Today is most likely my last day subbing, ever, where I student taught, unless by some cruel fate I do not have a teaching job in the Fall. *knocks on wood that this doesn’t happen*
I’m actually quite depressed. The students have become MY students. The teachers and staff members have become my family. I’ve learned so much in this school district, and I’m not sure what to make of the thought of never entering these hallways again.
I’ve learned a lot about myself during this past year. I’ve learned what it’s like to take things for granted. I’ve learned what it’s like to be a teen parent. I’ve learned what it’s like to be worried that you’ll be deported. I’ve learned what it’s like to have to work 3 jobs after school to support your single parent and younger siblings. I’ve learned what it’s like to have a parent (or loved one) in jail. I’ve learned that the biggest question I’ll ever ask myself teaching is, “What else can I do?” To me, working in a school district where I can make a difference and literally save lives by believing in and supporting my students has become a priority.
While I don’t know what life has in store for me in the next few weeks or months or even year, I do know that I have found my passion in life in my lower-economic status, minority-filled, urban school district.
Thank you for giving me the best learning experience I’ll ever experience, ______ HS. I’m a better person for having taught here.
As a soon-to-be English educator and writer, I often tend to look for stories in people. Whether you realize it or not, everyone has a story, whether it be some out-of-this-world life experience they’ve had or how they went about eating breakfast one morning. Everyone’s stories come together to create the intricacies of humankind. It’s what makes each and every person’s story so different and beautiful.
I’ve worked in residence life at Rutgers University for the past four years. During this time, I’ve met some pretty incredible people with some pretty incredible stories. One of these people was Michael.
I only briefly worked with Michael last year, but it was through our Facebook friendship that I found out about his story. Michael and his husband, Bill, are starting their family… by adopting not one, but three children at once. Three siblings to be exact. (A 7 year old boy, a 4 year old girl, and a 2 year old boy.)
As someone who wants to potentially foster and/or adopt children in the future, seeing their story unfold on Facebook really meant a lot to me. It meant even more to me as a lesbian to see such a happy adoption story.
You know what meant even more to me? Seeing our department at work send a department-wide email out to its hundreds of staff members, congratulating Michael and Bill, and offering a place where people could donate items for their 3 kids really gave me a lot to smile about and be proud of.
In a matter of days, Michael and his husband will be bringing their three children home. I’ve set up a fundraising page so that we can help them out.
Michael was kind enough to sit down and share his story with me… Get the tissues ready, folks. These children are so lucky to have these two men as their dads!
Congratulations again, Michael & Bill. I’m so happy for you both!
Tell me a bit about you and your husband, and your story. (how you met, how long you’ve been together, etc.)
A: My husband and I have been together for 5.5 years. We met online at match.com. I work at Rutgers doing marketing and assessment for housing and residence life. He is the director of information systems at a copier company. I grew up in North Jersey in a small town named Rutherford. He grew up in Philadelphia. We are both self-proclaimed nerds. We bonded over our love of video games, geeky books, and all things nerdy.
When did you start the adoption process?
A: We began the adoption process in December of 2011. We began going to various information sessions with agencies in mid-December. We were given a list of agencies from a lawyer who we contacted to ask about the process and what he recommended we do to ensure everything was legal. We found our agency in January of 2012, the Lutheran Social Ministries. We then began the paperwork, foster care classes, and preparing later that month. We took a couple month hiatus to find a house to finalize our home study. We were approved in September and were contact in mid-February of 2013 about these children. We learned on March 28th that we were chosen to be their forever family.
How/when did you decide you would be adopting three children?
A: When we began we were not sure if wanted an infant or older children. My husband wanted an older child and I wanted an infant. When we found out the infant adoption cost and process, we decided that we would go into the process looking for 2 or 3 children. This way, he could get an older child, and I would hopefully be able to get a younger child. We also wanted to adopt children that were at risk for not being adopted. The most at-risk children are sibling sets who have older (older than 2) children in them. We knew we wanted more than 1 and felt that we could also help a sibling set that may not have been adopted due to their being a sibling set.
What are you looking forward to the most about fatherhood?
A: I am looking forward to a lot. A lot of it is mundane. I just want to sit and watch a movie with my children or eat breakfast and laugh. I look forward to helping them with homework and teaching them to ride a bike. My husband looks forward to finding connections with each child. He is excited to watch them grow and develop.
