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.

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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

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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.
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We are an approved family with Independent Adoption Center. Visit our profile and Dear Birth mother Letter

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

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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.

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

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Riding an Adoption Roller Coaster

November 20, 2013 by  
Filed under Jason Holling, Same Sex Parent

By Jason Holling

waiting

Waiting can seem like an eternity. While we wait to be matched, Justin and I have decided to focus on getting the nursery setup and networking so others see our profile. While we expected ups and downs in the adoption journey, I do not think we were fully prepared for some of the emotional highs and lows. And while we do not want to stop this ride by any means, we know there are still more to come on this roller coaster.

In our adoption classes prior to our profile going live, the agency helped to prepare us for the ups and downs that would soon come and we started to be contacted. I remember watching a video in the class that took place at the birth of a baby and the ups and downs the birthmother went through as well as the adoptive parents in the waiting room. Justin grabbed my leg as I wiped away a tear thinking of the emotional struggles both sides were going through. The story ended well and the baby had a safe home.

Justin and I have had some leads since our profile went live. While these have not worked out, we know our birthmother is out there still. I remember hanging up the phone with Justin after the initial phone call in the middle of the night.  We were both on an emotional high as we hung up and sat on the floor of the nursery next to the crib talking about how excited we were.  Could this be real? Could we be daddies in just a few short weeks? Then looking around the nursery in a panic at all the things we would have to do still to get ready. But then the lows come when we realized later that week it was someone that made up a story of having a baby just to make someone else feel horrible. Luckily we have our agency to help figure out what is real and what is a scam. Justin and I joked that the silver lining is that we are no longer nervous when the 800 number for the adoption rings and a potential birthmother is on the other side of the line.  And what that person did to us was build our confidence for the next call that we know will come any time now!

Jason and Justin talk about their long wait while trying to adopt.

Jason and Justin talk about their long wait while trying to adopt.

Another component that helps us with the wait is networking. Networking is a huge component of getting noticed and finding a birthmother that is looking for a safe and secure family to place her child with. And many times it may be a friend who has a friend that knows someone considering adoption. Since going live in May, Justin and I have focused on networking and getting our profile out for potential birthmothers to see and connect with us. We have been using Facebook as one of the tools to tell people about our journey which has been a great way to connect with families that have adopted, birthmothers that have already placed, and people that are supporting our journey. Facebook has been hands down the best method for connecting and interacting with people in the adoption process.  The messages and posts of successful adoptions from others give us hope and encouragement! We have had so many people write us stories and offer help it has been overwhelming at times.

So while waiting is hard, we know the emotional roller coaster we are on will be worth the wait in the end. Everyone that writes us to encourage us on our journey, we write back and thank. We are truly grateful for having so many supportive and loving people in our lives. Each time our blog is read, profile viewed, or someone adds our page on Facebook it gives us hope that our family will grow soon.
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We are an approved family with Independent Adoption Center. Visit our profile and Dear Birthmother Letter at http://www.jasonandjustin.com.

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Abilene Bound – Remix Part 1

September 10, 2013 by  
Filed under Same Sex Parent, Trey Darnell

By-Trey Darnell

Monday August 19, 2013 started just like any other Monday for Matthew and I.  It was business as usual and we were still anxiously counting down the days until the arrival of Baby T-Rex.  Travel plans were being finalized, and the last days of work were being scheduled. Only 23 days until the due date. Everything completely changed with four text messages.

Matt and Trey are having a baby!

Matt and Trey are having a baby!

Reading those four text messages and then reading them again created feelings of anxiety, excitement and stress.  The baby is coming tonight?  Seriously?  We are over 1,150 miles away.  My first phone call was to Matthew while he was at work.  He answers and I can only muster up a three-word phrase.  “Leave work now!”

The next hour included packing clothes, stacking up bags and crates that would go into the car, checking on available flights to Texas, calling our parents and waiting for Matthew to make the 30 minute drive home from work.  We had already experienced what we referred to as our practice drill, so we were prepared to leave as quickly as possible.  From the time we received the phone call until we were pulling out of the driveway, took 90 minutes.  As the garage door was closing, I thought to myself the next time it opens we would have our daughter with us and be a family of three.

