Beginnings – the Old-Fashioned Way
When Joe and Tim met in 2009, they had the same all-important question for each other: “Do you want kids?" They had both been in relationships where the other person wasn't interested in starting a family at all. This time, they made sure both were on the same page.
Joe had been close to having a family many years ago. In 1996, when Joe was a closeted junior in high school, he found out that he and his girlfriend were expecting a baby. As scary as it was, they decided to keep the baby and start a family. At three months pregnant, Joe's girlfriend moved into his family home and they began planning for the arrival of their child. When an ultrasound revealed that the baby was a boy, they decided to give the unborn baby a name: Tyler Matthew Oddo. In the following month, his girlfriend's parents began to wonder what was happening. Suddenly, one day in the fifth month of pregnancy, without Joe's knowledge, his girlfriend had an abortion. That pain and loss would live with Joe to this day.
As it is for so many LGBT families, the road to parenthood for Joe and Time would become a long and trying one.
Joe and Tim's New Attempt: Surrogacy
In 2010, unaware of the likely price tag of surrogacy, they met with the Fertility Center of Las Vegas to begin the process of surrogacy. They gave sperm samples, had testing done and even received pictures of potential egg donors. In their final meeting, the price of the process was totaled. When they heard that the starting price of surrogacy was around $86,000, they realized that, financially speaking, this wasn't an option for them.
The day we met
The quest to have kids went on the back burner and they focused on growing their careers and enhancing their lives.
Joe and Tim Hoping to Adopt
In December of 2014, Joe and Tim's dream of becoming dads was sparked again. They met a pregnant woman who wasn't able to care for the baby and discussed adoption with them. An adoption attorney, however, told them that the men could legally only pay her medical expenses. The pregnant woman decided to keep the baby and raise it herself.
After that loss, the failed IVF and the traumatic events of Joe's teenage years, Joe and Tim said they would stop trying for kids. After a mourning period, the began to travel again and enjoy life together.
But they both still wanted children. It seemed that everyone around them was conceiving. Whenever they checked Facebook, they saw ultrasound pictures.
Joe and Tim Hoping to Foster-Adopt
In October of 2015, they received a letter from a friend of the family talking about adoption. It was a painful letter, talking about loss and the difficult work of fostering children prior to adopting. Joe and Tim started discussing foster-adopt with each other. What if they received a child that they weren't able to work with? Would they be able to handle the onslaught of DFS workers in and out of their home? Could they help heal a child who has suffered loss?
In November, they made a decision. YES! They entered the Clark County Foster Care training program. The next 10 weeks only solidified their decision. There were over 400 children waiting for forever homes and they knew their child was out there waiting for them.
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In May, Joe and Tim became licensed foster parents! They had to decline the first placement they were offered. But when they their licensing worker called to tell them about a sibling group of two, a sister and her brother, who were in desperate need of a forever home, the men took the plunge. After they asked many questions, assessed the kids' needs and their situation, they decided to meet these kids. On July 7, 2016 they met their future children for the first time.
The next seven months would be filled with learning, growing, stress, fights and a lot of home visits.
For Joe and Tim, perhaps the most frustrating part of it all was the many steps for finalizing a foster adoption. And so their advice to prospective gay dads is: Be prepared for piles of paperwork, hundreds of initials and signatures, and endless delays (due to the enormous workloads of the DFS workers) and stick with it!
The responsibility for two extra lives into their home weighed heavily on the men. They realized quickly that their parenting jobs were every bit as important as their regular jobs. School runs, preparing meals, doing laundry, cleaning the house and overseeing homework all took time. After a few months, Tim quit his day job in order to become a better father to his new kids.
Joe and Tim hope that they can help others on their quest to have children. Joe sits on the Board of Directors for the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada and he hopes to bring more children to forever LGBTQ homes.
Their years-long quest for a family came to a happy conclusion on January 31, when, in a five-minute court hearing, Joe and Tim officially became the parents of Malaya, 10, and Zayn, 9!