Tuesday, November 03, 2009

November is National Adoption Month

November is National Adoption Month, and President Obama used part of his proclamation to urge equality in adoption laws so that more children can find good homes:

"America is a country rich in resources and filled with countless caring men and women who hope to adopt. These individuals come from all walks of life, united in their commitment to love a child who is in need of the protective arms of a parent. We must do more to ensure that adoption is a viable option for them. By continually opening up the doors to adoption, and supporting full equality in adoption laws for all American families, we allow more children to find the permanent homes they yearn for and deserve."

President Obama's statement about equality in adoption is very promising for LGBT people wanting to adopt and who are currently discriminated against. The president seems to understand that the staggering number of children stuck in the foster care system could be placed in permanent, loving homes if LGBT Americans were not discriminated against in the adoption process.

A partial answer comes in Congressman Pete Stark's bill to cut off funds to states and entities that discriminate in their adoption laws. The President seems to be sending a signal that he would support a bill like Stark's, but nothing is concrete at this point.

This proclamation by the president gives us good reason to celebrate and feel optimistic about the future of adoption in America.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Parenting: The Most Awesome Experience

No one can adequately explain what it means to become a parent. If you've seen Marley & Me (which I don't recommend for pet lovers), there is one scene where Jennifer Anniston's character is losing her mind trying to juggle the needs of her children with her own, and her husband doesn't know what to do to make things better and gets the brunt of her frustration. I remember feeling like Anniston's character when my daughter was a baby.

I always thought I had an easy baby compared to other babies, but my daughter had her uniqueness that made my life a lot harder. From the beginning, Maggie didn't like to sleep in a crib, so we created a makeshift bed for her in the bottom of her pack-and-play (of course, we had purchased a $500 crib since it was our first child—read, money down the drain). Only someone who has tried to get babies down can tell you how hard it is to get a baby from your arms asleep to the bottom of a pack-and-play without waking her up (it's a physics problem). She woke up more times than not, and we would start the process all over again on many, many blurry nights.

Did I mention my daughter wouldn't let me sit down when I held her? Yeah, we bought the top of the line glider chair before she was born, and it too, just collected dust. I had thought we would have so many special moments of me rocking her to sleep in that chair, but the reality is she would scream every time I went to sit down with her. She had to be held standing up which makes for one very tired momma.

My favorite phase was when she would not allow me to put her down for even a second for the entire day. I mean this child would scream if I put her on a blanket so I could pee, or try to make myself something to eat. So, I learned to do things like pee with a baby on my lap, which is a little awkward, but all part of the joy of my parenting experience. During that phase, I remember staring out at my driveway around 6pm for my wife to pull up from work. It always seemed like it took forever for her to get home, but as soon as she walked in the door, I would hold out the baby with pain in my muscles and tears in my eyes saying "please, just take her.'

I love my little girl more than life itself, but it was really hard taking care of her every need and ignoring most of mine. On top of it all, I was supposed to be working from home the entire time. So, I would do the conference calls on mute, type one-handed e-mails, work late into the night, stress about what I wasn't getting done, and start all over again the next day.

The first 18 months of my daughter's life are a blur. I look back at photos of her when she was that small and long to have just one day with her again when she was so tiny and precious. I can barely remember her as the cute little baby she was. I am ashamed to remember how when she was so dependent on me, I just wanted her to get bigger and less dependent. I wanted her to walk so I didn't always have to carry her. I wanted her to talk so I could know what the hell she wanted some of the time instead of always guessing. I wanted her to start school so I could have some time to focus more on my work.

Maggie is four now, and I can't get that little adorable baby back. Though she is even more adorable now, she weighs 40 pounds, has lots of opinions, and doesn't need me nearly as much. Just the other day she begged to go over to her friend's house to play instead of spending family time with her moms. My wife and I were a little hurt, but the reality was we both had work to do, so it was okay. We know she is a very social child, and this is probably just a sprinkle of what's to come.

Parenting is an awesome experience, and one that goes by quickly. As one friend stated, you go through some very long days and quick years. It is tough, but most of us survive wearing an invisible badge of honor that only other parents can see. I wouldn't change having my daughter for anything, and I wholeheartedly recommend parenting to anyone who enjoys sharing your life with a real live little angel.

