Thursday, July 8, 2010

reason #485 why homophobia sucks

i dont think anyone has ever accused me of being shy or timid. like, ever. blame it on my years as a cheerleader, blame it on growing up jersey, blame it on being raised by a feminist... i have always sorta put my shit out there and if people had a problem with it, then well... that was their problem.

in high school i dated a man of color for over 4 years (no, i wasn't in high school for more than 4 years. we dated before high school and into college.) and i remember there being times when we would be at the mall holding hands or kissing in public and people (mostly white) would stare and point and glare at us in disapproval. reactions like that would irritate me...anger me... sadden me... but never make me change my behavior.

the other morning i was dropping NM off early on campus for a trip she was taking with students. we were in a loading zone and as we went to say goodbye we looked out the window and saw two dudes in a van facing us, watching. i said, "they are watching, we shouldn't kiss". she replied, "duh." so, much like our goodbyes at airports or in other very public settings, we opted for the "they might be close friends and maybe even sisters but they definitely dont do it to each other" goodbye hug.

although this isnt the first time that we have chosen this option, this most recent occurrence has stuck with me. i haven't ever been a big fan of PDA... even when i have been in a socially acceptable hetero union... so its not like i would ever be the type to have a full fledged make out session at an airport while saying goodbye. but there is something interesting to me about the fact that someone (me) who has never hidden any part of myself to the outside world is suddenly living a life where i feel unsafe expressing physical love to my own wife.


Friday, July 2, 2010

remember that one time when i called our caseworker a racist missionary?

part of the unexpected beauty of this adoption process is that M1 (our caseworker) has us on the fast track towards getting adoption ready. in less than 14 days we got the "you're off the waiting list for the waiting list!"-call, completed 4 interviews, got fingerprinted, filled out a mountain of paperwork, scrounged up $4000 (thanks to our fabulous family and friends!!) and completed our home visit. *wiping my brow* whew... i'm tired!

the good part about moving at warp speed is that we don't have much time to process (read: freak out). we had less than 48 hours notice before our home visit and about 40 of those 48 hours NM and i had already committed to work and other commitments. we explained to M & M* that we are in the process of a major bathroom remodel so our house is a bit of a disaster. they both said not to worry and thanks to our busy schedules, we didn't have much time to!

in many ways, the home study was kinda anti-climactic. they didn't dig through our closets or snoop under our beds. we gave them a tour of the place and had i not known better, it might have been easy to mistake them for potential renters or something.

after the tour we sat down at the dining room table to finish up our interview questions. this round of questions was a little bit more challenging than the previous interviews because in previous interviews we were answering questions about actual events/memories from the past... about our childhoods... about the members of our families, etc. the home study round of questions was more philosophical in nature... more of "what would you do if...." kinds of topics.

there were lots of questions about parenting styles and strategies... "how will you discipline?", "what methods of reward will you use?". although i felt totally confident in our answers, it was a little strange to be answering questions about parenting strategies without first having the chance to talk about it with NM.

at one point M asked, "how would you respond if your child yelled 'youre not my real mother!' during an argument?". NM and i both resisted the urge to respond, "i would yell back... 'oh yeah?! well you're not my real kid!!'" (sarcasm) and instead gave a heartwarming and thoughtful response that M & M seemed to like.

towards the end we got to the point where we had to indicate which type of child we were "open" to adopting...
M&M: are you open to adopting a child who is born with drugs in their system?
NM & NJ: yup.

M&M: a child who comes from a birth mother who drank during the pregnancy?
NM & NJ: yup.

M&M: a child who is born HIV positive?
NM & NJ: yup.

M&M: a child who is born with ambiguous genitalia?
NJ: wait, what? that's for real something that people would say no to???
M&M: sometimes, yes.
NJ: that's ridiculous.
NM: if it were up to jersey we would put "tranny" down as our first preference in a kid. she likes the trannies.
NJ: *glare that says... did-you-just-say-"trannies"-to-our-christian-caseworker??*
M&M: so that's a yes, then? it wouldn't be a problem?
NM & NJ: yes, we would welcome a baby no matter what their downstairs might look like.

M&M: are you open to any race or ethnicity?
NM & NJ: yes.
NJ: we would never refuse a baby based on race. having said that.... we would prefer to adopt a baby that shares at least one of our racial identities... so a latino/a or white baby would be ideal. i struggle with the idea of adopting a black or asian child because neither of us have any idea what its like to have that identity. and although we have a network of friends/family that would be great role models for black or asian children, none of those folks live here in our state. so... i worry about being able to support them in the ways that they might need.
M&M: that makes sense.
NJ: having said all of that...i should also mention that its not like we would be unequipped to raise a black or asian child. we both teach for ethnic studies and are very active in racially based social justice movements so we talk about race ALL THE TIME. i mean, its not like i would be one of those crazy white people who go to haiti and adopt a black baby and say "oh, i don't see color".
M&M: sounds good.

