By: Rob Watson
“Necessity is the mother of invention” goes the old saying. When there is a problem or an issue in play, a creative solution is often about to be realized. This point is nowhere more valid than in the area of LGBT couples having children and starting families.
According to a recent study by Cambridge University, the ease by which a couple can procreate seems to dictate the primary avenue by which they pursue the creation of family. Heterosexuals who often have to guard against unwanted pregnancy choose a wanted pregnancy as their primary route to familyhood. Lesbian couples do not have to fear unwanted pregnancies, but if they can solicit a sperm donor, an apparently readily achievable task in many cases, they too initiate pregnancy. Gay men have a tougher challenge, as a participating womb and body for nine months—to say nothing of labor and health risks—are far more difficult and costly resources than male reproductive material. Therefore, according to the study, they pick foster care or adoption as their likely method.
I am frequently called upon to recount the choices I made in creating my family. The last such conversation took place at a kids’ party attended by many of my son’s schoolmates. One of the fathers was chatting me up, knowing I was a gay dad, and his curiosity was apparently killing him. I graciously volunteered that the boys had been adopted through the local foster care program.
“Oh, cool,” he said. “I assume there was a screening process.”
“Oh, absolutely,” I responded. “They did a complete background check on me. It was very thorough.” A strange look crossed his face.
“No . . . I didn’t mean on you. I meant on the children. To make sure there were no mental issues or drug exposure.”
My eyebrow raised slightly, and even though I caught his drift, I proudly proclaimed, “No, they don’t screen out children . . . and my boys both had drug exposure. That was not a problem.” At that point, it became obvious that the man was interested only in the parenting of “perfect” children, and he did a quick mumble and moved on to the hors d’oeuvres table.
It left me wondering, who out there will step up for the “nonperfect” kids, kids already created and in need now? Who will be the parents of the kids who got dealt a raw deal at birth and are facing major challenges before their lives have even begun?
It has been suggested to me that LGBT parents would be the perfect class to do this. We, who get to really think out the process by which we are going to become parents, have the opportunity to step up. We can help not only ourselves, but these kids who are in need. We can influence the world, which is currently too eager to discard these kids and ultimately turn them in to serious drags on society as adults. Should this be a mandate for us?
Certainly, parents such as Clint and Bryan, who saved ten kids, are among the most moral on the planet. I dearly wish and pray that it was easy for us all to do what they have done. Unfortunately, it is not.
Like the deep longings that drive us to fall in love and partner, the longings to be a parent are equally complex. Those longings are not often driven by selfless altruistic motivations and energies. If they were, the people who would be loved, pursued, and married most would be the saintly, good, honest, and upstanding—regardless of their physical appearance. Gyms would not turn out the most likely to be sought after. Sadly, that is not the case, and the great love stories do not end with the hero taking up into his arms the person he most admires but to whom he does not feel physically attracted.
Parenting is similar. Some people need to see traces of their biological family in their children’s faces. Some need the comfort that a biologically made child cannot be taken away. Some do not have the stomach to navigate the foster care and adoption systems, neither of which was designed to be parent friendly.
Like romantic relationships, no matter what the motivation or catalyst that creates the bond, the real morality occurs in the development, and sustainability, of the relationship itself. Parenting is a tough gig. It is not easy to be ready and present for another human being’s needs day in and day out, for decades. It is about selflessness and the pursuit of unconditional love. The desire to be a good parent is in itself moral. Take the example of Markus K, who acted as a sperm donor for many lesbian families. He may not have done a thing to ease the pain and loneliness of the world’s orphans, and he added to the earth’s seven billion population with kids he will not be involved in raising. What he has done, however, is to forgo any intimate long-term relationship for himself in order to visit and be there for any of his progeny who may be interested in seeing him. Even through his brand of parenting, he has achieved selflessness.
So, if you want to have children and want to do it in the most moral way, find out which method is the one to which you can fully commit yourself. Find the one that inspires you to be the most diligent and dedicated parent possible. Find the one that makes you a better person. You will then have done the “moral” thing.
