How did you two meet? We met while working at the same retail store while we were in college. Though I tried to get to know Eric, he wasn't out yet and didn't reciprocate. We actually never talked before I quit the job. A few months later, we met again through a mutual friend while at a club, and have literally been together since that night.
Tell us about your path to parenthood. We became dads through adoption. We looked at several options (surrogacy, international adoption, and foster care). At the time we started seriously looking, around 2008, numerous countries were either closing their borders to American adoptions, or not adopting to single or gay couples. Surrogacy was just too expensive for us so we decided on adoption. After talking with some friends who were adopted and reading everything we could get our hands on, we decided that open adoption was the best choice for us.
The process to become "Adoption Ready" wasn't too bad. It took about 3 months to get all the background checks, physicals, and paperwork set up. The biggest obstacle was the wait to match with a birthmother. The point of open adoption is to establish a relationship with the birthmother so there can be ongoing contact, which ultimately is healthier for the mother and the child. We matched four times prior to meeting our daughter's birthmother. We were scammed, one girl had a miscarriage, and two changed their minds (on the day we were going to drive to the hospital). So the emotions were extreme to say the least.
We had actually decided to stop trying, but that same night we were contacted by our daughter's birthmother. We started talking and hit it off. We even flew her cross country so we could have her meet our families. We were at the hospital for the delivery and got to hold the baby shortly after being born. But, the emotions proved to be too much and the birthmother changed her mind in the hospital on the day we were going to be taking the baby home. We were crushed. It was the worst day of my life. However, the next day we got a message from the mother saying she'd reconsidered and she wanted us to be the baby's parents and have had her ever since. We continue to have a relationship with the mother and our daughter talks to her regularly.
How has your life changed since you became a father? Well, it's all about the kids! We had some great experiences as a couple, traveling and doing things we always wanted to do. But we decided before we started the adoption process that this was what we wanted our lives to be. We used to pick up and head to the mountains or beach for the weekend whenever. While we still get away, it's a whole new world.
What have you learned about being a dad? I've learned a new definition to the word "tired." I've also learned to cherish moments as they are happening and not to dwell on the past or worry too much about the future. The passage of time is so much more evident when you can see it literally growing in front of you.
Is your family treated differently than others on account of your sexual orientation or gender identity? We actually have had some great experiences despite the stereotypes of living in the South. We've been out at restaurants as a family and had total strangers come to the table to say how they support us and love that we are out together. We've been featured in local papers a few times to share views on political or social events that could affect LGBT families.
What words of advice do you have for other gay men considering pursuing your same path or parenthood? Lean on friends and family, and stay hopeful. There will inevitably be times when you are discouraged either by the waiting or rejections. The path and challenges to parenthood are so important. They can help strengthen your relationship and give your children a sense of worth knowing how hard you struggled to become a family.
Where do you see your family 5-10 years in the future? Two teenagers and some old dads, should be entertaining!
Fill out this short survey for an opportunity to be featured in an upcoming family profile!
Check out these other great family stories: