In honor of the third annual Blogging for LGBT Families Day, I wanted to share a little bit about my own family.
Many of you know about my partner and me- we have been together for 6 years, have our civil union from Vermont, and are getting married later this month. What many of you may not know about us is that we have a foster son as part of our family.
Franke is an amazing young man who came to our home after some hard times. He was raised his whole life by a gay couple in Florida, who were unable to adopt him because of our state's ban on gay's adopting. His foster parents (who he lived with for 16 years) sued to try and overturn the ban, but lost. During the long and very public battle, they moved out of state with the kids (they had Franke and 2 other foster kids) to be closer to family.
The state of Florida then told the family that if Franke did not come back to the state before he turned 18, he would lose important benefits- like his healthcare insurance and college tuition benefits.
This was not an option for Franke. He was born HIV+ and has been on meds his whole life. To lose his health insurance would have been disastrous.
So the state ripped him from the only family he had ever known his entire life and moved him back to Florida. He was forced to leave the only family he knew and was made virtually homeless in Florida.
My partner's university represented Franke and his lawyer contacted us. It was a whirlwind of a meeting. Within days, we had met Franke and decided to bring him into our home. We were instant parents to a 17 year-old high school student. I often tease Franke that giving birth to a 180 lbs, 17 year-old has destroyed my figure, which always makes him laugh.
Our family bonded quickly- we survived losing power for 16 days after a hurricane while trying to keep Franke studying for his SATs. I taught him to drive and went with him to get his license. We took pictures of him and his prom date like any proud parents would do. He even took to calling me "mommy dearest" because of my obsession with cleanliness.
Although Franke is now over 18 and in college, he still comes home on holidays and weekends. He calls us to talk about grades, classes, girls, and anything else on his mind. We long ago dropped the "foster" label and just call him our son- just like he calls us his folks (sometimes he calls us his "parents: the sequel").
Our family may not have come together in the "traditional" way. We may not have any legal ties to one another- no recognized marriage or adoption. But in every way that counts- we are a family.
I think that is the magic and strength of LGBT families. We know we are part of each other's lives, we care for each other, and we remain devoted to one another even if we don't always have legal or societal recognition.