Spotlight Series: Henry and Joel

Spotlight Campaign The Next Family

TNF: Tell me about your family.

Henry: Our Son is nearly 2 ½ , he is the light of my life and just the sweetest, goofiest little person I know. Our Family consists of our boy Ben, my Husband Joel and I. Joel and I met in 2005 and were legally wed in Boston, October 10, 2009. I still remember when the Reverend that married us said “May their family tree be fruitful,” we had only discussed having children casually although we both loved the idea of being Dads. It would not be until later in 2010 when they stopped enforcing the Gay adoption ban in our then home of Florida that we really began to pursue Parenthood. We initially thought that adopting through our state made the most sense for us, neither of us felt that using a surrogate was that important. Our feelings were that there were already babies in need of homes, we did not feel the need to create a new life. Joel and I were part of the first openly Gay and Lesbian group going through the process of becoming Foster Parents in our county. It was our hope to adopt via Foster Care but that did not work out for us. We were blessed with two incredible placements, two beautiful babies but they were both reunited with their biological families. Somewhere during our Fostering journey we were privately introduced to a young lady that was 5 months pregnant with a boy. She wanted to give the baby up for adoption and after a few meetings decided that we were the perfect couple. The process was difficult, the climate for Same Gendered adoptions was/is not the warmest in Florida but we had an incredible law team in our corner and shortly after Ben’s October, 2011 birth we became the first Same Sex couple to jointly adopt a baby in Broward County Florida. When the Judge said that we had now paved the way for other families like ours to be created I nearly burst with happiness. That was a perfect day.

 TNF: How did you meet your husband?

Henry: I met my Husband at work, I broke the cardinal rule of  “no fraternizing” and honestly it was the best bad thing I have ever done. We moved in together pretty quickly, rather organically. We kind of just woke up one day and said, “wow, when did all this happen?” One day just magically turned into the next and we are now heading towards 9 years together.

TNF: Do you feel different from other families? If so, how so?

Henry: This is an interesting question, we are quite conservative and traditional in values. We do not live in a very “Gay” area. The majority of our friends are actually either heterosexual or Lesbian so all in all we are quite a regular family. Having said that we are still a two dad family and although we have never faced obvious discrimination, we are still highly visible in our community and often approached with curiosity, albeit it lovingly it still plays as a constant reminder that we are indeed different.

 TNF:  Is it tough being a gay couple where you in Durham?  Do you feel accepted?

Henry: We feel extremely accepted here in Durham NC. We live in a pretty cool blue bubble in an otherwise red state. We are actively involved in LGBTQ parenting groups here so our Son see’s lots of different types of families. I am also working with some wonderful people who are hoping to finally open a LGBTQ Community Center here in my town. My function will be to hopefully oversee the parenting programs, offering resources and help to the parents in our community. I will also offer guidance for those wanting to become parents either via Fostering, Adoption or Surrogacy. We will also offer a place where children of LGBTQ parents can gather, find fellowship and thrive. When Ben was born I created DADsquared, it was initially meant to be a place where Gay Dads could gather and help one another, It has grown into one of the largest on-line communities for same gendered families and those hoping to grow their families. I hope that much of what I have learned with DADsquared along with my training as a life Coach can translate into my role with the Durham Community Center.

TNF: What has having a family meant to you?

Henry: There really are no words. I grew up wondering If I could ever be a happy, self-loving, well-adjusted Gay man. I never dreamt that in my life time I would see doors opening that would not only help me marry the man of my dreams, but to also be able to experience the honor of being called Daddy. It’s quite something. My Mother passed away in 2004, she never met Joel and never got to see me this happy. I know that as Ben was making his way through the heavens to join us she got the chance to hold him and kiss him, I know he met his Abuela somewhere out there and that gives me great joy and peace.

 TNF: Tell us a bit about your site and why you created it?

Henry: As I said above, when Ben was first born we felt a bit alone, we did not have many similar families around us and I just wanted to see others like us. It began with the Facebook page and grew into the actual Website.  We have so many wonderful members that share their experiences and resources with each other. We have an awesome group of Pro’s that we work with like great Attorneys, Doctors and Adoption Agencies that have literally helped us help others create families, how amazing is that? We have also helped bring families together, we help people locate other families around them that they did not know existed. When I get photos sent to me of a new baby or of two families that have met because of DADsquared with smiling faces looking back at me because “Johnny has two dads just like me,” I literally at times burst into tears. Sometimes in life we ask ourselves, “what is my purpose in life?” “What do I want to be when I grow up?” Well luckily because of my involvement with DADsquared, my family and my Coaching practice, I no longer ask myself those questions.

