"Our adoption journey was not easy by any means," began Danny. "We waited 16 months before being successfully placed with our children." Husbands Danny Maffia and Justin DeMartin, together a total of eight years and married for two, endured a roller coaster ride to become dads, experiencing three failed adoptions. Today, they're the proud dads to twins born November 2017. Here's their story.
Danny, a professor of American Sign Language and an English interpreter, met Justin, a Director of Special Education, when they were both organizing a fitness fundraiser for breast cancer research. "[Justin] and I are also both certified group exercise instructors," said Danny. "Our love of fitness is what brought us together." Six year after meeting, they were married on May 29, 2016.
Danny (left) and Justin at their wedding, May 2016
The two definitely saw kids in their future, so they began considering their preferred paths to fatherhood. They mutually decided to adopt. "[We] decided adoption for numerous reasons," elaborated Justin. "We have several friends, both gay and straight, who have successfully adopted. And although we did consider surrogacy, the costs surrounding it, in addition to the laws in New York state prevented us from pursuing that option."
In July 2016, they signed with an adoption agency. During the next 16 months, they experienced three failed adoptions, two of which were scams. "We thought working with an agency that the chances of being scammed would be reduced, but this was not true for us," said Danny. Their first expectant mom pursued two couples at the same time to double the amount of birth mother expenses she received, and the third expectant mother went silent two weeks before her due date. Justin and Danny later found out she had given birth two weeks prior and during that time had continued to cash checks given to her by the agency on behalf of the dads-to-be. When the dads found out, they were crushed.
"That day (October 28th) was such a hard day," recalls Justin. "We were filled with grief and were ready to give up."
"It was daunting to think we had to start the process all over again; it was becoming too much," added Danny. During these hard times, the husbands leaned on each other for support.
Danny holding Emma, Justin holding Parker
On October 31st, just three days after learning of their third failed adoption match, their birth family, having seen Danny and Justin's video on YouTube, got in touch. The expectant mom was having twins and had a scheduled c-section in less than a week. Those next few days were intense for the waiting dads, but on Monday November 6, 2017, Justin and Danny were in the hospital holding their twin babies.
"Throughout the process everyone kept telling us that everything happens for a reason, and although we always truly believed that, it was hard to see it in the moment," said Danny. "Looking back, if it was not for those failed adoptions we never would have had our twins … This was perfect."
Photo credit: Marie Bohn Photography
Twins Emma and Parker have slotted into their dads' lives so completely that both Danny and Justin agree that it feels as though nothing has changed except their lives now have a new sense of purpose.
"My favorite part of being a parent is I can re-live experiences that are brand new to my children through their eyes," shared Danny. "It is like I get to be a kid again and can experience the excitement and joy once again."
Currently the dads live in a small town between two larger cities in upstate New York, but not for too much longer. They're looking to move as Justin recently accepted a job offer that requires a relocation. A short while ago, the dads experienced prejudice on account of their sexual orientation from neighbors who commented that two dads should not be parents. Danny and Justin had always envisioned moving to a larger, more diverse, community, one with more embracing views on families, so the opportunity to relocate couldn't have come at a better time.
The dads have some advice for others considering adoption: Be active during the adoption process. "Don't be passive; be vocal, be persistent, be vigil," said Danny. "Self-care during the process is key; be supportive of one another," added Justin. "The reward is truly worth the effort but you absolutely need to be persistent."
After three failed adoptions, the dads did consider giving up. But it was only for a split second. Now Justin and Danny are the proud dads to almost 8-month old twins, and are thankful every day that they continued their journey to fatherhood.
Photo credit: Marie Bohn Photography