11 Family Stories That Show the Depth of the Adoption Experience for Gay Men
November is National Adoption Awareness Month! To celebrate, we've curated some adoption stories that show the true depth and breath of the adoption experience for gay men.
November is National Adoption Awareness Month! And few people are more aware of the importance of lifting up and celebrating adoption in this country than the LGBTQ community. According to the Williams Institute, 21% of same-sex couples are raising adopted children compared to just 3% of different-sex couples. Despite the fact that we are a crucial part of the support system for children needing loving homes, we are currently facing an administration that is trying to make it legal for foster care and adoption agencies to discriminate against us on the basis of religion.
To help celebrate National Adoption Awareness Month, and demonstrate that religious beliefs should in never trump the ability for a loving LGBTQ family to welcome children into their home, we've rounded up several family stories that show the true depth and breath of the adoption experience — men who never planned to become dads, and woke up one day to find themselves responsible for little ones. Men who always wanted to become dads, and suffered through years of failed placements before finally making their dreams come true. Single men, who realized they were strong enough to adopt on their own. And men who adopted older children through the foster care system.
These are just a few of the inspiring stories of gay, bi and trans adoptive dads — we are literally sitting on a treasure trove of them. And, no doubt, there are countless more headed your way in the months to come.
Adopting an Older Child Through Foster Care Was the Best Path for These Dads
"Hey! I got adopted today! These are my dads, Mark and Andrew!"
Jeremy was 16 years old when he found out his new dads wanted to adopt him.
In late August 2017, husbands Mark and Andrew Mihopulos, 34 and 36 respectively, remember driving out to the east end of Long Island. They knew at the very same moment they were driving, social workers were letting Jeremy know they wanted to adopt him. "We expected Jeremy to be hesitant or feel mixed emotions," shared Mark. "We didn't know how he would feel about having two dads and about having white parents and family, as he is a black young man."
Meet Gay Dads: Richard and Carlos
Tell us about your path to parenthood. Did you consider other options? We considered a variety of options such as foster-adopt, private lawyer adoption, and open adoption. After much deliberation, we decided to go with an agency adoption through Spence-Chapin.
What obstacles did you face on your path to fatherhood? Compared to most other adoption stories, our process went at lightening speed! In early September, we officially applied to our agency and received word that we were accepted in less than 24 hours. On Friday November 18th, Carlos and I hand-delivered our home study documents to the agency at 12pm and received a call at 4pm telling us that there was a baby boy who needed a home and the agency had chosen us. Fast forward to what seemed to be the longest two weeks of our lives, we were finally able to meet and welcome our son Timothy into our home.
These Gay Dads, Both Disney Cast Members, Are Raising Their Son with the Magic Kingdom at Their Doorstep.
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.
"Are You My Daddy?" a Three-Year-Old Asks His Adoptive Father
February 17, 2011 was a regular day for many folks. But not for school counselor, Tim Suenkel. It was the day Tim met his adoptee son for the very first time, and instantly became his father. The meeting was arranged by social workers, and they met at a local Barnes and Noble store.
"The moment I met him," Tim said, "he opened his arms wide and said, 'You're my new best friend.'"
They had an overnight stay, and then the 3-year-old asked, "Are you my daddy?"
"I knew without any hesitation that the answer was most definitely, 'Yes!'" said Tim.
Fatherhood Came Without Warning for These Two Young Gay Dads
When Johnny Guzman Tarango and Adam Tarango met in 2012, introduced by a mutual friend, they were both seeing other people at the time. What began as friendship quickly became passionate after breaking with their respective boyfriends to be with each other. Johnny was 20 years old and Adam was 21. The couple called Phoenix, Arizona home. Both were young, carefree, and very much in love.
Although Adam wanted to be a dad someday, Johnny was undecided. In January 2014, the couple were confronted with one of the biggest decisions of their lives: fatherhood.