Spotlight Series The Next Family

two dads

gay dads

 

Thank you Henry and Joel for sharing your story with us.  What  a beautiful family!  We love Dadsquared!  

 

 

Share

Rainbow Family Camp- Weekend Camp for LGBT Families

March 21, 2014 by  
Filed under

Are you looking to connect with other LGBT families?  Take a couple days off with your family to meet new friends.  Nestled in a forest of towering trees, heated cabins feature rustic comfort with modern, indoor bath facilities, bunk-beds, and a limited number of cabins with double beds.  Camp de Benneville Pines in the San Bernardino Mountains is the perfect place to kick back and relax with your family.

Activities Include:

  • Arts & Crafts
  • Hiking
  • Movies
  • Outdoor Sports Activities
  • Indoor Games
  • Community Meals
  • LOTS OF FUN!

$130 – Adults
$100 – Teens (13-19 years)
$70 – Kids (3-12 years)
Kids 2 & under are FREE

Registration fee includes meals, lodging and all programs. Accommodations are family-style, with 3-9 private rooms per cabin and shared indoor bathrooms.

For more information about camp, please call Amanda at 323-860-3661 or send e-mail tofamilyservices@lagaycenter.org.

Share

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

March 18, 2014 by  
Filed under Same Sex Parent, Trey Darnell

By-Trey Darnell

It has been many weeks since I have been able to blog about our journey as two dads. In November, I had surgery on my right wrist and found myself in a cast for a couple months. After too long of an absence, it is time to resume sharing our story with The Next Family. We left off with our return home from Texas with one-week old Harper.

16 Screws

16 Screws

It only took two weeks in Harper’s life until everything took a sharp turn toward the unknown. It started as a normal Friday that included a pediatrician appointment. Harper was jaundice, and we had been treating it with a bilirubin blanket at home for several days. On this Friday, we were hoping to get the good news to stop using the bilirubin blanket, but the day didn’t proceed as planned.

Bilirubin Blanket

Bilirubin Blanket

Over the period of a week, Harper had been undergoing daily blood tests. Over a three-day period, her hemoglobin level had dropped to a critically low level. We were instructed to proceed to the hospital for a blood transfusion. Before the hospital intake was finished, Harper was transported to the children’s hospital a half-hour away.

After arriving at the children’s hospital, Harper was taken to a private room where many doctors and residents surrounded her. We were asked question after question. Inquiries were made about the medical history of the birth family. One of the positive aspects of an open adoption is the availability of the health history of the birth parents and birth grandparents. In one of my obsessive moments, I had scanned all of this medical information and had it readily available on our smartphones.

Harper's Ambulance Ride

Harper’s Ambulance Ride

Before our second intake of the day was complete, it was determined that Harper would be transferred to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). We were a total emotional wreck. We were scared, confused and speechless. My parents had met us at the first hospital and travelled with us to the children’s hospital. Harper was taken out of the room to receive an IV, and Matthew and I had reached the point where we needed some alone time. My parents gave us a hug and reluctantly left the hospital.

Within a few moments, Harper was returned to the room. She had an IV inserted into her head. Band-Aids were stuck to both arms where attempts at starting an IV had failed. As the staff left the room, Matthew and I fell apart. Even to this day, seeing pictures of Harper like that is very emotional.  It was the toughest thing I have ever experienced.

Harper with IV

Harper with IV

Before we had a chance to process what we were experiencing, Matthew’s parents arrived at the hospital. Matthew’s half-sister began to tear up as she saw Harper with all of the tubing and chords monitoring her vitals. We politely asked Matthew’s parents to leave the hospital and allow us to support each other and Harper. It was an emotional moment for everyone involved.

There was one positive outcome of this intimidating experience, solidifying our new family unit. It was one of the first times in our lives that we had to turn to each other for support and not rely on our parents for comfort in this moment of uncertainty. It was now our time to claim our position as the parent and be strong for our daughter. Over the next four days, we continued to stand strong for our new family.

The first night in the PICU, Harper was under two enormous blue lights for the jaundice. Her red blood cells were breaking down at an alarming rate, and the cause was unknown. Harper was not producing enough red blood cells to replenish the red blood cells that were being rapidly destroyed. She would need a blood transfusion while the physicians worked to determine the cause. Until all the tests were completed, Harper was not allowed to eat.

