Sunday, June 30, 2013

Mama Pride

gay_pride

Today is Gay Pride in New York City. When I heard the Supreme Court rulings this week, I thought what a special parade it would be this year. I also thought of my friend, Caren.

In 2009, Caren had Ariella. Shortly after giving birth, she gave up her parental rights. Not by choice; she was forced to.

It was a legal workaround that allowed mothers who are gay to name their partners as parents to their children. Caren had to give up her rights as a parent, which allowed her partner, Mara, to adopt Ariella. Then, Caren adopted her own daughter too.

There was an allotted time that she needed to not be Ariella's mama, in order for this transaction to be considered legal. I don't remember how much time it was. Say three minutes.

What an excruciating three minutes.

When she told me this story, her voice was steely with bitterness and anger. She talked of how painful it was; how humiliated it made her feel. She talked about not having equal legal protection under the law. She talked about injustice and discrimination.

Her story brought tears to my eyes. I wasn't a parent then. Now that I am a mom, I feel heartbroken thinking about her story.

Caren had just given birth. At a time when she should have been bonding with her child, recovering from childbirth, contemplating the magnitude of the event that had just happened to her, facing the fear of being responsible for this fragile being and becoming a family with Mara and Ariella, she was not her child's mother.

Yes, for only three minutes. How those three minutes must have reverberated through her soul.

I can't imagine not being Claire's mama. I can't imagine George not being Claire's parent, even for a second.

I'm no lawyer. I don't know if the recent Supreme Court decisions change the way lesbian and gay parents get to legally call themselves families. I think it will be different now.

On this Gay Pride Day in NYC, I hope no other parent has to go through what Caren and Mara did. Everyone should have the right to decide who they love and to define who they call family.


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Photo Source: Torbakhopper, Flickr

37 comments:

  1. Sometimes out government just makes me shake my head and want to scream, as well. No mother should have to go through what your friend did and truly agree with you on this. I am hoping that the ruling brings us one step closer to equality for all, because seriously it is the right and just thing. Thank you for sharing your friend's story here Rachel.

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    1. Sometimes, it feels hard to live in this country. I want everyone to have the rights that I have.

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  2. I had no idea and WOW this just blew my mind. Doesn't sound like a story that takes place in 2009. Your writing is so sensitive and compassionate and I'm so glad you've raised this topic.

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    1. I had no idea either. I really couldn't believe what I was hearing.

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  3. Wow I can't believe that she had to go through.

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    1. I didn't know either. It's heartbreaking.

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  4. I had no idea! So heart-wrenching for her! For all of her family!

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    1. You are so right, Diane. I hope it's now over.

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  5. It's horrible that people are forced to do things like this just to guarantee the safety of their families. The only thing that reassures me about it all is that the ones opposing equality are mostly dinosaurs, and they're slowly but surely dying out.

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    1. There is much to be hopeful about. It's amazing how quickly public opinion has changed. It's sad that it has taken this long, but we are finally here!

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  6. That's just awful. I hope this was a joyful day for your friend, and for others in similar situations.

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    1. How things have changed! There is much to celebrate!

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  7. I know this is different, but as an adoptive mama, we had to wait 48 hours until Isaiah was legally ours. At the end of the 48 hours the birth mother wanted to see him before signing the papers. The 20 minutes he was with her were the longest 20 minutes of my life. The only thing that kept me going was faith. I can't imagine her pain and anxiety. Knowing what I had to go through, I am sorry she had to experience any of it.

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    1. Yes, I have two male gay friends who had to wait for the birth mother of their daughter to "officially" give up her parental rights. They felt in limbo, at best.

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  8. That's nuts that she had to give up her daughter, let her partner adopt her, then adopt her own daughter (if I'm understanding this right)! :-( The red tape that some people have had to go through to be a family is ridiculous. Thank goodness for the Supreme Court ruling!

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    1. Yes, you are understanding it correctly. I'm crossing my fingers that the Supreme Court rulings have made it different.

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  9. A beautifully told story Rachel. I feel for all the families like that. Let's hope the changes the US is making transfer over to Australia.

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  10. It really is a shame that people aren't even given the common curtsey of being able to remain a parent just so they can have their same sex partner be a parent too. Because from that day forward she will no longer be the child's birth mother on record but her adopted mother and that is bull shit.

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    1. I know! It's completely crazy. It gives me chills, really. It's a big fat sham all around, but it was the best that they could do. There should be a better best, for sure!

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  11. YES YES YES families are families and how DARE government make it difficult for any family to have to give up the rights to being a mother - to being a parent - in order to make it legal and recognized that they are a family. While it angers me to no end that your friend had to give up rights to her own baby, it also angers me more that there are other families, couples - men and women - who don't even have that option under the law and live in either secrecy or fear. I don't really get what the new rulings mean...not in the long run...but I do get that every couple deserves to be legally recognized as a family and have the rights and respect to raise their children as theirs, with all of the benefits that the rest of us have. No matter where they live. Having to relinquish custody for equality is just wrong. Thank you Rachel for this important and necessary look at affecting change where it matters most - the love of a family, no matter what that family looks like.

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    1. It is none of the government's business! I know you've written about this, Kristi, and am in complete agreement with you.

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  12. My friend had to do something similar for her son when her family moved from CA to MD. I guess the laws are different in CA, where her son was born and where they were married, so to continue to both be considered his parents, they had to both adopt him. It's crazy. At least their family unit was recognized in CA, though. I can't imagine what your friend had to go through. :(

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    1. "States rights", right? It's ridiculous to me, really.

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  13. YES. A family is a family, how dare the government force anyone to go through that. That is BS all around.

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  14. I cannot even beging to fathom what that must have felt like for your poor friend to have to legally give up your parental rights. Mind blowing!

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    1. I had no idea, and was so shocked to learn about this, Marcia. It was so hard hearing it first hand from someone who is a proud, intelligent and caring woman.

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  15. Hola Rachel!
    What a sad, sad, experience for your friend to go through. My heart ached at every word. I can't believe so much injustice exist in this world. I'm sure one day her daughter will admire her mother for the courageous stand she took for her familia. Thanks for sharing this story, that although sad, is incredibly inspirational.

    ~SimplyyMayra

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    1. That's a lovely spin, Mayra. I hadn't thought about how proud her daughter will one day be of her. I think you are right. Thank you for bringing that to my attention!

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  16. Ooops....thanks for linking up, I appreciate the love and support!

    ~SimplyyMayra ;)

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  17. Stunning post- what an incredible story. I felt my blood stirring inside my skin, threatening to boil. The things we take for granted, sometimes...

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    1. I didn't know about it and I thought others should know too. It is crazy.

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  18. Thanks for teaching me something in this post. Something awful, weird, stupid. As many people as possible need to know about these little dehumanizing details.

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  19. Wow. Humiliated indeed. And dehumanizing, as Therese wrote. I need to share this with some people....

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