If you’d asked me last October if I truly believed we’d be bringing a baby home in under a year, I would have smiled and politely said, “Well, anything is possible!” But we are on the cusp of it, at the very edge of the thing, and I am writing this to you just one week or so shy of the birth of our son. Our son. Those are real words, meant to remind you (and me) that there’s a wrinkly love-bundle just chilling out in Bio Mom’s womb, waiting to come home with us. Waiting to meet our cat Stoli, and Aunt Lauren, and Uncle Carl and Uncle Brian.
In September of 2014, I introduced myself to the Gays With Kids community. I wrote then, “I hope to present the story of two men who want to make tiny dreams come true. We know that there will be happy stories to tell … there will be harder stories to share; I promise to include you every step of the way.” Now, it is November of 2015, with Halloween just barely behind us, and we’re getting ready to tell you the happiest story we could ever have dreamt.
As my first official story, I wrote a letter to a baby who didn’t yet exist, a letter that our future baby could read when he or she was older. I wrote then, “I still haven’t seen your eyes, but I already know they’re the most beautiful color I’ve ever seen.” Now, in just a few days, those eyes will open for the very first time, spilling their secrets into my heart.
I had set a date on the calendar for October 13, 2014 for our first meeting with the adoption agency. I look back and read my reactions to the estimated waiting time for a baby, “The expected wait, we were told, is between 9 and 24 months. I get irritated when Cablevision tells me they’ll be at my house between 9 and 2, so I’m going to learn about this thing my husband tells me is called patience.” Boy, have I ever learned about patience in this last year. But now, in a week or so, the waiting will be behind us and not ahead of us. Because our son is coming home.
Now, not all of my pieces can be hits. I felt so great about the next piece I did, a fun fluffy piece about some of my favorite TV moms, and the lessons that gay dads can learn from them. Come on, you’re going to tell me that an article about gay men learning from Harriette Winslow and Joyce Summers isn’t going viral?
Well, to make up for it, my next story hit it out of the park. Because I sat back and let Rocco be the star. Yes, you know him, you love him, he’s everyone’s favorite boy next door. And now he’s two and a half years old, and comes over every day and asks, “Baby? Baby coming now? Baby here? Unca Ant, Unca Dom, when baby coming?” When we introduce friends to our neighbors Donna and Paul, and their son Rocco, the reaction is always the same. “Oh! THIS is Rocco!” A feeling we’ll know all about, in just about a week, you know, when our son comes home.
And then it was time for the holidays. And with the holidays, we launched our crowd-funding campaign, to help defray the cost of the adoption fees. We launched it on Black Friday, in what I considered to be a very cleverly disguised “Dear Santa” letter. We knew we’d face some backlash over starting this kind of campaign, and we certainly did, but we knew we had to try. Now, in October of 2015, a woman from California, who we have never met, donated $3,000 to help us hit our final goal. There’s magic in the world, and whether it comes from Santa Claus or Santa Barbara, we’re beyond lucky to have found it, and to have been given the opportunity to use that magic to bring our son home.
When I was ready to tell another story, it was to defend not just our own GoFundMe campaign, but the general concept of crowdfunding as a viable means to help raise money for adoption. And you know what? It worked. And my advice for parents who pursue either adoption or surrogacy is simple. Do whatever it takes. Do everything it takes. Because when our son comes home next week or the week after, all of the noise that came before will be meaningless. We’re going to be Dads, and we did it our own way. We told our own story.
In January, I started the New Year by taking some time to shine a spotlight on the people in our lives whose own parenting ability inspired our process, and motivated us to keep going. Including a very shirtless cousin Joey, an incredible Nanny, and an amazing Judy. Now, with the final few seconds ticking off the clock, all three of those people are waiting with bated breath for the arrival of our son.
Then, it was time to get to work. We started our home study process on January 21, and during my three-part examination of the ordeal, shared everything I could with our Gays With Kids community. It was my intention to help work through the mechanics of the process, to strip away any possible misconceptions and simply present the process as it is. I look back at pictures of Dom surrounded by home-study paperwork, I think about the hours, and hours, and hours of time spent together working on the process. And I smile now. Because now, I know it was all for something. We were fingerprinted, interviewed, our families and friends had to submit statements on our abilities to parent, we confessed the deepest and darkest secrets of our own childhoods. It feels like a lifetime ago, but truly, it was just February when our caseworker said, “I just get the feeling you’re not going to have to wait very long for a baby, you two.”
April was an incredibly difficult month. I wrote the most personal story of my life, about my Mom’s battle with cancer, a battle she ended up losing a week after her story was published. I took the Gays With Kids community on a walk through her life, through our experiences, through her fight. In her last two weeks with us, she talked to me about the power of storytelling to change lives, when she said “Someday you’re going to write something that’s going to really help people, Ant.” And it’s through Gays With Kids that the legacy and love my Mom shared will be on record, for our son to read and feel forever.
Having no clue that Bio Mom would come into the picture in July, I wrote her a letter in May. In my piece for Gays With Kids, I made promises to her that are held just as closely now as they were then. I promised “We will buy this baby a tiny hockey jersey.” Check. I promised, “We will read to this baby.” If you could see how many books are in this nursery right now, just waiting for another set of ears. And most importantly, “We promise that this baby will know about the sacrifice you are making, to allow us to become fathers.” Because of the incredible Gays With Kids community, our baby can read his own story when he’s old enough, and know all about how he came to be in our lives, how he came to have two Dads, and how hard we worked to make it all happen.
We were not selected to receive an adoption grant, and I detailed that process for everyone, and then re-applied just this month in the next grant cycle. We were again denied. But I am proud of bringing awareness to the work done by HelpUsAdopt.org, and truly hope that other parents-in-waiting utilize the organization to greater success.
On July 1, we said no to a baby, and it was incredibly difficult. The circumstances just weren’t right, the situation wasn’t the appropriate one for anyone involved, and we had to decline placement. But the close of that piece got it just right, I think. I said, “There’s no mistaking, we’ll forever wonder what happened to the baby who is not ours. Wonder if we did the right thing, made the right decision. But then our baby will come, the baby who is ours. And I want you there for us then, as you are now. A family. Spread out for miles, rooting for love.”
As summer turned to fall, we were finally matched with a birth mom, and were able to make the official announcement to our friends and family (and millions around the world) by sharing the news here first, for Gays With Kids. So many couples wait so much longer than we’ve waited. And for some, it never happens. We are aware every moment of every day how filled with luck our lives are.
Oh yea, and then we found out our “she” was a “he”, in the greatest plot twist our story has seen so far.
From the very bottom of my heart, and on behalf of our family, thank you. Gays With Kids gives gay dads an incredible and unrivaled opportunity, to connect with each other and teach, and learn, and listen. There are thousands of us in the world, and Gays With Kids affords us the opportunity to connect. Thank you for being part of our story, sharing your own, and helping our family feel like a part of something so much bigger, and so very wonderful.
As a fan of the “Game of Thrones” series, I can tell you how I approach each new season. Once the story has exhausted itself for me, it’s time to insert a new character. New characters make for better stories. And so, the next time you read my words, it’ll be the moment that I am introducing you to our baby for the very first time. Are you ready for what comes next?