PICU Room

PICU Room

One of the most difficult things in life has to be caring for a sick infant. She was so hungry and crying for food. There was no possible way to explain to her what was happening. She was connected to several different monitors. The bilirubin lights required her to be blindfolded. She was connected to a pump that was administering the blood transfusion. We were unable to pick her up and hold her. The only method of comfort came in the form of a small dosage of a glucose solution called Sweet-Ease. The Sweet-Ease provided a couple of drops of sugar and purified water to calm her when she cried.  It provided only a few minutes of peace for Harper.

Harper and her nurse

Harper and her nurse

Harper underwent a heel stick every couple of hours over a four-day period to monitor her hemoglobin levels. In the end, she only needed one transfusion. Harper is currently six-months old and is under the care of a St. Jude’s hematologist. We still do not have an explanation for the rapid destruction of her red blood cells. This past week, St. Jude withdrew a fair amount of blood to send to the Mayo Clinic for genetics testing.  It is my understanding that part of the testing will simulate a sickness to see how Harper’s blood will react when she is battling a common illness.  It is actually fascinating stuff.  We are still waiting for the results.  Several months of blood test have indicated that  her body is now producing enough red blood cells to maintain what is considered a normal level.  We are very hopeful that the current test results will be negative and point to an anomaly. In this case, no news is good news.  Harper provides every indication that she is a happy and healthy little girl.

Follow Matt, Trey and Harper via Facebook and Twitter

Share

Be The Change In This World Your Dads Hope For

March 18, 2014 by  
Filed under Jason Holling, Same Sex Parent

By Jason Holling

Postcard campaign speaking up about the need for second parent adoption in Nebraska to protect children

Postcard campaign speaking up about the need for second parent adoption in Nebraska to protect children

About two weeks ago, Justin and I had the chance to help with a postcard campaign in an attempt to get a bill out of the Nebraska State Judiciary Committee that supported the need to allow second parent adoption by two unmarried qualified adults in Nebraska. We collected post cards and helped people find their senator to write to at tables in our church at the morning and evening services.  At the end of the day, our 150 postcards were pulled together with thousands of other voices from around the city. That Friday, the group that helped organize the postcard campaign took the postcards to Lincoln to deliver to the senators.

But like any other Friday, I had meetings and was unable to attend the event in Lincoln, NE to deliver the postcards. So I was excited when I found out my meetings were cancelled which would allow me to attend the event.    But I remember thinking when I went to bed the night before, “oh well, they have it handled, I don’t need to go in the morning”.  In the morning, as I showered for work, I had second thoughts. What would our child say years down the road when only one parent was recognized by our state as the legal parent? What would our child say to me when the parent not recognized legally tried to take them to the hospital in the event of emergency and they were turned away for healthcare because they were not a legal parent on paper?   Could I arrive at the hospital in a panic to find them waiting in the emergency room unable to enter because their dad was not permitted to make medical decisions?     How could I look at them and explain to them I had a meeting and two busy years ago to speak up and help change the law.

Or what, God forbid,  would I tell them years from now if something happened where one of us passed away in an accident and the certainty of them staying with their living dad was in jeopardy because only one of us were recognized as the legal parent? Would I be able to tell them because one of their dads had to go to work 10 years ago and not take time out of his day that he could no longer stay with the surviving dad?   Both dads shared in all the joys of watching them grow up, raising them, and reading to them before bed equally.    But now that equally part is seen differently –  now the state is allowed to tell our child that one of their dads didn’t mean as much and is not legally recognized as  a parent because second parent adoption was not moved forward in Nebraska.

Jason in the plaid shirt speaks out about second parent adoption in Nebraska.

Jason Holling, in the plaid shirt, speaks out about second parent adoption in Nebraska.

 

What would I say in any of these situations? That I stood back and thought someone else would get involved and change things that infringe on equality in our home state? I pride ourselves on figuring out this winding path of LGBT adoption in our state along with other brave people. That we don’t know what hurdle is waiting for us on the next leg of our journey – but we are not afraid to keep going until we held them safely in our arms.  We want our child to be a voice of change and stand up years from now to challenge what’s not working.  We already wrote a letter to our child in the baby book about our dreams for them while we wait for the day we hold our child in our arms. One of the lines that was special in that letter we wrote was, “May you always have faith in yourself and know you can do anything you set your mind to. God has sent you here for a purpose…. pursue it and don’t just exist. Be the change in this world your dads hope for.”

