We were headed to our first cruise as a family. We were on time, but the flight was delayed. It was July 2009, and our babies were 9 months old. Ray and I felt like pack mules making our way on the historic Oregon Trail. We had cans of formula, bottles, baby food, diapers and all the diapering accoutrements. What was this nine-hour plane ride from Atlanta to Anchorage, Alaska going to hold? We weren’t sure, but the end goal was a seven-day journey through Alaska’s Inner Passage, and we were excited.On the plane, Carter, my son, was sitting with Ray, my husband, and Ammon, my daughter, was sitting with me. Then a very kind, beautiful, and petite lady sat immediately to my right. The lady, whom I found out was Leslie, and I began a polite conversation about her own children and her grandchildren. Leslie introduced me to her husband, George. They were so kind, with an obvious love for children, and soon it became evident that Leslie was enamored with Ammon. It was also a few minutes into conversing that I found out we were all headed to the same cruise.After several hours of chatting and me avoiding Carter and Ammon’s in-vitro/surrogate/half sibling story (please see my Christmas article, Gray Christmas, with the Advocate from last December), my defenses came down. If Leslie did not appreciate our story, was offended by it, or thought I was a condemned sinner, then I would just have to spend the next seven hours with a cold, right shoulder and no adult conversation. I simply stated, “Ray and I are a same-sex couple, and Ammon and Carter are our children.” Their unique story followed. Never once did Leslie flinch, scowl, or make a grimace. She never knew it, but inside my mind, heart, and soul, I was saying, “Thank you, God.” She spoke to me like I was any other father or husband, and she helped me with Ammon. And if I hadn't so frequently had the same welcoming experience, I might not believe it had something to do with cruising. But there's something open minded about the open seas.
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