Michael and Matthew met 12 years ago in Warren, Ohio, the old fashioned way: in a bar. They were married June 17, 2015, and now live in Reynoldsburg, Ohio. Initially, they did not want to become parents as they did not see a way for them both to be the dads legally in their state of Ohio, but a chance encounter at Disney World changed their minds. Here's what happened ...
Tell us about your path to parenthood. In January 2016 while in Disney World for a marathon weekend, we ran into a gay couple with a 4 month old daughter. It was the first time we had seen a gay couple with a child and it got us thinking. We ran into that couple another 6 or 7 times during that trip and we become good friends. Upon returning from Disney, we had some serious discussions and came to the conclusion that we both wanted to have a child. We contacted Adoption by Gentle Care and figured out next steps.
Elena with her Disney friends
Did you choose an open adoption with Elena? We have a semi-open adoption. We utilized Adoption by Gentlecare in Columbus Ohio for the adoption and they require that we write a letter to the birth mother with photos each month for the first year and then twice annually each year after. We have met Elena's mother, but we don't have a relationship with her at this point.
Matthew with Elena
Your family has an affinity for Disney! As a family, do you try to go to Disney World often? We love Disney and loved it prior to having Elena. We go three or four times per year. With Elena, it is seeing Disney through her eyes. Meeting characters, riding rides and just seeing the spectacles around Disney through her perspective is heartwarming. I will tell you, we went in July to meet up with Michael's mother just before we finalized and Elena has never slept better. That constant stimulation wore her out.
Matthew with Elena and Minnie Mouse
How have your lives changed since you've become dads? It has changed our lives completely. Before, we would get off of work and shop, watch tv, go out to eat and exercise. Now our lives consist of shopping for Elena and the things we need around the house, eating when we get an opportunity, watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and going running with Elena in the stroller. You become less selfish when you have a child and you don't feel angry about it.
Michael and Matthew holding Elena
You and Michael had been together for almost 11 years before you became Elena's dads. How did you adjust to life as a family of three? The changing from just Michael and I to a family of three was interesting. It took us about two or three weeks to get our groove but it was been wonderful. We found a great home daycare for when we are working and we have our evenings and weekends figured. We have been very fortunate that she is an easy baby above all.
What have you learned from your children since you became a dad? A tremendous amount of patience. You realize quickly that everything is on Elena's schedule.
Is your family treated differently than others on account of your sexual orientation? You just have to be prepared for the questions. You will realize that strangers have no qualms about asking you also sorts of inappropriate questions. Our job is to figure out how to respond in a way that validates us and our daughter.
Michael and Elena
What would you say was your "aha" moment when you first realized that you were a dad? That came on January 20th when she was placed with us. We had only waited two months on the adoption list, so we were already shocked that we had a baby that quick. But on January 20th, We had done all this prep and worrying within the 72-hour window, then we get home, we were exhausted, excited and confused. All that build up in the 72-hour window and it was what do we do next? It dawned on us that our next move and then every move thereafter was going to be to raise ElenaWhat obstacles did you face on your path to fatherhood? Upon getting on the list, Elena came two months later. To get on the list, it took a great deal of hoops to jump through to compile everything needed to qualify for adoption in Ohio.
Where do you see your family 5-10 years in the future? Watching our daughter develop and figure out what her dreams are.