Join Us For The Nashville International Family Equality Day Celebration

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RSVP here!

May 4 is International Family Equality Day. The national organization, Family Equality Council, has asked Nashville to be one of the host cities for events across the country to celebrate our families.

Cedar Hill Park has open fields, picnic areas, playgrounds, lakes and softball fields.

Cedar Hill Park has open fields, picnic areas, playgrounds, lakes and softball fields.

We’ll have some giveaway goodies.  You’ll need to bring food and drink for your family.  We’ll be in shelter #7.  The fun kicks off at noon with the picnic and then there will be activities until 3 pm for families to enjoy. Cedar Hill Park is located just off Old Hickory Boulevard in Nashville/Madison.

For more information on the national day of celebration, you can visit the Family Equality Council’s site.

Please RSVP here. 

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Nashville Gay Parents on Out & About Today

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From the September Out and About Today on NewsChannel 5.

NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather

Hey Mommy. Oh! And You, Too, Mommy.

Saturday night we were enjoying a nice meal at a favorite standard restaurant.  Our booth was perfectly situated by the hostess desk.  Our son, Micah, has always been one to flirt with the young lady who works it.

gay-dad-mommy“Mommy,” as he looks over our booth straight at her.  She looks stunned.  We kinda shrug it off, since he pronounces his own name as “mō’ mee.”  Upon the second, third and fourth “mommy,” we realize he isn’t saying his name, he is indeed calling her mommy.

As we exited, she had big tears in her eyes saying, “Since I can’t have children, that meant so much to me.”  We honestly felt awkward.

Fast forward, we’re in Park City, Utah on vacation.  Low and behold, multiple women are addressed as mommy by Micah.  They all smile at us two obviously gay dads, and we remain awkwardly perplexed.

This lead us to discuss what is potentially happening.  If your kid, toddler, son or daughter is calling every woman they see Mommy, think about these.

He’s in search of his mother since he has two dads.  

I have to admit this was the first thing that entered my mind.  I had to ask myself, is my two-year-old on a quest to ask around for his mother already?  Knowing my child like no one else, I can honestly say he his not on such a quest.

He’s feeling a need for a mother figure and is reaching out.

This one can’t be possible the case.  Micah has several women in his life who he interacts with daily and weekly on a deep level.  The two he clings to the most in this realm are two dear friends, Crystal and Alexandra.  We’ve got that one covered.

He’s generalized the word mommy to all women.

He calls every animal with feathers “chick,” meaning chicken.  He calls many older women “Mammaw,” the name for his paternal grandmother.  Perhaps he’s defined the word mommy as a general term for all females.  

In all the scenarios, only time can tell once he can tell us what he means.  For now, all we can do is allow him to refer to places, peoples and things in his understanding and help him understand the correct terminology for all things in our vocabulary.  All we can do is not allow this “mommy phase” make us feel like we aren’t nurturing him the way he needs to be nurtured.

Of course, now, that I finish writing these thoughts, I decide to seek the most well-known counselor to us all, “Dr. Google.”  Upon searching, I see that few, if any, writings on this issue from a gay father / gay dad point of view exist.  However, you will find multiple results on straight couples and biological mothers having the same scenario play out in their worlds.

Ultimately, I think it’s safe to say, we’re not alone.  This isn’t a gay dad issue.  This isn’t a loss of motherhood issue.  It’s a toddler learning vocabulary, and that’s ok, mommy and all.

 

 

The Top 4 Worst Things You Can Ask An Adoptive Parent

gay-parent-stupid-questionsAfter we welcomed our son into our home via adoption, we entered a limbo time.  While we had full custody and the parental rights had been surrendered, there are all kinds of insecurities you face when you are alone with your thoughts.  Once the adoptions were final, I was amazed that love truly makes you a paranoid freak.

Is he breathing?  Will that person touching him after they smoked a cigarette give him cancer?  What if I drop him?  What if someone else drops him?  What if I’m driving in the car and his carseat cushion expands like a roasted marshmallow and and encompasses him into a smothering abyss?  Crazy thoughts, I tell ya!

