|Janice Langbehn was born and raised in Spokane, WA. She is a 1986 graduate of Lewis and Clark High School. Following HS, she attended the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma. While attending UPS, she met Lisa Marie Pond in 1988 and then began dating in 1989. Lisa graduated from UPS with a BA in Psychology in 1989 followed by Janice in 1990 with a BA in Psychology also. Janice as well as Lisa dedicated their early careers to working with Developmentally Delayed adults in Group Homes, Apartment settings and respite providers. On October 12, 1991, Janice and Lisa were united in Holy Union with friends and family present.Janice and Lisa knew they wanted to start a family together and realizing the enormous need for foster parents, became the first openly gay foster parents in their county in 1992. Within 3 days of receiving their license, they had a 14yr old girl placed with them. They eventually became Rose’s legal guardians even though they were only 10 years older than her. Rose went on to Graduate from school and now is employed in the Child Care industry. Over the years Janice and Lisa fostered 25 children. When they began adopting in 1996 it was clear that Lisa wanted to be a ‘stay at home mom’ and so on just Janice’s income, Lisa dedicated her life to raising abused and neglected children. Of the 25 children they fostered, they adopted 4 children – 2 sibling groups. Their children all have special needs from drug exposure to HIV exposure to developmental delays.Janice worked DSHS for the State of Washington for the next 16 years first as a Sex Offender treatment provider in a juvenile prison. Seeing the need to intervene earlier in a child’s life, Janice became a Child Protection Social Work in Tacoma and worked there until promoted to a SW supervisor. While working full time, Janice completed her first Master’s in Public Administration in 1995 while Lisa was working tirelessly with their guardianship daughter, Rose. Janice continued to move up in Child Welfare Services including numerous individual and team awards for outstanding work statewide. In 1997 in the middle of adopting their 4 children, Janice was accepted to the University of Washington Master in Social Work Program. Again, Janice worked full-time, Lisa remained at home actively involved in every aspect of their children’s lives which allowed Janice to attend her Master’s at night which she completed in 2000.Janice was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in April 1999 on the day of their last adoption. While the couple still fostered children, they decided given the uncertain nature of MS, they would not adopt any more children. From 1996 until Lisa’s untimely death in 2007, she was so involved with their children lives. She did all the younger children’s HIV appointments in Seattle (both were determined to be HIV negative). Lisa taught all the children’s first communion classes at their Catholic Parish. Lisa also volunteered several hours in each child’s classroom every week. Lisa then became the volunteer coordinator for the children’s elementary school. At the same time she had started a girl scout troop when Danielle, their oldest daughter, was in Kindergarten. In the end, the troop swelled to 27 girls at the time of Lisa’s passing.
In October 2006, Janice surprised Lisa and the children with a 15 year anniversary gift with a trip to Miami for February 2007 and then a cruise on the Rfamily cruise to the the Bahamas. Janice, Lisa and 3 of their children traveled to Miami in mid February 2007. After boarding the cruise ship, meeting Kelli Carpenter and having lunch, Lisa went to watch the children play basketball on the top deck. Within 20 minutes, the kids were banging on the stateroom door to alert Janice that Lisa was ill. Janice knew immediately from her own ER work as a social worker that her life partner was gravely ill. The ship was held up at the port and Lisa was transported to Jackson Memorial Ryder Trauma Center. Janice and the children followed minutes behind. Upon arrival, Janice’s first contact with a staff at JMH was the trauma Social Worker who informed Janice was in “an anti-gay city and state” and would not know of Lisa’s condition or see her. Janice and Lisa had prepared for any medical emergencies given Janice’s MS diagnoses. Janice reached friends who faxed the couples Medical POA within 20 minutes of hearing from the social worker. However what happened over the ensuing eight hours became the defining moment for the Langbehn-Pond family and ultimately, Lisa was forced by JMH to die completely alone without her partner or children by her side to comfort her. Lisa died on 2/19/07. Lisa’s wishes were to donate her organs and her heart, liver and kidney enabled four individuals a second chance at life.
Janice began speaking out about the horrendous treatment just 4 months after the tragedy. Since 2007, Janice has spoken out to groups large and small to change the policies at Jackson Memorial and other hospitals so that no other family faced the homophobia they did. Janice became a client of Lambda Legal and a Federal suit was filed against JMH in June 2008. However, the Judge dismissed the suit on 9/29/09. While the Judge agreed the treatment the Langbehn-Pond suffered at JMH was “unbecoming” there was no Florida law to allow for Remedy. Not deterred from this set back, Janice continued to speak out about the injustice as more stories surfaced from around the country of similar mistreatment of same sex families in hospital settings.
On April 15, 2010, Janice received a call from President Obama who apologized for the treatment her family received and described the Presidential Memorandum he had sent to HHS to direct Federal Regulations to change to allow same-sex couples the same hospital visitation rights as other families. While this change could have ended Janice’s desire to speak out, she feels it is the first step in the educational process in equality for all.
The regulations changing hospital visitation went into effect on January 18, 2011.
Janice was nominated and received the second highest civilian honor, the Presidential Citizen Medal, for her work promoting equality for all Americans on October 20, 2011.
Since Janice’s retirement from state service in 2008 she has continued to volunteer as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for children involved in Dependency cases. To continue her positive impact in children’s lives, Janice attended and received certification as a Title 26 Family Law Guardian ad Litem in the State of Washington in February 2013. Beginning in May 2013, Janice applied for the GAL registry in Thurston County, Washington.