Originally published July 22, 2018
Nick Bryan and Sean McGuire, who live in Columbus, Ohio, have suffered heartache that no parent should ever have to endure. They became first-time dads in 2016 when they adopted a baby girl who was born two months premature. Sadly, their daughter did not make it to 4 months, and passed away due to premature complications.
The dads struggled to go on. But with the support of their family, friends and a wonderful adoption agency, they tried again, and in November last year, another little girl was born, and she had two daddies ready to love her with all their hearts. Here's their family's story.
Sean first spotted Nick at a LEGO store in a local mall. They were both out shopping with their best friends at the time, and neither man said anything to the other. A few hours later, Sean managed to find Nick online and messaged him. On their first date they went to the movies. Flash forward five years, and the two were married on September 27, 2014.
Once they were married, Nick and Sean began their adoption classes; their adoption profile went live in November 2015. They chose to go through a private local agency that a few friends had recommended, and they were and still are very happy with their choice.
The agency was very welcoming and even had a few other gay dads pursuing the same route to fatherhood.
Nick holding Harper with Sean (right)
Nine months after their profile being live, they received a phone call from a birth mom. They chatted with her on the phone for a week, then met in person, and then began accompanying her on doctor visits.
She gave birth on September 24, 2016, two months premature, due to her gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia.
The baby was a little girl, and her new dads named her Harper. They spent most of the next two months with her in the NICU.
"[We] have some great memories of spending time with her there and learning a lot from our incredible nurses," shared Sean.
Harper was discharged the day before Thanksgiving and went home with her dads.
A little over a month later, the 3-month-old passed away on New Year's Eve.
"Losing a child is the hardest thing I will ever face in my life," said Nick. "I think about her every day."
"It's hard to put into words the pain we feel but much easier to say how much we love and miss her every day," added Sean.
Nick, Piper's birth mom, Sean
Their adoption agency really helped the dads during this inconceivably difficult time. They arranged for the dads to see a therapist, and worked closely with them to get them back on the adoption list.
By April, the dads decided it was time try again, and in July they were matched with another birth mom. "We met her the very next day and went along to an ultrasound where we found out we were having another girl," said Nick.
For the next four months, the dads followed their birth mom's pregnancy, were there through the labor and delivery, and on November 17, 2017, their daughter Piper was born. For the dads, it was love at first sight.
"People always say that fatherhood is a life changing experience, and they are right," said Sean. "I always thought I was happy person but since my daughters were born that happiness has grown and my heart feels full."
Piper's adoption day
Sean and Nick have a wonderful relationship with Piper's birth mom and hope to continue having an open relationship with her. "I feel that it's important not only for us to know her mom for medical reasons, but to love her and appreciate her giving us our amazing daughter," said Nick.
Piper's birth mom and her own kids are part of Nick, Sean and Piper's extended family.
On May 23, 2018, Piper's adoption was finalized and she and her dads became an official forever family.
When Sean and Nick first became dads to baby Harper, they knew that fatherhood was something to be treasured. It increased their capacity to love fourfold, both for each other and for Harper. "It was love at first sight and a type of love I've never felt before," said Sean. Now the dads are sharing that love with their beautiful daughter Piper.
"I've learned to live in the moment, and put the phone down to enjoy those precious times with my baby," added Nick. "We may not be related by blood, but we love our babies more than we could have ever imagined. We always say how lucky we are that we got chosen to be their dads."