We had barely driven 50 miles before the reality of how long it was actually going to take us to get to Texas set in.  The GPS said we still had over 17 hours to go.  I quickly started calculating a more accurate time using an average speed of 75 mph.  With Matthew driving, I calculated an average speed of 80 mph.  Is this an admission of guilt? We could make it in 15 hours.

The discussion began of how to pass the time as quick as possible. Matthew and I have talked about listening to an audiobook several times, and what better time than now to try one? A quick stop to the audiobook aisle at a Barnes and Noble in Knoxville, Tennessee and I was already over the idea.  What book do you choose?  I haven’t heard of half the books that were available.  One of the few books we recognized was The Help.  $49 later and we were back on the road to Texas.  Disc 1 Track 3 and I was already lost and had no idea what was happening in the story.  Who is Skeeter? We went to see the movie while it was still in theaters and I couldn’t even keep up with someone reading the story to me. This was going to be a long trip.

The miles seemed to pass slowly and the chapters of the book even slower.  We both constantly checked our phones for an update from the labor and delivery floor at Abilene Regional Medical Center.  The current plan was to induce the expecting mother at 8 o’clock the next morning.  Our GPS said if we continued to drive through the night we would arrive at 9:15am.  Everything appeared to be happening in our favor.  Then we get a text message saying that they had “broken her water”.  What? No way.  We had just driven through Nashville, Tennessee, and  we still had hundreds of miles to go.

Less than two hours later we were speeding toward the Tennessee state line, and we didn’t even realize that we had received these two text messages.

The Baby is Here

The Baby is Here

The baby is here? Really? We are dads? OMG! We needed to stop driving and pulled off  I-40 in Jackson, Tennessee. Matthew and I decided to fill the car up with gas and get something to eat at the McDonald’s gas station combo. The television in the McDonald’s was on The Weather Channel, and they were airing a documentary of “The Miracle on the Hudson”. Being a pilot, I normally would be thrilled and excited to watch something about aviation, but this time I was so sick to my stomach and trying to process the magnitude of what just happened.

The phone vibrates and  it was a small image. This had to be a picture of our daughter. I hold off looking at the picture until Matthew sits next to me in the booth. We click the image and it gets bigger. There she is!  The very first picture of our daughter!

After discarding the half eaten fast food, we hopped in the car and began trying to process everything that was happening. Matthew drove around to the back of the building and the tears began to flow. Our world had just changed forever. Letting the reality of what happened to sink in was difficult. There was definitely some sadness for missing her birth, but we were happy and very excited. It was hard to believe baby Harper was finally here. We both really wanted to be at the hospital with her mother Mercy and her father Dylan but were elated that both mother and baby were fine.  Dylan survived the birth as well.

Matthew and I want to share that special first picture with you. World meet Harper Wade Darnell

Harper Wade Darnell

Harper Wade Darnell

Born August 19, 2013 at 8:24 pm CDT

5lb 9.6 oz

18.5 inches long

We are now dads and we still have 10 hours to go!  Exhaustion has set in.

To be continued…

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Being Bit by the Nesting Bug

September 3, 2013 by  
Filed under Jason Holling, Same Sex Parent

By: Jason Holling

We knew we were ready to become fathers when we started strolling down the baby aisles at Target to look at all the cute cribs, toys, and baby clothes. We had reached that point in our lives where we both were stable in our careers and relationship to welcome and care for a child. Even when we made the decision that we were ready to adopt, we held off purchasing things because we just did not know how long we would wait (which Justin had an issue holding me back from all the cute baby items!).  And the thought of seeing the room made into a nursery but no match was disheartening to us. But something came over us once our profile went live with our agency, Independent Adoption Center (IAC).  Something we can only describe as a nesting bug.

While the biggest issue has been the desire to get the nursery prepared, we have also been compelled to take on home improvement projects that have not been a priority for years as well as clean out closets and other spaces in our house. Justin will probably say it’s more me that has lost my mind and caught the nesting bug (but I see him getting into my purchases just as much!). It started off innocent with us researching a baby monitor and using a gift certificate I had gotten from a friend. Then it got triggered again when we saw a cute diaper bag that was designed for dads.

Soon after those first two purchases, Justin had a little surprise when he pulled into the driveway after work. He had to wade through boxes delivered from UPS to get to the front door. I had gotten a little carried away on my day off with some fun nursery items. I still remember getting that call from Justin about the boxes and him wondering what I had bought. I heard him struggling to pull the biggest box into the house from the front porch. I laughed nervously and then told him I bought a few things for the nursery from online. I’m surprised he did not turn off my credit card that night!

