Choosing to Go Into Exile

This post is in honor of Blogging For LGBT Families Day

While Kristin and I were on our night-time tour of Portland, N took us around some of the neighborhoods that she thought we might be interested in moving to. She was right, the neighborhoods are exactly what we will want should we move to Portland. We picked up some fliers on houses for sale and quietly loudly, with much exclamation and disbelief, had heartattacks over the cost of real estate in Portland. Chances are good, that should we move to Portland, we won't be able to buy a house that would suit our needs, in a neighborhood we like, for quite some time. Especially if we're a two-student family with two young children.

But still, if we're going to move out of Utah, Oregon, the Portland area in particular, would be the smartest place for us to move. Outside of Utah and Houston it's the only place where we have family. A nascent support network. And though Kristin and I will do it if we have to, we can't imagine moving to a new community, leaving everyone and everything we know and love behind, without some loving faces at the end of our journey. To welcome us to our new home with open arms. To help us settle in and feel as if we belong. To babysit for us when we need to do things sans children. We imagine ourselves moving anywhere but Portland and we imagine ourselves cast away, adrift, alone in our exile. And all the more bitter for it.

Why am I writing about moving on Blogging for LGBT Families Day? Because to protect our family as best we can in the US we have to move out of Utah. Utah does not recognize our family. Utah does not recognize my status as a mother to Julia. Utah claims that the state has a valid interest in providing each child with two parents -- as long as those two parents have biologically different genitalia. So I cannot adopt Julia because my doing so -- my having the legal right to protect her, make decisions for her, leave her my social security, call her my daughter -- would forever preclude her from having a father. It doesn't matter that she will never have a father. It doesn't matter that she has a plethora of loving, interested, non-father, male family members already. The state, and many people within the state, would rather Julia have less family, less protection, less love, less legitimacy than less of a chance to call some male "Daddy." So, we're moving. Hopefully not before Kristin finishes her Master's degree in two years, but perhaps as soon as next summer.

Lying in bed with Kristin last night, she turned to me and said something along the lines of it's exciting to live in a place as progressive as Portland, it's a beautiful city, but the thought of moving, of packing up our entire lives, is overwhelming to me. It'll be good, but it'll also be a huge loss, and I'm worried about navigating that.

And I replied Yes, I know. I'm trying to focus on the larger picture, the long-term good of our family, and not the loss of this house that we love and have worked so hard on, not the loss of proximity to our family and friends, not the loss of the canyons and desert and mountains that feel like a part of my soul. I know I'm going to be crying as we pack up because I know that even though we're telling people that the move is only temporary -- just until the adoptions go through-- we most likely won't ever call Utah home again.

Or maybe as we settled in for the night she just sighed heavily and curled her body into mine as I cried with my hand on her hip.

Posted by Trista @ 8:29 AM

Read or Post a Comment

I don't know what to say, except what I say to Noah. I know it's hard. It'll be ok. It will. It's hard, but it'll be ok.

Posted by Anonymous Liza @ 10:29 AM #

At least you have a partner that is willing to be uprooted in order to provide you and your child what you rightly deserve.... I don't even have that. And with her mother being more and more bitchy lately and deliberately trying to cause trouble between us, I'm starting to wonder if MIL would in fact take him from me if anything ever happened.
You know who this is. Don't send the reply to the joint account.

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous @ 10:29 AM #

I'm so sorry Trista :( I'm with you my friend... I will support you even if I'm really away.
You'll figure out a solution that suits best for the well being of your family, you'll see.

Posted by Blogger Sublime @ 10:32 AM #

I'm from Portland, and it's lovely. Truly lovely. Oddly, it's the ONLY place we could move, as well - we can afford a house after selling our apartment in NY.

I'm so sorry the joy is mixed with so much sorrow, however...

Posted by Blogger Shelli @ 10:45 AM #

*hugs* to you and all of my queer "family" in the US who have to make such HUGE decisions to ensure that their families are protected.

It really is hard and really isn't fair.

Posted by Blogger Kwynne @ 11:55 AM #

It's so impossible to choose between the very very high quality of life and everything that is available "out there." Erik and I say we're embarking on an adventure but we're both pretty miserable about it. We wonder if we'll ever move back home or if we could ever move back to Portland. One bit of good news, my house here is worth more than my house there right now. You may be able to swing it. There are parts of Portland that are more affordable...and you could always live in Gresham!

Posted by Blogger Nik @ 1:19 PM #

eeew! Not Gresham!

We are actually thinking of maybe living in Vancouver. Close enough to N & A, but much cheaper than actually living in Portland. Maybe. We'll see what the next couple of months bring (most importantly whether we'll be moving in summer of 07 or 08).

Posted by Blogger Trista @ 1:32 PM #

Having someone NOT in your family tell you what is a family will never ever make sense.
I have been pondering where to move to once GM passes & the pacific northwest is at teh top of my list.
How about we all just buy a big chunk of land & create a tent city where ALL families are accepted?

Posted by Blogger Calliope @ 2:25 PM #

Utah laws are bullshit, I'm sorry that you have to deal with that. You two provide a better home environment and much more love and support than 1/2 of the population there does. Drives me nuts. I know how sad it is to leave behind friends, family and a house you love. Unfortunately the move is sometimes the best "move" you can make in life.

Posted by Blogger Mandy @ 2:30 PM #


Please email me so I can email YOU. I've never commented here before, but I know Liza, she can vouchfor me. Or is your email somewhere I am missing here?????

