Second Parent Adoption: Tough Choices

[caption id="attachment_5765" align="alignright" width="350"]melinda and jenny pic Melinda and Jenny, with their daughter Clara, at Equality Virginia's Day of Action[/caption]

By Melinda Freckleton

Jenny and I had forged a great life for ourselves-- our dream life!  We had a cute little horse farm in a small town just beyond the suburbs of Washington, DC.  I had I job I loved as an equine veterinarian.  She had a job she loved as the Program Director and instructor for Simple Changes Therapeutic Riding.  Do you see a theme yet?  Yup, horses.

People talk about the gay lifestyle, and I am never quite sure what that is, our lifestyle is all about our horses. The news that Jenny was pregnant was all it took for us to see most of our dreams to come true!  We had the same anxiety that all parents have about this big milestone in our lives, how will our lives change?  Will we be good parents?  Plus we wondered how our small town neighbors would see our family.  We choose a theme for the baby's room, gasped in awe at the first ultrasound images and made the hundreds of choices needed for a baby shower registry.  We were blown away by the warmth and generosity of our friends, coworkers and neighbors.   We were treated with warmth and caring by our OB/Gyn.  Consulting with trusted experienced parents, we selected a great pediatrician. After waiting so long to get pregnant, the pregnancy blew by so fast. We live in Virginia, and we knew the law here doesn't allow for second-parent adoption, and would not support our new little family.  Despite all my love, despite my financial support, despite all our intentions, my daughter would be born a legal stranger, without my name on her birth certificate. As if one of her parents was invisible.  Early in the pregnancy, or maybe even before it, we learned of an alternative, we could travel to nearby Washington, DC to give birth, and that would allow our daughter to suddenly have two parents on the birth certificate.  Same family, 50 miles drive, and suddenly a legal bond changes.  It sounded so simple, just drive to DC!  Well anyone who lives around here can tell you that the drive is rarely simple.  This is one of the worst traffic areas in North America, I was worried enough about getting to the local hospital on country roads if Jenny went into labor while I was working, what would happen if we had to get to DC?  What if labor progressed while traffic did not?  We sure would not feel like very good parents if something went wrong and our baby was harmed because she born on the side of the road. Ok, so what if we just got a hotel in DC and waited for delivery?  Well, that looked very expensive-- time away from work, hotel costs, out of network doctors, and we have to pay someone to do all the things we normally do in the farm.  And we would have to use unfamiliar doctors and  deal with the stress of being country lovers in an urban environment.  Why do we have to make those choices?

In the end the risk and the cost were too much to go to DC.  We were treated warmly at the local hospital, where our friends could be around us for support.  We brought our new daughter, Clara, home to meet the horses, dogs and cats that she loves so much.  Clara is two years old now, and she knows she has two mommies that love her and would do anything for her.  I hope one day Virginia's  law will reflect that too, by allowing for second-parent adoptions to take place.

This blog is part of Equality Virginia’s summer 2014 blog series on second-parent adoption.  Learn more about how Equality Virginia is working toward second-parent adoption and get involved by signing up to receive our emails!  Another great way to stay in touch is by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter.    If you are a same-sex couple raising a child in Virginia, please take our survey on second-parent adoption.