Pile of boxes.

Justin comes home to find the front porch filled with boxes. Jason had been bit by the nesting bug and started buying baby items once approved as a family with their adoption agency.

Waiting for a birthmother to call us is the hardest part for me because I am a planner. I like to know when, where, what and be ready for all situations for what ever might come my way. So waiting and not knowing is the hardest part for me. That planner in me will be great when I a dad and preparing for our child’s sporting events, band, and other activities, but does not help during this phase of the adoption process.

We decided to make the nursery right next to our room and have started cleaning out the space that was a guest bedroom. Giving away and selling the furniture that we did not need to make room for a crib and diaper changing table.  Being able to do things like setting up the nursery or doing home improvement projects to get ready for the day we have a child in our arms is important to take our minds off the wait ahead of us.

Nursery photo

Jason and Justin prepare their nursery as they wait to be matched to a birth mother on their adoption journey.

When Justin tells our friends and family about the boxes he found that day, they all laugh and tell us to stop buying so they can throw a baby shower when we adopt. I know there will be plenty more to purchase and spoil our child with when the time comes, so we are not worried. The nesting bug hit us so we are ready with a safe spot for our baby when the time is right.
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Read more about Jason and Justin’s journey to become parents on JasonandJustin.com.

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Are Gay Parents Better Parents?

August 19, 2013 by  
Filed under Jason Holling, Same Sex Parent

By: Jason Holling

I know my headline is going to cause some controversy with heterosexual readers. And I do not mean to imply that a heterosexual parent is a bad parent by any means. But I have been thinking a lot lately about a family with two dads, such as Justin and myself, and what we have to offer that would make us good parents. Being equal to our heterosexual parenting counterparts, we both are college educated, have a nice house, decent jobs, attend church every week……but what sets us apart is we are a non-traditional family. Instead of one mom and one dad, we are two dads!

Two dads are better than one.

Jason and Justin talk about why a non-traditional family makes a good one for a child.

Digging into articles on the internet helped me better understand what the medical professionals felt about a non-traditional family and if it was a good situation for a child to be raised. There are countless articles on the internet about same-sex households raising children. The ones I read basically boil down to the child is no better or worse off than those with a traditional mom and dad household. The child’s mental health, social skills, and learning ability are all similar to those of their counterparts with a heterosexual family. So I kept contemplating what else could it be that would make a gay couple better parents. And what I came up with is there are two key areas. One is the desire to be a parent and commitment to provide a stable and loving home for the child with many opportunities. The second was the extra things brought to the table in a non-traditional family like tolerance, caring, and compassion for others that the child sees through our relationship.

An interesting fact that I found was that 50% of pregnancies are accidental along heterosexual couples. Try as Justin and I might, there will never be an accidental pregnancy in our household! We make a decision to be parents. Justin and I researched ways to grow our family through adoption and surrogacy. And when we landed on adoption, we submitted our usually private lives to a battery of interviews, fingerprints at the state police, medical exams, and reference checks. We as potential adoptive parents are very motivated and extremely committed to adopt a child and make sure they have every opportunity in the world available to them. As a gay parent, we can’t wait to attend every sporting event, every band/choir performance, and teach our child everything we can about the world. In a nutshell – we can’t wait to experience everything about being a parent!

A second reason that I think gay parents make better parents for a child are the things we bring to the table that heterosexual parents may not. Like open-mindedness and tolerance, compassion, and tolerance for others in different situations then them. One article on the internet interviewed a man that had been raised by two lesbian women. He said he was a more well-rounded and tolerant of a person and felt it was directly related to being raised in a nontraditional family. The child observes the relationship and how respectful and loving the parents are and incorporate that into their life and how they treat others that are different from them. If Justin and I could send one child out into the world that was loving and caring for other people…..that would be the greatest success of us being dads.

So my final thought is that children don’t have to have a mom and dad to grow up right to be a good person – they need two fully committed and loving parents. And that’s just what Justin and I plan to be. Two loving dads that raise the most well-rounded and compassionate child we can.

Read more about Jason and Justin’s journey to become parents on JasonandJustin.com.

