Jared Prochnow and his husband Matthew Foster live in western Colorado, and they’ve fostered more than 60 kids to date. They’ve also adopted five, and are preparing to adopt their sixth and seventh children as well. Oh, and they recently became grandparents… all before the age of 40.
39-year-old Matthew and 34-year-old Jared first met in college in 2006, where they both sang in the choir. “He strolled in late,” Jared said of Matthew. “And I thought he was pompous,” he smiled.
The couple got married in 2015, while Matthew was working as a teacher at a preschool for families in financial need. There, he came to know several kids in his classes who were in the foster care system. One child, in particular, inspired the newlyweds to get certified as foster parents.
In the years since, the couple has fostered more than 60 children from around their hometown of Fruita, Colorado. Since so many kids are coming and going from their home, they tend to keep it full of fun activities like Legos, skateboards, and video games.
Matthew and Jared said it’s been incredibly rewarding to be able to care for so many children in need of love and stability. For Jared, his favorite part of fatherhood has been carrying the young children upstairs to bed at night.
“When they are dead asleep, dead weight, laying on my shoulder,” he said. “Something about that is my favorite.”
While Jared’s late mother was very supportive of their decision to foster, other members of their families haven’t always been on board with it. Jared said at times, foster care has been quite isolating.
“We've lost friends and had hard times with family relationships,” Jared explained. “It has caused us on multiple occasions to question what we are doing. But we keep coming back to the kids and their needs.”
Thankfully, Matthew said they were fortunate enough to have started their foster care journey at the same time as another couple who they made friends with, so it’s been nice for them to be able to talk to other people who know what's going on.
Raising a family in a rural part of the country has also had its challenges. While they haven’t faced any “overt” discrimination in the foster care system, Matthew said they have been introduced to potential foster kids as "the gay couple that wants to adopt you.”
“Whenever that has happened, the kids have said, ‘No. We don't want gay parents,’” Matthew said. “It’s frustrating because they would never introduce a straight couple that way.”
On top of those challenges, it also isn’t easy caring for foster kids, especially those who haven’t been parented before. Those children, Jared explained, tend to resist because they’re simply not used to it. Recently, the husbands said there has been another very difficult part about being foster parents; wanting to prepare their kids for life in the middle of a pandemic.
“Being a foster parent is hard. You have to pick up where someone else left off, never knowing what triggers or what past the kid has had,” Jared said. “It’s made us question everything. If we can’t parent these kids, then why are we not on a beach somewhere like so many other gays?! But we love our kids so much that we push through. They deserve at least that.”
Now, Matthew works at a COVID test site serving their local community, while Jared stays at home and cares for their brood of children. Jared also serves on the Board of Directors for Colorado West Pride, an LGBTQIA+ organization in western Colorado, he serves on Fruita for Equality, an advocacy group in their town, and he serves on the Juvenile Parole Board for the State of Colorado as the Vice-Chair.
In late 2016, Jared and Matthew finalized their first two adoptions; siblings Ty and Ethan, who were then aged 16 and 12. Soon after, they adopted Isaac. Unfortunately, Isaac left their home in late 2021.
“He ran away in October, and we haven’t heard from him since,” Jared explained. “We’ve done everything we can do to find him and we cannot. It’s a very sad situation.”
In October 2020, the dads adopted their second sibling pair; 17-year-old Isaiah and 16-year-old Josiah.
At the start of 2021, they got the go-ahead from the courts to adopt their third sibling pair; 10-year-old Ace and 6-year-old Raggie. Their foster son, 15-year-old Carter, rounds out their current crew of more than half-a-dozen.
In May 2020, their 22-year-old daughter Ty made the dads "Grandpa’s" with the birth of her own daughter, Ensley.
“We are foster parents. We serve our community and its children,” Matthew said. “We hope that our example serves to inspire others to serve theirs.”
“It shouldn't be weird or strange for gay men to have children,” Jared added. “Straight couples can choose to have children in a moment, and then succeed in doing so. If a gay couple wants to have children, we have to go to the ends of the earth to become certified for foster care, or to go through an adoption agency. It is a conscious choice that we make, and then we have to prove ourselves. Make Gay Dads normal!"