What are you the most nervous about regarding fatherhood?
A: Everything! We are both nervous about the adjustment. We have both read a lot of literature on the attachment and adjustment period for older children from foster care. It can be a 2-4 year process if all goes smoothly. I fear the difficult times that may last weeks or months. We all have an ideal family in our minds, and I need to be able to know that our family may never meet my ideal perceptions. This does not mean it is bad. It just means I need to adjust my expectations and love the family I have.
What is most difficult about adopting three siblings at once, versus a single-child adoption?
A: For us, I think it is the fact that we are outnumbered. We joke that we cannot do man-to-man defense. We will need to help 3 children grieve the loss of their birth and foster families, while helping them adjust here. Also, we need to integrate them with our families. Our families are super-supportive, and they are super excited to meet these children. We have to help everyone understand that we will need to avoid large gatherings, as not to overwhelm the children. Our choices are no longer about what we want, but what will help the children appropriately grieve and adjust to their new life in our families.
How can people help you as you welcome your three children home?
A: Be supportive and understanding. Offer advice in a non-judgmental manner. Listen when we need to vent. At the end of the day, these children are going through a lot, and their adjustment here is going to be a long process. We need people to understand that we may need to withdraw before we can go on play dates, bring them to large parties, or do “normal” family things. The support we have from our families and friends has been overwhelming. Even the opportunity to tell our story here is wonderful. The outpouring of support, gifts, and help has been amazing.
What else would you like to tell people about your growing family?
A: Right now there is not much to tell. We are two guys who wanted a family. We are on the verge of the largest life-changing event in our lives. Check back with me in a month or 6 months or a year, and I will probably have a lot more to share about who I am and how everything is going. Right now we are experiencing excitement, anxiety, and overwhelming love when we think about these children.
So one of the #23til23 challenges I was given was to go to a sporting event.
I was also challenged to meet more celebs.
As a surprise for V’s birthday, I broke down and got us tickets to a Devils game. She’s a huuuuge fan and I knew it would be a great surprise for her. It also helped that I know nothing about sports. I kept pretending I thought the Devils were a basketball team so that she wouldn’t suspect I had gotten tickets to a Devils game for her. (I think she genuinely thought I thought the Devils were a basketball team.)
A few weeks after I purchased the hockey tickets, I found out that I had the opportunity to meet Lance Bass (former N’SYNC band member) and make my 90′s girl dreams come true. I was super excited about this possibility, until it hit me about 2 weeks ago that my opportunity to meet Lance Bass was at the exact same time as the hockey game.
After a brief bit of hem-hawing, I realized something very important: my relationship with my girlfriend matters more to me than my relationship with a 90′s boyband member. My girlfriend’s happiness totally trumped Lance Bass.
V ended up being totally surprised, and, to my surprise, I had a lot of fun at the game. I actually (gasp) enjoyed being at a sporting event! The Devils lost, but I won.
Happy birthday, V. Eat your heart out, Lance Bass.
This weekend, my family celebrated my sister’s 18th birthday (GAH! HOW CAN YOU BE 18 ALREADY?!?!). On the eve of her family birthday celebration, I was at V’s house, spending some quality time with her and her dogs, when my mom called.
More or less, she told me that my entire family had been having a V love fest, and how they had decided it was necessary for me to come out to the family so that V could be invited to the family bday party the next day…. and since it was 9:30 at night I’d better act fast.
Before I discuss this any further, I have a few observances to make.
1. V fits in really well with my immediate family.
Mom, Dad, bro, and sis like her. Mom and Dad even had me inviting her to the sister’s bball games these past few weeks, which means a hell of a lot to me. Not only does she get along really well with my family and sincerely support my little sis, but my parents are comfortable enough with my sexuality to have me and my girlfriend at a basketball game, in front of all of the families they’ve known since my sis was in elementary school. When this first started happening I got teary eyed. My parents are the best.
2. Grandma and V get along really well too.
My Grandma goes to a lot of my sister’s bball games as well. She is definitely from a different generation, but I’m really close to her. When I first came out to her a few years ago, I was worried our relationship wouldn’t be the same. While we haven’t directly discussed my sexuality, she’s been my #1 supporter. V and her REALLY hit it off at the first basketball game V went to, and Grandma told Mom “how pretty V is” and “how V has a 1940′s movie star name.” While Grandma won’t call V my girlfriend– and, because of her generation, I don’t ever expect her to really– she has told me how “she really likes my friend V” and “how she is such a nice girl.”
