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Bi-National Love + Baby = Family

By Amos Lim, OFC Member

still remember every detail of my arrival to San Francisco on May 31, 1999. Mickey, now my husband, and I had survived four years of a tortuous long distance relationshipspending all of our resources and energy trying to find ways for us to embark on a life journey together in the United States.

As a gay U.S. citizen, Mickey does not have the same right as our heterosexual friends to sponsor me for permanent residency (a green card) by marrying the person he loves. We searched and researched everywhere for other opportunities that would allow us, a committed loving couple, to be united here in the United States. In 1997, was able to secure an F-1 visa, so I would come into the U.S. as an international student. You can imagine how thrilled we were to hear that all the MBA paperwork had been approved and we would finally be together forever! Mickey and I had discussed having children, and as gay men, we had to do lots of planning. We also realized that the world had lots of plans for us before we would be at a stable place where we felt we could raise a child. After successfully earning an MBA, I was hired by a transportation

company that was willing to sponsor a working visa that would have allowed me to apply for a green card. Then 9/11 happened and the company changed their mind, deciding they would no longer sponsor any H1-B/green card applications in the wake of the attacks. My beloved and I were once again reminded that the future of our family was in the hands of the U.S. federal government and deeply tied to the whims of related corporate interests. To stay with Mickey, I had to scramble to find either another job or another type of visa. We also started planning for contingencies. Mickey, who is a registered pharmacist, passed his licensure in Vancouver because Canada allows for same-sex recognition of common law partners. Where he couldnt in the US, he would be able to sponsor my Canadian residency as soon as his Canadian work visa was granted. How unfair is that? A hard working dedicated American, who served in the Air Force, was being forced to choose between love and country just because he is gay! It was surreal. Our lives were essentially again at a standstill, consumed by immigration concerns. I come from a big Chinese family and I am the eldest son of the eldest son, which means that I was expected to marry and have children. Mickey and I wanted to have kids, but we needed to know we had enough stability that our family would not be torn apart. So our plan to start a family was once again put on the back burner. As luck would have it, one week before my visa expired, Mickey received an offer from a local pharmacy in SF that also offered me a Business Development position to help us stay together. Despite years of hellish apprehension feeling like we could be ripped apart at any second, we found an employer that would help us secure a green card in relatively a short time. While we were relieved, we also know that theimmigration pipeline tends to be shorter for citizens from Singapore than from many other countries. What a joy! We could finally start a family! Even though we knew we would still have no federal rights, we had a wedding with all of our close friends and family members to officially recognize and protect our family. We started researching adoption options right away, and eventually found AdoptionSF, where we began the work to become certified to foster/adopt. The entire process took about nine months and on August 29, 2008, a pretty little eight-monthold girl named Alicia came into our lives, reminding us yet again of the unknowns ahead. We made the early decision to be open with our daughter about her birth story. Since her birthday is so close to Christmas, we (continued on page 10)

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Bi-National Love
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decided to celebrate the day she arrived, so we have a huge Homecoming Party every Labor Day weekend. Alicia knows her homecoming story. She recites with giggles that she came home with a dirty diaper! She has an ongoing relationship with her little brother, who also has two dads. We have learned that we cannot do it alone. Alicia loves our families and she is a charmer that captures the heart of everyone she meets. As an inter-racial couple who adopted a blonde haired, blueeyed girl, we get second looks from people on the streets; we are judged when she throws a tantrum, we get questioned about our connection. I initially felt like I had to justify our family and tell strangers that she was my daughter, and that we are doing fine. Situations like that still happen, but now the negative expressions often turn into smiles when they hear her call me papa or ask for char shao bao (steam BBQ pork bun) or bing gan (cookies) at the store. The truth is that without the support of our family and friends, we would feel totally overwhelmed raising our new baby. Now imagine having to go through the struggle of becoming a new parent under the impending and constant threat of having your family torn apart because your beloved wife or husband is unable to sponsor you as a spouse. Unfortunately, this is the tragic experience of thousands of bi-national families who have to remain in exile, or are torn apart from their own children every day because of DOMA and discriminatory immigration laws. We founded Out4Immigration in collaboration with other same sex bi-national couples with the goal of educating and forming coalition with others who support an inclusive Comprehensive Immigration Reform, but much more work needs to be done. As we continue working to raise awareness across the nation, we pray that the Supreme Court will declare DOMA unconstitutional once and for all and that a new INCLUSIVE Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill will be signed into law for the sake of thousands of loving families that, as my own, have had to experience pain and suffering for so long.

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Our Family Coalition