And if you want to be a real hero, go the extra mile. Help answer the question my friend at the party left me with: Who will adopt the millions of orphans worldwide who are already here, not perfect, and need us? Who will take that into account in their family planning? Who will make the process easier and readily available for LGBT families and inspire the foster care/adoption path? Who will make a real difference?
I hope it is me. I hope it is you, too.
We could be weeks or merely days away from making the trip from Johnson City, Tennessee to Abilene, Texas for the birth of Baby T-Rex. The distance between these two cities is 1,128 miles and when you are on “baby time”, there are no easy planning and travel solutions. Blogs, books, lists, parenting forums and workshops do not prepare you for getting a phone call saying the expecting mom is at the hospital with contractions, and you are over a thousand miles away.
Thursday afternoon, we received a phone call signaling labor could be imminent. It seemed as if clothes, baby clothes, diapers, cameras and cats were flying in every direction. The car was packed full with what felt like half our house and a car seat securely in place. Everything was happening extremely quickly. Anxiety and excitement was in complete control.
As we entered the last five weeks of pregnancy, Matthew and I had worked through options that were available that would allow us to get to the hospital as quick as possible. We had tentative travel plans that would put us into Abilene a week before the due date. If the baby decided to make an appearance sooner? There was an alternative plan in place for that. One of us would be on the first available flight, and the other would drive. A plan for the cats, mowing the lawn and anything else we could think of had been thought of. We would have everything packed and ready to go in a moments notice, well we would in mid-August. We were behind the curve.
This past Thursday, travel by air wasn’t an option, so we both buckled in and began the 17-hour drive to Texas. We received text updates throughout the evening. An extreme effort was being made to make it there as quick as possible. I would swear that the odometer was not working correctly. The miles were slowly ticking off. Our late night turned into the early morning. As we reached Memphis, Tennessee we decided to stop and get some needed sleep.
As the sun rose on a hot and humid Friday morning in west Tennessee, we all had experienced a false alarm. The expecting mom had what was referenced as a stalled labor and received medication designed to stop contractions. Everyone was grateful that she was resting comfortably and getting some much needed sleep. Matthew and I took a deep breath, smiled, and buckled in for our trip home.
After arriving back in Johnson City and unpacking the car, we began to make lists of things that we needed and created a staging area in our guest room for everything that will make the trip with us. Bags and containers were unpacked and repacked more efficiently. The false alarm was a little drill that we were able to learn from. Without question, it was an exhausting 24 hours, but we were able to make sure that we are better prepared for the next call. Matthew and I are ready to leave at any given moment.
34 weeks! Everyone says we are in the home stretch. Time seems to be disappearing fast as we get closer and closer to the due date. Preparations are definitely in full swing. Matthew and I are attempting to be prepared as possible. Is that even possible? We have found ourselves asking tons of questions to friends that are already parents. The three most common questions have been, what bottle, diaper and formula? Selecting the best is a high priority for the both of us. We found out extremely quickly that tommee tippee was the right bottle for us.
As we began to assemble the nursery and prepare our house and lives to welcome a newborn, we thoroughly reviewed every possible product. Whether it was through Consumer Reports or customer reviews on a particular store’s website, we wanted to make sure we were happy with the choices we made. While reviewing specific products to use as parents, we also looked at the company that makes the product as a whole. It is highly important to both of us to seek out companies that support our community as well as share in the joy of adoption and same-sex parenting. Mayborn Group, the parent company of tommee tippee, is one of those companies. I shared on our twitter feed that “we are a tommee tippee family.” We received a short letter and package from Mayborn and tommee tippee. It was short, sweet and left a strong impact on the both of us.
It is exciting that they are following our journey to parenthood!
While we are just over a month a way from hopefully becoming dads, we are clearly practicing (playing) with all of our tommee tippee products. It is possible that all of our bottles have been sterilized two or three times each. We both enjoy our Keurig that we received as a Christmas gift last year and while visiting a Babies-R-Us we were shocked there is a similar product for baby formula made by tommee tippee. The excitement was instant and became a must have. While we call it the baby Keurig, its official name is the tommee tippee closer to nature perfect bottle prep. I love it! I am without doubt acting like a kid in the candy store.
