Party of Five: Fred & Adam’s Journey to Fatherhood

For Fred and Adam, becoming a father was something the two knew they always wanted. It’s no myth that many gay men are stigmatized by their relatives, neighbors, and even their own selves for raising children — and Fred admits he struggled with “reconciling” the idea of desiring a family while also being a gay man.

In spite of it all it seems the tables have turned; now dads of three, he and Adam couldn’t be happier. But the process to parenthood was “complex and tumultuous,” Fred admits.
 
Fred, who is executive director of Gay City: Seattle’s LGBTQ Center, and Adam, who is director of International Marketing, Creative and Loyalty for Starbucks, have been together for 18 years, and officially tied the knot in 2013. Becoming dads, they said, seemed like the logical next step in their “happily ever after.”
 
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The idea of foster care and adoption was nothing new to the pair. They not only had close friends who were foster parents, but Fred was personally familiar with the system. Adam’s family, similarly, had experience with adoption.
 
“We knew we wanted to be a resource for kids who were already in the world,” Fred explains. So they did just that — but not before having extensive conversations about the type of parents they wanted to be, and to make sure they agreed on what children truly needed to succeed and blossom. Conversations were soon eclipsed by intense preparation.
 
The couple worked closely with Amara, a foster care agency located in Seattle, Washington. Soon they found themselves preparing to welcome home a four-year-old boy named Jaylen. Before the boy even had a chance to join their family, however, the couple received a call — Jaylen’s mother had just given birth to a baby girl, they were told, who also needed immediate placement.
 
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The dads didn't hesitate. The two rushed to gather all the baby supplies they could at such short notice, and Jaylen’s little sister, Jade, was within their care the next day. A week later, Jaylen arrived as well. Fred and Adam instantly became parents of two. And the fun didn’t stop there!
 
Some years later they received a call from the state regarding a two-year-old boy who was also in need of a loving home. Within a few days, the dads met the boy's aunt and welcomed home the newest addition to their family, Noah. This family of five now reside in Burien, Washington where they continue to father their three beautiful children.
 
The couple reminisced on the exact moment they felt like a father and Adam recalls that first diaper change in a Taco Bell parking lot just 30 minutes after meeting Jade, their second youngest. Fred’s experience was a little different.
 
“In many ways, even though it was unclear whether or not the kids would stay long term, I felt like a father from the second we met,” Fred notes. “When I held Jade at the DCFS (Department of
Children & Family Services) office, when we introduced Jaylen to his room in our home and when we buckled Noah into his car seat in our truck after meeting him. You get this overwhelming sense of responsibility, which really is what being a dad means to me.”
 
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While parenthood in itself can be such a beautiful experience, it can definitely be accompanied with hardships especially when dealing with the foster care system. Fred admits that while foster care can be difficult to manage emotionally, you have to remember to always put the needs and wants of the child first. “It's not easy, but staying focused on the kids and what they need is the best way to ensure you're doing your job as a dad.”
 
He further explains that there’s a lot of shame that society will place on parents for surrendering their child to foster care. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, that shame can easily be transferred to the child as well. Fred emphasizes the need for “balance” in a child’s life; making them feel fulfilled and cherished instead of broken.
 
When asked what advice they would give to gay men considering pursuing their same path or parenthood in general, Fred and Adam leave all fathers-to-be with this sentiment: “Be realistic
about the resources you have to support your parenting and what capacity you have to give fully to your kids. You'll need lots of patience, love, and understanding, and likely also professionals who can help with unexpected things like developmental delays or learning challenges, or emotional needs you don't know what to do with. Be quick to ask for help so you can show up fully and give your kids the support they need.”
 

Posted by Giovhan Lee Dejoie

Giovhan Lee Dejoie is currently a St. John’s University student working to obtain his B.S. in Journalism. Based in New York, Giovhan has worked for several publications including Gaye Magazine, The Torch and A Hot Set. Upon graduation, Giovhan plans to enter the journalism field to shed light on stories that are often overlooked and continue to serve underrepresented communities.



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