3. V is a keeper.
The fact that my family was having a family pow-wow love fest about V and calling me at 9:30 at night to come out to the family so that V could celebrate my sister’s birthday really blew me away. It left me flabbergasted, dumbfounded, and on Cloud 9 because it confirmed what I’ve known since I went on my first date with V: she’s a keeper. Family is of utmost importance to me, and she encourages me to spend time with them over her if the opportunity presents itself. My family really, really likes her, and Mom even said “it felt wrong for V not to be at the birthday party.” I don’t know what life has in store, and I know I’m border-line U-Haul lesbian for saying this after just under 2 mos of dating, but she definitely is a keeper.
Anyway. Back to the coming out story.
My family had been talking about how much they like V, how well she fits in with the fam, and how much it means to them that she’s been supporting my sis at her bball games. My sis specifically told my mom she wanted V at her party, which prompted the conversation that led to 3 missed calls while I was in the bathroom at V’s place.
When I called my mom back, I was basically told it was silly for me not to be out to the family at this point, and that I should let them all know that I’m gay and to invite V to my sister’s bday party the next day. I was overwhelmed with emotions (excitement, apprehension, happiness, joy, love, appreciation, contentment) at this conversation, but a bit nervous. Nonetheless, with my hands shaking, I texted my extended family the following:
“Hey, it’s Kailynn. This is an awkward mass text. I wanted to let you all know I’m gay and my girlfriend, V, will be at _s party. Mom, Dad, (brother), (sister), & Grandma all like her. Surprise? See you tomorrow, love you. Sorry for the awkwardness of this text.”
Naturally, I hyperventilated a bit after hitting send, screen shotted the text, and posted it on my Facebook with the caption “I just sent out mass text message to my family saying I’m gay and they’re meeting V at my sister’s bday party tomorrow, as per Mom’s request. Surprise?”
Within a few hours, the photo had 66 likes. People called me “brave,” “fantastic,” and “the best.” Even an ex I don’t really talk to much anymore congratulated me on “getting the last toe out of the closet.” One friend said, “And who said texting wasn’t an authentic & effective form of communication?” I received a few messages from Facebook friends thanking me for sharing my story. Some even said how nice it has been to watch my journey grow and evolve over the years. It was requested that I post some of the replies…which I did.
They looked a little something like this:
While I didn’t expect my family members to boycott my sister’s birthday party, I wasn’t sure what to expect from them. Some of them are (seemingly) very religious, and I wasn’t sure how my text message would fly. As you can see, everyone was really loving and supportive.
Once I posted the responses on Facebook, I received even more likes. Comments began to appear, saying how my coming out was “so our generation,” “inspirational,” and “could help a lot of people.” I was asked if I could share my story on a blog, but, let’s be real people… my blog gets first dibs on my story.
My story really is a story of “our generation,” or “Generation Y” or “The Millennials.” (These are people born between 1980 & 1995.) I’ve grown up in a world where I’ve seen the birth of popularity of computers, the internet, cellphones, and new forms of communication. While I love receiving hand-written letters and actual phone calls, people of my generation keep in touch through text messaging or social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, or instagram. For those less advanced, email might be the communication form of choice. There’s also a constantly growing number of bloggers, such as myself, who use blogging to create an identity as a writer, stay in touch with friends, share thoughts on the world, and connect with others. Not only is my mass-text coming out a sign of this generation, but so is the fact that I posted the texts to Facebook, interacted with others about my coming out story, and am blogging about it. This is something someone 10-20 years older than me could not imagine as part of his or her coming out story, and I think it’s interesting to observe that this could actually be a new sort of coming out.
I didn’t actually feel like I was coming out this time around, mainly because I haven’t been “in” for years. I simply haven’t felt the need to share this part of my life with my extended family until now. I am, however, glad that everything is finally “out” in the open. My extended family really liked V, the party went off without a hitch, and we all had a wonderful time. It’s a relief to finally be me 100%, and even more of a relief to be doing it with someone so wonderful by my side.
2013 really is turning out to be a wonderful year for me.