I was reminded this weekend when visiting with one of my oldest and dearest friends on Thanksgiving of some of my favorite memories from college and my carefree days (which may or may not have involved lots of men). It made me think of how we all have a story-or actually many different stories that make up who we are, who we perceive ourselves to be, and how others see us as well. Some of the stories are good, some are bad. Some are salacious or provocative, others are mundane or quirky. They all come together to make us “who we are.” As someone recently sober I also am keenly aware that “who we are” is not something official or permanent but is malleable and changes throughout our life.
Our story is enhanced, modified, and punctuated by the people and experiences we have along the way. I am currently reading Anne Lamott’s newest book. It is fantastic as all of her books are and it is about hope, something we can all use a little more of I am sure. She asserts that life is full of paradox. At the same time there is great chaos and fear, there too is prevailing love and kindness. Our stories and our lives are complex.
A lot of people ask us about Edie’s story. Where did she come from? How did she become ours? How did Edie become your daughter? What is her story? It is an interesting question for certain and one that not many people ask opposite-sex couples that conceive biological children. It seems that because we didn’t make our child (obviously) that people are often curious and not afraid to ask about her origin. I don’t necessarily think that is offensive just a question that is specific to gays with kids for the most part. Of course there are questions you should never ask adoptive parents such as these.
As I have mentioned before, people do say some dumb shit, particularly when you are white guys with a beautiful brown girl. (The “Is that yours?” asked of me by a TSA agent a few weeks ago while pointing at Edie was one of my favorites-gag/eye-roll). I wouldn’t say that asking her story is one of those questions though it does require some trust and vulnerability on our part. I write about being a parent so I am pretty ok with sharing those intimate details. So, here is a little bit of our story, of her story, as it stands now.
Tim and I have been together for almost 18 years. So crazy to think about. He was my waiter and I had too many $2 cosmos with my mother and sister and I left him my number with the check. He called a few days later. We moved in together after just a few months. We have been ridiculously happy and have had a very good time together. He is the best person I know and he makes me a better person. We have changed a lot over the years but have managed to do so together and with each other.
When we were first together, having kids didn’t even seem a possibility. In fact, one of the things I always mourned a bit when I realized my queerness was the fact that I would never have kids. When we moved to Boston we started meeting gays with kids and saw that it was a possibility. Still, it didn’t seem the right fit for us. We got a dog, Rufus, who is now 12. We both got graduate degrees. Tim is a family law attorney, and I have an education degree. We bought a condo. We bought a house. We moved to the suburbs. We threw fun parties and bought furniture and stuff. We were guncles and loved it.
We met some awesome dads that now have two amazing boys that we really look up to and respect. For the first time we could see ourselves remaining authentic to our true selves and becoming fathers. For me, at least, I finally felt worth being a parent. We went through all the things that parents without an egg or uterus go through: home studies, mental and physical examinations, financial scrutiny, therapy, and creating our own adoption profile brochure to show how amazing we were to prospective birth mothers. You can see similar ones here.
Then, we waited. That was grueling at the time, but only lasted about five months. The call came late afternoon in March that we had been matched, and that the baby girl, our baby girl, had been born. We literally drove to the airport and made it to Florida to meet her at around 12:30 a.m. the next day. We didn’t have a nursery ready, but none of that really mattered. We were a family. I can still see the look on my husband’s face as we met her, and I don’t think that I have ever loved him more. He was a natural right from the start.
The thing that we have learned in our story, and Edie’s story thus far is that we needed Edie. We need her still. We needed her to make our story more complete, more well-rounded, more full of love and kindness and wonder, more who we were meant to be. Edie obviously needed us in her story too. Her birth mother made a heroic and complicated decision that I am eternally grateful for in a way that I could never express to her or anyone else. Edie needed us indeed, but one of the things that I have learned so far is that we need her in ways we never knew possible. Just a few days ago Edie was feeling some of that paradox that life is all about. She was at once crying because she “wanted to stay my baby forever and never grow up”. Yeah, my heart melted and exploded at the same time. However, in the next moment she was telling me that she was “marrying a pretty brown woman that she met at church” and that she was moving far away with her. Life is full of paradox, dear Edie and all of these things can be true at the exact same time.
I hope that Edie will find her story mostly happy and peaceful and without too much struggle. One of my biggest fears is that she will feel unwanted due to her being adopted. I know that I have no real control over that but in the mean time I can make sure she knows how perfectly wanted she is by her two parents that need her. She makes our story so much fuller, so much better. She has changed our world, our minds, our hearts, and our lives. As I put her to bed this evening she snuggled in extra close and asked me to sing her a song. I sang “Silent Night” until she drifted off. As she did I imagined that some day she would tell her own story. That story would include my story and her dad’s story, but it would mostly be hers: a story of her own making. Tonight as she slept and I smelled her breath and squeezed her tight, I wished her all the happiness and love in the world and a very happy story. I only hope I can give her half as much as she has given me.