Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Soup, Salad, and a Lesson in Life.

In 1997 I looked into the eyes of a killer.

I was enjoying a few drinks with friends at this great little watering hole in Fort Lauderdale called Cathode Ray.
I had no way of knowing that the cute guy I was looking at across the bar would very soon take his own life.
But not until he had taken the lives of four other people, including fashion designer Gianni Versace.

You may remember Andrew Cunanin?

Andrew Cunanin

I have to say, he appeared very normal, sweet, attractive.
You never would have been able to guess what he was capable of.
Nor of the lives that would be lost at his hands.

I have often played that evening out in my mind.

I'm very big on eye contact, what happens the moment glances are exchanged.
The knolwledge that is passed, 
that tiny peek at the soul that it gives you.

Oddly, looking over at Andrew and he looking back at me was rather benign, uneventful and disappointing.

Rather like the look I got today, 15 years later, when I glanced into the eyes of a different time of monster, albeit one that had probably not yet taken a life.

This time it was a middle aged, mini van driving, mother of three.
The late 90's bar was replaced by a well lit California Pizza Kitchen
and the only thing I was now cruising for was a good salad.

But I digress!

My Husband and I had decided to go out on a nice lunch date.
I met him at the restaurant on a beautiful South Florida day when I was greeted with a lovely surprise.

This is what I saw,

Their car

Sweet huh?

Now considering what my family car stickers look like,

Our car

We obviously had a difference of opinion!

What a pair!

Now at first I will admit I was rather stunned,
but that quickly turned to my usual state of wonderment.
Why would anyone put that on their car?
Don't they realize what a hurtful statement that is?

My Husband quickly reminded me, because they want to and yes, they do.

Okay now, before any of the "Free Speech" peeps pipe in.
Please know that these images translate to "I hate Homosexuals and I support an organization that funds the very hate groups that would love nothing more than to destroy all that is sacred to me!"
plain and simple.
They also translate to "We teach bigotry and intolerance to our three lovely girls."

That, my friends is not Free, It comes with a big price tag that Is being paid for by our children, my children, her children.

I don't want to go into all the numbers here, although I love numbers, but the suicide rate for young gay people is five times higher than their heterosexual counterparts and with suicide being the third leading cause of death amongst young adults between the ages of 15-24, that is an astronomical number of LGBT kids taking their own lives.

Did you know that results show that roughly 20% of all LGBT teens have attempted suicide as compared to four percent of straight counterparts?

source: live science

Obviously environment plays a huge role in these figures, the worse the environment the higher the odds, and you know what?
These three girls are being raised in a very dangerous one.

Why you ask?

Well, statistics show that one out of every ten children is born gay, having said that, her family has nearly a one third chance of having a lesbian or bi-sexual daughter.

So tell me, where will that little girl go for support and acceptance when and if her time ever comes?
Her families views are not only (obviously) worn on their sleeves but on their mini van as well.
Do you believe they are cultivating an environment where she will feel safe to come out?
So sad for her, for them, for us all.

Now as we ate lunch I have to say I was consumed with trying to figure out who the van belonged to.
I spent 30 minutes, much to my Husbands disbelief, trying to find them.

I wanted to know just who they were? 
What they looked like?
What made them tick?

I finally decided on who I believed it was, as mentioned earlier, a middle aged woman eating alone a few tables away.
I don't know what gave her away, it was just a feeling I got.

She glanced my way a few times, probably wondering what I was looking at.

As she paid and headed towards the parking lot I held my breathe.

And sure enough the slipper fit the foot, the foot hit the pedal and she off she went.

At first I felt a bit victorious.
I mean out of all those people enjoying their meals I picked her.

But then It suddenly dawned on me,

I have to say, she appeared very normal, sweet, attractive.
You never would have been able to guess what she was capable of.
Nor of the lives that might be lost at her hands.

Oddly, looking over at her and she looking back at me was rather benign, uneventful and disappointing.

