Adoption a sibling group may not be possible, or even comprehensible, for many gay dads and gay dads-to-be, but we hope that meeting the King family might encourage prospective parents to consider adopting siblings.
Nate (left, sitting) with Alicia on his lap; Stephen perched on the armchair with Aaliyah and Amari in the front
Meet Nate and Stephen
From a relatively young age, both Nate and Stephen hoped to be dads one day. Still, they wanted to have a stable home life before undertaking the journey to fatherhood.
Five years ago, Nate and Stephen met through mutual friends in Austin, Texas. They began a serious relationship, soon discussing marriage. They tied the knot on November 15, 2014.
Both Nate, 36, and Stephen, 44, wanted to create their family through domestic adoption; they knew that many kids were available for adoption in the U.S. and needed a loving home. Initially, they had thought about adopting only one child but when their agency mentioned that there was a need for parents to adopt a sibling group, they saw an opportunity to help more than one child and speed up the process. They decided to put themselves forward for a sibling group of two.
In August 2015, they became licensed foster-adopt parents in the state of Texas. But many months went by without any matching with a sibling group.
“We would get weekly profiles of various sibling groups that were in the foster care system. From there we would ask our social worker to submit our home study for consideration of placement,” said Nate and Stephen. “We went through about three to four months without any luck even though we would submit for consideration almost weekly.”
Little Daddy Stephen with Aaliyah
So Nate and Stephen went back to their agency and said that they wanted to be considered for larger sibling groups. In October of 2015, they were told about a match: a sibling group of three kids !
On February 14, 2016, they met with their children for the first time. After three meetings, with things going very well, the case study worker permanently assigned the three siblings to Nate and Stephen.
Unfortunately, the two dads-to-be ran into a roadblock when the foster mom of the three kids tried to stop the adoption, citing that the men were of a different race than the children, and that they were gay men. Thankfully, Nate and Stephen had many advocates on their side and when the matter was brought in front of a court, the judge ruled in favor of Nate and Stephen.
Overnight, they went from a family of two, to one of five: Nate, who is 6’3, became “Big Daddy”, and Stephen, who is 5’4 became “Little Daddy” to three children, Aaliyah, 6, Amari 3, and Alicia, 2.
The adoption of all three kids was finalized in August 2016.
How did they prepare for a sibling group?
Preparation for growing their family all at once wasn't too much of a challenge. Nate, having always prided himself on being efficient, found that garage sales were the best way to furnish the kids' bedrooms. He had everything ready before they arrived.
Nate and Stephen had also recently moved to a larger home to make room for their growing family. Each kid has their own bedroom in their new home.
Did they encounter any challenges?
Sometimes, when sibling groups are adopted, it can be difficult to bond with the children as they've become very dependent on one another and not necessarily on a parent figure. Nate and Stephen found that it worked to their advantage as the three kids all bonded with their dads simultaneously. They are now working on bonding with each child individually, but the real struggle has been getting their children to connect with other kids. This is something the dads are still working towards although it has become easier when Aaliyah, the oldest, started kindergarten.
One challenge for the dads was trying to differentiate for the abilities and ages of each child. Even though they all arrived at the same time into their lives, it wasn’t like they had just adopted triplets. Communication was different between Amari and Alicia, even only being a year apart. They had to find activities for Aaliyah, and communication techniques that worked for Alicia as she was still being potty trained when she came to them. Trying to work it out simultaneously was the difficult part.
Big Daddy Nate with Amari
How did their extended families react?
For the most part, Nate and Stephen's families were supportive of their decision to grow their family and adopt a sibling group. Many had had a wait-and-see approach, but when the adoption was finalized, both families were excited, but overwhelmed as well. Some thought they were in over their heads, but most knew to keep any disparaging comments to themselves, shared Nate and Stephen.
The best thing about adopting a sibling group?
This family of five could not be happier. That doesn’t mean they got everything all figured out; they are learning, day by day.
"Everyday there are learning opportunities," shared Nate. "Everything you think you know ends up changing. Don't create expectations and live each obstacle as it comes, and expect the unexpected. Always."
But they do know this. The best thing is endless hugs and kisses. “When they hold you and you feel strong because they know they are safe in your arms.”
Read another wonderful real life story of a two dads adopting a sibling group.