If you read our very first blog you know that we decided to start the adoption process while on an Ikea trip in Charlotte, North Carolina. Our journey will reach the one-year mark in just a few short weeks. At the start of the adoption journey, we were particularly worried as to what reaction we might receive from everyone. So often we had heard what a traditional family should “look” like. Looking back over the past year, we are humbled by the encouragement we have received from our family, friends and even our community. In the beginning, we were reluctant to share so much about ourselves in this process but the friendships that we have built since then and the words of support we have received were worth taking the leap.
The journey to parenthood is different for every person and every couple. Each adoption journey is unique in itself. We both try to educate family, friends and followers about open adoption. Our message is a positive one about becoming dads. Next week I am enrolled and excited to participate in a new parenting class. Diaper changing, burping, swaddling and bottle-feeding are just a few of the topics. I even can’t wait to tell them that we are a “tommee tippee family.” We are surely on the fast track to become The Next Family in September.
By – Trey Darnell
Eight weeks to go. Eight weeks still seems like an eternity and relatively quick at the same time. We are busy preparing in all ways possible. Most of the preparation legwork has been making sure that our home is prepared and stocked for the first months of parenthood. Working out the logistics for our next journey to Texas for the birth of Baby T-Rex and the return trip home. With the preparation for a new addition to the family, we are also working hard to spend quality time together and enjoy the foundation we have already built as a couple. Vacation time!
Matthew and I loaded up the car and drove to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee with another couple to enjoy three days of fun and sun and celebrate pre-parenthood. Is pre-parenthood a word? The experience was as exhilarating as a childhood summer vacation. This mini-vacation was filled with roller coasters, water rides, go-karts, pancakes, laughing and ice cream. The trip even had educational value. We learned the difference between jam and jelly and how to cook fondue style. Matthew and I enjoyed that quality “couple” time and welcomed the excitement that continues to grow for parenthood.
Like most vacations, this trip lacked the dreaded sadness that usually comes with the end of a vacation. The typical feeling of “back to reality.” Why this time? Maybe because we were only 100 miles away from home or the trip was only three days. I believe that we both were excited of what was ahead. On our drive home, we knew that we were three days closer to becoming dads.
Over the next couple of weeks, we are going to be marking off the remaining tasks and items that we need to finish prior to Baby T-Rex making her appearance. The list started out extremely long but now there are only a few things left to be completed. I am going to finish reading “On Becoming Baby Wise” as we are contemplating using this method or at least a hybrid version when it comes to feeding, sleeping and play time. Any time we go to the store, we purchase diapers. Between diapers and clothes, space in the nursery closet is dwindling.
Time to get back to the preparations. Thanks for letting us share our adoption story with you. Eight weeks to go! Here is a photo of Matthew from this past weekend. He just finished wakeboarding and made it look very easy. The photo is mere seconds before he said, “My cell phone was in my pocket.” Sigh!
By: Trey Darnell
On Wednesday morning (June 26, 2013) Matthew and I were in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee vacationing with my parents. It was a few minutes before 10 o’clock and everyone was just waking up. We knew that in just a few moments everything could change for us as a couple. Along with thousands of other LGBT individuals throughout the world, we had joined the live chat with SCOTUS Blog
10:02 AM. Everything changed!
The Supreme Court of the United States found Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional in the case United States v. Windsor. A huge win for marriage equality. The Supreme Court of the United States found that the petitioners of California’s Proposition 8 lacked standing to appeal and allowed the lower court’s ruling to stand. A huge win for marriage equality in California.
Wednesday was a great day for the movement toward marriage equality and a moment that allowed Matthew and I to think further into the future. Living in East Tennessee, we reside in a state that has a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The truth is, we are a long way from seeing marriage equality in the volunteer state.
With these outstanding and unprecedented victories, we have to keep moving forward. There is still a long way to go to reach the finish line. Momentum is on our side. We have to keep having the conversations and educating our families, friends and communities.
I encourage each and every one of you that are reading this blog to take a few moments and email your elected officials both in the Unites States Senate and the United States House of Representatives. Encourage their support for the Respect for Marriage Act. This particular legislation would repeal DOMA in its entirety and allow every marriage, no matter if it is a man and a woman, two women or two men to be seen equally both at a national level and a state level. The Respect of Marriage Act is a monumental piece of legislation. Help encourage its passage.
