Four years ago we received the phone call that changed our lives forever. We were told that in our own city of New Orleans, there was a newborn baby that needed a forever home. What we were told by the agency would likely take five or more years took mere weeks. We frantically started putting together her nursery and planning for her arrival. She was born 10 weeks early and needed to stay in the NICU to grow and gain her strength and weight before she was released. She was so tiny and delicate. We were almost afraid to hold her in the beginning because of how fragile she was.
Finally, the day arrived that we were able to bring her home and we were thrust into overdrive. We prepared by reading all the baby books and watching the videos, but all that goes out the window when you have a baby in your arms. Our little baby had trouble digesting her formula due to her prematurity. The look in her eyes due to the pain she felt broke our hearts. We felt helpless! All we could do was just try to make sure to do everything on our end to help alleviate any pain she may encounter while feeding her. It was terrible. We would hold her for hours trying to console our hurting baby girl. I remember thinking to myself while she was crying that I would do anything to make her feel better.
Months passed and she grew stronger. The tough times we all experienced in the beginning bonded us closer together. Although she won't remember those times, my husband and I do. We know in our hearts that she developed trust and security for us both especially because of those difficult first months.
She knows that we would and will do anything on Earth for her.
A year and a half later we welcomed our second baby into our lives. Our story seemed to be writing itself. Our oldest was able to fall in love with her baby sister just as her Daddy and Papa were. It seemed like life's cobble stone pathway started to form right in front of us. We hopped onto each one as it appeared below us. One year turned into two that then faded into three. Now we are at year four and something has seemed to happen. Our pathway that formed so naturally for us seemed to be getting more difficult for others to find. Life's pathway should be accessible to anyone.
There are many people in our country that feel LGBTQ+ Americans shouldn't have the same rights as our straight counterparts. The Trump administration is trying to allow adoption agencies that RECEIVE FEDERAL TAX DOLLARS to discriminate against LGBTQ+ families. This proposal is fully supported and praised by several people in highest of leadership positions in our country. There are currently protections in place that deny federal funding to adoption agencies that discriminate against same-sex adoptive families. Keeping these protections in place encourages more agencies to open their doors to same-sex couples. This administration is trying to do away with these protections.
I understand that some (not all) faith-based adoption agencies choose to turn away hopeful same-sex couples. While I in no way agree with this personally, I do respect the concept of freedom of religion. However, they don't have any business being given federal funds if the funds are being used to support discriminatory practices. Any business that accepts federal funding must NOT DISCRIMINATE. Period.
When I read about this proposition I became enraged. I was literally shaking with anger. Separation of church and state is in our constitution for an important reason! How can I just sit back and personally allow this to happen? My mind suddenly became a jumbled thought machine. What can I personally do?
My first thought was write. But I was so hurt and angry! How can I write and effectively allow my anger to subside? That seemed impossible. So I kept thinking. Well, what if protested? I have never done that. Where do I even begin? Do I need a permit? Will I be arrested? After doing my research, in LOUISIANA, a permit is only needed if you march. To stand and have a peaceful demonstration requires NO PERMIT and it is absolutely free! When I read this my heart started pounding with excited anxiety. Once I felt like I was on to something, I created a slogan.
Before I knew it there was a Facebook event. I chose a place in New Orleans that I thought would be a popular spot for tourists but I also wanted a sentimental spot for us to be at. Jackson Square seemed like the perfect spot because that is where we were married, plus it's always packed with people. The night before our demonstration my husband and I made our posters to hold. Afterwards, I emailed local news outlets and any person in the public eye that may be interested. One news station ran a story about it the morning of the protest. I reached out to our beloved church family and parish priest. Father Terry is a very outspoken and admired member of our community. I was honored when he joined us for the demonstration.
Once we arrived, we were met with an overall positive atmosphere. About 12 of us participated in the demonstration. The crowd not only was accepting of our message but they also were very curious and had many questions.
If you do choose to hold a demonstration, be sure to think about your responses when people ask your thoughts on the issue at hand. This being my first protest, I was caught off guard a few times. I wasn't expecting to answer so many questions. When you do arrive at a demonstration, be ready to answer any question thrown at you. Practice at home. That will help.
Although crowds and speaking publicly are not my strong suit, I promised my girls in the beginning of their lives that Papa & Daddy would do anything for them. That includes holding signs and picketing in front of absolute strangers. My family deserves to be treated like any other family. Just because my husband and I may interfere with someone's deeply held religious beliefs does not give our government the right to alienate us and treat us any different. The tax dollars we pay should not be given to any business that deems our existence unworthy of the service they offer. PERIOD. End of discussion.
Being part of a marginalized group of society, it is easy to sense prejudices, bigotry and inequities that chisel away at our community. Something ominous is happening in our country today. The atmosphere is much different than a few years ago. When Trump was elected to office I was scared that his reputation of bullying would extend much further than the Oval Office. Unfortunately, I see evidence of that everyday.
Since 2017 I have published a post on my Nolapapa Facebook page. This post has over 11,000 likes and I stand behind the message. About three times a year I boost the post to share my message. Two days ago, I ran it again. Within the last 48 hours I have had to ban over 50 people from my page because of hateful and vile remarks. They not only were commenting on my post but they were aggressively and hatefully coming for my audience. A few hours ago I had to suspend the campaign because of the enormous amount of hatred coming in. Something is happening. Why are people suddenly acting so hatefully? My gut is telling me that the hateful people have always been there. They are just more audacious and brazen today. These people are not only hateful trolls and bullies, but they are menace to society. They are mimicking the President's actions. If the leader of the free world is allowed to say mean and hateful things, then why can't they?
They can. But it is up to each and everyone of us to stand up and speak out when we see this happen. Our future is up to us alone. If we allow to be steamrolled, then we will be. We must unite together and not allow this unfortunate time in our history to determine our beautiful future. Our lives, our babies' lives are worth it.