a story every LGBTQ parent MUST read

This story comes to us from one our members on Long

I thought there was nothing more stressful than taking my four year
old son to an emergency room and subsequently having him admitted
to a hospital.  But living in a country that is riddled with
discrimination towards LGBT people and their families makes even
this task more stressful.  Today, my son Joshua is home from the
hospital and I am left with a horrible feeling about what

It all started early morning on August 13, 2007 when after treating
Josh with all the available asthma medicine at home and consulting
with his physician I got him ready to go to the hospital.  I
packed his  pajamas, a few story books, paper with crayons, some
toys, the medical insurance ID card and all of his medical records
and drugs that I had administered.  As Joshua’s other dad, Andy
(my “husband” for almost 22 years) was also coming with us to
the hospital, I ran back to get Josh’s birth certificate.  I
thought with that extra document no one would question having both
of Josh’s dads in the emergency room. (Joshua’s birth certificate
lists both of us as his parents)

As we drove to the hospital, I said to Andy that I was glad that I
remembered to take his birth certificate.  As gay parents, we have
discovered there are always other steps that we have to perform in
order to be allowed to take part in some of the most basic parental
rights like hospital visitation.  Most LGBT couples realize this
about visitation rights of their partners in hospitals but as gay
parents it has taken us a few years to get used to this same
procedure for our son.  I am not suggesting that I agree with
these procedures, it is just today’s reality.

In the E.R., while they were administrating the steroids and other
treatments, the doctors stated they were amazed at how efficient
and organized we were with all of Joshua’s medical records.  They
said, “Most parents do not bring all this information, it is a
real help”.  Those proud parenting feelings soon faded and
turned into rage when they started the process of admitting Josh
for an overnight stay.  We went from being organized parents to
having to prove that we were parents in the first place.

The nurse politely stated, “Pediatrics, upstairs is asking me to
ask you if you have all your adoption papers.”  When I asked
this E.R. Nurse if any other parent at the hospital had to prove
their rights over their children she said “No, I am just
repeating what they asked me to ask you.  When you go upstairs you
can talk to them in pediatrics.” Upon arrival to pediatrics the
same question was asked of us.  The pediatric head nurse said,
“I need these papers in order to admit Joshua.” I was very
clear to that nurse when I asked her, “Did any of the other
parents in pediatrics have to prove they were the legal guardian
over the children they brought into the hospital?”  She did not
answer that question.  I informed her that I did have my son’s
birth certificate but not his adoption papers.  Although upset
about feeling as if we were being treated differently than any
other parent, I begrudgingly handed Joshua’s birth certificate over
to the nurse.

I pointed out to the nurse that the two parents listed on the birth
certificate were Andy, and myself.  When she informed me that the
birth certificate would not be good enough she needed to make sure
that Joshua’s mother would not have a problem with him being
admitted, my blood pressure hit a new all time high!  I said to
the pediatric nurse, “If you can see on the birth certificate (I
might add the original birth certificate), Joshua does not have a
mother.”  Listen she said, “I need his adoption papers, I do
not want to have a problem with anyone claiming you did anything
wrong.”  I asked as politely as I could, “Is this the
procedure for all parents who adopt children?”  She did not
answer but stated, “Look, I do not want anyone to come around and
claim that they were Joshua’s mom….”  I cut her statement
short with a louder and firmer declaration that JOSHUA DOES NOT
HAVE A MOTHER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It took me a moment to calm down.  I did not want to have any
problems admitting Joshua to the hospital when he clearly needed to
stay.  I then stated to the nurse, “First, a changed birth
certificate is issued after an adoption; there should be no need
for any other papers.  Second, our adoption papers are in a safe
deposit box and we could not get access to it at this time.”  I
did ask her if she expected parents to carry around adoption papers
all the time in case of an emergency.  Again, there was no reply
to that question.  She took the birth certificate to copy and at
one point dropped the issue of requiring Joshua’s adoption

Joshua received amazing care at the hospital.  Although I will
never be sure how much delay was caused by not having all the
papers handy.  It did take us almost three hours to actually admit
Josh to the hospital.  He is now home recovering from his
ordeal.  My point in telling this story is to show the
difficulties that LGBT families face at South Nassau Communities
Hospital on Long Island, New York.  I am left to wonder what would
have happened if during the stress of our situation I had forgotten
to take Joshua’s birth certificate.  For now it appears that I
should be walking around with my file cabinet attached to my
back.  I have learned from past experiences with this hospital
that I need to carry around my Power-of-Attorney and Health Care
Proxy forms for me and my husband and now I will have to carry
around our sons birth certificate and his adoption papers.  One
never knows when an emergency will occur.  I do understand the
concerns the hospital has with regard to these matters.  No one
would want the oversight of their child to be anyone other then
themselves or a chosen guardian.  The questions the nurse asked me
might have been acceptable if they were asked to a single other
parent at that hospital.  After asking other parents at the
hospital if they were asked to prove parental rights, I found out
we were the only family singled out.