Living in Georgia as a gay parent sometimes takes courage, strength, and a tolerance for living with fear. Sometimes, I feel as though my family should just get the hell out of this damn state, but I never have a real clear vision to where my family could run to and live happily-ever-after. These feelings of running pass when I talk to my neighbors, strangers in the grocery line, enjoy an afternoon at one of Georgia's wonderful outdoor parks or festivals, or look out into my peaceful backyard. There are kind, decent people living in this state, and it offers most of us a nice quality of life.
This past week, a news story about a would-be adoptive gay mom, Elizabeth Hadaway, has rocked many in the LGBT parenting community. A scary/evil judge by the name of Judge John Lee Parrott in Georgia has denied a woman an adoption based on her sexual orientation citing in part the marriage amendment. It doesn't matter that the child's birthmother asked Hadaway to adopt her child, nor that her adoption homestudy found Hadaway suitable to adopt; apparently this Georgia judge thinks he should have the right to choose who adopts over the child's own birthmother (this is scary folks, it has huge ramifications for every parent straight or gay).
In January, Judge Parrott ordered Hadaway to return the child to her birthmother within 10 days. According to Hadaway, the birthmother refused to take the child back and again told Hadaway to raise the child. After learning of this, in February Judge Parrott took the 6 year old child out of Hadaway's home and placed her with strangers in foster care. In March, the judge charged Hadaway and her attorney with criminal contempt for not following his order to transfer custody of the child. The two women were sentenced to 10 days in jail, or five days plus a $500 fine, but are currently appealing Parrott’s decision.
Scared. Startled. Not at ease with the universe. Parents in Georgia.
Are we all at risk for losing our children, or do we rationalize this was just an isolated, freak case?
Some people say these things are starting to happen because we are so close to winning our battle for equality for LGBT people. I know we sure are changing the hearts and minds of our fellow Georgians and Americans about who we are and whether we're fit to receive the same rights as straight people. Polling results show it, especially among the youth in our country, and this has to make those who obsessively attack us nervous.
I don't think this is an isolated case, and I think we are going to start seeing more and more of this type of stuff in Georgia before it is all settled. You can thank Sara "Leanne" Wheeler for getting the ball rolling against gay parents when she selfishly decided to try to terminate her ex-partner's second-parent adoption rights. She has been unsuccessful, but she has the anti-gay establishment rolling over to help her.
So, I am scared for my family and your families. For parents-to-be and parents who already are. I am afraid our legislative or judicial system will take away everyone's right to decide who should parent our children if we become unable. Even straight people won't have the right to have their gay brother or sister raise their children should something happen to them.
Scared, you bet. Nothing is more precious to us than our children. The lack of legal rights in this country under the Bush administration should be enough to make us all fearful.
As for Georgia, I believe LGBT families will remain under attack, most likely through adoption issues. The burning question, what are WE going to do about it?