How Aubrey And Michael Brought Their Family Together

Guest post authored by Aubrey Hawton


We’re Aubrey Hawton and Michael Snively, a mid-60s couple from about an hour north of Toronto, Canada.

We met in 1980 when we worked in side-by-side group homes for emotionally disturbed youth, and we’ve been together ever since. Yes, that’s 41 years!

Early in our relationship, we knew that we wanted to start a family. Initially, we did this by becoming long-term foster parents for two individuals, Billy and Paul. Billy was an active pre-teen when he came to join our family; Paul was a more docile 30-year-old young man. Both had developmental delays.


As time passed, we began considering a more permanent family situation. Initially, we were considering international adoption, but at the time, same-sex couples were still unable to adopt from many countries. So, our eyes turned to adoption within Canada.

We contacted our local Children’s Aid Society (CAS) and registered for their Adoption Readiness Course. We were the first gay couple to register for the course in our area, and when we adopted our 7-year-old son Thomas in 2003, we were the first gay couple to adopt through our local CAS.

In 2005, we were again ready to add to our family. This time, we adopted biological siblings. Emily was a precocious 3-year-old, and her brother Tommy was an active 8-year-old. Our family home was now bursting at the seams with 7 people! We loved spending our summers at our boat-access cottage near our home.

In 2015, we planned a family vacation to Cancun, Mexico. For several months prior to going to Cancun, Michael and Emily had been secretly planning the wedding. While on vacation, Michael proposed, and the whole proposal was caught on video, complete with the tears and the “yes” response from Aubrey. We were married the next day, November 12th.


In January 2016, our son Billy passed away after suffering from an extremely rare metabolic disease; Sanfilippo Syndrome. About the same time, Paul was moved from our family home to a group home by his sponsoring organization. These were difficult changes for our family, but we persevered through them.

Right now, we’re dealing with COVID-19 much as any other family would. Emily is in her first year at university, studying in an Honour Bachelor of Arts and Science in Environmental Sustainability program. Fortunately, we live about 30 minutes from the university campus, so she’s able to live at
home with us. Tommy is working on upgrading his high school qualifications by doing online courses. And Thomas has saved his money and purchased a BoomerBuggy; a fully enclosed electric mobility vehicle, which allows him to have the ability to get out into the community. He’s loving it, and the community members who see him driving around always wave and stop to chat!

We have now both retired from teaching, and are actively involved in our local church. We both serve on leadership teams, and have opened The Caring Closet, where free clothing and accessories are made available to those in need. We serve up to 75 people each week.


We love to travel as a family, and have enjoyed our many Caribbean cruises, as well as a recent family trip to Yukon, along with my parents. Our Christmas 2020 Southern Caribbean cruise was cancelled due to COVID-19, but we’re looking forward to being able to do some travelling once things settle down

Aubrey's soon-to-be-90-year-old mother has been part of the family's “social circle” during the pandemic, so we enjoy spending at least one weekend a month with her when she visits us at our home.

We’d be glad to hear from any other families who may want to chat with us about our journey to parenthood. We’re not on Instagram terribly frequently, but we can provide you with an email address, or connect through other Facebook, if you’d like. Stay safe, everyone!

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