Sound Familiar?


Authors note:
Now I know that for some of you, the idea of comparing a serial killer to that woman, that mother may appear to be a stretch, rather far fetched.
But children are dying, they are dying unnecessary deaths because of the unbelievable pain caused by the fear and isolation that is caused by being turned away by the only love they know, the only love they need, the love of their families.
That is a fact my dear readers. 
A terribly sad and horrific one, but a fact never the less.

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Face 2 Face

At the event!

My Husband and I were recently asked to speak at our Pride Center.
We were part of a series called Face 2 Face, Making our Families.
We shared during an evening dedicated to domestic and international adoptions for our LGBT community.

On the panel was our Family, giving insights on our private adoption.
There was a Gay family there who had adopted their son from Latvia.
There was an international adoption specialist who works with children from Russia and the Republic of the Congo.
And finally an adoption specialist who works within our Florida community.

It was indeed amazing to see a room full of Gay and Lesbian couples and individuals seeking information on how to grow their families.

There were also a good amount of State and County workers there to get a sense of what our little community was up to.

I even recognized one of the adoption specialist from Childnet, our version of DCF sitting in the back row.

They're attendance tells me that the rise of same-gendered adoptions is fixed on their radars.
If their bosses are sending them out to events like these, it could only mean that need to gain undersatnding of our movement, and quickly!

There were also some great "firsts" on that panel.

The couple that adopted from Latvia had to apply as only one single man.
Only when the adoption was finalized and after a certain amount of time could they file for a second parent adoption here in the States making them both daddies.

Latvia still has great issue with the idea of a male adopting, they hold strongly the old traditional value that only a mother should raise a child.

The single male adoption was the first ever out of Latvia.
How wonderful was that, and what a precident he set making way for more men, many Gay, to pursue Latvia as an option.

And as many of you know my Husband and I made history here in our county as the first same-gendered couple to jointly adopt a baby, two daddies on his birth certificate from the onset.
Also precedent setting, and paving the way for other couples, attorneys and judges to use our case to make their own.

We are very proud of that fact.

It was a great night.
Many of the questioned revolved around the financial concerns surrounding adoption.
Some of the big issues, as you may know, regarding international adoptions are the travel cost.
You more than likely have to be "in country" at least once to deal with all the paper work and the handing over of the child(ren).
These, in country, visits can be anywhere from one week to one month depending.

Domestic adoptions come with all their own sets of concerns and variables.
Details that we were more than happy to share with the group.

We had brought our Son with us and by the time the event ended it was well beyond his usual 7:30 bedtime.
Which as you parents know meant overtired and a complete refusal to go to sleep! :)

By the time my Husband and I prepared to close our eyes our thoughts finally drifted to the event..
What did you think, I asked him?
he said he thought we had helped some people realize that they could and would be parents.

Wow, I said, now that's really something huh?
Yes he said, it sure is!


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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

awaking my little adventurer

The following post was written for Ergobaby, not to be used or duplicated without the authors consent.

Our Son Benjamin was born nearly 10 months ago.

Of all the things people told us,
the one thing that shook my existence was when we heard the following,
"Well I guess your traveling days are over for a while!" 

Shook my existence I tell ya!
You see, my Husband and I are adventurers, we climb pyramids, we explore distant worlds, we ride camels and we live for our next trip.

Pillow talk in our home revolves around things like the Taj Mahal or Machu Picchu or where we want to live next.

And that is why those words sat so heavily on us.

Because we were Dads now would that mean that the magic of Morocco or the secrets of the Incas could only be ours by going to Epcot Center when our boy was two or three years of age?

Well no, not us I say, and thanks to our Ergobaby Carrier we proved all the naysayers wrong.

We just returned from our first great adventure to Puerto Rico with Ben.
With our Ergo we wandered the depths of the amazing Caverns of Rio Camuy and we climbed the mystical trails of El Yunque Rainforest.