Adoption for These Dads Was Like a "Rollercoaster" But Well Worth the Ride
Every gay man who pursues fatherhood fights for their right to become a dad. They've had to keep going even when at times it's seemed hopeless. Jason Hunt-Suarez and Alex Suarez's story is no different. They had their hearts set on adoption; overcame multiple scams, some very bizarre leads, a birth mother's change of heart at the 11th hour, their adoption agency going bankrupt, and tens of thousands of dollars lost along the way. But after a long, turbulent, and heart-wrenching three-year-long journey, it was all worth it.
Signing With Two Adoption Agencies to "Double Their Chances," These Dads Won Big with Both
Ryan and Brandon Bolton met in a bar in Chicago in early 2012. Brandon, a professional hair and make-up artist, was touring with a show and happened to go to the same bar that Ryan used to frequent. They eloped in August 2012 and were married in New York.
In June 2013, they moved to Florida, where they began researching their fatherhood journey. "We were going to attempt surrogacy, but the costs were too high," said Ryan. "Adoption was something that was feasible." The husbands decided they needed to get a few puzzle pieces in place before signing, and Brandon was touring on various shows while they saved. They eventually moved forward, signing with their first agency, Adoption Center US, in January 2015.
A Single Gay Dad Finds Family in the Foster Care System
Andrew Gubany lives in La Habra, California with his daughter and son, Dianna and Owen. He works as the National Sales Director for a Logistics Company by day, and is a spin instructor by night. We caught up with Andrew to see how life as a single gay dad via the foster care system is treating him.
Tell us about your path to parenthood.
I became a dad through foster-adopt. I had always known I wanted my adoption to mean something specific. I chose the path of foster care because I wanted to help children. If my "help" ended up leading to the adoption of a child, than I knew it was destiny.
After Four Years on a Waiting List, a Chance Encounter at Work Made This Adoptive Dad's Dreams Come True
After four long years on an adoption waitlist, Andre Barros wasn't sure if he'd ever become a dad. But a chance encounter with an adoptive parent at his place of work changed his life forever. Things began to move quickly. Within a few months, he was in a hospital room with his son's birth mother, cutting the cord, and giving his son his very first kiss.
After Three Failed Adoptions, This Couple Almost Gave Up; Now They're Dads to Twins
"Our adoption journey was not easy by any means," began Danny. "We waited 16 months before being successfully placed with our children." Husbands Danny Maffia and Justin DeMartin, together a total of eight years and married for two, endured a roller coaster ride to become dads, experiencing three failed adoptions. Today, they're the proud dads to twins born November 2017. Here's their story.
Danny, a professor of American Sign Language and an English interpreter, met Justin, a Director of Special Education, when they were both organizing a fitness fundraiser for breast cancer research. "[Justin] and I are also both certified group exercise instructors," said Danny. "Our love of fitness is what brought us together." Six year after meeting, they were married on May 29, 2016.
Meet the First Gay Dads to Legally Adopt in Puerto Rico
Policeman Jorge Vázquez Ramos and nurse Joel Andrades Rivera were married in August 2015 following the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality. The Puerto Rican couple had been together for 10 years, but it wasn't until this ruling that two amazing developments occurred in their lives: they were able to marry and become dads.
Jorge and Joel had been in the process of trying to adopt since 2009 but same-sex adoption was illegal in Puerto Rico until 2015. They had begun the process of international adoption but as soon as the Supreme Court made their ruling, the two applied to adopt in their home country. In November 2015 the Department of Family organized an event for children in state custody to meet with prospective gay parents. As Joel was unable to attend, Jorge went along alone. There, he meet siblings Yair and Alaya.
"Don't Try to Be Perfect," Say These Adoptive Gay Dads
Tremaine Maebry and Roland Locher met several years before they began their relationship. Their paths crossed initially while Tremaine was in a relationship, and they didn't meet again till Tremaine moved to the north side of Chicago and discovered Roland was his neighbor. They've been together 9 years and were married in 2015.
It took awhile for Roland and Tremaine to go through the adoption process for both personal reasons and those out of their control. And even when their home study was approved in 2015, they waited a further 14 months before they were matched with their sons. In 2016, they adopted two biological brothers, Jaelon and Jason, who were, at the time, 7 and 9 years of age.