So while I was not comfortable being on camera, I still made my voice heard. And people heard it. I got emails, texts, phone calls, and Facebook messages. But best of all we now have a chapter to tell our wonderful birth mother in our adoption story. We now have a chapter to share with our child in our adoption story.   A chapter that hopefully they read years from now and see that their dads stood up and loved them.  We hope our child creates many chapters like this of their own for years to come. And we  hope that they write pieces of the chapter where their dads left off  — a world where there is equality for other LGBT parents that provide safe, loving, compassion-filled homes full of dreams and hopes for their children.

-=-=-

If you would like to see the video of Jason’s interview from channel 8 in Lincoln (KLKN) , click here

Also, we are an approved family with Independent Adoption Center. Visit our profile and Dear Birthmother Letter

Share

Congrats, it’s a…

March 3, 2014 by  
Filed under Jason Holling, Same Sex Parent

Jason and Justin are a waiting couple hoping to grow their family through open adoption.

Jason and Justin are a waiting couple hoping to grow their family through open adoption.

I read two of the most ridiculous articles on the Internet about having a baby.  The first one was how to conceive a baby so it’s a boy because the couple only wanted a boy. The one suggestion was for the father to have a cup of coffee beforehand and apparently that had some influence on the sex of the baby. The second article was about the couple not wanting children unless it was a girl first and then a boy for the second. While I think these are crazy articles, and I cannot imagine people choosing one or the other, I guess Justin and I have had similar conversations about our preference of a boy or girl when we are fortunate enough to adopt.

We honestly have been asked this question over and over by our friends and family since we announced our desire to adopt. The question, “do you want to have a boy or girl?”.  Our answer will sound a bit cheesy, but honestly we don’t have a preference!  I will admit in the beginning we thought a boy would be best with us both being gay dads.   I mean what do we know about making braids and having tea parties?  We know all the boy things about growing up (besides how football works!).   But as we babysat our nieces we realized quickly a girl would be perfect for us too!  We also talked to a good friend and she’s ready to teach us how to braid when we need it (and she said help explain football when if we have a boy).  Another nice thing about our agency is we do not get to say if we want a girl or boy in our profile. They actually helped educate us to ease any tension we might have had about being gay dads and raising a daughter.

I realize people have preferences, but this seems extreme to me to try to influence the sex of the baby to pick what I think would be classified as a designer family. As a gay couple hoping to start a family, we do not care if it’s a girl or a boy.  What we pray for is a healthy baby to enter our life.   Part of the whole pregnancy experience I believe is the excitement of finding out the sex of the baby. My greatest hope is we have a birth mother that allows us to come to the ultrasound and learn the sex of the baby together. The excitement and suspense would be killing us as the doctor set up the machine.   I imagine Justin and I holding hands watching the monitor. My other hand would be up in front of my mouth as I choke back tears of joy and hearing “congratulations, it’s a….”.  It will make everything about the adoption suddenly real to us in that we are going to be dads and have the child of our dreams.

The nursery would quickly begin to take on either a masculine or feminine shape from that moment on.   Up to this point the room has sat quiet, reserved for that special little person to join us, and neutral in terms of color.    We now watch the room quietly from the door, rarely going into it as to not disturb it before it’s time.   We look it in each night before bed with hope that the day will be here soon.    We entered this journey with no promises, no guarantees, and only a hope that our love for each other would guide us on our journey to become dads.     But once we learn the sex of the baby, the room would start filling with color, filling with happiness, filling with life, filling with the hope of what will soon be.  And no longer will I be clicking neutral for the “sex” on our baby purchases!

For us in our adoption journey, we will be happy — or rather ecstatic for either a girl or boy and look forward to loving and making them part of our family.  For us, it’s about ensuring every opportunity is available for them.  It’s about hearing that nursury that sits dark fill with life as our child joins us.   It’s about us being the adoptive parents their birth mother dreamed of and showing the baby all of their potential.   They are meant for big things in this great big world, and we are ready.   Ready to watch them grow into a compassionate adult and do wonderful things.
——
We are an approved family with Independent Adoption Center. Visit our profile and Dear Birth mother Letter

Share

Spotlight Series: Ben and Nick

February 26, 2014 by  
Filed under Same Sex Parent, Spotlight, Wisconsin

Same Sex Parents Spotlight Campaign

TNF: Tell me about your family.

Ben:  We are three fun loving and down to earth gentlemen. Nick and I have been together since 2005.  Our son Sawyer was born via adoption in January of 2013. He is the best thing that has ever happened to us and we thank God every day for the gift that his birth parents gave us. The three of us are currently planning Nick and my wedding which is set for August of 2014.

