Guest post written by Dominic Ferraro, on his journey to becoming a gay dad with husband Andy via open adoption
Andy and I met in college through mutual friends, in 2003. I was 18 and Andy was 20, so we were pretty young when we first met. We both went to college at Iowa State, and the Women's Center on campus was having an ice cream social and we were both there. We only spent about 5 minutes together then, but decided to meet for a movie the next night, and the rest is history as they say. We have been together ever since.
In 2012, while on a trip to Rio De Janeiro, Andy proposed to me and we had a civil union in 2013 in Chicago. We'd been together 10 years.
Shortly after our civil union, we moved to San Francisco. It all happened relatively quickly as at our wedding we didn't have any idea we would be moving. Andy had gotten a job offer that was just too good to turn down, so we packed up our entire lives and moved to California.
When we got to California gay marriage was legal, so in 2014 we were legally married.
Dominic (left) and Andy
As a couple we both knew we wanted kids and it was something we discussed early on in our relationship. It was the timeframe that we could not really figure out. My parents were young. I always enjoyed having them around when I was young. I never heard the excuse that they were "too tired" to do things with me. As for Andy, he didn't really seem to have a time frame in mind.
We originally considered surrogacy because we had a lot of misconceptions about adoption, as I think a lot of people do. In 2013, shortly after our civil union in Illinois, we had even reached out to a friend about being a surrogate, but because we moved so abruptly to California, it never worked out.
Someone suggested a book to me by Dan Savage called The Kid. Andy and I both ended up reading it and it very much changed our minds on adoption. Reading The Kid coupled with the current political climate and things going on in the world really made us think. If we could change a child's life that might otherwise not have a great life and relieve some burden for a birthmother who has found herself in a difficult situation, then that would be a bonus to having a child. We chose open adoption because of the continued relationship we are able to have with Naya's birth mother.
Andy and Dominic in Mykonos
My advice to anyone going through an open adoption process is to be ready for anything. I have listened to a number of other adoptive parent's stories and they are all different.
We were told that on average you would spend 16 months waiting before a birthmother might choose you, and you are only entered into the "pool" of people to choose from once you finish your paperwork, which includes: A home study (which can take 4-6 weeks) and a number of other adoption agency paperwork. It took us about 6 months to finish our paperwork and get our profile on the adoption website.
Our waiting time was not the average though, by any means. We expected that we would be chosen some time toward the end of 2018 just based on the adoption agencies timeline. In the mean time while we were waiting we tried to think about it as little as possible, because waiting is one of the hardest parts.
We didn't wait long though.
Andy and Dominic in Hawaii
Two months after our paperwork was complete we got a call from the adoption agency saying a birthmother was interested in us. I was the one that got the initial call from the agency saying a birth mother was interested in us and honestly, I pretty much blacked out during most of the phone call, out of shock. It wasn't until going back and reading the follow up email from our agency that I got most of the details.
From that point on, it was a whirlwind! After a couple phone calls and an in-person visit with Naya's birthmother, we all decided to go forward, and at that time we were placed! Our birthmother was already 7 months pregnant so we had 8 weeks to figure everything out, 3 of which we had already planned a European vacation. So needless to say the pressure was on and in 5 weeks we had bought a car and most of the things necessary to take a baby home from the hospital. All while keeping it a secret from most of our family and friends incase for some reason things didn't work out.
While we were in Europe we were cutting it very close to the due date and any phone call was panic inducing for fear we might have to fly home in a pinch and potentially miss Naya's birth. In the end it all worked out and the vacation turned out to be very relaxing for us before becoming new parents.
The new dads
Naya was born a couple days late, so there was a lot of built up anticipation when she was actually born. Since she was late all of our birthdays ended up being in October, the 3rd, 9th and 20th which is something that is special to us. The whole experience is overwhelming most of the time, but in that moment I think we were both just grateful. Grateful that Naya and her birth mother were both healthy and doing well and that we got the family we have always wanted.