Location: Viera, Florida
They have been together for 6 1/2 years and were married in May 2015.
Occupations: John owns and operates a massage therapy establishment. Dennis is a corporate account manager for a national facilities service provider.
"Whether they were ours or not, we wanted to be a part of a child's life, a part of their upbringing, a part of their hearts."
Why did you decide to pursue foster care? We initially looked into foster care because we knew we wanted kids. We had a desire to be parents and knew it was a path that was meant for us. We explored several options including private adoption and surrogacy. However after learning about the children and the need for foster homes we decided to explore that path. We began the 9 week parenting classes and about halfway through decided this was the road for us. We knew that we would be able to help children who were in need, children who were scared and had no where to go and no one to love them. We knew that somewhere along the process we would eventually have children who would need our love forever. We got licensed and immediately took in two children. After a few months, we were approached with the option to take a third child temporarily. We ended up enjoying it and became licensed as a home for three children. From June of 2016 through November 2016 we homed nine children.
Do you any plans to try and eventually adopt through the foster care system? We've had the same three since late November. Two of them have a case plan moving towards what we hope will be adoption. The third we are fighting to help his father win custody.
What is the most rewarding thing about being a foster dad? Seeing a child come into your home scared, alone, with nothing but a small bag of clothes and watching them transform into a happy and loving kid. Knowing that you helped a child who was terrified and had been ripped from their home, feel like they have found a new home and a new family. Every child we've had will remain part of our hearts and part of our family. Knowing that with every child we help our family grows by one more. That is the most rewarding thing about being a foster dad.
What is the most challenging aspect to being a foster dad? Some of the parents. It's heartbreaking to have children who miss their parents and are excited for their weekly visits with them only to have them disappear for weeks or months at a time with no contact. Or to see parents who have lost their children but continue to care about only themselves and put their children in harms way to benefit their own personal needs.
Did you face any obstacles on account of your sexual orientation or gender identity? We actually have not had any obstacles due to our sexual orientation. So far all of the reactions and feedback we've received has been extremely positive.
What's your best piece of advice for other gay men considering fostering? Do it. It the most rewarding thing you could do and the positivity that surrounds it is overwhelming. We hesitated about doing this with concerns of what people would say or if biological parents would lash out because of our sexual orientation, but the amount of support we've received has been absolutely astonishing. There are so many children who need love and need people to teach them structure and family. Be those people, show these children that there is a better way. Do it.
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