TNF: How did you meet your husband?

Ben: Nick and I met eight and a half years ago through mutual friends in our hometown.  We were both hesitant at first, especially Nick because he had just publicly come out and I was the first person he dated.  It was definitely love at first sight. We actually told one another that we loved each other after only dating for two weeks. Nick then transferred colleges to be closer to me. We began to live with one another after a year of dating and bought our first house while still in college less than three years later. Nick and I have always been a fast paced couple. When we set our minds on something we go for it. It may take us awhile to make our minds up, but then we do not stop until we achieve our goals. That is something we would like to instill in our son Sawyer: never stop until you reach your goals.

TNF: Do you feel different from other families? If so, how so?

Ben: We feel very similar and different to families in many ways. No family is the exact same to any other family. In a sense we are all different. However, that being said, we worry about Sawyer just like every other parent, we feed him, bathe him, teach him things and are proud of his every accomplishment. However, our journey to parenthood may be different than the average ‘typical’ family. As every adoptive parent knows, the adoption process is hard and stressful, but the end result is indescribable. I love my family and would not ask to be in a different family.

TNF: Where do you live and is it tough being a gay couple where you live?

Ben: We currently live in a suburb of Madison, Wisconsin. Compared to other places that I have either lived, been to, or read about, being a gay couple and family is acceptable and we are treated nicely. We do not fear going places or the idea that we could be physically harmed for who we are. However, that is not to say that we feel as though we are treated equally. A lot of people will ask us who the “mother” is or who the “man” of the relationship is. In addition, we choose not to show public displays of affection of any sort, including holding hands, because you simply do not see that from same sex couples where we live. We are happy with how we are treated for the most part, but there is still a long way to go before we feel we can be truly accepted and ourselves out in public.

TNF: What has having a family meant to you?

Ben: Having a family is everything to us. Since Nick and I began dating 8 ½ years ago all we have ever talked about is starting a family together. We would sit on our couch and dream about what being a parent would be like. It is everything we dreamed and more. Nick and I were born to be Sawyer’s parents; I truly believe that.  I wake up everyday thankful for my family. To all those couples or individuals out there wanting and wishing to have a family it can come true, you just have to work for it and be patient. The end result is worth every struggle, tear and doubt.

Gay Dads

Gay dads

 

Gay dads

 

Gay dads

 

Gay Dads

 

Gay dad

Thank you Ben and Nick for sharing your story with us. Congratulations on your engagement!  

Share

Spotlight Series: Garon and Jamie

February 12, 2014 by  
Filed under Maryland, Same Sex Parent, Spotlight

wade-plane

TNF: Tell me about your family.  How old are your kids?  Did you get married/have a ceremony?

Garon: There are three dudes in our house.  My husband Jamie, our little guy Matteo, and myself.  Jamie and I got married in June 2012, first legally In front of the United States Capitol in DC.  Then we jumped on a plane to Ft. Lauderdale, and that weekend our parents flew in and married us in a ceremony in front of 70 friends.

We never would have guessed that just a few months later we’d have our little man, but in November of 2012, Matteo was born in Howard County, Maryland.  We worked with an agency, Adoption Makes Family, in Maryland and they market heavily toward jails and hospitals so that when a child is born, and a mother wants to place him or her for adoption, they are the first call.  It seemed a long shot, but that’s exactly what happened just 5 months after our wedding.

We woke up one morning, Jamie was packing for a business trip to the UK later that day when the phone rang.  “What are you guys up to?” said the adoption agency director. I looked at Jamie and in the worst makeshift hand signage possible I motioned to him, “do not say you are packing!”

“Your son was born this morning, “ he said.   We were completely in shock.   We had no idea he was coming that morning, or that we were the next family for placement.

TNF: How did you meet your husband?

 Garon: Jamie and I met at the Washington Sports Club in Columbia Heights and it’s still the gym we go to today.  We saw each other on the floor, in the locker room, our lockers were right next to each other but no one said anything.  It wasn’t until we were walking out that I caught up to him and said, “hey, I’m Garon.  What’s your name?”

TNF: Do you feel different from other families? If so, how so?

Garon: No, I don’t think we feel different at all. Family looks like so many different things in my opinion, and we’re one of those many variations. We clean up cheerios, change diapers, laugh, watch Lion King, and worry about our kid just like anyone else.  However I will say that when we move through airports and board flights, it feels like absolutely everyone is staring.  We either get the ‘that’s so awesome’ smile or the ‘disapproving glance’.  Gate agents have asked us, “So whose the dad?”  TSA always seems momentarily confused. Flight attendants love it.