While the paranoia subsides, there are still things I’m shocked people ask adoptive (especially gay adoptive) parents.  Some of the questions/comments enflame the paranoia while others are just stupid.  Here are a few of my biggest head-scratchers.

1.  ”What if his mom changes her mind?”  Or other variations like, “Can she take him back” or “What happens if she shows up and wants him?”

Does the answer to the question truly help you sleep better at night?  We just bumped into each other at the grocery store, and I see you maybe once every two years.  Obviously, we aren’t close enough for you to even know I adopted, so why would this knowledge even matter to you?  This question’s answer is exactly what every adoptive parent fears most in the deepest, darkest recesses of our minds.  While our adoptions are ironclad, we can’t help but worry.  Your question puts us in the worst defensive mode we have, saying, “Oh, no that can’t happen,” and then you continue to delve deeper.  Please, just shut up.  Really.

2.  ”Where did he come from?”  Or “Where did you get him?”

Your question’s phrasing makes me want to answer, “Oh, we got him over in the tire department at Kmart.”  He’s not an item you just go pick up somewhere.  His origin isn’t as important as the love we have for him as our own.  Sure, it’s ok to ask, “So, tell me the story of how you all became a family?”  This type of question tells adoptive parents you care more than just what country or state he’s from, plus, we love to tell this story over and over.

3.  ”What is he?”

Yes, we have heard this rude question.  Many adoptive parents have children of a different pigment or culture.  If a child looks Hispanic or African American, then assume he is and leave it there.  What he is, is our son.  We forget he has curly hair and dark skin.  What he is, is a tiny, important human.

4.  ”How much did you pay for him?”

I can’t even explain or try to help anyone understand how stupid this question is.  If you don’t get why this one is out of line, perhaps you shouldn’t speak.

Now candidly, we know gay parents are a rarity in today’s world and no one should be afraid to discovery more.  Many of us would love help build a bridge and help you become more understanding of our challenges and needs.  When trying to strike up a conversation, consider some of these questions instead.

  • Tell me about how you were able to connect with your child?
  • At what point did he enter your family?
  • What was the process like?
  • So, tell me the story of how you all became a family?

At the end of it all however, the very best thing you can say to any adoptive parent is…

“Wow, you guys look just alike,” even if we know you’re lying :)

 After writing this post, it was shared in several spaces.  Other adoptive parents weighed in with horrible questions that deserve an addition to the list.

“Did she use drugs when she was pregnant with him?”

“Was he a crack baby?”

“Are you going to tell her she’s adopted?”

“Are your children siblings?”

“Is that your grandchild?”

For the surrogate father or mothers, “Which one of you is the real dad/mom?”

Wealth Planning For LGBT Families

barrington-gist-nashvilleNashville Gay Parents is proud to announce the Wealth Planning for LGBT Families Workshop with Barrington Gist, MBA of Morgan Stanley.  The event will be held on Sunday, September 8, 2013 at 1:00 pm at 752 Madison Square in Madison, TN.  Child care will not be provided, however a space is available for parents to bring their children with a sitter.

The following is a synopsis the presenter Mr. Gist:

 

Background
Couples and families across America seek to live life on their own terms, but same-sex couples face additional challenges. Particularly in the financial area, couples’ decisions require deeper analysis and more careful planning as they work together to achieve many of life’s most important goals. What do you need to know to make sound financial decisions? How do you plan for your children’s education? What factors are likely to affect your family’s finances and long term planning? The more you know, the better able you and your family will be to live life on your terms.

Teaching Points
There are a number of important factors to discussed, but five main points require greater analysis. In this presentation I hope to explain these topics and discuss how it will affect your life. Your child’s education is important. Gaining a clear perspective on where college costs are heading and weigh various approaches to saving for college. It is important to learn about the unique benefits of 529 college savings plan, Coverdell Education Saving account and other education saving strategies. Same-sex family finance planning is essential to your future. With health care expenses, employ¬ee benefits, income taxes and the treatment of dependents — building a workable financial strategy requires navigating the special considerations that apply to LGBT families. Plan your retirement now. Achieving the flexibility and financial independence you want in retirement will require a careful analysis of the benefits that are — and aren’t — avail¬able to same-sex couples. Controlling your legacy should be a factor you think about. Your legacy is the opportunity to pass on the material rewards of your life in the way that best fulfills your goals and reflects your values. And lastly, you should know the law. The more you know about laws in your state and across the country — and about how they are changing — the more control you can have over your life.

