Tell us about your path to parenthood. When we decided it was time to start building our family, we did consider all possible options. However, it came down to cost. Surrogacy was too risky for us due to our financial constraints, so we chose adoption, specifically open adoption.
Tell us about any obstacles you faced on your path to fatherhood. Several years before we started our family, Eric's sister's family adopted internationally through China. While we did consider international adoption briefly, we quickly found out how few opportunities there were for same-sex couples.
At one point, the agency his sister used reached out to them again to see if they were interested in adopting a second time because of such a high need. This was about the time we had started the adoption process. However, even though the need was so great that the agency was reaching out to families who were not actively looking, we could not be considered because we are a same-sex couple. We encountered this obstacle several times as we were searching for the adoption agency to go through. Because of our financial situation at the time, agency price was a factor in selection. We discovered the low cost for adoption through agencies like Catholic Charities, but like the international adoption agency, they would not consider us as a perspective family because we are a same-sex couple.
How has your life changed since you became a father? Life has changed very little for us. What we considered to be important before children still is important to us now. We decide to utilize these opportunities and go together to teach life lessons and make family memories. Now, there are just many more bags to pack!
What have you learned from your kids since you became a dad? We both have learned to slow down. In a blink of an eye, children grow up. Neither us realized how quickly this happens. And now, after 4 short years, our son is almost ready to start school. We have learned to place priority on what is truly important in order to cherish the time together and make lasting memories. We have also learned the joy of innocence. Experiencing life through the eyes of a 4 year old and a 1 year old is magical. It allows us to be silly, messy, and carefree.
Was there ever a moment that you or your husband experienced any serious doubts about your path to fatherhood or fatherhood itself? While there were moments of doubt and struggle in the journey, there was never a moment that cast such a doubt on our dream to have a family that we felt we could not overcome the obstacle.
Is your family treated differently than others on account of your sexual orientation? We have been very fortunate to not experience any instances of discrimination or being treated differently because our family is made up of two dads. We are very fortunate to have our children part of organizations, such as their daycare/preschool, that not only respect our family make up but go out of their way to ensure that both our children never feel as if they are different.
What we quickly realized once we started growing our family was how "mommy" focused family building is. Baby registries and company programs, such as Amazon Mom, showed us how society placed much of child raising on either the woman or parents made up of a mom and a dad. The reactions we would get from family outings and family programs soon felt as if we were serving as the "poster dads" for same sex couples, whether we wanted to or not, when we just needed a good deal on diapers or an energy outlet for the kids.
Additionally, once becoming dads, we became cognizant of forms that automatically asked for information about "mom" and "dad." When possible, we try to send a subtle message by crossing out the words “dad" and “mom" and inserting “parent."
What words of advice do you have for other gay men considering pursuing your same path or parenthood? Be patient! There were times during the adoption of both of our kids that we thought it would never happen. Through open adoption, you are at the mercy of the process. There are few ways to speed things up and, for us, that caused both stress and anxiety that we should be doing more. No matter what we did, though, it did not make our kids come faster.
Know that things happen for a reason. During both our adoptions, we had failed connections. The hardest one was with our first child. After almost a year into the process and so very green to adoption, we were connected with a birth mother. She was so certain about us that, when we found out about her, she had already signed the initial paperwork. We ended up having dinner with her twice and things were going so well. We felt that we could invite our family and friends in on the process by sharing the news of this connection. We also started shopping and setting up the nursery. And then one day, she disappeared. We both were devastated and began to mourn the loss of this child we built up in our minds. Several month later, we got a call and were connected with the birth mother of our now son. In looking back, we realize that if it were not for the failed connection, we would never have our son. At the time it was impossible to understand, but we know that things happen for a reason. And this was the greatest lesson we remembered as we went through the adoption process for the second time.
Where do you see your family 5-10 years in the future? As we imagined building our family, we looked forward to the experiences that naturally come with raising children. From school events to music lessons and sports, we both relish in the thoughts of the busyness that is having children as the upcoming years pass.
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