A few months ago, Tasha and I attended a meeting about second parent, same sex adoption and learned that she could have full parental rights by adopting Hugh. That’s right – in South Carolina: the State of Joe Wilson’s noxious outburst; Mark Sanford’s soul-mate dalliances; the Confederate flag waving on the statehouse grounds; and a recently much publicized unspeakable act between man and horse.
But there are fringe benefits to living in a state that values little regulation (lawlessness) – one of them being that second parent, same sex adoption is not banned. Yet. Which is why we are joyful, but cautiously keeping this news under the radar.
Because adoption is a court order, it requires a judge who will grant families like ours an adoption. There is only one judge in the state willing to do this. She’s retired from the bench, but still serves on the circuit, and when she’s holding court, she contacts our lawyer who schedules his same-sex clients on her docket.
Yesterday, there were six families in the waiting room – couples with a diversity of stories. A young couple with six month old twins; an older couple with two roughhousing boys; an African American couple with two girls of Indian descent; two dads with two dark-headed boys.
Hugh loved the courthouse. He licked the marble floor and crawled the length of the long hallway. He approached every family and crawled up every pant leg he could find, including the security guard who would later hand us a Jehovah’s Witness pamphlet on our way into the courtroom. He made friends with a curly-headed girl who kept insisting he “get up and walk.” He made friends with two boys whose dads insisted that he wasn’t a dog and need not be petted like one.
Dressed in his best outfit and looking like a decent boy (a disguise), Tasha and I suddenly smelled the worst diaper nightmare. “I’m going to change him,” said Tasha, grabbing him off the floor. At that moment, of course, the bailiff came out and called our name. She gave a desperate look to the guardian ad litem who said, “it’ll have to wait.”
As she carried our disgusting bundle of joy into court, I whispered, “it’s not too late to change your mind.”
The proceedings were warm and easygoing, and the judge laughed out loud when the guardian ad litem said: “Upon observing this very social and active child in the courtroom for the past hour, I can honestly say that he needs two parents. They’ve got their hands full.”
The judge granted our adoption request, then came off the stand and hugged Tasha and Hugh, and handed us a gold coin to commemorate the day. Our lawyer took pictures of us with the judge, and Hugh even smiled for the camera.
On the drive back, I asked Tasha if she felt any different, since she’d been Hugh’s parent all along. “I didn’t think I would,” she said, “but I do.” Then she smiled and said, “I’ve got two boys.”