A TN Family’s Fight To Be Respected
April 03, 2015
Jeff Chipman & Adam Kalin • Germantown, TN
Every night, after work, Jeff cooks dinner for his partner, Adam, and their two sons, Jayden and Ian. The family sits around the table and recounts the events in their days to each other. It’s just like any other family dinner – except Jayden and Ian’s dads can’t get married in their home state of Tennessee.
Jeff and Adam are so grateful to be able to raise the children they’ve raised, and love building a family together. “I savor every moment of being a parent,” Adam said. “My biggest fear in life growing up gay in the ‘80’s was not being able to be a parent one day.”
It’s been a struggle for the family to become the unit they are now – seven years ago, Adam had to travel to Mississippi to adopt Jayden, forced to finalize the adoption as a single parent because of that state’s adoption laws. The couple planned to return to Tennessee to file for a second-parent adoption in their home state.
“Due to laws in Tennessee, however, the judges were not willing to let Jeff adopt,” Adam said. “We fought and fought it, but we were denied the petition for Jeff to adopt.” As of now, only Adam is Jayden’s legal parent – meaning, if anything were to happen to him, Jeff would have no legal rights to his own son.
The couple got another chance at a two-parent adoption two years later, though, when Ian was born in Tennessee. They were resolved to both be legal parents of their son this time around, and fought before judges in Tennessee once again – and won. “We were the first in Shelby County to jointly adopt,” Adam said.
With that victory under their belts, they are sure that they’ll soon be able to make their entire family legal – they know that, one day, Jeff will finally be able to adopt Jayden. And, one day, they will finally be able to get married.
The couple met 16 years ago through a friend who introduced them at a restaurant in Memphis. “It was definitely love at first sight,” Adam remembered. “We were looking for a very similar type of relationship. Both of our moms passed away when we were 20 years old, and we often say that they brought us together from heaven.”
Now, with two members added to their family, they are stronger than ever. Their children get along perfectly, as if they were brought together by an unseen force, too.
“The boys are both the most loving and caring individuals,” Adam said. “They are our heart and soul – and they’re truly best friends. They constantly play together, and they’re so affectionate with each other.”
That’s why the couple is so determined to get married – so their family can be closer than ever. Their state needs to see how important family is to them, and they need to show their sons that there is nothing wrong with their family.
“Our family is not recognized as equal,” Adam said. “That really stings deep.”
The state of Tennessee is important to the couple – it’s where they’ve had so many of their big life moments, it’s where they met, it’s where they fell in love, and it’s where they’ve built their home. “People often ask us why we don’t get married in another state,” Adam admitted. “But we have been holding out to get married in our home state.”
That’s why the family is waiting eagerly for the ruling from the United States Supreme Court expected this summer. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the freedom to marry, it would mean that Adam and Jeff could finally have the wedding of their dreams – and their family would be, once and for all, legal.