Picsea by @picsea

Starting a Family

“Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.”

—David Ogden Stiers

I started growing my family in September of 2015. I don’t have a specific date, but I know it was then. And, of course, I had family before that, too. But there was definitely an inflection point, a point where we started rapidly adding people to our lives that we have no other word for besides “family”. When we moved to Washington, the people we surrounded ourselves with couldn’t really be considered friends; we spend holidays with them, we miss them when we travel, we try to ensure we’re setting good examples for their children, and we love them without reserve. They’re our family.

And since we’ve moved to Washington, something we’ve always known has become starkly clear: we choose our family. Families aren’t defined by biology, they’re defined by love.

In July of 2017, I “officially” added Ethan to my family. We got married on the steps of the Moore Mansion, and promised to love each other as best we could in front of our family, biological or otherwise. It was an important day for us; not because it changed something between the two of us–we had been operating as a family for years–but because it was the first, and maybe the only, time our family was all gathered in one place. Thinking about that still makes me so happy.

This holiday season, I took advantage of the two week shutdown that HashiCorp does (we didn’t have work from December 21st through January 2nd) to go visit with the family I don’t get to see very often. We spent some time in Buffalo with Ethan’s mother, some time in Syracuse with my family, and some time in Buffalo with Ethan’s father.

If there was a theme to the trip (beyond illness; ugh) it would be babies. Ethan’s older brother had a baby boy right before our wedding, so he’s six months old now, and we got to meet him for the first time. Ethan’s younger brother is due to have a baby in a few months, so they were gearing up for that while we were there. My little brother had a girl in July of 2016 while he was stationed in Okinawa with the Marines, and now that his contract has ended, his family is spending a few months with my parents. She was at our wedding, and absolutely adores her Favourite Uncle (Funcle!) Ethan. And my sister’s boyfriend has a teenage son that we got to meet over the holidays for the first time.

And for the first time, I got to see my husband interact at length with a baby. And y’all, I can’t wait for him to be a dad, because he’s gonna be so good at it.

We’ve been talking about having kids since before we started dating. Back when we were roommates, we talked about what we’d name our kids. As we dated, then got engaged, then got married, it became more and more explicitly clear that kids were in the plans for the future. We started to keep track of the things we wanted to do, and started thinking out timelines of how to make sure we got stuff done before having kids, while still having kids at an age we were comfortable with. We started thinking through the ducks we’d like to get in a row before we had kids–things like getting married, buying a house, getting rid of student loan debt–so we could devote our attention fully to the process of getting the kids, and once that was done, there was nothing left undone to distract us from them.

It was barely a few days into watching Ethan interact with our niece that I started buying books on Amazon about how to go about having kids as a same-sex couple. We’re still not ready, but it’s pretty clear it’s time for those plans to become less fuzzy and vague.

There are a lot of paths to parenthood, and we don’t know which we’ll take yet. We need to explore our choices, investigate costs, consider ramifications, and come to grips about what’s really important to us, as parents.

But I’m excited to get started. I think we’re still a few years out from adding someone to our family, but as I learn more and research more, I’ll probably want to talk about things more. So I figured I’d start off with some context, rather than just dropping a post about the nuances of open vs. closed adoption on y’all in six months with no backstory.

There’s a lot of reading, and research, and hard questions, and anxiety, and hope, and planning in our future. And then we get to the real hard part, raising someone to be as kind, generous, and wonderful as the family we’ve surrounded ourselves with.

I’m looking forward to that challenge.