#GWKThenAndNow: Tom and Jimmy
It was 1998. Tom, then 22, had just graduated from Babson College and decided to move to Los Angeles for two reasons: He wanted to work in the entertainment industry and he needed to get pretty far away from his homestate of Massachusetts to go through the process of figuring out who he was: a gay man.
Jimmy, then 24, had recently moved to L.A. from Australia. He had planned to be there for a year, and was working for a travel agency. Jimmy had been in L.A. for six months and Tom for two weeks when they met at Canter’s Deli, after a two-hour friendly chat on Gay.com! They immediately fell in love. Within days they knew it was for the long haul. Jimmy ended up being Tom’s first boyfriend; the rest is history. (Tom told his family in 1999. There were were some initial struggles in his traditional Christian family, but love and acceptance prevailed.)
1998 at LA Pride (Tom and Jimmy had just met the night before this photo was taken)
They moved in together after three months. Tom had said from the very beginning that being a father was something that he always wanted. For Jimmy, it was something he had never even contemplated. He had always known he was gay; fatherhood was something that he never considered a possibility.
Tom, however, in the first couple of years of their relationship would try to figure out “what was going on in terms of gay men becoming fathers."
There was something in L.A. called the Pop Luck Club, a community of gay dads and their children. Tom and Jimmy went and checked out one of those meetings, when the organization was really still in its infancy. They remember that most of the men they met there were choosing surrogacy, something they weren’t really considering.
It took a number of years for them find their own path to fatherhood, and for Jimmy to say, “Yes, I’m on board with this.”
Jimmy (left) and Tom's wedding day, 2005
In 2005, while still residents of California, they had their official wedding ceremony in Massachusetts shortly after same-sex marriage passed in Massachusetts.
Tom had proposed to Jimmy on the day of their anniversary: June 27, 2004. Jimmy’s response: “Where's my ring?"
Flummoxed, Tom said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t know how to do this. I didn’t know I was supposed to get a ring!”
Jimmy’s response was swift and sweet: “I’m kidding. Of course I’ll marry you.”
They began planning the wedding and sent out invites across the world.
And then, Tom says, “(Massachusetts Governor) Mitt Romney decided very vindictively to pull out that ruling that if you didn’t live in Massachusetts, your marriage wouldn’t be recognized.”
Tom and Jimmy on their honeymoon in Mykonos, Greece, 2005
The wedding was already planned, so they went ahead and got married. Although they weren’t able to turn in the legal paperwork for it to be a legally recognized marriage, that day will always remain their wedding day, the men say.
“We still have people saying that it was the best wedding they’ve ever been to!”
(But they did want to make it official. On June 27, 2008, when California made same-sex marriage legal (and before the passing of Prop 8), Tom and Jimmy, with Tom’s sister as their sole witness, went to a strip mall in California, where a biker dude with a ponytail married them in his tiny legal services office.)
Tom and Jimmy leaving the hospital with Lukas, 2009
Their decision to pursue adoption was the result of two considerations. The costs associated with surrogacy was one, but not the most important one. They realized that it wasn’t essential them to raise children that were biologically related. They were, however, very aware of the great need for adopted children to be placed with stable and loving families, which they knew they could provide
When they determined they were really interested in adopting a newborn, the choice was clear.
They started the adoption process on New Year’s Day of 2009. They spent the first six months taking their time finding the right home study agency and getting the home study done.
In the summertime, after researching LGBT-friendly placement agencies across the country, they decided to move forward with anadoption agency called Adopt Help. They had moved back to Massachusetts a year earlier to be closer to Tom’s family, and coincidently the agency was located down the street from where they used to live in L.A! They decided to work with Adopt Help despite the distance, because of their impressive history and approach to working with LGBT parents.
Suddenly, after five weeks of being on the waiting list, they were chosen by not one but two expecting birth mothers on the same day. They chose the birth mother who seemed to be the best fit. On December 12, 2009, their son Lukas was born.
Tom feeding Lukas
Lukas on Jimmy's chest
They remember vividly being present for the birth of their son, which they describe as something from a dream:
“Oh my gosh, it was incredible! We were right there at his birth which was such a surreal experience. We couldn’t believe we were holding this completely newborn child in our arms and that we were his parents!”
They felt they did a great job of balancing all of the craziness that comes with a newborn. There was all the feeding every two hours throughout the entire day. Lukas’s sleep schedule was completely upside down. Through it all, they mustered up enough energy to go to work everyday and care for their child. It was nuts and wonderful at the same time.
Early on they realized that parenting was much harder than they ever anticipated, but also something that was so wonderful.
In terms of their social life, they tried to stay active, still connecting with friends and even continuing to take destination vacations. They wanted to maintain a full life and continue to have new experiences, just now with a baby in tow.
They stayed in touch with the birth mom, who became being pregnant again.
"She reached out to us and asked if we would adopt this soon-to-be-born child. And we didn't feel like we were definitely ready yet for another child, in terms of both capacity and finances. But through a series of events we realized that yes, this makes sense and we’re going to do it."
In scrubs with baby Maya, 2011
22 months after Lukas was born, his baby sister Maya was born! Tom and Jimmy were at Maya’s birth as well, another incredible experience.
Today, Daddy Tom and Baba (Greek for daddy) Jimmy have two amazing children who are biologically related. They couldn’t be more grateful to their birth mother for giving them that gift.
The two dads have some heartfelt and wise advice for those creating their family through adoption:
"Adoption can be a stressful and tumultuous journey. [Just] be patient and know that you and your future child are already connected. Your child will be part of your family when it is meant to be; just do your best to be patient and let fate take its course."
And also, Dan and Joseph's #GWKThenAndNow who've been together over 30 years.
Over 2 years ago, we spoke with experienced filmmaker Carlton Smith about his documentary featuring gay dad families created through foster-adopt. It was a heartfelt project that shone a light on the number of children in foster care (roughly 400,000 as referenced at the time) who desperately needed a home. And the large population of same-sex couples, many newly married, who were interested in starting families of their own.
"Let's skip," my daughter said on our way to school the other week. She took my hand and started skipping along, pulling me forward to urge me to do the same.
Wouldn't it look, well, gay, for me to skip down the street? In public? I wasn't willingly going to make myself look like a sissy.
As part of our ongoing #GWKThenAndNow series, we talk to dads who have gone the distance and been together a great many years. Terry and Michael have been together 15 years, have two children, and live in Orlando, Florida. We find out how it began, and what they look for in a partner in life, love and fatherhood.
Johnathon and Corey, both 29, met in 2011 working for the same employer. And since their first date, they've been inseparable. Johnathon is a full-time student pursuing a degree in Human Services, and once he completes his degree, he will return to his Native American tribe to help fellow Native American families in need. Corey is a stay-at-home dad. Together they adopted 6-year-old twins, Greyson and Porter, from foster care on June 1, 2017. We caught up with the first-time dads to see how fatherhood was treating them.
The Long Island Adoptive Families support group was created by parents going through the adoption process or who had already adopted. It was a great way to help members navigate the path of adoption whether it be private domestic, international agency, domestic agency or foster care. We spoke with Chemene, one of the founders, and found out how this group is supporting local gay men interested in becoming fathers.