We spent the weekend catching up on things around the house and errands we needed to do. The last few were spent "running"...running to people's houses, the zoo, Art Festivals, happy hours (oops wait no that was last year...sigh) so we needed a freebie staying home. Next weekend we'll be off and running again I'm sure, so right now I'm taking the lazy way out and just putting up pictures of some of our foolin's around.
Don't ask me...she's so not a morning person. Yeah!
Cold plastic things are tasty.
Practicing cuteness for next weekend
Nice try, but it would be more realistic if those teeth were on the top.
The Adoption Tax Credit has been increased and extended in the new Health Care Reform bill that President Obama has signed today. The Adoption Tax Credit will be increased by $1,000 retroactive to January 1, 2009 (from $12,150 to $13,150 in 2009 and from $12,170 to $13,170 in 2010) and it has been extended to December 31, 2011.
Think I'll use the extra dough to buy some tea bags...
Gilbert Baker, creater of the famous Rainbow Flag, shows his feelings for HRC efforts at a recent rally for the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell in New York City.
Never a big fan of the HRC (Human Rights Campaign) here. They are the self proclaimed "Face of the Movement" for gay equality. Their whole message to main stream America is "Hey we're gay, but we're just like you, so accept us, be our friends, and if it's not too much trouble (and we're asking this very nicely so as not to offend) maybe you could, like, not vote us into obscurity in the next election by taking away all our rights? That would be so awesome since we want to be just like you and everything!". How about NO. For some time now I haven't been seeing much success. You've lost every ballot measure, including Prop 8 in California (how you managed that I have no idea, although I do remember reading a post on Andrew Sullivan's blog about how while protestors were jamming the streets HRC was hosting an expensive wine tasting to raise money. And no I'm not making that up for laughs.) and have tried to thwart every effort to push gay marriage to the Supreme Court, only now trying to push your way into the current case brought by Ted Olsen after initially trying to stop it. Anti gay legislators here in Arizona are pushing a bill through that is going to push single people to the end of the line in adopting from the state system. I think we all know "single" is code for "homo". What does HRC do? They send out a plea for money and action to protect the rights of "single people". The entire campaign (at least from the message I got and the stuff on your website) does not even mention gays! You're HRC for pete's sake! If you can't even say the word gay how the hell do you think you're going to advocate for us?
HRC has been lobbying Congress to help pass health care reform. It was announced that all the provisions of the bill that were there to help LGBT people have been dropped from the final version. The biggest one, impacting my family, is the unfair practice of taxing domestic partner health benefits. What this means is that the amount of money that is covered under our health care plan for a medical visit beyond the copay is taxed as income at the end of the year. Why are we paying taxes on that when married couples aren't? That's potentially a lot of money. Apparently outraged, HRC posted this on their website:
While we are saddened that the House has abandoned provisions that would make care more accessible and affordable to our community, we recognize that the health reform measure will still help all Americans, including LGBT people. Important reforms like eliminating pre-existing condition limitations and expanding Medicaid will significantly impact people living with HIV and AIDS. We urge Congress to pass this legislation, addressing the nation’s dire need for reform in our health care system and clearing the way for Congress to act on the many issues it needs to address, including ones of great importance to the LGBT community.
OK maybe not outraged, but at least saddened. I'm saddened too, since you spent a year on this and got, as usual, absolutely nothing.
You are good at hobnobbing with Congresspersons and holding expensive A-List Gay cocktail parties and exclusive NYC galas that most of us can't afford. You're also good at the constant pleas for money and membership that flood my inbox on a weekly basis, but at this point it seems like your reason to be has risen above your reason for being. A massive amount of money is raised and donated to politicians who quite honestly are not delivering on the change we're demanding, or that you are so politely asking for. Now that I'm a father, I'm tired of waiting. I'm tired of being told to be patient. Quite frankly, I'm angry at the amount of time that has been wasted. And I'm glad to see someone else gets it too.
GetEqual has recently launched and is also tired of waiting. I applaud them for getting back to basics. We need the lobbying, but we need some old fashioned ActUp strategies to go along with it. A personal hero of mine, Lt. Dan Choi, was arrested the other day for handcuffing himself to the gates of the White House to protest Don't Ask Don't Tell. He's made so much sacrifice already, and now this. I'm so glad we have people like Lt. Choi doing what needs to be done to make change. If GetEqual had half the funding HRC has what a wonderful world we'd see.
Please welcome our dear friends Kim and Gerry to the blogworld as they begin their own journey to adoption. We met them via the internet, and they are such special people we know they will make wonderful parents someday. There is a soul out there right now waiting to become their child when the time is right. Please welcome them to our little family ring! (That's them in the post below at the Scottsdale Art Festival with us last weekend...)
The last few posts were kinda heavy, so just for fun we spent Sunday at the Scottsdale Festival of the Arts. A great Arizona day in the mid 70's, some great company in Gerry and Kim, and beautiful art of every kind. Well except the $5 kind, which is what I was looking for...
I dare you to fill Grandpa's pool with plastic bags and claim it's art!
