Originally published June 11, 2016
Meet husbands and dads Scott, 44, the Director of Strategy for the University of Maryland Medical Center, and Joel, 41, a stay-at-home dad to their young daughter. Together for more than 10 years, this forever family lives in Glen Burnie, Maryland.
The men met online in 2005 via Match.com thanks to Joel’s friend, who secretly created a profile for him in an effort to help him meet more people. Scott says he responded to Joel’s profile and “it was a love-at-first-sight type of romance.” A few years later, on July 1, 2009, the guys celebrated their commitment by getting legally married.
Scott and Joel in 2005
Scott says he always wanted to be a father and he and Joel spoke of children early on in their relationship. They decided on foster-adopt as their path to fatherhood and became foster parents in 2013. Shortly after completing the process they were placed with a beautiful 18-month-old girl. Scott describes the original meeting of their daughter as another instance of “love at first sight,” further explaining that from the very first day they just knew that she was their daughter. Her adoption was finalized a year later.
Scott and Joel’s wedding day, July 1, 2009
The dads named their daughter Joyce LaRay. paying homage both to her birth name (LaRay) and Joel’s beloved grandmother (Joyce). Scott joyfully explains that today Joyce LaRay is “a sassy 4-year-old diva!”
Week one with their daughter
When asked what they consider to be the most important lesson they’re teaching their daughter, Scott replied that, “every family is special in their own way and we need to celebrate and appreciate our differences.” We couldn’t agree more!
Adoption day, 2014
Scott says that before they became dads he had hoped to be called “daddy” while Joel would be “papa.” But Joyce LaRay apparently had other plans, always referring to Scott as her “papa” and Joel as her “daddy.” Eventually the men stopped correcting her, and welcomed their daughter’s independent spirit by proudly adapting to the names she bestowed on each of them.
Scott and Joel both place tremendous value on the importance of family. They live a short distance away from Joel’s mom, dad and six siblings, all of whom are integral members of their daughter’s extended family. Scott’s family is sprinkled through the midwest so they don’t get to see them as often as they’d like. But Scott’s best friend, Dermal, is like a brother and has been very involved in their lives. Joyce LaRay even refers to him as Uncle Dermal, and the dads greatly value the love he brings to their family and the influence he has on their daughter’s life.
In addition to raising their daughter, the dads are currently caring for a sibling group of three foster children who are not available for adoption. They’ve discussed the possibility of adding to their forever family, but want to hold off on the decision until after the sibling group is reunited with their family. Meantime, when asked if she would like a brother or sister, Joyce LaRay emphatically says “Yes! Both!”
Before signing off, Scott shared these departing words, “Along with meeting and marrying the man of my dreams, the best thing ever is the day our daughter entered our lives. I wouldn’t change a thing!”