Keegan Shoutz and Paul Schroepfer met at college in 2010, when marriage equality wasn't legal in their home state of Minnesota. Back then, kids were a far off distant thought. After the U.S. Supreme Court struck down DOMA in 2015, the pair married a year later and began discussing their future as dads. In 2017, the husbands began their adoption journey, and the long wait began.
Keegan, 31, works in public relations for Best Buy's corporate communications team, and Paul, 35, is a lawyer. Their journey to adoption took over two and a half years, and they describe it as "a LOT of waiting." The couple considered surrogacy but decided adoption was the right path for their family. The first part of their journey was focused on a pile of paperwork, in-person classes, and then social outreach.
Their nursery sat empty for a year after all their "homework" was completed.
"Throughout the adoption process we went through a lot of ups and downs," said Keegan. "With each step of the process there was a lot of waiting and a lot of uncertainty. We felt discouraged at times when we would see other couples get matched or hear that no potential birth moms had expressed interest. We overcame those feelings by sticking together and reminding each other to remain positive."
So the dads-to-be decided to dedicate themselves to getting the word out on social media. "We ended up matching with someone who was connected to us through a chain of people we knew. She saw our social media pages and made the decision we were the right match for her."
Through this personal connection on social media, the husbands finally met their birth mother, and they were thrilled to become dads. On June 7, 2019, their daughter Poppy was born healthy and happy despite arriving 5 weeks early. "We love our little girl SO much!" the dads shared.
As an employee of Best Buy, Keegan also qualified for their new adoption assistance benefit, which provides employees with up to $14,080 in adoption expense reimbursement. The dads believe they are the first same-sex couple to use the benefit.
"For most of my life, I didn't even think having a child of my own was a possibility. Once Paul and I were able to get married, it opened my eyes to all the possibilities our future held," Keegan said during an interview published to Best Buy's blog. "When the roadblocks were gone, we didn't even have a big conversation about it. We just knew we wanted to grow our family, and adoption was how we wanted to do it."
On September 26, Poppy's adoption was finalized, and the family were able to celebrate for the first time as a forever family of three. "Officially, official!" shared Keegan via a celebratory Instagram post on the day of their daughter's adoption. "Went in front of the judge today to finalize Poppy's adoption. We're so ecstatic to be a family of THREE!!!!"
Keegan and Paul attribute much of of the success of their adoption to the outreach they did. "Our advice for other gay men and families looking to adopt in general is to remain positive, remember to be there for each other during the process, and to utilize social media as much as possible. It is AMAZING how connected the world truly is and social media helps make your world smaller. Without social media and ensuring our friends and extended network knew our intentions, I don't believe we would have a match."