Near the coast of Normandy, France, lies a tiny island, British in every way – Jersey, one of the Channel Islands. A so-called Crown dependency, Jersey drives on the left, uses the British pound, and speaks the Queen's English. And it is home to husbands Jon and Tristan Stasiak-Gray and their 2-year-old son Harvey. How this little family of three came to be you will find out in the story below. Welcome to the Jersey Boys!
Jon, 36, and Tristan, 29, met at a dance club in Jersey more than eight years ago. After five years together, they decided to get married, in Hawaii. (Jersey did not have marriage equality until this year.)
Their plans to start a family began even earlier. The initial application to adopt was filed in late 2014, after which the guys took an extensive training course in January and February of 2015. The rest of that year was spent moving from a one-bedroom flat to their current family home and working through the all of the assessments, interviews and health checks. They were officially approved to become adoptive parents in February 2016. When they both got new jobs (they work in finance), they asked the adoption agency in March to postpone placement for one year.
But things developed quite differently. As Jon describes it, "We were called in to see our social workers in June, two weeks into my job and before Tristan had started his, to discuss fostering. We were not interested in fostering at the time, but wanted to show willingness and be polite. At the meeting, our social worker asked us if we would consider fostering a baby that hadn't yet been born, with an intention to adopt them, in one month's time! We were shocked, surprised, excited and apprehensive. Jersey had never done the "fostering-to-adopt" process before so if successful, we would be the first."
There were several unknowns: Two other families were being considered; Jon and Tristan hadn't even been approved as foster parents yet! But after Jersey's social services fast-tracked their fostering application, they were lucky enough to be chosen as the preferred family.
During the adoption course the men had been warned to manage their expectations, and to accept the following three things in particular: 1. You will never get a relinquished baby; 2. You will never get a newborn; and 3. You will not be able to name your adopted child.
Their son Harvey was born on August 8, 2016. Only five hours later the boy would safely rest in his new fathers' arms. But for a few months there would still be ambiguity about the adoption. The dads were told not to allow their family (and themselves) to become too attached to the little boy, as the adoption might still be derailed.
But no such tragedy happened. They met Harvey's birth family who gave them their blessing. On April 21, 2017, eight and a half months after Harvey was born, the adoption was finalized. And all of their wildest expectations had been met!
The young family meet with other gay dad families on the island regularly, and, even though the Channel Islands are thought of as a little old-fashioned and set in its ways, none of the families have ever experienced any unpleasantness.
Jon and Tristan have already started the adoption process for a second baby. Unfortunately, they need to go through every step of the incredibly long process again, even though they have successfully completed one recently. If they aren't successful soon, they're thinking of surrogacy, as they'd really like Harvey's sibling to be close in age to him.
Their plans for the future are to grow their family –– maybe three kids? Especially Tristan, who has lived in Jersey –– only around 100,00 people, only 45 square miles! –– all his life, would like to spread his wings and move somewhere much bigger. They're contemplating a move across the globe, to Australia!
The world is getting more tolerant. Jon and Tristan are happier than they've ever been. As they told us, "Raising a child is really the best thing you can do in your life." From what we gather, these Jersey boys are the luckiest guys in the world.