I had to take a healthy shot of muscle relaxer and it’s driving the train right now. I fell last Sunday and pulled my back out. That said; I must post in praise of my partner Rachel Dueker. The 26th was her birthday. It’s the first after the recent loss of both of her parents. That brings up remarkably conflicted emotions for anyone at any age. But Rachel is brave and special. She’s a survivor. And she knows she was and is loved and always will be. Having no parents is awful but having ones that you love and losing them is like a dagger to the heart.
I celebrate her in every way. My heart goes out to her, you have to experience this kind of loss to understand. I wrote in a blog post a while ago of how Rachel healed me like nobody else could. We are connected through one of the most traumatic events of my childhood and was able to help me reach a catharsis and peace with it. We were only 8 and had to deal with accidentally learning that my father was a suicide. It did so much damage that never got resolved, I went out and engaged in every high risk behavior I could get into and Rachel blamed herself for ruining my life. Neither was necessary and thankfully, both are over.
Rachel is one of the strongest, most generous, loving people in the world. It disgusts me that she was more heavily scrutinized in the adoption process because she is gay. Her wife Kim was first to be legally ratified as Michael’s parent. They were not allowed to adopt jointly because they weren’t recognized as a legally married couple in the state Mike was adopted out of. The case would be the same if an unmarried hetero couple was adopting; homosexual marriages were not yet nationally recognized so staggering was the only option.
I thought I understood what gay people have to go through but I didn’t have a clue. There’s so much discrimination and fear out there. You would think that since it’s 2016 we would be in an age of peace and enlightenment. While marriage is now legal and recognized by the federal government and not just individual states, there is still plenty of hatred to contend with. Gays are not pedophiles, there is no correlation. In fact, the profile of a child molester is usually a straight, often married man. And they aren’t out to convert anybody. There are predatory gays just like predatory straights who will exploit vulnerability to their own ends. That has nothing to do with sexual orientation and everything about the nature of a portion of human kind.
My partner fought like a tiger to get her son home. She handled every hurdle like an Olympic athlete, never wavering on her choice to put herself through a process that usually keeps the adoptive parents on the edge of their seats waiting for updates and clearances. Her and Kim and Mike’s journey to becoming a family was an emotional rollercoaster I was witness to daily through our conversations. For someone who had not yet met or held her son, she was already a mother.
She is the one who lit a fire under my behind and got me to finally do what I was most afraid of. I’ve opened myself up to criticism from anyone and everyone and stuck my neck out to follow my passion and what I know to be true. People thank and congratulate me on what KINDRED is doing. I feel the thanks belong to Rachel and to the kids in the system who made me take action on an issue that matters to me. Rachel lent me some of her tenacious courage to hit the word publish on our Indiegogo campaign. I was scared of failing but I was also scared of succeeding. Then I’m accountable to produce something tangible. Turns out I actually can! I wasted so much time worrying.
Rachel has been the perfect partner for me. I don’t even mind when she ‘handles’ me. She’s good at it. I began this journey with a duffle bag’s worth of insecurities. Little by little with the passage of time and our warm reception into the foster community, I’ve shed most of those thoughts and fears. Because of Rachel I am involved in something important, that is so much bigger than me and can positively impact the lives of innumerable children.
I cannot verbally express how much I love this woman and how grateful I am that she is not only in my life, she is half of my company and much more than half of the responsibilities of producing this project. She’s amazing. Being able to work in an industry I have always been drawn to with one of my oldest, best friends is a blessing. One I am completely present to.
Together we will join with our fellow advocates to help burn down the dilapidated artifice of the foster care system and implement legislation that gives these kids what they need most; to be heard, seen and fought for.
For more info on how you can get involved with our cause, watch trailers and donate, check out