Join us at the May 16th Creating a Family: Choices for Prospective LGBT Parents workshop to learn more about becoming a parent. Go to http://www.megafamilyproject.org to learn more

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Help spread the word: free coming out group this Thursday!


The MEGA Family Project Presents Our Monthly Coming Out Support Group:

Coming Home Support Group! April 16th, 7pm

Finally the Metro Atlanta area has a free coming out group for adults 18+. Coming Home will meet the 3rd Thursday of each month from 7-8:30pm. It will meet at the Florence McDonnell Center which is at 2215 Cheshire Bridge Road, NE Atlanta, 30324. This group is open to anyone at any stage of their coming out process.

Whether you want to discuss being out at work, with your family, church, synagogue, friends, or whether you have been out for a number of years, please join us this Thursday for our open, drop in support group.

Questions, please contact Melissa Thompson at 404-658-1222 Ext 5, Dee Desnoyer at 404-816-7171 Ext 24, or Jen Bertasi at 404-377-3010. This is such a valuable and much needed resource for our community, so please pass this information along to anyone you think will be interested. You do not need to rsvp to attend.

We hope to see you this Thursday at this great resource for the community.

Kathy Kelly
Executive Director
MEGA Family Project

Support, Education, and Advocacy for Georgia's LGBT Families and Our Children.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

A Small Victory for Mom(s)

As Morghan has nearly made it through her first year of middle school, I'd have to say, for now at least, I still have my sweet girl. What I have noticed a tad more of, though, is the self-comparison and the avoidance of standing out...this is all typical of her age group and it doesn't worry me in the least. However...as a lesbian mom (who looks gay, too...LOL), I have found myself struggling to maintain that balance of being true to myself while allowing her to have some say in what she chooses to share with her peers and what she keeps private.

Farther from the perimeter than I'd like to be is our community...one which, has many transplants and diversity in population...yet, still has a strong, traditional, old South, Republican base. So...it isn't the same as walking around Decatur where there's lesbian-headed households on every block.

So, back to the part about not sticking out...Morghan knows a lot of other gays...through me. She hasn't actually made a friend who goes home to LGBT parents (that we know of). Well...add the part that...for a few months, we didn't see much of Kristin. So, much of the time, her friends would only see me. Now, though, they are seeing both of us at home many weekends. Morghan has shared with me that her friends "ask questions" and she doesn't often like to answer them. I've told her that she could decide what to tell her friends, but that (in keeping with a value I am trying to instill in the kids) I am still going to be me. In other words, I wouldn't show affection in front of her peers, but I also wasn't going to grow my hair back out, start wearing more feminine clothes, or even have a fake boyfriend as a cover. She was understanding of it, but didn't seem completely comfortable having a different household from everyone else.

Well, last week she was at a friend's house. She called me to ask if her friend could come home with her and spend the night. I said, "but Kristin is here...Don't you think she'll ask about her?"

Morghan replied, "I think she knows anyway."

"Really?" I asked. "What has been her reaction?" I didn't realize Morghan was on speakerphone. At that point, her friend chimed in.

"I already know. It doesn't matter to me," the friend said. Morghan proceeded to explain she was okay with it, because she knows a girl couple in 7th grade. Haha.

So....that was really cool. It's a milestone to me...that she was able to say it in front of her friend, and not wonder what reaction she'll get at the sight of me and Kristin.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Get a fantastic deal on a Rosie cruise to Alaska this summer! Last day to bid!

Rosie's R Family Vacation Summer Alaskan Cruise 2009! 


MEGA Family Project is delighted to offer up for auction a dream vacation on Rosie's R Family Vacation Summer Cruise!
July 11th-18th, leaving out of Seattle to Alaska and British Columbia!
Kathy Kelly has been on the cruise 3 times since her daughter was 5 months old. "It is truly an amazing experience. The Alaskan cruise is by far the most beautiful cruise. You will see some of the most beautiful scenery ever, while on board an amazing cruise ship where everyone feels welcome and accepted, and the entertainment and activities are spectacular. I can't say enough how wonderful this cruise was for our family."

