Friday, March 7, 2008

In Which I Regale You With Stories of India

India was a trip. I went because I'm a world traveler, sweethearts. I went to tear up some stuff. Also to visit my dad, who is a nurse there.

But seriously, I stayed out of trouble and chilled out a bunch. I visited many a tomb, and paid some respect to the big dude himself, Guatama Buddha. I left him some rupees in a gesture of thanks.

I felt a universe away from New York. First of all, Indians are way calmer than New Yorkers. I loved the calm. When I flew back to NYC I realized how calm I felt and was sort of startled by the feeling. What's this strange sensation? Or rather, lack of sensation? I am somehow devoid of that clenching tightness in my gut... Dear god what's wrong with me??

I tried to keep it that way, but the calmness slipped away, like I knew it would. Nothing is permanent.

E didn't join me, for a few reasons. So I went with my brother, which was rad. He's a good travel partner. Except for when he woke me on the flight home, harshing my Ambien-fueled mellow. I forgave him though, because he is hilarious and obliged when I demanded that he entertain me.

One of my favorite pasttimes while traveling abroad is observing how non-Americans parent their kids. Indian people loooooooove their kids. Like, a lot. I never saw so much kissing and squeezing and ruffling of small heads.

Because so many people don't have money, and the traffic congestion is indescribable, many families use motorcycles as their primary means of transportation. Mom, dad, baby on board. It's awesome. Baby is usually squished between mom and dad, looking chill.

Now, I imagine if these families had the means, they, too, would drive large safe automobiles with appropriate-facing baby seats in the back. But that's just not possible, so they do what they can to get around.

It gives one a touch of perspective. I have a friend who RENTS A CAR whenever she travels through Manhattan with her baby. She does this because "the subway is too loud for the baby," and "cab drivers are too reckless for a baby."

Uh, okay.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for ensuring the safety of your offspring. But so much of this American-style parenting is just self-inflicted nonsense. We buy shit and stress the fuck out and buy shit and coddle and that's what makes us feel like good, responsible parents. I so hope to avoid this when E and I become parents. I cling to that hope.

In other news, I'm trying to figure out how to become a legal parent to Le Fetus once she's no longer a Fetus.

E reminded me the other day that I need to adopt her when she becomes a squirming reality. I was like, "Oh yeah. Adopt my kid. That little thing."

I asked her if I could just go to the hospital dressed as a boy and ask them to list me as "Father" on the birth certificate. She didn't like the idea, so I'm forced to navigate the treacherous waters of second-parent adoption. I have no idea where to begin, of course, so like anyone faced with a large-scale dilemma, I googled that shiz. When how do I adopt my kid and I'm not my child's legal parent, help and finally bullshit bureaucracy second parent adoption yielded nothing save for policy articles and HRC's less than helpful page on state-by-state adoption laws, I started getting annoyed.

1. What up with all the policy pieces on gay parents? The American Academy of Pediatrics published one of the plethora of detailed policy reviews in which the notion that both parents ought to have legal custody of the child they are raising together is heartily endorsed. Indeed. Why thank you, AAP, what wisdom you impart. I mean, hey, I'm glad for the vote of confidence. It's helpful to know that a group of pediatricians agree that I should be legally responsible for my child's care.

(By the way I'm just messing with ya. I'm totally glad they wrote it, because Kansas exists. And Mike Huckabee.)

2. How the fuck do I DO it? This information should be completely accessible - I'm talking detailed instructions, the step by step on how to accomplish the goal of adoption. Instead, I get policy articles and websites telling me YES! CONGRATULATIONS, NEW YORKER, YOU MAY ADOPT YOUR CHILD. Yes, but how?

Anyway, enough bitching. It just feels bizarre to have to adopt my own kid. It is so beyond the scope of my imagination that Americans live without civil rights. And we just suck it right up and do it. I have friends who live in other, scarier states, and tell me how grateful I should be that my state even allows second-parent adoption.

Um, grateful? Should New York get a cookie? In New York, an MSW gets to decide if I can be my kid's legal parent. That makes me feel...less than grateful. But what choice do I have? I will do it and move on, because at least it's not fucking Oklahoma.


Anonymous said...