TNF: Is it tough being a gay couple where you live?  Do you feel accepted?

Garon: Washington, DC is a wonderful city to be gay in.  I actually think it’s one of the most gay populous cities in the US.  But you never know what might happen and we’re not taking any chances. We often take long multi-hour walks around the city with our son.  When we do, there’s a baseball bat in the bottom of the stroller. Sometimes gangs come in from other cities to commit a crime as a challenge and then leave.  I think two dads and a baby would seem a bragging rights target.  We’re prepared to beat the shit out of anyone that tries.  President Obama said, “No one in America should ever be afraid to walk down the street, holding hands with the person they love.”  I hope one day soon, that comes true.

TNF: Why did you decide to start GayDadSwag?

Garon: Right after we adopted Matteo, I started looking around for a site that connected gay dads.  There was nothing.  I thought there’s got to be a site that brings together gay dads from around the world, shares their stories, their pictures, and gives straight allies a place to voice their support.

So I created Gaydadswag.  To me Swag is the way you carry yourself.  It’s you being you, in whatever way that is.  And we’re cool with that.  Initially it started as a Tumblr.  In the first two weeks it went around the world.  So I spent a couple months building the dot com and creating a team. Now www.gaydadswag.com is the first of it’s kind in the world.  I hope it changes minds and hearts and gives people a window into these beautiful lives.  There’s people from all walks of life that write us and tell us they read it.  Mom’s groups, straight dads, kids, and young people from all over the globe.  Google analytics shows us that people in places (to name a few) like Saudi Arabia, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Botswana, Uganda, and Russia, are looking at it.  We are so grateful to have that direct connection to them.

TNF: What has having a family meant to you?

Garon: Honestly, it’s everything.  I knew I wanted to be a young dad before I knew that I was gay.  I knew I wanted to adopt before I knew I was gay (maybe because I’m adopted myself).  So when I came out, I thought, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t continue this dream of having a family.  Looking back, I wish I had a site like Gaydadswag to show me what that might have looked like.

I sort of went on blind faith.  There’s this beautiful moment that happens once in awhile, when the three of us are lying in bed, or on an airplane, or reading together, and I stop and look at them and I think, there’s no where else I’d rather be than with these two.  I think often about when I might die.  Will I live well into old age or will I be killed in an accident of some kind?  I tell myself, whenever that moment comes, I hope the last image I process, is of my husband holding our son.  That’ll be enough for me.

Jamie is from Rotterdam, New York. Garon is adopted from Sri Lanka, his family is American. Matteo is half black, half white. They  all dance to P!nk & Madonna on the regular, play soccer in the house, and travel a ton.

Wade baby room

 

 

 

Wade 4

 

Wade 7

 

Wade 9

 

Wade 5

 

Wade 3

 

Wade 2

 

wade 1

 

1

Thank you Garon and Jamie for bringing tears to my eyes with your beautiful story.  Keep in touch with The Next Family. 

 

Share

One Year Later

February 11, 2014 by  
Filed under Jason Holling, Same Sex Parent

one-year-old_thumbLots of things can change in a year. But one thing that has not changed is our desire to become dads. If anything, we are more determined to become dads. This morning I woke up and I looked over at the room we set up as the nursery next to our bedroom upstairs. Once we were approved as a family with our agency, we started to set the nursery up just in case we got picked in a situation that moved very quickly. We wanted to be prepared and have all the basic needs purchased and ready for a little one. The nursery is perfect in every way. The crib is beautiful. The baby monitor sits waiting on standby mode for our child’s arrival home in the future. The tree and monkeys swinging on the wall is perfect and makes us smile every time we walk by. The toy chest is perfect too and sits empty. Now we just wait for the perfect birthmother to connect with and help us complete our family.

This morning, when I walked by the room, I took a moment to look in and reflect on the one year mark of our journey. Standing at the door to the nursery with my shoulder leaned against the door frame, my mind drifted off to a year ago. I remember our employers kicking Justin and I out of work early on a Wednesday to make sure we were on the road to get ahead of a snowstorm. They wanted to make sure we made it to the agency to take a 3-day course and sign our paperwork. We pulled out of our driveway and stopped to get gas. The snowflakes were falling and Justin sped up to get ahead of the storm. We were off on our journey to Indiana and meet our counselor at Independent Adoption Center (IAC). That weekend about a year ago we officially joined IAC and took another step on our journey to become dads.

