I'll never forget meeting these two women when they came into clinic for their pregnancy care. Bright, vibrant, super intelligent and ready to welcome their first child.
On their way to becoming mothers...
However, they had different questions and conversations than my heterosexual clients...including the process of even having to think about adopting your own kid. I probably asked more questions than they asked me at times, which lead to meaningful conversations and new found connection.
Last year, Annie and I were texting back and forth about The Mother Love. She had recently given birth, her first pregnancy, their second child. She asked if I would write more on same-sex motherhood and the issues that come up for two mothers raising their babies. I answered that I always try to talk to the mother, the woman, and I didn’t know if I’d be the best voice to speak on same-sex relationships, because I’m straight. We did plant a seed that day, however, about Annie being a writer and curator for our community on same-sex mothering, and so we begin.
Annie will now be a regular writer on our blog, focusing on same-sex mothering, and motherhood - the love, the brilliance, and the normal hard knocks we all face as women, and mothers. She is smart, wise, and we are honored to welcome her voice!
The floor is yours, Annie.
I had to adopt my own baby girl. Even though I felt her little kicks against me before she was born. Even though my hands were the first to touch her as she came into our world. Even though I have loved her longer than almost four birthdays. I still had to adopt my daughter.
Because I’m not her birth mother. My partner of ten years is. So on top of everything you go through when you have your first baby, I also had to adopt mine.
While my partner was pregnant we had to find an attorney who knows this process really well, because if you screw up the order of necessary steps, or file the wrong paperwork - you’re fucked. Like, you have only once chance to adopt your kid and if it gets messed up somehow, you don’t get a second chance and are unable to make your child officially yours. Ever. So we found someone who specializes in same-sex parent adoptions and paid her what amounts to all the diapers my baby would eventually need. Because, one chance only.
A brief description of what adopting your own child entails: legal documents that state I can make any medical decisions for my partner and baby during labor and delivery, a document that grants me almost-parental rights for the first year of her life while waiting for the adoption to be finalized, a trip to the city courthouse to get fingerprinted for a background check, a request to waive the home visit (you know, because she already lives with me in our home), multiple checks written to the attorney, a date set in juvenile and family court, a hearing in front of a judge, another check written for a new birth certificate with my name listed as her other parent and finally legal ties to my daughter.
Is it ridiculous to have to adopt your own baby? Yes, absolutely. It felt invalidating at times, even now when I think about it, like I wasn’t a fit mother until proven to and assessed by the state. It was scary all those months knowing she wasn’t legally mine. I still don’t really want her to know that I had to adopt her because I don’t want her believe that I ever thought of her as anything but mine from the moment that pregnancy test said so. She’s always been my baby girl.
I will give the process of having to adopt your only child this - I was able to, in front of my closest family and friends (and our attorney and the judge), dedicate my life to nurturing, teaching, caring for, playing with, and all-around loving on my little girl. It was empowering to speak those words in front of those people holding my baby girl on my lap. To tell her that she is my daughter, that I will do everything in my power and ability to make her life as joyous, safe, adventure-filled and awesome as I possibly can.
And that proclamation, that’s a pretty kickass mantra for our relationship.
Annie and her partner of ten years live in Minneapolis, where they are making strong efforts to raise their two kids (a daughter, almost 4, and a son, 1 ½) with an appreciation for adventure, laughter, love and being at the kitchen table at the same time while eating the same meal. When she’s not outside hiking, swimming or snowmobiling with her family you can find her madly trying to catch up on all the damn laundry, oh and working full time.