It is hard to believe the month of June has come to an end so quickly. It seems like yesterday I wrote about the excitement that laid ahead for June. I feel we both used the cases involving DOMA and Prop 8 to take our focus off of the wait for Baby T-Rex to arrive. It seems that we went from 20 weeks to 30 weeks so fast. It is hard to believe that parenthood is quickly approaching.
Paperblog voted Matt & Trey Adopt as one of the Top 10 Adoption Twitter Feeds to follow.
My “dad” instincts started when I was very young. My earliest memories are from age three. I believe a significant event kick-started the memory-recall part of my brain. It was the news that my mother was pregnant and I was going to become a big brother. I was going to have someone to care about—start my fatherly training, if you will—and I better remember it.
One of my earliest memories is of my mother was in the hospital awaiting delivery. My father had taken me to the gift shop to get a present for my new little sister. I remember the glass shelf it was on. It was an angel holding a red heart. I could think of nothing better to give this new little life than an angel who would watch over it, protect it, and love it.
That ceramic angel became cherished and has topped my sister’s birthday cakes for five decades now. I loved being her big brother,
When I was in college, something else started taking over my consciousness. I was coming to the realization that this “gay thing” within me was not going away. It was not a “phase,” as I had tried to tell myself hundreds of times. It was me. In my belief system, that meant I would never become what I wanted to be . . . a dad.
That thought took me to a dark place, and I considered ending it all right then and there. I prayed about it, and as I laid out my threat and my plan to God—fix me now, or I am going to do it for you—I was overwhelmed with a message and the sense that I was to carry on. I was not to limit who I was, and I was to find my destiny as the best gay person I could be. I put down the blades.
Years passed and the fathering instinct in me made me anxious to be more than someone’s big brother. In my heart of hearts, I wanted to be a dad. The drive to be my best kicked in. My then partner and I trained for foster care and a more advanced level of care which would enable us to care for drug-exposed newborns. It felt like my true north, on my way to being fully me.
We had a number of placements. These were infants whose mothers endangered them through short-term lapses in judgment. These women were offered reunification services that would train them on how to live and protect their children, and once they achieved the plan, their children were returned to them. It was good practice for us, and it was gratifying to help families work on problems and move toward healthy lives.
We knew at some point we would get a child whose birth parent was unwilling or unable to adapt to sobriety or a non-abusive life, and that child might become ours permanently.
One day, late July 2002, we got the call. A baby had been born. He was premature, six weeks early, and born after his birth mother ingested heroin. He weighed four pounds and had heroin in his system. Reunification services were going to be offered to his birth parents, a young married Catholic couple, but as they were both heroin addicts, it was likely that they would have trouble staying clean and taking responsibility for their child. As it was, their actions while he was still in the womb could have killed him. We would be his foster parents for now, and, potentially, his permanent adoptive parents.
I was told that I could meet my new son that evening. The birth parents would be told the time of our arrival so they could be out of the care unit and we would see him alone. As I drove to the hospital, I felt I was in a dream state. That morning I had been just a gay guy with a partner, and now, that evening, I was finally becoming a dad.
The birth parents were not much into the rules. In spite of the request to give us a private moment with the baby, they were there and met us at the door on our arrival. It was shocking to meet them, not only because they were the birth parents of the child we would be taking home the next day, but because they in no way looked like the people they had seemed to be on paper. I knew that the nineteen-year-old birth mom had been addicted to heroin since she was sixteen, and it was her now husband, two years older, who had enticed her into using the drug. They both had circulated on the street and with gangs.
The people we saw before us did not project that history. They looked like sweet-faced teens. She was in a fluffy pink bathrobe, her beautiful hair pulled back into a pony tail. He was kind and attentive.
They did not have my focus for long. My attention was on the baby who lay in the clear plastic incubator bed, with IVs in his tiny extremities. Despite all the medical apparatus, he was beautiful. He had gotten most of the heroin out of his system, and would only need painkillers for another day. I marveled at the being I saw before me. I wondered what natural survival mode could have propelled him to leave his mother’s body so early to be free of the foreign narcotics within him.
