Monday, May 5, 2014

Remembering That Gabriel Had Two Mommies: A Mother's Day Tribute In The Wake Of Tragedy

Gabriel did not die because his moms were lesbian. His death was not the byproduct of homophobia. His fate was not because of a violation of any legal custody issues. His story is bigger than any of that. - Rob Watson, LGBTQNation

Mother's Day evokes memories of dedicated love: a love so deep and pure that it transcends even physical attachment. I was born in an institution called St. Vincent's Infant Asylum and Maternity Hospital (Chicago) and put up for adoption from birth. My (adoptive) mother first saw me when I was 15 months old. I've never had a wish to know anything about my birth mother. I've never had reason to. Evelyn S. Vojir was my real mother, after all. A womb is not necessarily a mother.

Adoptive parents have always been held to a different standard: their desire to nurture a child seems somehow stronger, more definite than natural parents, especially if they will take ANY child that is given to them. But gay adoptive parents' desire to nurture has been called to question by the Christian Right, the meme "every child deserves both a mother and a father" being thrust forward at every moment of the gay adoption debate.

The Tragedy of Gabriel
The 17-year-old father of a baby boy who died just weeks after his birth mother took him back from his lesbian adoptive parents has been charged with first-degree murder.
Four-month-old Gabriel King McFarland was found unresponsive on April 22 by his mother after she left the baby in the care of his father, Drew James Weehler-Smith, at their Des Moines, Iowa home.
The boy later passed away and an autopsy revealed that Gabriel died of an abusive head trauma, which authorities say he suffered at the hands of his teen dad.
The motive for the murder is not yet known, but one obvious cause of Gabriel's death is immaturity: immaturity and instability. A 16 year-old girl's fecklessness and inability to carry out commitment has caused more grief than joy. Her inability to ascertain the father's character was also a factor.

The video below goes at length about the causes of death and the circumstances, but the last two minutes may be the most telling of all: "why was this baby ripped away" from his loving adoptive parents?

Attorneys Everywhere - Protection Nowhere

One thing has come to light since the case was first reported: Heidi and Rachel McFarland hold their own attorney responsible for not filing the paperwork terminating parental rights.
“It’s a two-step process. The first step is to file a termination of parental rights. That process is normally started by obtaining a release of custody from at least one of the two parents,” [Ryan] Genest says. [Genest is a lawyer specializing in adoptions not related to the case]
From there the birth parents have a limited amount of time to change their minds.
“Any parent that signed the release, there’s 96 hours to change their mind. For any reason. If they fail to change their mind in those 96 hours they can ask the court to revoke their release, but at that point they have to show what’s called good cause,” Genest added.
96 hours is a far cry from two months - the entire time that the McFarland's had baby Gabriel.

The McFarlands also paid for lawyers for Gabriel's birth mother and Gabriel himself. They now have no money ... and no baby Gabriel.

Motive vs Cause

The father, 17-year-old Drew Wheeler-Smith, has yet to enter a plea - let alone a motive - for the murder of Gabriel, but the motive may determine the physical cause: if he believed that mother Markeya Atkins had changed her mind again and decided to give Gabriel back to her adoptive lesbian parents, then the issue becomes one of homophobia, but as Rob Watson has said, the tragedy of Gabriel transcends many issues. 

Homophobia. Immaturity. Attorney malfeasance. They may all have played a part in Gabriel's death ... and the McFarland's misery.

“We had been scrutinized, our life style has been scrutinized, the people in our lives have been scrutinized, we had to have letters of reference for this home study, to make sure we were…adequate as parents..” said Rachel, “ And, they never had to have anything when they took him back.”

Remembering Gabriel's Moms

In Rob Watson's letter to the McFarlands, he stated what the rest of us should feel for Gabriel's two moms:
In a few weeks, it will be Mothers Day. On that day, I will buy two roses to honor you. I will look on them and think of you, as you are: Gabriel’s Moms, now and forever.

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