The day my partner adopted our daughter

Guest post by Lindsay Wilhelmi

Kate and Cady the day of Cady's birth.
When my wife Kate and I were handfasted, we shared a trefoil of vows: we promised to honor and respect each other, seeking never to break that honor; we promised to have the capacity to forgive and forget, giving the other an atmosphere in which to grow; and we promised to do things for the other not in the attitude of duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy.

The third really hit home for me during my pregnancy. Once I was well into my first trimester — battling nausea, fighting food aversions, and trying to figure out where my usually sunny disposition was hiding — I finally understood what it was I had promised. I also learned what it means to be truly selfless with the time and energy building a dream with someone requires — simply for the unadulterated joy it brings.

Kate and I are now mommy and mama to an amazing baby girl, Cadence, who was conceived via artificial insemination with donor sperm, and who I carried and nurtured for forty-two weeks before she decided it was (finally!) time to join us on the outside. Protecting the tiny human that grew inside me and delivering her into this world were the most amazing contributions I feel I have made to our family. I wasn’t pressured into motherhood because it was my duty, and I didn’t feel as though I had sacrificed my body or my individuality throughout the process. What I felt was overwhelming joy, knowing I possessed the ability to help us achieve our dreams.

These days, it is both of us who carry and nurture our daughter. We were both listed on Cady’s birth certificate from day one, and Kate recently adopted her so that we (hopefully) never have to worry about less-than-tolerant states legally recognizing our happy trio as a family. It’s hard to put into words what the recent adoption of my daughter by my wife means to me, and for our family.

Kate and Cady on the day the adoption was formalized. Smiles all around!
On the one hand, Kate has most certainly been a parent to Cady since way back when she was just a twinkle in our eyes: during the heartache and excitement of trying to conceive, through a joyous and sometimes painful pregnancy, and past a labor and delivery that broke us down and built us back up again when we heard those first precious cries of our sweet girl.

She’s rocked, snuggled, fed, changed, bathed, played with, and loved on that amazing baby a million times over in the past three and a half months, and has had “Mom” written all over her face and heart since we found out we were expecting. It became even more apparent the first moment I saw Kate gaze into our daughter’s puffy newborn eyes that she wasn’t doing this whole mothering thing out of a sense of duty or sacrifice, either. There was nothing but joy in the eyes of my wife that day, who was just as much a swooning and smitten new mama as I.

Even so, when the judge reminded Kate of the seriousness of her request to adopt during our recent court hearing and reaffirmed, “I need to be sure you understand: you will be this child’s parent, forever,” my eyes welled up. I’m not sure it’s often that new parents are forced to consider the importance and permanence of their role. Caught up in the day-to-day of caring for a newborn sometimes distracts us from the big-picture responsibility of it all.

There was not a moment’s hesitation when a beaming Kate replied, “Absolutely.”

I’m convinced our family is no different today than it was yesterday, or the day before that. I know that regardless of a court ruling, we have been and will continue to be there for one another, through the joys and the pains and the incredible awesomeness of it all. Of course, we still feel lucky to have the added protection, and we’re excited for Cady to be able to grow up saying “Yeah, I have two moms… what of it?” with no worries that somewhere, someone may try to challenge that fact, or tell her it’s just not so.

Our hearts are bursting with pride to be able to say that this amazing little girl is our very own. That she belongs to us, and we to her. The fact that we are family is not due to some obligation to conceive and raise a child together, or the fact we have a piece of paper that proclaims us as such. We are family because of the spirit of joy that binds our hearts (now three!) together.

Comments on The day my partner adopted our daughter

  1. Congratulations!! And thanks for writing this.

    I struggled with feeling angry and insulted that we even had to go through the adoption process (and pay so much freakin’ much for it–$2300 after court, lawyer, and other fees in 2009) while at the same time feeling the joy and relief when my partner’s adoption of our son was complete. We’re lucky that our judge waived the home visit for us because that would cost another $500 out of our pockets and may have quite possibly pushed me over the bitterness edge. (To have a government employee evaluating my partner’s fitness as a parent is insulting enough but to have that person come into our home to assess my partner’s fitness and be required to pay for that home assessment?! And even if the court denied the adoption, his home life wouldn’t change. We’d both still be raising him in this exact environment, just without the added legal protection.) We’re also lucky that we live in one of only 3 counties in our state where second parent adoptions are even granted…but don’t get me started on that.

    Best to you and your lovely family!

    • I completely and totally get it. All of it. Our adoption was super expensive, too (court fees, lawyer fees, etc.) but we are looking forward to being able to get a credit on our taxes for it… next year, of course, since the adoption went through in February.

      Our judge also waived the home study. We would have done it if it had been required. But, as you said, it would have been so silly since it wouldn’t have change a darn thing!

      It is frustrating, to say the least, to have had to go this whole process. BUT, we are very excited to be part of a movement that will hopefully result in laws changing and state/county policies and practices being more favorable to queer families for generations that follow. Going through the motions wasn’t only important to us and for our family, but to the community.

      At least, that’s what we tell ourselves when any bitterness starts to creep in. 🙂

  2. I, too, was brought to tears by this! Not just at the beautiful story of a family growing, but the reminders of what it means to be a partner, and the boundless joy that that ultimately allows. Thank you, Lindsay.

    • Thank you for your sweet comment; it’s amazing how this whole experience has not only made me strive to be the best mother I can be, but also a better partner. Our relationship has grown in ways I couldn’t have imagined!

  3. “… and past a labor and delivery that broke us down and built us back up again when we heard those first precious cries of our sweet girl.”

    This is so moving! Thank you for sharing your beautiful story. What a blessed (and utterly charming) baby girl.

  4. Beautiful! Thank you for sharing your story. Although, the injustice of having to go through that process and having the second parent’s parenting skills put under a microscope does bite.

  5. It is so unfair that if your partner happend to be a male, all they would have to do is fill out the paperwork at the hospital that states they agree to be on the birth cerificate. A man doesn’t even have to be the bio-dad to do this.

    • Actually, my partner was able to be on the birth certificate straight away. I live in NJ, where civil unions are legal, and a civil union partner is automatically considered by the state a legal parent of any child born to the other partner. So, we had my partner on the certificate application a few days after leaving the hospital.

      The hospital was not aware of the law, so unfortunately we had to sic our lawyer on them… but it was all straightened out in time for the birth certificate to be generated with both of our names on it. Now, the state hadn’t updated their automated forms to say “parent 1” and “parent 2,” (don’t get me started!) so Kate is listed as “father,” but at least she’s on it! We’re hoping we’ll get a corrected certificate, now that the adoption has been finalized.

      We decided to do the adoption for the added protection; because of DOMA, other states reserve the right to not consider Kate as a parent, since the reason she’s on the certificate is due to our New Jersey civil union. These less-than-friendly states, however, ARE obligated to honor a court order for adoption because of the US Constitution’s “Full Faith and Credit” clause. Also, we used a known donor (as opposed to an anonymous one from a bank) so we just wanted to make sure we dotted all of our i’s and crossed all of our t’s to protect both Kate’s rights, as well as his (and our!) desire for him to be absolved of any legal obligations to Cady.


  6. To be honest it makes me quite ill to think someone so clearly destined to be a parent had to go through such a rough time just to be legally considered one! Same sex couples have to make a much more conscious decision to be parents when any heterosexual person can have a one night stand and ‘accidently’ become one. You dont see their home lives judged and investigated. Maybe if we did there would be a lot less neglect and abuse around. GRRRRRR! Sorry rant over.

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