This cruise was generously donated by R Family Vacations for their Summer cruise--July 11-18th, leaving from Seattle, WA. Cruising with R Family Vacations is the absolute best way to cruise as a family. It is a floating city with lots of gay families, celebrities, and wonderful straight friends. The entertainment is always fantastic. The kid's programing at all ages is wonderful. There are special shows just for kids, along with a kid's club where your kids can hang out. There's lots of adult and family-friendly programing for every day. This is the type of vacation where you can feel completely comfortable bringing along your parents, extended family and friends --everyone is welcome (gay or straight)! Go to the R Family Vacation website to get a better idea of the specifics for this cruise at: http://www.rfamilyvacations.com

This donated cruise includes an Outside Room with an Ocean View for up to 4 people. When you travel on the R Family Cruise, your food and entertainment is included unless you want to do something special (and it is freestyle dining, so it is informal and flexible). Air fare is not included, so you will have to get yourself to Seattle and back.

Tax and gratuities are also not included. When on board, you are not expected to tip any of your servers (and there will be many) because you pay an upfront gratuity charge of $10 per person/per day on board, and you will be responsible for taxes of $178 per person at booking (which also includes all port taxes). Please keep in mind you will be responsible for the per person taxes and gratuities charge, and all extras on board (like alcohol, massages, casino, etc).

This donated portion of this cruise is worth $3896, and the proceeds go to the MEGA Family Project's programs and services. Please bid generously to support the organization, and make sure you tell your friends who might be interested.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Gays Aren't Accepted by God, Right?

Well, of course we are...after all, most of us feel born this way, right? If God is all about deep, spiritual love, then wouldn't that love run way deeper than gender, chromosomes, body parts, hormones and all?

Let me preface my "spiel" by saying I am only describing my own personal journey. In no way am I trying to be a crazy evangelist who prescribes "correct lifestyles" to others. I just know what is reaching me now, but I also recognize that what works for my journey doesn't necessarily work for everyone else's.

I grew up in the Roman Catholic church (no offense to anyone of that religion). My Nana...bless her heart...was a native of Ireland, and you could say she was "hard core" about the religion. So...being raised in the religion, there was so much attention drawn to sin. So much emphasis is placed on repentance and unworthiness. To have just about any enjoyment of the world is considered sinful. Even thinking so much about the sin is considered sinful to them.

In my early 20s, going to college really opened my mind to other philosophies. It's amazing how that small commuter college in Augusta, GA brought a variety of people to me (Maybe it was the local military base...which later became the place that supplied me with women...haha). To shorten this already long story, I started thinking critically and I pulled away from the Catholic church. A few years later, when my straight-wannabe marriage fell apart, I got the courage to just be me...which includes being a lesbian. Though I never denied the existence of God, I threw away the idea of church altoghter. It's not that I needed a church to help me understand what I believe...but with all the negativity that pollutes our earthly lives, I definitely needed a place to find support for my spiritual journey and to be around others who also seek spiritual renewal as I do. The weekend before Thanksgiving, I gave it a shot.

The church I've been attending is not what is "typical" of mainstream religion. It's not a place to go to be told how to act. It's not a place to be told what horrible hellbound sinners we all are. It's more or less a spiritual gym for me, where I can focus on my journey to a deeper level of existence, to be filled with purpose and to put it into action. For those enemies I seemed to make in recent years...for those whom I feel have misjudged me or simply dislike me....nobody has come to dislike me more than myself. I feel, in the past month, though, I've started being my own best friend again. So...at this point...as I felt the energy of the Holy Spirit permeate my own energy this morning...and, as Carla puts it...I was "getting down with the Lord up inside the church" (or something like that)...it felt great. It came to me that all along, I've been avoiding the work of the higher powers, insisting on the "I'll do it all by myself" attitude. But, you know...help from the Lord doesn't usually come directly from him. For example, a person in financial trouble might pray for help...but of course a stack of cash won't drop from the sky. However, help might come in the form of a lower-than-expected energy bill, the plummeting gas prices, etc. That was not my particular problem, but merely an example. I can say, for myself, I've made such a huge deal about retaining my pride and leaning on nobody. For example, I often refused to ask for any help or suggestions whenever the kids drive me crazy, because as a single parent, I've put more pressure on myself to make sure they have just as good a life as kids with 2 parents in the home. You know what, though? Two parent homes aren't without drama either. Another issue I REALLY started to struggle with this year is my emotions...often, I felt I couldn't just admit how I felt about things...and even felt I couldn't grieve over my Nana...because I worried everyone would dismiss me as bipolar anyway and invalidate me. Yes, that has happened, but I now realize that most people don't actually make that assumption. Just like any other person, I have my ups and downs. Also, of course, there were relationship issues and failures for me...and I attribute a lot of it (though not all) to my insistence of independence, rather than interdependence. I was so busy protecting my heart and my ego...plus, I didn't like myself and I couldn't understand why anybody would like me either.