With each step I took with Ben safe on my chest I learned so much more about him.

The sounds of the Rainforest possessed him.
He looked up at me every so often as if to keep himself from going too far into its magic.

When we reached the beautiful Mina Falls by way of the Big Tree Trail, Ben looked up at that great sight with pure wonder and joy.

He's a thinker, our boy, he looks at things differently than most babies his age.
He actually breathes things in and allows himself to sink into all new experiences.
Even when the rain came as we wandered I lifted his sleep hood and he calmly, safely and happily drifted off until the Sun rejoined us.

Thanks to his Dads' sense of adventure and to our Ergobaby Carrier, Ben is free.
He took flight, both literally and figuratively and got the first taste of his future.
All buckled in and ready to go!

We have a new mantra in our house...Have Ergo will travel!

Baby on Board

The following was written for It's Conceivable, and can not be used or duplicated without the authors consent.

My Family and I just returned from a great adventure.
Were infamous for our travels you know.

We climb pyramids, ride a camel every so often, drink the water, and follow the locals.
We are far from wealthy, but believe travel to be meaningful to our souls.
We'll pinch a penny and brown bag it now and then in order to hit the skies.

Pillow talk in our home has always been about places and cultures.
Right now we are in the midst of planning where we will be as the Sun rises on my Fiftieth birth year.
I'm torn between the Taj Mahal or Machu Picchu, my Husband has an Indonesian temple in mind but hey, Its my birthday right?

I tell you all this so you can appreciate how we felt after our Son was born and people started saying horrible things like "Well I guess your traveling days are over for a while!" or "Disney World here you come!"

We smiled and nodded and literally felt our hearts silently sinking.

Well Our Son, Ben, just hit the ripe old age of nine months and to celebrate we hit something also, the airport.

It was destined, in an obvious act of defiance to all those people, the first thing we did when we had Ben's birth-certificate was to apply for his passport!

Even his passport photo has an air of curiosity about it.
As if he's thinking "What's out there Dads?" "Show me!"

Our first Adventure with Ben was to Puerto Rico, but not the sandy beachy Puerto Rico you see on TV.
No our experience was far more interesting.

I'm fortunate enough to write for a couple of different sources, and as a gift we recently received a cool new baby carrier by Ergobaby, boy oh boy did that ever set our Son free.

We explored the magical Caverns of Rio Camuy, went deeper and deeper into those glorious, glistening, God given under ground temples that truly make you thankful to be alive.

My Son, nestled safely on my chest just sat silently as we wandered.
There was no fear in his eyes, no trepidation's, just a natural acceptance and awareness that he was somewhere special and that his Daddies were right there with him.

We also hiked high into the rainforest of El Yunque.
We chose the Big Tree Trail as it led to the beautiful La Mina Falls.

Once again, wearing my Son as we made our way through the forest was about as mystical an experience as one can have.

We walked in silence, the three of us, only stopping to marvel at the size of the ancient bamboo, and to occasionally think we could start to hear the Falls only to realize we were being fooled by secret little cascading brooks that had yet to appear on our path.

As we finally arrived to the Falls my Son once again amazed me, he looked up at the source of the thunderous sound and wiped his little face from the water that was softly splashing his face and began to smile, then laugh.

My Husband went for a dip in the Falls, Ben and I however were happy wetting our feet and simply taking it all in.

At that moment I was suddenly reminded of all the people who tried putting obstacles in the way of us being Fathers.
The ones that throw doubt your way, cast shadows that casually creep in when you close your eyes.

I also thought of those that warned us that traveling with a baby was so difficult, so not worth the expense and the effort.
Nearly impossible.

I thought of them all as my Family frolicked at the foot of an old and magical water fall in the Rainforest, a place that would have been home to the Taino Indians, a tribe that I actually decended from. (Thats another story for another day.)

I thought of them all and then simply did as my Son does,
I began to smile, and then to laugh!