Posted by Anonymous KatS @ 3:15 PM #

i'm tuning in as a fellow LGBT family day blogger, & i'm sorry, too. i was born & grew up within an hour of where i live now, & though some family has moved away, a lot of family hasn't. i believe in roots, & geography, & the love you have for your local flora & fauna.

when betty & i think about moving away from NYC, which we do sometimes for want of a yard - despite our being, on paper, legally married & heterosexual - i wonder how many communities are going to welcome a het dyke and her out, trans, MTF partner.

i think i may end up here, or maybe 6 other places in this country.

it's not necessarily easy to be out as a trans couple here, but it's *possible.* & i just don't know where else that would be the case.

Posted by Blogger helen_boyd @ 3:35 PM #

Trista, I admire and Kristin for having the courage to move on and protect your family. I've seen far too many parents who actively abuse and neglect their kids, and I see your beautiful, healthy, brilliant nose-picking daughter, and grieve over the shortsighted people who only see something they're uncomfortable with and ignore every good thing.

Posted by Blogger Faith @ 3:58 PM #

Oh, Trista, it's so damn hard. Co and I live somewhere we have a medium amount of rights (we have a domestic partnership, and 2nd parent adoption is available, so that's enough to keep us from "needing" to move). But, you know, that's luck, that where we ended up if where the laws are okay.
A lot of my family is from Massachusetts and still lives up there (my entire immediate family, in fact) and I can't tell you how many people have said to me, why don't you just move to Massachusetts?
Well, because guess what? I don't want to!!! And it makes me really angry that where I live affects my civil rights. That's really not acceptable (though I applaud you and admire you more than I can say for being accepting it enough to protect your family).
Also it annoys me when people act as though the ability to move to Massachusetts means I am awfully greedy to want marriage legal where *I* live*. (You selfish lesbians, you have one whole state. What do you want with the other 49?)
Canada, however, that's a whole different story....why *don't* I move to Canada...
(sorry for the long comment. This issue is a deeply felt one for me, as you can see.)

Posted by Blogger Lo @ 7:11 PM #

Wonderful post, appalling situation. You shouldn't have to move to secure your rights, period.

For what it's worth, I own a house in one of Portland's "bad" neighborhoods - the SE area nicknamed "Felony Flats." My two wonderful nieces and their parents live with me as well, and you know what? This neighborhood is fine. Most of the "bad" neighborhoods in Portland would be seen as pretty decent neighborhoods in a lot of other cities.

Posted by Blogger Ampersand @ 11:44 PM #

I don't know you ... I've never read your blog before in my life but I stumbled across it from the LGBT Families Day Blogs and I just had to respond.

I recently uprooted My wife and son from the middle of nowhere Missouri to Massachusetts, for a variety of reasons but the main one being I wanted our son to have the opportunity to be more aware of the world and not live in a neighborhood where everyone is exactly the same with the same cookie-cutter ideas regarding same sex relationships and the children from those relationships. I'm also originally from Massachusetts and I missed being home.

I can understand the fear and the joy that comes from moving ... the impetus being that you want to be able to freely care for your child, without a blind, indifferent government stepping in and saying "NO! You aren't a worthy enough person to love."

My heart and love go out to you ... and, like another poster said, it IS going to be OK ... it's hard and it sucks sometimes, but it IS going to be OK. You just have to keep your head up, regardless of what the world thinks ... We know we are worthy of love ... and we are capable of acts of love that far exceed what a conveniently placed male figure could do if he just doesn't want to be there.

Good lord, I'm babbling again ... I shouldn't post when I'm low on caffiene.

Goddess Bless you and yours ... I shall keep you in my thoughts and check your blog every now and again, if you don't mind.


The Lost Bostonian

Posted by Blogger Miss_Deidre @ 6:36 AM #

"I hate this place but more than I hate this place I hate the people but more than I hate the people I hate the look in their eyes" By Lamont Carey

I don't understand loving Utah, I am having a hard time just living here.

Posted by Blogger Spin_Doc1 @ 7:36 AM #

A move will be good for you too..... The move part sucks, but the new life part is exciting. And you will be doing what is best for your family if moving is the decision that you make.

Posted by Blogger Jean @ 7:58 AM #

Gonna post again, hope you don't mind! ;)

After reading through some of the posts there were a couple of things that really jumped out at me. Cris and I had always said that we'd move out of Provo before we had children old enough to be in school. On the block where we lived, only two families would have anything to do with us. The rest ignored us b/c we're not Mormon. I'd get whispers and funny looks in the grocery store when people would see my tattooes or I'd be buying beer or coffee (gasp!). As easy as it is for me to let it roll off my back--most of the time anyways--I knew it would be much more difficult for my children to be scrutinized. I didn't want them to be judged or treated differently b/c of our choices.

It would be a hard decision to make but I knew that at some point a move would be in the best interest of our family. Might not be exactly where Cris and I wanted to go, but sometimes you have to look at the overall picture. I'm sorry that you have to face any of this. I wish that people would be more progressive and open-minded.

Posted by Blogger Mandy @ 10:12 AM #

As a utah mormon, I am sorry that anyone is hurt by people in a religion that teaches we are all children of the same God. I don't have good answers, but I do think that people who treat others badly because of different opinions/views/lifestyles or whatever are in need of some serious spiritual growth.

I may not agree with your choices, but at the heart of the religion I believe in is our ability to make our own choices.

Good luck to you where ever you end up.

Posted by Blogger Allie @ 8:29 AM #
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