Is this helpful? I'm pretty sure you need an attorney.

Anonymous said...

Another thought --- why not call the LGBT Community Center -- 208 W 13th St, NY. 212-620-7310. they can probably give you some direction.

Pixie said...

I thought you got around that tidbit since you are the baby's biological mother. (You- bio-mom, E- Birth-mom- Viola- two "real" moms, no?)I am confused about that I guess. So you do still have to adopt her, eh?
Well- I have no advice- just good luck!
india sounds pretty groovy! 'Glad you had fun!

Melody said...

We'll have to do the same thing-- even though Vanessa will technically be our kid's bio mom. Bunch of shit, eh?

We already have an attorney lined up for when the time comes. Let somebody else figure it up. What I stress about most with the second parent adoption is cleaning up the house sufficiently for the home study. Yes, I am stressing about this even BEFORE pregnancy. No wonder I'm not pregnant yet.

And on all the shit we buy for kids here in the US. I always thought NYers were above that. We're in the Midwest and live in what, here, is considered a tiny bungalow (1200 sq ft). People think we're nuts for even thinking of raising a family in it. (Of course, we're already crazy for living in an urban neighborhood instead of the burbs.) Where will we put all the STUFF?!

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to respond to pixie's comment that GS is bio mom and E birth mom. Language is so important in these issues. No harm intended, I realize, but I'd like to add my two cents worth. The term "birth mom" generally refers to a woman who does not intend to parent. For example, an adopted child who refers to birth mom is referring to the woman who did not take on the role of parent. In this particular case of GS and E, they are both bio moms, GS by virtue of genetics and E by virtue of birth and breastfeeding (both of which create a bio tie). More important than biology is the fact that both GS and E intend to be parents.

sn said...

1) get a lawyer. there's a lesbian lawyer mafia in nyc of 5 or so names that get tossed around all the time. they do this shit day in and day out. email me if you want more info. there are 1000 forms that need to be filed, and you can get started on them before the birth.
2) start making a list of everywhere you've lived since 1973. some bureaucrat in albany does a criminal background check on that.
3) you'll need a social worker to do a home study
4) you'll need to get fingerprinted. i think this makes me the most mad of all the pieces of this insulting and obnoxious process.

frebet said...

the nyc lesbian lawyer mafia to which sn refers:
-judith turke*l
-carol buel*l
-teresa calabres*e
-elizabeth & leslie deutsc*h (they're sisters)
at least those are the ones i know about (remove the stars and google them). that's roughly in order from most to least expensive.
doing it yourself, while probably possible, would be a steep learning curve.

Drowned Girl said...

Just saying hi!


Anonymous said...

I am 8 months pregnant, and my partner and I are going through this process right now, and are also in NY. (upstate) All the info given so far has been good. We got a lawyer who specializes in adoption. He did the rest. We both had to get fingerprints done. We had the initial home study. We filled out the forms with detailed addresses since the beginning of time. (That shit was HARD.) All of this can be done before the baby is born. I'm glad that we got started early, so our "court date" for the final adoption will be very soon after the birth. And our lawyer did almost all of the paperwork. When all is said and done, total cost for u3 will be about 2 grand. (Again, WAY upstate.) Good luck, and it really does suck that we have to do any of this.


Becky said...

Wild. I can't believe you have to ADOPT your own kid. Freaking insane.

Want me to beat some people up for you? I can so do that.

Clara said...

hi - just happened upon/caught up on your blog...congratulations.

just went through this all recently - we have our court date on wednesday - and a beautiful 11 month old do the math...

judith turkel helped us through it all...let me know if you need more info. she's great...esp. if you're an attorney - she does good work.

starrhillgirl said...

Oh my fucking god. It's so stupid I can't even begin to express how stupid it is.
But India..... fab.

Daisy said...

I have missed you. I second all the comments, good direction.

Travelher and Pufferfish said...

I used to live in Missouri and then Texas and then FLORIDA, so yeah, now that I can claim NYC as my home, this state totally deserves a cookie.

That being said, my partner will have to do second-parent adoption especially as my family all live in the aforementioned states and God knows we don't want the kids ending up there in case something should happen to me.

I totally respect you doing whatever feels right for you as it's your family.