The pattern of existence I described above was anything but productive for me and anyone around me. I seemed to slip just a little more as time passed...not realizing I was slipping...and I couldn't figure out why I felt so heavy, why my heart was so gloomy, why I had become such a pessimist, or why physically, I was getting fatigued and having chronic (nagging, but not debilitating) pain. I will admit something I wouldn't admit then...I told Kristin that something had to change in my life...that I just didn't feel I could go on at the rate I was. I'd wake up in the mornings already exhausted by whatever the day had in store. I had so many moments I wished I could disappear to an isolated place...and even more scary, I had moments I wished I just didn't exist at all. I knew my spirit needed renewal.

A day after I composed my "renewal" blog, I attended church service for the first time. They spoke so much of restoration. Yes, it feels like the service is all about me. Haha. At any rate, from the first morning I attended, I knew something had changed inside me...like a bulk of the burden was lifted. I didn't necessarily know why, except it felt like the mega-responsibilities I'd placed on my...well, responsibilities, had not seemed so tough. I had expected I should be this wonderful parent who never screws up...and that when my kids make mistakes, it's all my fault. I had also expected that as an alternative school teacher, I should be helping kids straighten their lives out and that...after a few months, they would be all better if I was really doing a good job...that, on top of the fact that special ed kids should achieve the same level as regular ed (riiiight), and dyslexic kids would suddenly read and write well, kids with math problems would suddenly do algebra, and kids with ADHD would suddenly sit still like the cherubs within. Hahaha! Yeah, as I type, I see how crazy I let things get. Even back in the day as a counselor, I felt I wasn't doing my job if my clients had setbacks or didn't get "cured" after years of serious problems. Yep, I can see where I put so much on myself to control aspects of human life that weren't meant for me to control. So...I'm not saying that was all my problem, but that was definitely A HUGE BULK of it. I set incredible expectations for myself and those around me, thinking I could singlehandedly change everything and everyone for the better...almost as if I were the one in charge of the world. Without divine intervention, though, I couldn't even help myself. Without allowing those who cared about me to be supportive in whatever way (even friends who simply give lots of hugs), I was also blocking light that God intended for me.

A song that once was, but no longer is, my theme song is "I am a Rock" by Simon and Garfunkel. I really truly used to give myself pep talks with that song. It has lines such as "I touch no one and no one touches me...I have no need for friendship, friendship causes pain ...If I never loved, I never would have cried...I have my books and my poetry to protect me," and "The rock feels no pain...and the island never cries." Yeah, of course I had tons of emotions, but I'd deal with them with my handy-dandy "quick-release button" located somewhere deep inside me. If a situation hurt me, I'd simply disconnect from the person or people associated. I'm sure I've burned more than my fair share of bridges in my lifetime...Anyway...it feels good to have installed more lightbulbs in my heart. It feels good to be filled with spirit again...to feel alive...to feel loved and to feel capable of loving.

Again, I'm not trying to push this on anyone...just sharing a blessing that overpowers my struggles. You don't have to be straight to be loved by God. All too often, those against our civil rights use God as a way to justify their intolerance. I just don't feel he agrees.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Just a random comment....

At the risk of being verbally abused I have a thought that has been bothering me. I am aware that those advocates who are out there to watch out for my rights as a gay man and father have to pay attention to everything that happens. With that said, I feel that the "hype" around the president - elect's choice for a minister for his invocation is making us seem as non-inclusive as we accuse the "other side" of being. I do understand our need to monitor what is going on and to pay attention but can we just exclude this guy because his views don't mirror our own? I don't know..but I do have this feeling that is what we are doing.