When Matt saw Josh 10 years ago in a bar in Washington, D.C., he plucked up the courage to send over a drink. Seven years later, he proposed, and the two were married October 11, 2014. Josh, a civil servant, and Matt, a partner at a law firm, always wanted kids, and knew that adoption was the right choice for them. Josh had volunteered in an orphanage in South Africa during college and the experience had really solidified his views on the importance of adoption.
"We never felt strongly about having biological children of our own, and thought that adoption was the best fit for us," explained the two men.
Josh and Matt wedding, October 2015
So they began the process with an adoption agency based in the Pacific Northwest, but the process wasn't always easy. On two occasions, they were told they had been selected by an expectant mother only to find out that they had been mistakenly emailed and were in fact not selected. Both experiences were heartbreaking for the two dads.
With these experiences fresh in their mind, and a seemingly stagnant search, they decided to switch directions, and signed up for a website called "Parent Profiles," which Josh describes as the OKCupid for adoptions. They also worked with a Los Angeles-based lawyer, David Radis, who provided them with adoption legal services. Five months later, they were contacted by Magnolia's birth mom via "Parent Profiles."
"It was only when we decided enough was enough and we took a more proactive approach that we felt empowered in our journey," said Josh. "We were ultimately successful and now believe it was meant to happen the way it did."
Josh with Magnolia dressed-to-impress at her first Halloween, October 2016
On October 5, 2016, Magnolia was born, and Josh and Matt became dads.
Over the next few days, it really began to sink in that they were parents to a baby girl. From installing the car seat as they left the hospital, to the constant feedings and diaper changing around the clock; tell-tale signs familiar to all new parents that their lives had taken a new trajectory.
"It's exhausting and you don't quite fully feel confident that you know what you're doing," said Josh and Matt. "But this little precious life is relying on you to figure it out."
In terms of how their own lives have changed, Matt and Josh agree that they have become more patient and more strategic in their everyday lives.
"We have much more of a routine now that requires planning around naps and feedings, and our daughter is now the primary consideration in any plans that we make."
Josh and Magnolia with dog Violet, November 2016
They also admit that traveling isn't as easy now, but they still try to maintain some semblance of their former lives: going out for dinner, still traveling regularly, and spending time gardening.
"The baby just joins us in all those now!"
Josh and Matt have an open adoption with Magnolia's birth mom and post pictures on an app called "Tiny Beans" which she has access to. They also text from time to time, and hope to visit her and her family in LA sometime in the next year.
Matt and Magnolia at Matt's work, February 2017
"We want Magnolia's birth mother to be a part of her life (and ours) moving forward so long as she's comfortable with that," they said.
Matt and Josh hope to extend their family with one or two more children over the next 5 to 10 years. And although they call D.C. home and always will, they love the idea of having a second home someplace more rural where they can take the kids to get away from the craziness of the city.
Their advice to other gay men considering fatherhood?
"Whether you choose surrogacy or adoption, the journey to parenthood can often times be filled with heartache and frustration. Stay positive and hopeful, and whatever you do don't let the stress impact your relationship. We firmly believe that things work out how they're supposed to in the end."
Family photo, July 2017