Our family has received a special gift today. It is a special dispensation to our own in a world that doesn’t always acknowledge them and rarely rewards them.
A court in the Midwest has declared that our lesbian daughter and her family are a valid unit that has mutual benefit, strong values, and that it needs to be respected, nurtured, supported and most of all, that it needs to be together. Our daughter has been recognized as an integral part of a parenting team and that her partner’s children miss her, love her, and need her as a constant in their lives.
We are all a part of this. We are seen as a benefit: grandparents, parents, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, and other treasured members of our circle. We are declared to be the village that will help in the raising of the children by being who we are, an extended and inclusive family.
We are given this gift by a thoughtful judge who recognized through the testimony of those who could be there and the mental and emotional support of those who couldn’t, that we have what it takes. We are in touch and aware and available to each other when we need to be. We want to share our individual family experiences, joys, sorrows, victories and failures with each other. We are here.
I am joyous. I am elated. Not just for all of the obvious reasons. It’s that the years of tight control and self-protection have loosened their bonds. In tears I hear the relief in my daughter’s voice. I can feel her pride in herself and the weightlessness of moving from limbo to planning, process and progress. She has been awarded the prize of being a parent after years of parenting. She has testified to her love for her partner and has been heard.
I’m not sure that we “straights” can comprehend what this means. When we are loving and affectionate to each other we are accepted. If we take on stepchildren and are thoughtful, loving and participatory parents, we are admired. If we are good citizens, good workers, good providers, good homemakers, we are enfolded in the warmth of approval and approbation that is our due. It is natural to us.
For this lesbian couple and their children this is a landmark decision. It will shore them up in the face of discrimination, disapproval, and scorn. It is a pronouncement.
They are just fine as who they are – a family.