Summary
My role is to help you with your overall planning and help you find the most suitable strategies and solutions for your individual needs. Typically, I also coordinate efforts with other professional advisors – your CPA and/or attorney, for example. I can also help you find estate planning and charitable giving experts in the LGBT community that can guide clients in setting up an appropriate plan for you, referrals to tax and legal experts who understand the complexities of tax and financial decisions for LGBT families.

Nashville Gay Parent Members Making History

nashville-gay-parents-wkrn-newsNashville Gay Parents members Stephanie Shelton and Lisa Cross were part of Tennessee Equality Project’s marriage equality initiative throughout Tennessee on Wednesday, August 7, 2013.  The couple were rejected a marriage license in Lebanon, TN (Wilson County) as a first step needed for attorneys to begin the case for marriage equality in Tennessee since the Supreme Court decision overturning the Defense of Marriage Act.

The couple appeared on several local news outlets for their first steps toward equality.  See the WKRN story here.

Joe & Tom: Dads Officially

tom-kraft-joe-branham-gay-parents-nashville-adoptionCongratulations to Nashville Gay Parents group members Tom Kraft and Joe Branham on the finalization of their daughter’s adoption on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 in the District IV Court of Davidson County. Rachel Anne Branham-Kraft is proud to call Tom and Joe “Fathers,” officially.

If you’d like to share YOUR adoption photo with the group, please send it to brian@nashvilleandbeyond.com.

Touching Lives, Building Bridges

When Greg and I had Micah, we made the tough choice to live very openly on-line and in public as a visible gay family.  We never wanted Micah to become a political pawn or purpose; however, we felt that living open would build bridges and bury the horrible stereotypes many Americans have about gay people.

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After posting a family photo on the beach, we received over 500 likes, comments and shares.  Later that week, I received this amazing email from a lady we don’t even know who has seen our family on Facebook.    It’s way too good not to share, with her permission, of course.

“Hi Brian,

I just had to tell you how deeply your family photo for the Summer of 2013 touched me. I see you and you family as a true American family…no other label needed. A beautiful American family with love and laughter and no CLOSETS! I so wish that my brother had felt that freedom. I lost him to suicide 10 days before his 35th birthday. That was many years ago and I now just enjoy the wonderful memories I have of him and they are about the wonderful man that he was.

gay-fathers-dad-tennessee-nashville-You and your partner have the kind of relationship that says everything a marriage should say without ever saying a word. Just your pictures tell the story. I am blessed to have a wonderful husband [and] we have put five children through college, we enjoy our grand-kids and we still love each other like yesterday was the first day.

Your family pic just reminded me of me and Xxxx while the kids were all small how much fun we all had, how much my brother loved my kids and  Xxxx’s kids and I just wanted to wish you all things wonderful in this world. You are such a good example of humanity. Thank you for helping to bridge gaps for the ignorance that surrounds us..and know that it can be overcome when we aren’t even trying. Your picture will make someone say….’what a lovely family’ without even knowing that you have begun to make them see a ‘normal’ family as a bond of love and not gender.

Thank you again. Take care. ~Xxxxx”

Gay Dads Adopt Two More Kids For A Total of 14

If you’re looking for a great, heart-warming moment, check out these two fathers in Arizona who grew their family from 12 to 14 after completely closing their fostering files and availability.  Listen to their 15-year-old’s response to the news.

Tufts University Gay Dads Study

Please take the following survey.  It takes as little as 5 minutes or as much as 35 based on how much narrative you give.  No narrative required.  Please cite, Nashville Gay Parents as your source.  http://www.lives-of-fathers.org/