Dad Life

Filing Single. When You Have a Husband... and Kids…

Times they are a-changin’! Here in Pennsylvania, where my partner and I live, there are several law suits currently fighting for marriage equality. And times need to change in order to make filing taxes easier for families like ours. However, since they haven’t changed yet, we are just a family in our hearts, but not on paper.


This was a special year. It was the first year we were placed with two foster kids. Lots of memories were made. First our home was alive with the pitter patter of four little paws, and then suddenly it was abuzz with four more paws...ahem...20 more toes. Two more little souls.

When filing our taxes, it would work out best financially when one of us claimed the two kiddos on their taxes (because we weren't married). One would file Head of Household claiming both of the kids and one would file single with no dependents. This should be reason for a happy dance, no?

But what of the one who didn't have any kids listed on his return?

That was me.

To not have kids, at least on paper, on my Federal income taxes, hit me hard. Maybe harder than it should have. It was just paper after all.

It came in flashes.

The Home Study. The clearances. The 12 weeks of Foster/Adoption Pre-Service Training.  The interview at the County. The driving hours to go and visit them after we were selected and before they came to live with us. The rearrangement of our home (removing the guest room and office) to make separate rooms for the kiddos. The cooking. The cleaning. Parent/Teacher meetings. Picking up from AfterCare. Cinderella's surprise birthday party visit to our home. Elf On The Shelf. Surprise trip to Broadway to see ANNIE. The tooth fairy. The hugs. The laughter. The stress. The magic.

Family on paper

I have a friend who says “you can only be upset about this for 24 hours,” so with that in mind, my thoughts took a turn.

WE are parents. That all can’t be contained on paper. Not in a tax return, but somehow, on paper I wasn't anything.

My family is everything to me. To us.

But it’s just paper.

We can’t wait to adopt these kids. I can’t wait until my partner and I can be married. I can’t wait until I can change my last name to his. To theirs. So we are all the same.

On paper.

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With everything going on in our country, I think saying that it has been a crazy year is an understatement. It has been emotionally difficult and draining at times for many. This year brought so many new changes that it is hard to wrap our minds around some of them. The daunting feeling of uncertainty looms over our heads as we march forward into this unfamiliar territory led by someone we do not particularly trust.

With that said, one thing will not change- the holidays. For my family, this time of year brings cheer, joy, hope, and optimism for the new year to come.

I have always had one golden rule when it comes to decorating our home for the holidays: the current holiday must pass before decorating for another.

Recently, our two year old, Alli Mae, had started to develop an appreciation for all that Christmas brings. The way she lights up and gets excited when she sees Christmas decorations made me think for the first time in my life, what if I changed things up this year? Decorating earlier will also help attenuate the political frustration that this year brought. That coupled with the amazement that our little girl has for Christmas makes a strong case for decorating for Christmas early. Sure, there are diehard Thanksgiving fans that grumble at the thought of Christmas coming early and I am sure they will give this a healthy eye roll and, if so, that's ok. We are not replacing Thanksgiving... we are enhancing it.

We will most definitely continue to teach our children the meaning of Thanksgiving and to enjoy the symbolic feast that comes along with it. The white pumpkins I usually put out for Thanksgiving really made a statement when I mixed them with the Christmas attire. I was quite surprised and impressed by the final outcome!

These days, one of my primary goals in life is to create an environment for my family that is happy, healthy, and nurturing. I want them to get excited about Christmas, both the true meaning and the atmosphere that it brings. When my children walk into the house, I want them to be transported into a bright, cheerful place that they will always remember. Perhaps it will even inspire the way they celebrate the holidays with their families (and our future grandchildren) in the future. The world can be a harsh, cold and scary place, especially lately it seems. I would be lying if I said I didn't do this for myself, too. I am. For the first time in my life, I am worried for the future of our country. I am terrified of the direction we as Americans are taking and worry it is setting a precedent for what the future will be like for my family. Mass shootings seem to happen monthly now, yet there continues to be a lack of response by Congress to create solutions. Bigotry and racism, masked by patriotism, also plague our society. I know I am speaking of sore subjects, but all of these reasons give me the motivation for welcoming the Christmas season earlier.

I do have faith that in time, competent leaders will emerge and will steer us in a direction that will help fade our fear into the bold and lionhearted society that we are. We as LGBTQ families need to comfort one another. Lets extend our hands to each other. Let this holiday season not be about the "correct" time in which we decorate for Christmas, moreover lets make it about coming together as a community that lifts each other up. Lets protect each other. Lets embrace each other for all the we are, all that we bring and all that we stand for. Let us not be silenced- and pushed into a corner but let us lead by example- while showing our children who their parents are by being respectful and tolerant and warmhearted as we welcome this Christmas season.

Erik and Douglas' two daughters, Ella and Alli Mae, who recently turned 2

May you and your family have the most beautiful and happiest of holidays, regardless of when you choose to welcome Christmas. I pray that 2018 will bring each of you happiness, patience, resilience and with time, we will get there, together!

I would love for you to follow our family's journey on Instagram, Nolapapa.com and like us on Facebook.

Arejay Encinas and his husband Mauricio Camargo wanted to become foster dads so they could help a child find a loving home. The two live in Tucson, Arizona, and were married February 2015. A little less than two years after their wedding, they received a call about a newborn who needed to be fostered. They said yes immediately. In October 2017, the little boy's adoption was finalized. This is the story of two dads and their moving letters to their son Dylan on the day they became a forever family.

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In October this year, James and Andrew took their eldest Olivia (Liv for short) to Disney World for her 2nd birthday.

"We were going to wait under her adoption day," said James, "But she has a real affinity for Winnie the Poo and Belle from Beauty and the Beast ... She loved it!"

Andrew and James have been together a little over 10 years, and they currently are fostering two children, 2-year-old Liv and 5-month-old Brandon (Bran for short).

"We have always wanted to be dads from the moment we met," said James, who was also adopted through foster-care. "That is how I was adopted and it seemed to be the best fit for our family."

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November is National Adoption month, and in the US, around 16,000 same-sex couples are raising more than 22,000 adopted children.

In honor of National Adoption Day, Saturday 18, 2107, we heard from a few of our families on how they celebrate their kids' "forever family" days.

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Welcoming a child into your home though foster care or adoption can be an exciting, but also challenging, time. However, there are several things you can do to help make the transition smoother for the new child and your family.

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In March this year, we shared the story of Michael and Wes, their eldest daughter Katie (and wonderful big sister) and their newborn Talulah. Apart from the sore backs attributed to their age as new dads, Michael and Wes have loved every minute of it. (Watch Talulah's 1st year video below.)

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As celebrations sweep across Australia, the LGBTQ community, along with their allies, rejoice in the results of the marriage equality vote. Despite the controversial campaign that surrounded the plebiscite, love won. And won big! An overwhelming 79.5% of the population took part in the survey (12.7 million people), and in every state and territory, the majority voted "yes," with 61.6%.

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