Relaxing after looking at art we can't afford
Resting in the grass
With our friends Kim and Gerry, who have just begun their own adoption journey with IAC
Apparently I'm a week behind in blogging. We've been back from California for a week now and I still have not unpacked my suitcase. I should write a post about my procrastination problem, but that can wait for another day...
Our reunion with Sabrina's birth family was incredible. There was a little trepidation on our part at first, because the original plan was to meet at a restaurant in Long Beach. About a week before we left, "Lucy" (*not her real name) emailed us and said her mother wanted to make lunch for us at her place. We were a little leary about this sudden change in plans, but we talked about it and decided that she had such trust in us, and made such a leap of faith by chosing us to parent her baby, that we needed to repay that trust back. So on Saturday, we left our hotel in Old Town Pasadena and headed down to her home about a half an hour away.
We did not know what to expect as we had only met Lucy at the hospital when Sabrina was born. I was not sure if there would be tears (I thought I would be emotional!), laughter, tension, or what, but I knew I was being silly. We have a great relationship with Lucy and I mentioned to Gregg that I thought she would be more nervous then we were. When we got there, she came out onto the front porch as we unloaded the car, and right away I knew this would be a good visit. I saw a woman with a big smile on her face, just looking so happy. When we got up to the door, she hugged us both but didn't take Sabrina from my arms. We walked in and her mom was in her room still getting ready. Lucy's two girls, 8 years old and 20 month old were sitting there waiting. The older girl had a big smile on her face; the younger one looked a little unsure of us. I could tell the older girl took good care of her sister. When I put Sabrina down, she crawled right over to the kids. The older girl gave her a big hug. She turned to her sister and said "It's OK you can play with her, she's our sister". I admit seeing the first meeting of the sisters made me a little misty. It took Lucy a bit to pick her up, but when she did my gosh what a smile came on to her face! Sabrina was in her happy mood (as usual!) and put everyone at ease. After about a minute, we were all laughing like a big family. I tried to get Sabrina to give out the gifts we brought for Lucy and the girls, but I guess we forgot to tell her that whole thing about being better to give then receive so I did it myself.
When we met Lucy's mother, we were at ease right away. She is the kind of person that lights up a room. We got big hugs, and she adored the baby. She was able to make us feel so welcome in her home immediately. And what a feast! She's a fantastic cook, making a huge lunch of seafood jumbalaya and all the trimmings. The best part of the entire day was at a point when the adults were sitting around the table talking, and the girls had moved into another room. We could hear squeals of laughter from the three of them and that just made my heart sing. We took tons of pictures. We ended up staying there for over four hours, just laughing and talking. We're so glad we ended up in her home, where we could all talk and the girls could get acquainted. Lucy's mother told me her heart was at rest after meeting us and seeing how we interacted with and loved her granddaughter. I told her our family had grown some more that day. We received a warm and wonderful email from her the next day. I think we are all looking forward to our next meeting. Open adoption is truly a wonderful thing.
Well it's finally over. The adoption was finalized on Friday March 5th. We made the drive over to Los Angeles Thursday afternoon and got our hotel in Old Town Pasadena. Sabrina was pretty good, but she got in a power nap for the last hour or so of the drive. She thought the hotel was just so much fun, and spent from about 9 PM to 11 PM zipping around and having a blast way past her bed time. In fact, she decided this was fun enough to keep going until around one in the morning. So what if we were due in court at 11 the next morning for only the most important event in our family so far. She managed to get up and get ready anyway...
One member of our family, Bobby's Hair Spiking Product, was inadvertantly left home. Driving around the courthouse for forty minutes did not turn up a single store were I could get some. My signature feature, great hair, is sadly left out of our picture.
Sabrina was the star anyway. She wore a white satin dress with a lavendar and seafoam stripe. Gregg and I each matched one of the stripes, to symbolize our new family. Surprisingly, lots of people at court picked up on it. (When I showed the dress and shirts to my mother before we left, I could tell in her voice it choked her up a little. Geez!)
I admit, I was tearing up during the whole proceeding. I swore I would not cry in front of the judge, but when he pronounced us a family it was just so overwhelming. They presented Sabrina with a teddy bear, and invited us up to the bench for the picture. Everyone there was great, and we met a family (Christine and Keyvan and their son Devan) that worked with our agency and were coincidentally there at the same time as us. Since the court was running behind, talking to them was a great way to ease everyone's minds. We all had a bit of a challenge explaining our situation to Christine's mother but once she realized that (1) Gregg was not a representative of the adoption agency there to help me, (2) there wasn't going to be a mother and (3) we're Daddy and Papa, it was all cleared up. She was so wonderful to be there for her grandson, and gave us big hugs when they came out of court. She was crying, so I blame her for getting me going! (Who am I kidding I was already on the verge!)
Tomorrow I'll tell our story of reuniting with Sabrina's birthmother, sisters, and birth grandmother.
That phrase came out of my mouth today, and it wasn't until about ten seconds later that I realized I just said it to a ten month old. And in a serious way. I had to laugh at myself. Last year while dreaming of her, I never thought I'd equate her habits with those of a dog. But when you put your face into the bowl to eat your snack, well...