Eight years ago, Billy and Joseph Saponaro, 31 and 33 years old respectively, met on a dating app. They both knew they wanted something meaningful, so they decided to go on a date. On July 9 this year, they celebrated their fourth wedding anniversary.
In the summer of 2017, Billy and Joseph decided it was time to start their family. They began attending various workshops and information nights at different adoption agencies. They also started the process of becoming licensed through the state of New Jersey to become foster dads. "For us, it felt like a calling to adopt," said Billy. "With so many beautiful children in the world in need of parents who love them, it almost felt selfish of us to just want a child we share DNA with. After having our kids, it feels no different than if we did."
During this time, they put on social media that they were planning to adopt, and if anyone knew of someone in a situation where they were considering adoption, to please contact them. "Getting the word out there is very important," said Billy. "Even the agency suggested basically advertising it because if you don't let people know, they won't know to contact you."
Shortly after they began with the state training, they were contacted by an acquaintance who had seen their social media post regarding their interest in adopting. She was pregnant and wanted them to adopt the baby. So the dads-to-be put the process on pause and started the private home study process with a private agency and adoption attorneys. (The husbands haven't ruled out fostering in the future.)
Although there was never a moment the couple doubted their path to fatherhood, Billy did always imagine himself as a father to daughters. "[I have] been around and spent predominantly more time with women my whole life, so I thought I'd be a better parent [to girls]," shared Billy. "I thought because I wasn't into sports or hyper masculine I wouldn't be a good role model or father to a boy." So when they found out they were expecting a boy, Billy felt out of his depth. "I doubted myself, I didn't know if I had what it takes, if it would be fair to him. I thought to raise a son I had to be a certain type of man. Then he came, and I fell in love."
On January 27, 2019, their son Caleb was born, and the dads welcomed him with open arms.
Not long after, Billy and Joseph's family grew again when Caleb's older biological brother joined the family in April. On June 20, the dads finalized the adoption of Caleb, and they're currently working towards adopting his older brother Zach as well.
From gaining not one but two sons, Billy has very different feeling about raising boys than he once did. When it came to being Zach's dad, "He loves everything I didn't when I was little, and somehow it showed me what a fool I had been to think the way I did. It didn't matter what kind of kid I was or what my interests were, it matters what his are and Caleb's will be." All of a sudden, Billy found himself playing with the trucks and trains, giving father to son talks and advice, and tossing a baseball. "I found a part of myself I didn't know was there. I found that when you become a parent, very little matters about what you think you know but more so what you learn about life and your own strengths."
Since the arrival of the two kids, Billy and Joseph's lives have been upended, but in the most wonderful way. Gone are the days of the immaculate house; playpens, toys, bouncer, and tummy time mats now fill the once formal living room. "It's more fulfilling, more exciting, more demanding, more tiring; it's not all glitz and glam anymore, it's dirty diapers and interrupted sleep, packing lunches, giving baths, but it's all I ever wanted," said Billy. "There's something about opening your shower curtain in the morning and seeing bath toys all over the place that puts a smile on your face."
The Union Beach, New Jersey family haven't found it hard to find their groove as a family of four. Billy is a stay-at-home dad and an ordained Deacon as his community church, and Joseph works in administration. Their sons have taught them that they are capable of anything and the most important thing is family. "A million things can be wrong but seeing Caleb's smile, or hearing Zach say I love you just keeps me going," said Joseph.
"I am so happy these brothers can have each other and grow up in the same house," continued Billy. "We will continue to strive to raise two kind and confident men. I may have always wanted a girl but I'm so happy I got my two boys."