I kept staring this morning into the nursery. Smiling as I remembered the next hurdle in our journey – the home study. Looking back, that was nothing in comparison to the roller coaster rides after we were approved. But I recalled a year ago Justin and I sitting in our living room scared to death and stressing over the visit. That day a year ago I got up and paced around the living room waiting for the doorbell to ring. We were waiting for our social worker to come to the house to start the first visit of our home study. We had no idea what to expect as we saw her car pull up outside the house. The visit went fine and our social worker put us at ease that she was not looking to see if we were perfect housekeepers. There were no white glove tests looking for dust. But what she was looking for was a safe, loving, and  committed family to raise a child.

I wiped away a tear after some other thoughts of our year journey flooded in. Everything on this journey has brought us closer as a couple and made us stronger. There is nothing we would change.  Not even the painful ups and downs.    The connections we have made have been incredible. The supporters from all over the country that are cheering us on have helped to give us energy. We know we are on the right journey and have to be patient now. We do not know how long the wait will be. But we have to hold onto faith that it will happen. It will happen when the time is right.

Walking away from the room I thought of what the upcoming years could bring us. There will be late nights in that rocking chair holding our son or daughter. There will be nights where they are scared of the dark and two dads that help comfort them. The room will be filled with laughter as the child plays in the toy chest in the corner. The room will be filled with good memories of reading books before bedtime and knowing this is what life is all about. And that room that sits quiet now will be filled with love and joy from two proud dads and their child that are connected in love as a family. Two proud dads watching from the door frame as their child sleeps in the crib.  I picture us turning away going to bed and our hearts filled with happiness and pride about our child.   Thinking about the years to come and what they will grow up to accomplish.  There is no doubt our lives will be changed drastically.  But I have a feeling we are about to turn a corner and our the real journey is about to unfold before us.
-=-=-=-=
We are an approved family with Independent Adoption Center. Visit our profile and Dear Birthmother Letter at http://www.jasonandjustin.com.

Share

Gay Dad: Party Like It’s 1999

January 28, 2014 by  
Filed under John Jericiau, Same Sex Parent

standard

It looks like my partying days are over. This weekend my neighbors, who also have a son in my oldest son’s first grade class, celebrated a 40th birthday. We’ve gotten close to them since we carpool to the school with them, they are both runners, and they are just fun awesome people.

We quickly accepted the invite to the surprise party, which was planned as more of an event than a party. A stretch limo would pick us up at our house at 7pm. Five pairs of strangers (to us) would meet at our house just before 7, and I would get some help stocking the limo with the neighbor’s booze that I had stashed in my refrigerator for safe keeping the night before. Beer, vodka, champagne – you name it. I laughed to myself as I thought about the three margaritas I have consumed in the last year, and how I am such a lightweight when it comes to alcohol, and my husband only slightly less of a lightweight.

Our neighbor was indeed surprised as we picked her and her husband up at what she thought was just going to be early dinner at a beachfront hotel. Most of us had already begun the celebration with champagne. Surely I can handle a glass of champagne. Immediately I felt the sensation of alcohol coursing through my veins, and almost immediately I saw my husband with a crooked smile across his face. I sensed trouble brewing.

The thirty-minute ride to downtown was half screaming and half getting to know each other, with the requisite disco music blasting in the background. The other partygoers ended up being really really nice people. Almost all the couples had children right around the ages of our three sons, and a number of iPhones were whipped out throughout the night with pictures and videos to share.

The night was somewhat of an A-list club crawl, as the limousine dropped us off and picked us back up from three different hip clubs. The first was Perch, an “elevated resting place” on the 15th floor of a downtown skyscraper. It’s website calls it “a French inspired rooftop bistro that offers unobstructed views of Downtown Los Angeles that makes it feel as though you are floating at the skyline.” Checking IDs at the door, I could swear that I saw the bouncer chuckling to himself as he saw the year of my birth. I put some swagger in my walk as I moved through the door, and everyone headed directly for the bar. Since this place was pretty much a bar on a roof, I chose to gaze at the views as Alen got me something I might like (it was sweet, so I did).