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It’s Just a Letter

August 8, 2013 by  
Filed under Jason Holling, Same Sex Parent

By: Jason Holling

It’s just a letter, how hard can this be? But this letter was the most important one we would write on our adoption journey. This letter goes on file with our agency, Independent Adoption Center (IAC), and is sent out to birthmothers who request approved family profiles that are looking at adopt. The letter, called the Dear Birthmother Letter, is one of the key things used by birthmothers to learn more about us as a family, our beliefs, lifestyle, etc. The letter for those that have not seen it looks simple, but the choice of words and photos is very challenging.

Jason and Justin are an approved couple looking to adopt a child.

Jason and Justin talk about the process to create the letter to potential birth mothers.

We thought we were well ahead of the game on the letter and had started writing it last fall, long before we signed up with out agency. We would go to a quiet spot on Saturday afternoons and read other profiles online…jotting down quotes we liked or design ideas. When we attended training at our agency in February, we realized we had a lot of work left to do to complete the letter.
We got to work with an editor that helped us clean up the text and present us in the best possible light. Although he was very nice, it was a stressful process of back and forth edits. The text took 3-4 weeks of edits before we had it right to put into the letter. Justin and I would rush home the night the edits were due back to us and stay up late to make the corrections so we could resubmit our letter and get back in the queue for review with the editor.
The photos were probably the hardest part for us to complete. We had over 80 photos that we liked – but only about two of them made the first cut for the letter. The photos need to show our lifestyle so the birthmother can learn more about us. We ended up hiring a photographer to help us with several of the photos. Even though it was freezing and our teeth were chattering in several of the photos, we think they turned out great.
After a few months of writing, photos, and editing we got the approval in early April to print the draft copy of the letter. The draft looked better then we could have imagined, and we ordered a bundle of the letter to send to our agency to put on file for birthmothers that called in for approved families. It may be just a letter…but every word and photo was carefully and deliberately chosen.

Read more about Jason and Justin’s journey to become parents on JasonandJustin.com.

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Open Adoption: Breaking Down Barriers

July 24, 2013 by  
Filed under Jason Holling, Same Sex Parent

By: Jason Holling

Jason and Justin

Jason and Justin are an approved family trying to grow their family through adoption.

Adoption was the path we chose to grow our family. We knew it would be filled with many ups and downs and roadblocks along the way. The hardest part was hearing people tell us “no” as we proceeded on our journey, and choosing to stay strong and seek out the positive people to surround ourselves with. Not to mention, living in Nebraska does not lend itself to gay friendly laws when it comes to marriage and LGBT parenting. For years, we did not even think it was possible for us to become fathers based on the state law regarding second parent adoption. But as we turned to the Internet and found couples that were adopting, we gained hope and pushed forward with our own plans to adopt. Our agency also opened our eyes farther to the possibility of growing our family through open adoption.

Early on in our journey, Justin and I decided we were ready to be fathers and we needed to be the change we wanted to see.  We needed to push through all the people that told us “no” and “you can’t do this” to make it possible. We wanted to tell our child years from now that we stood up for what was right and made changes to the world to start our family.  Justin and I formed a letter-writing event to Nebraska senators to promote a bill proposed to allow second parent adoption in Nebraska. We even ended up on the news the night of the event talking about why the bill was important to allow Justin and I both to adopt and be able to make health care decisions on behalf of our child. It was the first time we took a big stand in our journey. The bill is still in committee in Nebraska, so we know we will have more opportunities to fight for it in the upcoming year.

Several other times in our adoption journey we were told “no” by agencies in Nebraska that did not support LGBT couples. I remember the first call to start the home study when we decided to proceed with adoption. When I told her that Justin and I wanted to have a home study started, I was greeted with silence on the other end of the phone and then was told we should consider somewhere else to complete the home study. That was a polite way of telling us she did not support our relationship and the first door was shut. Justin and I don’t take “no” very well. We contacted another agency in town and they were incredible in working with us to complete the home study. It’s all about not giving up and pushing forward when one door closes to find the door that will open up for us.

So while our adoption journey has had many ups and downs already for us, at the end I think we are a stronger couple for it. We work together and handle each twist and turn of the journey together as a couple. And the more I think about “are we ready to be dads”, the more confident I am we are going to be strong, capable, and loving dads for our child as a result of breaking down the barriers.

Read more about Jason and Justin’s journey to become parents on JasonandJustin.com.

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