Location: Reading, Pennsylvania
Civil union. We had a beautiful ceremony on February 10, 2006 that my husband and I put together on our own. We created everything from the table settings, gift bags, buffet choices, wedding arch, and flower arrangements.
Occupations: Jeffrey is a customer service center supervisor for a bank; Hector works at one of Amazon's distribution centers as a packer.
How Many Kids Do You Have? One 11-year-old son.
What's His Name? Dwele' Jorge. Dwele' was his birth name given to him by his birth parents. Jorge is Hector's father's first name. His last name, Champ, is my last name. We nicknamed him DJ, for short.
What Does He Call You? Jeffrey is called “Daddy." Hector is "Papi."
Tell us about your path to parenthood. Did you consider other options? My husband has a son from his straight marriage. I didn't have any children. We decided to share our lives with a foster care child to give him a life we never had as kids.
What obstacles did you face on your path to fatherhood? We had to go through a long, extensive "parenting" course with the state of CT in order to be certified as foster parents. This included an extensive background check: criminal, financial, and family history. Along with an FBI background check involving being fingerprinted. There was also developmental delays and physical scarring as a result of infant surgery that caused concern. Because of these issues it was difficult for our boy to be adopted. We did it without hesitation knowing it would require a lot of visits to doctors and surgeons.
How has your life changed since you became a father? Our lives have changed enormously. Before the placement of our son, the two of us were very selfish. Everything was always about us. We had a one bedroom apartment. We spent our money on clothes and vacations for the two of us. Now, with our boy in our lives, we put all our focus, time and attention on him. Especially since he is special needs with developmental delays and ADHD. We try our best to give him the life he would not have gotten had he stayed in foster care. We take him on vacations, day trips, weekend getaways. We do everything with and for him. We love the life he has given us!
Was there ever a moment that you or Bland experienced any serious doubts about your path to fatherhood or fatherhood itself? In the beginning, when our boy was still 18-19 months old I had a lot of doubt about being a dad. I was always afraid to be firm and not a push over. As time went on and he got older, I learned the importance of being his dad and not just his friend. I taught him he can speak to me about anything, which he does. Hopefully that'll continue into his upcoming teenage years!
Is your family treated differently than others on account of your sexual orientation or gender identity? When we lived in Connecticut we would get funny looks from ignorant people trying to figure out who is the dad. Living in Pennsylvania now, I expected it would be worse, but it's not as bad. We used to call people out on their staring and ask them directly if they'd like to buy a picture. As a picture would last longer!
Did you always want kids? If you did not always want kids, what happened to change your mind? My husband changed my mind. It started by researching kids shown for adoption at a display in our local mall. He would talk to me about the fun things we would miss out on. He was absolutely right: I can't imagine my life without our son!
Where do you see your family 5-10 years in the future? In 5-10 years our boy will be 16-21 yrs old. We will still all be together as a family teaching him how to live on his own as an adult; and encouraging him to pursue a furthered education or sustainable career. As an adult with delays he will still need our guidance.
Is there anything else you'd like to share about your experiences creating or raising your family? We do everything we can to give our boy the good life he deserves. Our family is stronger than many straight families because we all know we have each other's backs no matter what!
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