(fast forward 20 minutes when M&M have wrapped up the interview and have walked out the door after saying goodbye)

NM: *closing the door after M&M have walked out* "nice haiti comment"
NJ: what??
NJ: oops.
NM: real nice. insult our caseworker.
NJ: well maybe she needed to hear it. *folding arms*

aaand scene.

M1 told us that barring any glaring issues on our background checks, we are all set! she said "i dont have a single red flag about either of you" and i couldn't help but smile. she suggested that we get moving on the creation of our portfolio and letter to the birth mother. since that is the exact type of project that could land NM and i in divorce court, we are welcoming the 3 weeks we have to create it. M1 will be in haiti so we dont need to have it completed until she returns -hopefully without a haitian baby.

i have done some initial internet digging for suggestions about portfolios and letters but we welcome any advice that you all might have!!

*note: our caseworker "M1" has another new-caseworker "M2" shadowing our process. M2 doesn't make any decisions about our case but will be along for the ride. i totally dig both of them.

let go and let god.

we had our home visit last week and other than totally insulting our caseworker (more on that in a later post)... it went really well.

as someone who has always had a strange fascination (read: borderline obsession) with the idea of going to rehab, i have to admit that i totally love the fact that i have a "caseworker". it makes me feel all girl-interrupted and whatnot. our caseworker (we will call her M) is super nice and seems to really like us. she graduated from the same college that NM and i teach at and although she is really young, she seems like she knows what she is doing. (not that i have anything against young folks, but for $18,000... i want someone who isnt gonna screw anything up!)

my only initial concern about M is that she is christian. not the i-have-a-private-relationship-with-god kind of christian but rather the i-will-affix-a-crucifix-to-anything-that-will-stand-still-long-enough kind of christian. she has handwritten post-it-note bible quotes framing her computer screen and at least 2 trinkets emblazoned with the words "hope" (christian speak for god-hates-fags) and "faith" (christian speak for dirty-gays-should-burn-in-hell)

dont get me wrong.... its not that i have anything against christians, per say. i mean other than the whole "we believe you are the devil and should be wiped from the face of this earth so that you wont molest our children" thing... they seem like nice enough people. but this is our adoption caseworker... the person who gets to ask us deeply personal questions and ultimately make a final decision about whether or not we can receive a baby. so forgive (christian speak for we-know-that-our-priest-molested-you-but-god-doesnt-like-people-who-hold-grudges) me if im a little apprehensive about her blatant display of faith. every time we go to the office she offers us a glass of "water". im convinced this is her attempt to get me to ingest holy-water and in turn either straighten-up or die. as you can imagine, NM thinks im overreacting but it seems suspicious enough to me.

anywhoo... there have been lots of questions throughout the 4 interviews that have touched on the idea of faith/god/will-you-raise-the-kid-in-a-way-that-will-get-them-into-heaven-or-hell? but each time i answer, i dont feel any sense of judgement or negative energy from M. maybe, just maybe, she is one of the tiny handful of non-judgemental christians who, like log cabin republicans... comes from the mythical world known as oxymoron land.

thoughts on god

as a young child i remember asking my mom "what happens when we die?". as many young children often do, i was seeking more than simply an answer to the direct question at hand... i wanted to know the meaning of life...i wanted to know the point of existing...i wanted to know that i was connected to something bigger than myself.

my mom, with all her motherly wisdom responded: "when we die, we get buried in the ground and our bodies decompose".

aaand scene.

im almost in my mid 30's and im still seeking an answer to the same question. the older i get, the more i appreciate my mother's answer to the question because as a result she has allowed me to continue to ask and pursue an answer that fits for me, regardless of the perspective that other (read: christians) try to sell me.
im writing about this today because i have come to the understanding that god does exist... and god's universe is a giant snow globe of sorts in which we are characters playing out our individual lives. further, when god is feeling overwhelmed or bored , she/he/ze enjoys grabbing the snow globe and giving it a good shake just to watch as we scramble to pick up the pieces.

i believe that god is currently sitting in a lazy-boy, sippin a beer and eatin cheetos as she/he/ze watches us manage a major bathroom remodel, ridiculous work schedules and a home visit from our caseworker!! aaah! im so nervous!

think they will give a baby to people with a bathroom that looks like THIS?!?!