for Lesbian Rights warns that if you live in a jurisdiction like California or New Jersey, and the state lets you put both your names on your child’s birth certificate without an adoption, you may still need to obtain a court judgement of parentage to avoid problems when traveling out of state. Check with your own attorney on this, of course.

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