Next we hit Ebanos Crossing, a “revelry of sexiness and culture” where, according to the website, “within our walls you will enjoy an award winning artisanal cocktail program coupled with delectable, vibrant cuisine, where the cultures of the journey are reflected all around you.” It was loud, it was dark, it was crowded, and worst of all it was closed. Yes, closed, but somehow someone in the party had connections and we were let in to a Black Eyed Peas party. Many drinks were ordered, and I knew by this time that I needed to cut myself off at two drinks, and I needed to gently cut my husband off as well. I just needed to find my husband, who at some point simply disappeared from our group of tables. I hit the restroom, and then searched far and wide for him, Will I. Am, or Fergie. I finally found Alen dancing a nondescript dance in the middle of the dance floor with two of Will I. Am’s most voluptuous groupies. I returned to our tables to give him time to work off the alcohol and minimize the hangover that I was sure was going to crush him the next day.

We made a quick swing through The Standard, a boutique hotel located in the heart of downtown LA with a rooftop pool and plenty of eye candy. In my younger days I would sunbathe poolside with friends. Now I was just praying for something to eat, but it was not meant to be, as the limo clock was ticking and we had to be home by 1am.

We arrived in front of my house fifteen minutes early, so we sat in front of my house blasting the music in the limo and having our last celebratory shots. I was imagining my head on my pillow just a few feet away from the limo, where I was being forced to fill and refill my glass. Luckily nobody was noticing me as I dumped my drinks out over and over again, raising my empty glass in the air and singing happy birthday just one more time.

It’s fun to meet new people, especially other parents who have great stories about their family and are very supportive of mine. It’s fun to take a limo around Los Angeles, to places you’d never pick on your own to go. I don’t need the alcohol to have a good time, but I do need better hearing to converse with loud music and more energy to make it past 1am. Oh, and a handful of Advil for my husband.

Share

The Ripple of Change

January 27, 2014 by  
Filed under Jason Holling, Same Sex Parent

Jason Holling speaks about being a ripple of change to influence others in the fight for equal rights.

Jason Holling speaks about being a ripple of change to influence others in the fight for equal rights.

Imagine sitting on the quiet shore of a lake as the sun rises. Take a pebble and toss it into the lake. The lake ripples when the rock strikes the surface. The circles radiate off the spot where the rock landed and disturbed the water. The circles go on and on spreading from the center and continue into the lake. There is no telling where the end of the ripples will be.

My thoughts turned to questions like do the ripples I make in the world cause others to think about the LGBT community differently? Or, have I helped change the mind of someone about what it means to be same-sex parent? Does my writing and blogs change the opinion of at least one person in the world to think differently about the what it means to have two dads?

During this week full of meetings upon meetings, I had the opportunity to impact the LGBT community three times. Two of the events were around what it meant to be an inclusive and welcoming community for an LGBT individual. I shared my experiences that I used to hold tight and keep to myself. I spoke about Justin and I having a relationship of 10 years. I spoke about what it meant to be go to a church that welcomed and valued me. I spoke about our hopes and dreams to be gay dads.

In the third event, I was able to work with a local organization to set up a partnership with the company I work for and an agency that arranges mentoring for LGBT youth. The chance to connect youth with someone who has “been there” and share his or her experiences. To show these youth that things do get better. That world can be a scary place, but they can be what they hope and dream for in life. To be the stone that sends ripples of hope into the world.

Each of these events may not seem like it changed the world. But my voice and actions I hope have influenced at least one person to believe something differently about the LGBT community. That one person may talk to another person and then yet another to spread the ripple of change.

We need the ripples of support as we fight for change and equality across the country as well in our backyard. Justin and I know of bills in our legislature in Nebraska to allow foster parenting by LGBT couples. There are other bills stuck in committee that allow for same-sex couples to adopt. When I flash-forward from today when Justin and I are waiting to adopt a child to when our child is older, could I look them in the eye and tell them I was afraid to take a stand and fight for equal rights. That I was afraid to be the rock that stood for something and created the ripples of change for them and others.

Justin and I want our child to be the change in the world we hoped for. A world that is inclusive of all. A world where their dads don’t have to worry about being “out” at work. A world where same-sex parents do not have to fight for equal treatment and both can be legally recognized as parents of our child. A world where we do not have to have special legal paperwork so both parents can take our adopted child to get medical care.

So the next time you have the opportunity to speak to others on LGBT inclusion, same-sex parenting, or gay marriage — take it. Take the opportunity to change one persons mind and be a ripple that radiates farther than one can imagine. Be the ripple that creates change for same-sex parents.

-=-=-=-=
We are an approved family with Independent Adoption Center. Visit our profile and Dear Birthmother Letter at http://www.jasonandjustin.com.

Share

Next Page »