Coparenting, Cancer and Cruises

We are pleased to bring this guest post by Jamie Lamkin who
lives in Durham, NC – a liberal pocket amongst a sea of red.
She’s currently coparenting a very spunky 7 year old daughter
with her ex-partner. Jamie has always been encouraged to write by
many people but believes that in a past life she was martyred for
her beliefs, thus causing writing blocks, hiccups and fits and
starts in her current life. Blogging has become a way for her to
overcome those blocks. Check out Jamie’s

My family just returned from our first RFamily Cruise a few days
ago. Our family is a bit different, even from the families on that
cruise. Sure, it consists of two mommies, that’s nothing unusual.
Debra and I are no longer partnered and we co-parent Sofie, so
that’s putting us in a bit of a different boat…pun intended.
The biggest difference was somewhat hidden unless you saw the door
decorations of our stateroom, then the secret was out. We
both had Cancer this year. I’m sure we’re not the only
family that’s had to deal with multiple illnesses; however I do
feel we were faced with challenges that most families don’t face.
It’s plain and simple, we don’t have the protections that many
families do.

I’m not even talking about Marriage Equality here, I’m just
talking about basic rights as parents and supporters of one
another. We ended our relationship before either of us had Cancer
and through trials and tribulations have come out on the other end
loving friends, supporters and co-parents. The illnesses have been
cause for many conversations around all the  “what if…”
situations.  Legally, I have no rights to Sofie as a parent. Prior
to Debra’s surgery last year, she did put in her will that I was
to be Sofie’s legal guardian if anything happened to her.
Fortunately, nothing happened. A few months later, I was diagnosed
with Cancer, too. That put us both into a spin about life that you
can’t even imagine. I wasn’t too worried about my legal rights
and protections until Debra had a recurrence halfway through my own
chemotherapy regimen.  That’s when life as we knew it

While dealing with a recurrence and “managing” not
“treating”  her Cancer, Debra and I are having serious
conversations about how things will pan out once the drugs stop
working,  her body wears out or she just wants her quality of life
back. Those are hard conversations but we keep having them with the
love, planning and humor we both engage in with our lives. The part
that’s most annoying is all the planning and covering our asses
we have to do to make this work. If we were a straight couple that
had adopted Sofie together, this discussion would be moot.

I say all of this to remind you just how import Family Pride is to
ALL of our families. This is a new concept to me, too.
I’ve been receiving the Family Pride emails for awhile. I became
aware of them when we were interested in attending Family Week in
P-Town a few years ago. I knew they existed, but honestly didn’t
give it much thought. I sometimes read the emails and other times
they became buried with other emails I receive from similar (or so
I thought) organizations. It wasn’t until the cruise after
attending several of their workshops, chatting with Jennifer and
seeing just how committed they are to making a difference for our
families did I truly understand the role of Family Pride in the big
scheme of things. Sure, there are many organizations working hard
for rights of GLBT persons, but no other group (that I can find) is
working for family equality like Family Pride.