Waymon Hudson

Family is what you make it

Filed By Waymon Hudson | June 02, 2008 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: blogging for LGBT families, Florida, foster care, LGBT families

In honor franke.jpgof 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.

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This story made me cry. What an inspiration!

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | June 2, 2008 12:16 PM

I have gotten to an age when I have many "wise old auntie" stories. Raymond Guy Wilson was a concert pianist and he had traveled the world with the Harkness Ballet. I met Ray at a friend's party and we immediately bonded, he like an old campy mom. He used to say to me:

"Honey, we have to make our own families, they don't just happen and I'm glad you are part of mine."

Franke is certainly your family and yes, he has spoiled your figure. :) HA HA!

One thing Focus on the Family, and their ilk, do not recognize, is that families are created, too, not just from blood. There is not a reason in the world why GLBT people cannot form families, and indeed many have. Waymon, yours is a family, just like any other.

What happened to your son in the past is criminal, and the Florida officials who let that happen should be in jail. Thank goodness that, with your help, he's overcome that adversity. The Florida officials are the people that a so-called "family values" organization should be going after, not GLBT people.

Thanks for sharing this beautiful story of your family Waymon. Franke sounds like a truly wonderful son.

Waymon! What a story! Thanks for sharing and for working so hard for equality. The adoption ban in Florida will eventually die and when it does it will be the courageous families in our community standing on its grave!

Thanks for all of the kind comments. I love our family and couldn't be prouder of Franke. He is an amazing young man. He has even been involved with trying to overturn the adoption ban here in Florida (he's spoken before the State Senate and other groups about his story).

We are truly blessed to have him in our lives.

You have such an amazing family, Waymon. Your story is definitely unique.

Great story, Waymon. With a happy ending!

Curtis Morton | June 3, 2008 3:43 PM

The legal mumbo-jumbo doesn't make you family; it's the relationship and bond that you have that make you family. I am sickened by all of the legal crap that does more harm than good to the people that our government is suppose to be there for.

I can't believe that they threatened Franke's health and education because he moved out of state with the only family that he's known (until you and your partner). I bet that if they were a straight couple, and able to adopt Franke, then there would not have been an issue with the move. The only positive spin is that you guys would have never met Franke without the government's "lameness."

There is so much more to this story I could tell- like the way that foster care in Florida is OUTSOURCED and we had to go to a Baptist church to meet the case workers (NOT a friendly environment). Or the fact that state would let bias and bigotry (or "lameness" as Curtis puts it) come before Franke's health and education. Or the fact that gay families are acceptable foster parents (many times for kids with HIV or other medical issues that no one else wants to take in) but they are allowed to adopt.

We are so glad he is part of our family. We hope that one day more kids like him can find loving homes here in Florida and we can get rid of this archaic ban.

Thanks again for all of the support and love!

You guys are so fucking sweet, it gives me a tooth ache!