Tripp and Terry’s road to fatherhood of siblings began with the purchase of a bunk bed.
In 2012, two young gay men living in Los Angeles finished their foster-adopt training. Tripp and Terry were 28 and 30 years old at the time. They had met in their final year of college and had been together for six years when they got married on August 21, 2010.
Tripp and Terry always wanted to be dads, but neither of them had any great desire to have a newborn. Tripp’s preferred minimum age was 3, and Tripp describes Terry as being fantastic with teenagers; they met somewhere in the middle and started looking to foster kids in between the age of 6 and 9.
It was the purchase of that bunk bed that launched their search for brothers.
But the road to fatherhood wasn't easy for Tripp and Terry, and their experience with the foster system could best be described as a nightmare. They went through two foster agencies after the first one was shut down due to the CEO embezzling money from the agency. The second agency came with its own set of issues and neuroses, as became clear when they inspected Tripp and Terry’s home and threw away over a hundred dollars worth of spices from the cabinets because the production year had passed!
Tripp and Terry's advice to future dads considering fostering: Do your homework! They admit that they did not do enough research for the best possible foster agency and after a quick Google search signed up for classes with the first possible agency. Tripp and Terry also highly recommend that your kids have a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA). The role of a CASA is to advocate for abused and neglected children; to gather information, make recommendations to the judge and to represent the child's best interests. “They will be the only person in the courtroom during the process that will advocate for the children,” shared Tripp.
The day after Tripp and Terry completed their training in early May 2012, the phone started ringing. Having only just completed the training program, Terry and Tripp didn’t feel ready for the bombardment of calls, and asked if they were to expect daily calls to start so quickly. When the agency responded affirmatively, Tripp said, “Call us on May 16.”
On May 16, the phone rang. The agency was calling, with the following message: “We have two boys, 6 and 10. They are unwashed, non-English speaking, borderline-intellectual functioning, and severely neglected. Do you want them?” This time, Terry and Tripp said yes.
When the two boys, Chris, 10, and Alex, 6, walked through their door that night, Terry and Tripp were surprised to meet two English-speaking, intelligent boys with, as it turned out, only some minor special needs. Tripp and Terry consider that evening, that moment, as the beginning of their family.
But Tripp and Terry's family wasn't complete. The boys had a sister, Kat, who at first was placed with a different foster family and then went back to live with their birth mom. On December 16, 2014, Terry and Tripp received a call from the Department of Children and Family Services that Kat, who was 15 at the time, had voluntarily left her birth mom’s house and needed a place to live. Despite their initial nervousness, Terry and Tripp knew this was the best alternative and Kat came to live with them.
Today, Alex is 10 years old, Chris is 14 and Kat is 17. When asked to describe each of their kids, here’s what Tripp and Terry had to say:
“Alex is a Tasmanian Devil who has fallen in love with the idea of himself as a super-villain. He's funny and creative and believes he's dating the animated character, Raven, from Teen Titans Go! He's very sweet but prone to anger and aggression when frustrated. At the end of the day, though, quiet, simple moments with Alex (puzzling or drawing or making dinner) are some of my happiest.
Chris is funny, handsome, sweet, likeable, creative, charming, and a teenage pain in the ass. Chris wishes he could spend all day, every day playing video games and watching superhero TV shows and movies. Chris is definitely the heart of the family and, when he's not around, he is deeply missed.
Kat is deeply passionate, loyal, creative, and energetic. She loves makeup and crazy hair styles. She wears her heart on her sleeve and wants everyone to like her. She's a dancer and singer who keeps a regular blog online where she's not afraid to talk about her struggles with bulimia or fitting in at school or getting attention from boys. She inspires me to love harder and think deeper.”
Terry (“Frankie” – his first name – to the kids) and Tripp (“Dad”) are both very close with their families and are fortunate to live nearby Terry’s two sisters.
During the first year with Alex and Chris, Terry’s mom, Anna, spent a lot of time in Alex’s classroom as a volunteer. Alex, who has mild developmental delays, was prone to tantrums and would occasionally disrupt the class. With Tripp and Terry working full-time they were often unable to go, so Anna went and ultimately became the class aide for the year.
Tripp’s family live in Tennessee but family tries to see them as much as possible during vacations. Tripp shared, “The kids love their extended family. Alex loves his two grandmothers (Anna and my mom, Vivian) more than anyone else in the family.”
Despite both starting their careers in theater (Terry was a musical theater writer and composer, then teacher; Tripp was an actor for 10 years), they now work in the moving and storage industry. With two teenagers, a 10-year-old and multiple businesses, it’s needless to say, Tripp and Terry are busy people.
The dads believed it was important that all three kids, having spent so much time apart over the years, share one and the same adoption day. So they waited till Chris, Alex and Kat could be adopted together. That day finally came to pass on December 7, 2015. Tripp and Terry officially became the parents of their three kids.
When asked, “Why foster?” Tripp and Terry responded, “It's no cost to the parents. And these kids need parents.” And they couldn’t be happier. As Tripp said, “We ended up with the three most perfect and wonderful kids in the world.”