05 June 2009

Things That Go Thump in the Night

I’m not sure what made me do it, but I’m glad that I did. I secured the hotel room door with both the lock and the bolt.

On Saturday evening after we returned from a family wedding, the kids were all tucked in their hotel beds, while I snuck in a little reading time before turning out the lights.

At 1:16 am, I was woken by a loud “guh-gunk” noise. Repeatedly. In quick succession.

It took me a moment to realize that unlike the night before when I was awoken at 2:00 am by a bunch of kids having a tailgate party outside my hotel room window that this noise was coming from inside the hotel room.

It was Bubaloo. At the hotel room door. Trying to get to the bathroom to pee. Only, he had mistaken the hotel room door for the bathroom door.

He was sleepwalking. Totally unaware of his surroundings. He had somehow managed to turn the lock on the door, but had not managed to unfasten the deadbolt.

I crawled out of bed to re-direct him to the bathroom. He did the rest of his business in the toilet after having done the first part of his business in his PJs. I wrangled him into clean-ish, non-wet PJs, and he crawled back into bed still sound asleep.

I was between extreme laughter and terror. What if he had of got out of the hotel room and peed in the hallway? How would he have got back into the room once the door had automatically locked behind him?

All I could imagine was this little sleepwalking boy wandering up and down the hallway of the Super 8 peeing on various peoples’ door (and frankly if he had of got out that wouldn’t be too far from the truth). I was simultaneously amused and horrified of how far he could have walked and what could have happened to him. How does one return a boy who is totally unconscious of his surroundings in a strange, unfamiliar place to the room where he is supposed to be?

This is the stuff that family legends are made of.

01 June 2009

Coming Out to the Birth Family

When we adopted our two children at the ages of 9 and 11, they had to come out twice. In no particular order on their first day at their new school, they came out as having lived in foster care and as being adopted into a household with two moms. They moved in on a Monday, started a new school on Wednesday, and hadn’t even had time to consider which aspects of their lives they would and would not immediately want to make public to their new classmates and teachers.

We had screened both of our potential home schools for their familiarity and experience with same-sex and adopted families. Neither of them had any. The deciding factor about which public school to send our children to was made when the principal spent an hour talking with me instead of dealing with a child who had been sent to the office for some behavioural infraction which she happily told me all about. We choose the other school.

As parents, we want to protect our children from homophobia and every discrimination they may face throughout their childhood - from being taunted in the playground to losing play dates. We strive, as much as possible, to keep their interactions with those who may not be accepting of our family to a minimum.

Since we adopted Bella and Bubaloo the biggest ‘outing’ I’ve been dreading is the one that would happen at the time of the birth parent reunion. This is the ultimate coming out that could go either way and result in acceptance or damage to our family unit.

Our kids always made it clear that when they were 18 they’d like to find their birth mom. We’ve always been supportive of that.

The files Children’s Aid had on our kids didn’t exactly make it easy for us to assess the possible tolerance and acceptance levels of the kids’ birth families.

Looking at religion alone, we were presented with a mixed bag. The grandparents’ who primarily raised the kids were Mormon. Bella herself, without any actual knowledge of the religion and how it works, identifies as Mormon. The files on their birth mom, however, revealed that at the time she handed over custody she identified her religion as Pagan.

Socioeconomic and education levels, if one were to make a sweeping judgement, were more likely to reside on the side of intolerance.

We reviewed the paperwork trying to elucidate further clues, with no success. The only thing we were sure of was that it would be a gamble to try to predict how the birth family would react to having Bella and Bubaloo being raised by two lesbian moms. With a safe seven years to pass between the adoption and the first probable contact with the birth families, we pushed it aside to reside in the deal-with-it-much-later-when-it-happens file.

One year later we were found by their birth mom. This was six years ahead of schedule.

Within moments of speaking to her on the phone, we came out. Her reaction? She was pleased. Happy, actually. She never disclosed to Children’s Aid that she was a bisexual and she thought it was great that her kids had coincidentally been placed in a household that would embrace and celebrate that part of her personal identity.

As the kids grappled with having two moms, their sometimes desire to have a dad, and how different they were from their peers in yet another dimension in addition to being adopted, we relished the moment that we were able to share that little piece of knowledge.

Knowing that their birth mom was bisexual, that they too could have been raised in a household with two moms had of they stayed with their birth mom, gave them a little injection of strength. It made the outspoken Bella a little bit more outspoken. It made Bubaloo, who was having a hard time at school with teasing, a little more proud.

This kids talked to their birth mom last month on the phone. For the first time in nearly six years.

They talked about lots of things. Activities they liked, favourite colours and foods. They reminisced about pets and family members. They shared stories of the things they do with their new forever family and adventures we have now.

It was casual the way they were able to talk about their adoptive family with two moms. It was no big deal. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just another day.

There was no big 'outing,' for which I'm grateful.

This post is in honour of the 4th Annual Blogging for LGBT Families over at www.Mombian.com.