Guest post by author Stephen Hodgkinson-Soto of the new children's book “Stinkerton McPoo Goes Exploring.”
My husband, Antonio and I have been together for 12 years. We originally met while living in Redding, Northern California. We were married in 2013 as soon as it became legal. I remember going and trying to get our marriage license the next day and being turned away as they hadn’t yet received the official instructions from the State for approval. We were so worried that the ruling would be overturned again that we wanted to make it official as soon as possible! We paid for our friend to become ordained online and were married that Weekend while camping in the mountains.
It wasn’t long after we met that it became clear we wanted a family. We did research into the possibilities and finally settled on foster care/adoption through the State of California. Surrogacy was out of our price range and most private adoption agencies wouldn’t work with same-sex couples at that time. We had recently purchased our first house and it had four bedrooms. I think subconsciously we already knew we needed a big house for our future children. I remember my husband kept bringing home baby things long before things were definite. It was his way of manifesting the future we both envisaged, and a clear message to me that we were going to make this happen!
To become foster parents, we embarked on six months of classes through the State of California. At times we found it incredibly difficult. Because foster care can be fraught with challenges, it felt like they wanted to prepare us by sharing all the worst-case scenarios they could. There were evenings where we came home and cried. But eventually, we made it through and became licensed. Two days later we received the call to meet our Son, AJ. He was only 30 days old when we met him, and as soon as we brought him home, I felt like I had forgotten all six months of training. But we all adapted, and soon thrived. Initially being foster parents meant regular visits from AJ’s social worker. After about 14 months we mentioned that we would like to take on another child sometime in the not too distant future. One week later we were being introduced to our daughter Graciela. She came home at only 2 days old. We were incredibly fortunate in the process and were able to adopt both kids within the following 12 months. From the stories we were told during our classes, we knew other families were not always so fortunate.
Fast forward a few years and our kids are now 8 & 9 years old. We moved to England in 2017 to be closer to family, and despite the weather, it has been a good move for us. Speaking of family, it would be appropriate at this time to mention we also have two dogs. The first, Fia, is the inspiration for the book and has been with me slightly longer than my husband! She is well known around our house for her terrible gas, and that is how the nickname of Stinkerton McPoo came to be! Esperanza, her Sister joined us about 6 months after we met.
While the book is mostly about the antics of Stinkerton, it also prominently features our family. It was important to me that we had a clear representation of a same-sex, interracial family. We have often felt that children’s books don’t reflect families that look like ours, and I wanted to put something out there that resonated with our kids. It’s already causing a little bit of a stir with some critics, but at the end of the day, I hope it can be another opportunity to help educate people about LGBT+ families, and to provide others in similar situations with representation they can relate to. We have always tried to teach our children to be true to themselves and want to lead by example. We really hope that you and your little ones enjoy the story. To get your copy of Stinkerton McPoo Goes Exploring click here. For more information, or to get in touch, please go to www.stinkertonmcpoo.com