Kentucky husbands William and Bland Lee have been together 20 years and became dads through fostering then adoption. It was a path to fatherhood they hadn't considered until they spoke with an attorney who covered all their options as queer dads. As soon as the couple realized that there were children already waiting for a family, the choice was clear. "Our child or children was potentially waiting for us already."
Since this interview four years ago, the dads have grown their family again through foster to adopt and are now a family of four. Stay tuned for an update on this family's story.
Tell us about your path to parenthood. Did you consider other options?
We consulted with an adoption attorney to discuss the various options and the pros and cons of all facets. Once we came to realize that there were already children waiting in the foster system for a family, the choice was clear. Our child or children was potentially waiting for us already and so the long tedious journey began.
What obstacles did you face on your path to fatherhood?
Navigating the foster and the judicial system, especially in Kentucky, is extremely difficult and at times defeating. Many unnecessary roadblocks presented themselves into our sons case, causing delays and retrials time and time again.
What words of advice do you have for other gay men considering foster-to-adopt?
At the end of the day, we would chose no other route than the one that we did. Fostering to adopt made sense for us and also for our child. So often people comment that it is too hard a path, but these children deserve everything. We are trying our hardest to find ways to advocate for foster-to-adopt. Quite honestly, had we understood 10 years ago how easy an option this was to create our family, we would have been parents long ago. We are making it our personal mission to spread the information and tools with other gay families.
How has your life changed since you became a father?
We truly love to travel and we did a ton of it before we decided to have children. Entering the foster care system we were unable to travel internationally for a couple of years until our son's adoption was finalized. We are looking forward to getting back to traveling and sharing that experience with him.
Was there ever a moment that you or Bland experienced any serious doubts about your path to fatherhood or fatherhood itself?
We spent 14 years together shoving the desire to have children into the background. We had a niece that was born and when we held her we knew instantly that it was what we were meant to do. We were meant to be parents and we had to stop putting it off just because we were uneducated about our options.
Is your family treated differently than other on account of your sexual orientation?
We are noticed and remembered more often than the "traditional" family in Louisville, KY. We just try to remind ourselves often that we can handle some stares and some strange questions if it means that we are going ahead of someone who may not have to do the same. It is all about educating people that our family is just like theirs, and trying to make it through day to day life. Then you get the occasional stare from a young gay person admiring your family and seeing an option for themselves and it makes it all worth it.
Is there anything else you'd like to share about your experiences creating or raising your family?
Becoming parents, it turns out, was our life's calling. We have been so fulfilled by the experience. From the moment that our baby boy was dropped at our door our lives improved in an unimaginable way. We had no idea that we were missing out on this incredible gift of being someone's father.
This article was originally published on May 5, 2017.