Two Dads, Five Foster Kids
Names: Mikkel Short and Bailey Shake
Location: Louisville, Kentucky
Relationship Status: Engaged. We'll have been together 6 years this Christmas. We were married June 30, 2015.
Occupations: Mikkel is a physician connectivity consultant with Humana. Bailey is a stay-at-home dad with the kids.
How Many Kids Do You Have? Five kids, ages 2, 3, 4, 7 and 9.
What Does They Call You? Mikkel is "Dad" and Bailey is “Daddy."
Where and how did you and your fiancé meet? The first time we saw each other, we ran our carts into each other at the grocery store on accident. We saw each other there again the next week and joked about it. Exchanged our numbers, the next week added each other on Facebook; and the romance began
Tell us about your path to parenthood. Did you consider other options? After 3 years together we started the conversation of children. I didn't think Bailey would be ready since he was in his early 20's but I was in my 40's and the clock was ticking. A year and a half later we went to a Foster Parent orientation at Benchmark Family Service. We instantly knew after leaving that this was the right thing to do and the right time. 34 days later we were licensed and our home was open and ready for babies!
What obstacles did you face on your path to fatherhood? We wanted to be the perfect parents and do everything right. Like a picture perfect family. We quickly learned that as brand new parents with no experience; and 5 kids, that "perfect parenting" wasn't an option. We had too much to learn!
How has your life changed since you became a father? Let's see, we haven't been out to a club in 14 months. And thats OK! Weekends at home a cooking out and family walks are the new norm and we love it. We barely sleep more than 5 hours, as someone is always coming into the bed at night from a bad dream. It's adorable.
What have you learned from your children since you became a dad? That the littlest things to us are the most important things to them. A bed time story, playing blocks on the floor, having a picnic on the deck for lunch, hanging pictures that they color up on their walls. These are all amazing memories to little children. Especially those who have come from a horrible background of trauma with their biological parents.
Was there ever a moment that you or Bailey experienced any serious doubts about your path to fatherhood or fatherhood itself? We are often asked by friends and family "why on earth do you need 5 kids"? It's an easy answer. It's not that "we" need the kids. It's that the kids need us! There are over 7,000 children in the system in Kentucky alone. These children have been sexually, physically, and verbally abused. They have started off their lives in this world in such a horrible place, a place that many adults will never experience in their lifetime. There have been many times we have lay in bed, asking ourselves, "is everyone right, do we need five kids"? They answer is yes! We have the ability, the drive, the love, and support to do it so we will continue to do it. We will continue to love shelter and teach as many kids as possible throughout our lifetime. Every child deserves a loving home.
Is your family treated differently than others on account of your sexual orientation? Not for a single second! I love and support that we have received from my friends and family has been overwhelming. Far more support than we ever dreamed. We have family cookouts on the weekends with 12 to 20 people. Our friends perform talent shows in the backyard to entertain kids. They will come over and take them out for lunch dates and quality time. Our parents treat them just like they would any of the other grandchildren in the family. It's been such a wonderful experience and we are truly blessed to have this much support from family friends in the community! Especially the community. Not once has anyone ever made us feel anything other than love and support everywhere we go. And traveling with seven of us, you tend to get a lot of attention. Whether it's at Home Depot, target, the pet store, Kroger; we feel like Beyoncé traveling with her squad!
Where do you see your family 5-10 years in the future? Hopefully we will be adopting two of the children that we have now. We are in the process of this now in the court system.The other three children we have hopefully will be returning home sometime in late summer. After that, we will simply continue to foster more children. Our main goal is to adopt two, then continue to foster until we're old and gray. Our goal is to change hundreds of lives over the course of the next 20 years. And to keep in contact with these children as they grow up and then have their own children!
What words of advice do you have for other gay men considering foster-to-adopt? Do it! There are so many children in need. These agencies LOVE to have same sex couples. Your Family dynamic does not determine your ability to love and protect children. We now live in a time where to dads or two moms is the new normal. People are afraid to talk about it or embrace it. And the children, they could care less. They don't care if it's two dads or two moms. At the end of the day, all they care about is that there is someone there to love them and protect them. Please don't be afraid. Call your local foster family service agency. That's the first step; and from there you can determine if it's the right program for you. I would also suggest reaching out to people who are already foster parents. They can tell you the good the bad and the ugly. What to expect . It's not always picture perfect, there are days I find myself out in the garage crying alone, stressed out, and wondering what the hell I'm doing. lol But there are many many more days that I lay beside my children and cry, feeling so blessed that I have been given this opportunity to love these children and to be loved back ! I would not change his opportunity for anything in the world.
Is there anything else you'd like to share about your experiences creating or raising your family? It will change your life! In many ways. All good. but don't expect to live the exact same lifestyle as everyone else around you without kids. Sure you'll still have times where you go out on the weekends and have fun. You need those moments actually, you need to get away from the day-to-day routine and still be an adult that likes to go out and have a great time. Make time for date nights. It's critical that you maintain a happy healthy relationship with your partner. You NEED each other to be strong for each other. Parenting is hard! But it's even harder if both parents aren't in sync. Bailey loves to gym 5 days a week so I make sure he gets time for that. Just don't feel like every second of your life has to involve children. Remember; they are happy with the littlest things!
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