The Rolling Tide of LGBTQ Rights: Parenting with Uncertainty


Aside from getting married, becoming a parent was both the most amazing, and terrifying moment of my life. Suddenly my wife, Kendra, and I were responsible for a tiny little baby. I kept expecting the nurses at the hospital to give us an instruction booklet, but they sent us home with nothing but love.

Since getting married and becoming a mom, I find myself worrying in ways I never did as a single woman. The rolling tide of LGBTQ rights that seemed to be surging ahead over the last few years appears to be receding with each passing day. I cringe every time I scroll through the latest news, anticipating yet another blow toward our full equality and protection. It’s a sinking feeling that lurks in the back of my head and the pit of my stomach – I can’t seem to shake a feeling of fear.

What if gay marriage is overturned? What if the law changes before my adoption of the twins is finalized? What if the adoption of my kids is nullified? What if my relationship as the non-biological parent to my kids is questioned or revoked? What if LGBTQ parents can no longer foster kids, and our oldest daughter, Veronica, has to leave our home?

What if…? What if…? What if…?

Sometimes I think I have watched too many episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale – but other times, my fears seem grounded. Same-sex marriage has only been recognized nationally for the last two years and it was just last year when a ban against adoption by same-sex couples was struck down in Mississippi, finally making it legal for us to adopt in all 50-states. And even though I am on the birth certificates of our three youngest kids, as the non-biological parent, I need to adopt them to make sure our legal relationship is secure.

Yes, you heard that right. I have to adopt my own kids. Though there are many reasons why, the most pressing is traveling to other states. If something were to happen to Kendra while we visit her family in South Carolina, the kids would be taken into the custody of social services, because South Carolina is one of the many states that does not recognize my relationship to my children unless I adopt them. The part that stings the most is that the legal workaround for me to do so is that I have to adopt them as their step-parent. No matter that I held Kendra’s hand for every single insemination. That we cried together when we first learned Addison was on the way; and again when she had a miscarriage on our first try to have a second child. That I gave her every injection through the process of IVF. That I was the first person to hold Addison, Kate, and Evan, and cut their umbilical cords. That I was up countless sleepless nights, feeding, rocking, and singing to our babies. That I clean up scraped knees, wipe away tears, celebrate their joys, and love them intensely. None of that matters in the eyes of the law; I am merely the woman who married their mother.

Yet, I CAN adopt them, which is a huge step forward for LGBTQ parents. However, experience has shown us how quickly the tide can turn. After the law banning same-sex marriage in California was struck down in 2008, over 15,000 couples legally wed. Yet, just five months later, Californians passed Proposition 8, making same-sex marriage once again illegal. Folks who’d already been married had to wait an excruciating six months to find out if their marriages were still legal (they were), and folks who’d not had the opportunity to get married prior to the election suddenly found themselves unable to access the cultural and economic benefits of marriage.

To understand my fears, one just has to look at the many, many bills being introduced around the country that seek to erode LGBTQ rights and protections. Kendra and I were in Austin this past weekend, and we took a tour of the capitol building. As we walked outside, we bumped into folks protesting two anti-LGBTQ bills being debated by the Texas Senate, including one that would allow state-funded adoption agencies to prevent LGBTQ people from adopting children. Though I can’t understand how such a law is even on the table, it is already the law of the land in Alabama and South Dakota.

Adding to my growing uncertainty are the First Amendment Defense Acts (FADA) popping up around the country that would allow individuals and businesses (including government employees and entities) to use their religious beliefs to refuse to serve LGBTQ people and their families. Kendra and I have already been down that road – when we were planning our wedding. There were many tears as vendors hung up on Kendra, telling her we were an abomination to God. Only two venues would even consider our request to host the ceremony and reception. The night of the rehearsal dinner, the bus driver we hired to transport my family and out-of-town guests to and from the event angrily kept asking about the groom, and the limo driver who took us to the ceremony would not look at us or open the vehicle’s doors.

A federal FADA bill failed in 2015, but Ted Cruz plans on reintroducing it this year, and Donald Trump has pledged to sign it into law if it is passed by Congress. Such a law would directly impact me, Kendra, and our family. Health care professionals could refuse to take care of either of us, or our kids… our employers could fire us… teachers could decline to work with our kids. I am scared. Our rights as LGBTQ people feel so tenuous, leaving me wondering what we can do as parents to protect our children, and protect our family in this time of uncertainty. Because ultimately, isn’t the well-being of our children every parent’s greatest concern?

12th blogging lgbtq families day

12th blogging lgbtq families dayThough these days fear pervades my body, ultimately I am choosing to meet this feeling with love. As cliche as the hashtag #LoveTrumpsHate may seem, it has become a personal mantra for me.

When Trump was elected, I promised my kids that we would be Love Warriors, and keep working to make the world a better, safer place for everyone. And though at times the tide seems to be turning, I still have hope. June is pride month, and I have seen more rainbow flags and celebrations than years past. Support for LGBTQ folks is at its highest ever. 64% of US adults support Same-Sex marriage, whereas 20 years ago, that number was just 31%.

Despite the rolling tide of LGBTQ rights, my family is buoyed by the support of family and friends, our church community, neighbors, coworkers, and the many, many people working tirelessly to advocate for full and equal protection of LGBTQ people and their families. We remain hopeful that justice will prevail. And in the meantime, we will continue to be Love Warriors.

12th blogging lgbtq families day

I wrote this post for the 12th Annual Blogging for LGBTQ Families Day. Check out for posts from other bloggers. 

You can also read my posts from past years:

About Jen

Outdoor adventurer and traveler. Writer, Photographer & Communications Professor. Wife. Mom of twins plus one. Tubbs Snowshoes Ambassador. Blogger at

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5 Responses to The Rolling Tide of LGBTQ Rights: Parenting with Uncertainty

  1. Natalie Perry June 1, 2017 at 8:26 pm #

    Love Warriors…I love this! What a wonderful way to think of our fight for equality. :)

  2. Kaldas Atef Labib June 3, 2017 at 6:04 pm #

    Jen, although I share your concerns about the direction America is taking under the misguided leadership of Donald Trump, I do believe that we will overcome. You, along with your family, have been an inspiration to so many, including me. You have climbed mountains, destroyed obstacles, and made impossible dreams possible. Let us pray that Hillary Clinton will be our President in 2020.

  3. JennP June 8, 2017 at 7:48 am #

    I wasn’t aware of the possibility of FADA. That’s scary.

  4. Tracy Pastorak August 2, 2017 at 8:31 pm #

    Great post! I love the idea of “Love Warriors”.


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