Ramon Casanova always wanted to be a dad. He was raised in a single parent household by his mother and knew that one day he'd become the father figure he yearned for.
Ramon shares his inspiring story with us about how he became a dad to boy who had spent 640 days in foster care. Here's how Ramon and AJ became a forever family of two, in Ramon's own words.
I always knew that no matter what happened in my life, my main purpose was to be someone's dad. I remember my best friend telling me that being a parent is what I was meant to do and that I shouldn't let anything stop me. That's who I am, when I want something I don't let anything stop me. I will keep going until I achieve all of my dreams, one by one.
At the time, I worked for the child protection agency in my state. It turns out that was the biggest obstacle of my entire adoption journey since working there meant I wasn't able to become a foster parent. I was only allowed to adopt select home children, which made it difficult because I was employed by that same program for two years. Many of my colleagues, friends, and coworkers felt like it would be a conflict of interest to match me with a child, making it very difficult for me to get matched in the state where I live.
Knowing this, I tried to go on being employed by the child protection agency, hoping to be matched outside of my state. Sadly, I came to realize that many states were conservative, and because I was a single gay male, I was passed over many times. One day, I was selected by a grandma for her two grandchildren, a 4-year-old boy and a little 2-year-old girl. But my manager at the time denied my application. I felt defeated. I decided to take a break at that point because the experience left me feeling very depressed. I went to San Francisco with my best friend and tried to distract myself from what was happening at home.
When I came back, a friend told me about his niece who was thinking of choosing me to adopt her unborn baby through a private adoption. The situation seemed promising, and the family even threw me a gender reveal party. Paying lawyer and adoption agency fees as well as having my home filled with gifts, I felt really optimistic that this was my child.
I met the child in the hospital the day he was born, held him, fell in love, and took photos of him. Then on the next day the mother delivered the heartbreaking news: she had changed her mind. There I was, faced with another failed adoption. I tried so hard to keep my head on straight, but it took some time for myself to regain some strength.
After another trip, this time to visit family in Arizona to escape my reality, I tried again and I was matched with a child in New York, but again it didn't work out. So I came to the point where I knew something had to give. I had to figure something out because I knew this wasn't working. That's when I made the decision to leave my career after 10 years so that I could really achieve my goal and become a dad. Leaving my employment with the child protection agency of my state, granted me the opportunity to have foster children placed in my home which I was unable to do before as an adoption specialist. And so I began my journey as a single gay foster parent.
Seven days after I left my job, I was blessed with an amazing dream of mine, AJ, a 3-year-old beautiful boy. As soon as he walked through my door, I knew there was something special about him, and I think he knew that when he walked into my home, this was his forever home. I was his fifth placement due to his behavior. AJ could sometimes show aggression which was caused by his own experience of pain and trauma.
While things may have seemed easy, they weren't. We experienced a lot of ups and downs, went through therapy, and shared many teachable moments. Looking back, it was all definitely worth it. Every sleepless night, every hug or cry for commitment. I know that AJ was worth it since now he has his forever home.
A few weeks in, I decided to contact his biological mother, his grandmother and his biological half-sister to arrange visitation. I agreed to supervise these visits alone with AJ to make sure that he felt connected with his biological family. To this day his sister is still a part of us and we see her about once a month. His biological mom, when she can, calls us, and she chose me to be his parent when she signed over her parental rights. For this, I will forever be grateful because I know she made the hardest decision of her life even if it was the best decision for her son. I will never take that for granted.
As long as it's in an age appropriate manner (which it continues to be), I try to keep his relationship with his mother open, as much as I possibly can. Whenever we can I talk to him about her struggles in an age-appropriate manner, and he enjoys her phone calls and he loves that I send her tons of pictures and videos. It's difficult for his biological family to call him everyday so we make the best out of the situation. AJ's biological dad is unknown.
I've fostered three other children through our journey: a 4-year-old boy was reunited, a 2-year-old princess was replaced, and I continue to foster a baby girl who I've had since she was 4 months old. AJ loves them all. Often times he would be upset and sad when they would visit their biological families. We would talk about it and I would tell him that he's mine, and that was always my answer to him which always made him smile.
Fast forward to today, AJ (now 4 years old) is doing amazing in school! He's thriving, he's thoughtful, he's smart, he's kind, and he truly has a heart of gold and a smile that can light up anyone's day. When you think of where he was emotionally compared to the way he is today, shows just how amazing he is. I was his fifth placement. He knew I was different, and we both knew I would never give up on him. He was meant for me, and I was meant for him.
Although being a single parent is very difficult at times, I know everything that I've gone through in my adoption journey these last four years was worth it. AJ spent 640 in foster care, and on October 17, he became my son forever. I thank God for my family and friends who have supported me throughout my journey. He had it all planned out, and I'm forever grateful because now I truly understand why it never worked out the other times. I finally have achieved what I wanted and what I've longed for - to be a father. I am a lucky person because my kids are my everything. AJ is a resilient child and deserves everything I do for him and much much more. He is an inspiration to all.
Please take this from my story: if nothing else, whether you're gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, single, married, divorced or whatever your circumstances are, you can change someone's life. You can be that person for a child. If it is in your heart and soul that you can love unconditionally, then don't let anything stop you from achieving your dream. I can finally say I have my forever son, and he was worth every struggle, every sacrifice, and every obstacle I've experienced.
Love conquers all and all it takes is love. Please...follow your dreams and thank you for reading our story.