A Childhood Dream

Life Magazine Photo

From the photo you’re probably thinking that my childhood dream was to get married. Actually, I wasn’t that interested in marriage until, well…just a few months ago. I grew up not only as a tomboy but as someone with a unique definition of family and while having children has always been important to me, going through with a wedding ceremony and having a man by my side has not. When I learned what the term “out of wedlock” meant from Murphy Brown at the age of 11, I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. I mean, I’ve grown up not only as someone who was adopted but also as a member of a larger adoption community where I know personally dozens of nontraditional families.

That was before I met Paul.

Paul and I started dating in 2007 and became Domestic Partners in December of 2008. The decision to become DPs was a big one for us. We think of it as something we did for ourselves. Getting married and having a wedding on the other hand, is something we want to do to share this experience with other people.

So, why the change now?

Well, besides getting engaged, Paul and I have shared the exciting news with our friends and family that we’re interested in joining the Peace Corps or a similar international volunteer organization in the next two years for a period of at least two years. Most people who know us are not surprised when they hear this since we have both dedicated our careers to working in or supporting the nonprofit sector, we have both lived abroad, and we are both passionate about social justice. However, we didn’t realize we shared this desire until a few months ago when we were talking about our careers and the future.

That’s when we realized that we share this dream of serving in the Peace Corps.

I have wanted to join the PC ever since I was a little girl staring at a poster of JFK and his daughter Caroline on my bedroom wall. The quotation below the image said:

It is time for a new generation of leadership, to cope with new problems and new opportunities.  For there is a new world to be won.

John F. Kennedy

I strive to be part of this “new generation of leadership” and joining the Peace Corps is one way I can do this. After all, it was JFK who inspired the idea of the Peace Corps to begin with. Signing up on the PC website and reviewing the requirements, we learned that in order to serve as a couple we must be married. In fact, there is a relatively new rule that states that a couple must be married for 12 months before they start a PC placement. What’s a nontraditional girl to do? Being Domestic Partners has been good enough for me for the past couple of years but learning about the PC requirement and celebrating my 30th birthday has made me realize that since I am fortunate to have found my life partner making our relationship official for the outside world is not that big of a deal.

My only hesitation is that this option is not open to everyone.

The PC requirement specifically addresses the definition of marriage to be in line with the federal government definition. Therefore, at this moment in time, same sex partners cannot serve in the PC as a couple since, at the federal level, same sex partnerships are not recognized as marriage. In my opinion, if two people want to make either a commitment to one another or a commitment to volunteer 2+ years of their life for their country, they should be able to. Aside from this reservation, I am coming around to the idea of marriage.

So, you could say that my childhood dream of serving in the Peace Corps has led me to come to terms with the childhood dream of others: to be joined in marriage with the person I want to spend the rest of my life with…starting with two years of volunteering abroad.