One Gay Couple's Path to Finding Faith & Family in Georgia
For Joel and Patrick the chemistry was instant. They met during high school at a senior's party at a bowling alley. Both were in relationships at the time, but by the end of the night, Joel had shared a message with Patrick, written on a napkin: "Let's break up with our boyfriends and go out. Call me!" They've been together 12 years.
For these two dads living in Canton, Georgia, their road to fatherhood was paved with some heartbreak. They found out on the day of their baby shower that their birth mom had changed her mind. Thankfully, their journey did not stop there, and today they're the proud dads of one happy little boy called Greyson.
Another obstacle they faced was finding a church that accepted them as a family. Here's their story.
Tell us about your path to parenthood. We chose adoption. We did think about surrogacy but could not afford it.
What obstacles did you face on your path to fatherhood? It took almost three years to finally adopt and after a birth mother changed her mind (that story is in the video at the end of this interview); we felt like maybe we weren't meant to be dads, but we prayed hard and decided to try one more time to try and find the right birth mother and we found her two weeks from when the other birth mother changed her mind. Greyson was born a week later. It all happened in December of 2015. We met her on Christmas Day. She wanted that as a gift for Greyson to "meet" his parents on Christmas. He was born on December 30.
How did your life change when you became a father? Fatherhood has made us better partners for each other, more patient, and less selfish. We see the world like its brand new again.
What have you learned from your children since you became a dad? Not to sweat the little things. I'm a perfectionist with a very neat life style but when my kid drew on the wall- I sighed, laughed, and moved on. Something I would have not done before becoming a dad.
How important is your faith, and how do you incorporate it into family life? Very important. I feel that my relationship with god makes me complete as does my husband. We use prayer for the good and bad times. We are starting to pray with our son and he of course goes to church with us.
Can you please share with us your experience of finding the right church for your family? Finding a church was a five month process. We tried and contacted over 20 churches. Many said we weren't welcomed, others said we were welcomed but our marriage wasn't recognized, several were welcoming but didn't feel a connection, and lastly we found one with the Mega church of Andy Stanley but after a few weeks there, when we wanted to get more serious and wanted to volunteer there, they said we could not volunteer in the family services because of our life style aka we couldn't serve in the room with our own son. They also never put this in emails. No paper trail for their image was how I looked at it.
So have you found a church that accepts your family, and what is that church's name? Yes. Vinnings Lake Church with Cody Deese as the pastor. The church has several gay members and a diverse crowd in age and race.
Was there ever a moment that you or Patrick experienced any serious doubts about your path to fatherhood or fatherhood itself? Yes, after each failed adoption, we took it as hints that god didn't want us to be parents.
Other than your experience finding a church that accepts your family, are you treated differently than others on account of your sexual orientation? We haven't noticed this much besides when we are out alone and people think we're "giving the mother a break." Really, people?
Where do you see your family 5-10 years in the future? We see a family a three becoming a family of four.
What words of advice do you have for other gay men considering pursuing your same path or parenthood? Keep going for it. It's worth it. It makes life so much for rewarding and fun. There's always doubts, but if it's what you have been wanting you should take a chance.
Watch the dads video below where they talk about their family story, being dads and the importance of their faith: