These Gay Dads, Both Disney Cast Members, Are Raising Their Son with the Magic Kingdom at Their Doorstep.
It wasn't *just* wishing upon a star that helped Ben and Steve become dads, but the magic world of Disney has certainly played a role in making their wildest dreams come true.
Ben and Steve have always been big Disney fans, so much so they've worked for the Magic Kingdom in multiple capacities over the years: at theme parks overseas, with the Disney Cruise Line, and now at Walt Disney World in Orlando. The husbands even met at a Disney audition in 2009. And today, they're proud dads to a 2-year-old son.
"It's such a full-circle moment for both of us that now we raise our child with Walt Disney World right at his doorstep," said Steve, now the manager of Disney Performing Arts at Walt Disney World. "Many of our childhood Disney toys have now been passed down for him to play with," added Ben, now the Entertainment Manager at the Magic Kingdom. For the dads, it wasn't just wishing upon a star that helped them become dads through adoption, but Disney has certainly played a role in making their dreams come true.
Steve Smith came to the U.S.A. to continue a career in the Art and Entertainment industries after working as a performer at Tokyo Disneyland. He and Ben Gaetanos met at an audition for Disney in New York in 2009, and then again a year later when they both booked the same contract with Disney Cruise Line. Ben, originally from Buffalo, NY, grew up a very enthusiastic Disney fan; Steve, who hails from Australia, didn't have quite the same exposure to the franchise but grew up enchanted with Mickey and friends. They were married in September 2013.
Soon after their marriage, they began to seriously look into their options to become dads, and adoption was the path they felt worked for them. Living in Florida presented some issues, as the federal marriage laws had not yet changed which allowed same-sex adoption, so they began their journey with LifeLong Adoptions. By October 2015, and following a lot of paperwork and getting things in order, they were licensed and approved for a placement. A little after Christmas of the same year, they received a call informing them that they had been chosen by a birth mother.
"Looking back now it all happened very quickly, but I can tell you that each and every day until Hudson arrived just seemed to go on forever," shared Steve. "It can definitely be an emotionally exhausting experience … we scrutinized each and every message, phone call or email we shared with our birth mother. We just wanted to prove to her that we were going to be the best parents possible for her son." The dads were there when Hudson came into the world, born July 2016. Steve and Ben both shared that Hudson's birth mother was wonderful throughout the experience, sharing scans and milestones with the intended parents. "We were so thankful to her for including us along the journey," said Ben.
The dads continue an open adoption relationship with Hudson's birth family. They began an Instagram account dedicated to sharing photos of the wee man so that any of his biological relatives can check-in and see how he's growing and what he's been up to with his two dads. "It's also been a great vehicle for us to capture special moments that can look back on for years to come," said Steve.
So you might be wondering, how having two parents who work for Disney has infiltrated (in the most wondrous way) this family's life? "One of the benefits is that we are able to take Hudson to play in the parks frequently," said Ben. "Our house is by no means a Disney museum, but there are subtle touches here and there, like Hudson's Neverland inspired nursery." For the first year of Hudson's life, the dads posted a Peter Pan / Neverland themed photo to map his growth milestone every month.
And does Hudson have a favorite Disney character? "You never know how your child will react to the characters in the parks, but ever since day one, Hudson has always thoroughly enjoyed meeting his favorite Disney characters, Mickey in particular!" shared Steve.
For Ben and Steve, becoming dads has made life a lot more "real," meaning that a lot of time is now spent caring for and looking after another tiny human. "There's a lot less free time, but a lot more opportunities for meaningful adventures as a family," explained Ben. And this is where Olaf said it best, "Love is putting someone else's needs before yours." And that's exactly what these Disney dads are doing.