We chatted with his birth parents for a long while. They were amazingly traditional and “ordinary.” There were only a few telltale signs that they came from a different world from ours. One was their litany of friends who had lost their children into the protective care system. The couple quizzed us as to whether we knew this child or that. Quietly I shook my head and wondered what it was like to be in a social environment where those separations were commonplace.
The nurse brought my new son over in a blanket and I held him softly on my chest. I look into his eyes and we connected. He was home, I was home. This was right. Deep in my heart, I knew this child was, and would be, my son forever. He would be named Jason. Loving, protecting, and defending him would be my life’s calling. While I dutifully listened and took down instructions such as an evening babysitter might receive, I knew I was embarking on the love of my life. I knew that this was my first day of being who I was meant to be. I was a father. My son had fought his battle getting into this world, this far. It would be up to me to help him the rest of the way. He would never have to fight alone again.
As I have shared stories of my family since that time, some people have claimed that I have done my son a disservice by being his father and a gay dad. They have asserted that depriving him of his birth parents was an act of violence against him. I understand that the Million Moms are petitioning advertisers to get The Fosters, a program that depicts a family like mine, off the air. They think we are dangerous.
But the birth parents were given over a year of chances to get themselves together to be ready to raise a baby, particularly one with special needs. They never actually spent much of the time they were given with Jason to bond with him, and he never knew them as parents. The birth mother went on in the next few years to bear several more drug-exposed babies, each one more severely exposed than the last. The birth father ended up in prison. Neither kicked their heroin addiction, and there were numerous rumors around that both had died of overdose.
That night, after saying goodbye, my thoughts went to all the arrangements we had to make to prepare for Jason’s homecoming. He was going to need very specific care and handling. We were prepared and mobilized. I was about to embark on the most significant journey I could imagine. I was a dad. I was on the brink of my destiny. I stopped doubting why I was here. I had to get a move on.
When I hit the lobby, however, I paused. There was something I had to do first. I walked across the marble floor to the gift shop and scoured the glass shelves.
I needed to buy a ceramic angel.
Over the past couple of weeks, our focus along with many other LGBTQ individuals has been at the Supreme Court of the United States. As a collective group, we are awaiting decisions on two different cases. One case involves California’s Proposition 8 and the second involves the discriminatory federal Defense of Marriage Act known as DOMA. These two cases are front and center in the movement for equality and the very apparent shift in public opinion.
Since the beginning of June, I have caught myself reading live updates via the SCOTUS Blog on each and every opinion day. If you aren’t familiar with the use of SCOTUS, it stands for Supreme Court of the United States. I consistently set a reminder on my phone to make the loudest possible noise to remind myself to join the 15,000+ other individuals that watch for instant updates. The SCOTUS Blog has a representative (Lyle) in the Supreme Court press-room providing information as it happens. Every time there is an update in the “chat window” you hear a specific sound. When I hear this sound, it seems as if I begin to hold my breath.
I am writing this blog on Monday June 17, 2013. Today is my birthday, my 34th birthday. For the first part of the year, I was telling everyone it would be my 33rd. It was either Matthew growing tired of telling everyone that I actually would be turning 34 or I finally accepted the fact and started welcoming the idea of 34. I think one thing that has made adding another year to my age easier is the quirky fact that my father was 34 when I entered the world and made him a father. That day was Father’s Day (June 17th) in 1979. Want another fun fact? Matthew is the same age as his father was when he was born. This September we will become fathers at the same age as our fathers became fathers for the first time. Can you say that three times fast?
This morning at 10:00, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hand down opinions on cases from this term. I am multitasking and trying not to miss any updates. It is currently 9:56 EDT and there are only a couple of minutes left before the information starts coming in from today’s proceedings. The landscape of marriage equality and the lives of so many could change within the next few moments. Just heard the sound of an update, and I immediately caught my breath. It’s Lyle from the SCOTUS Blog, and he is providing information on the first opinion. I am going to pause writing and take in the moment and watch and hope for what today might bring.
Today wasn’t the day. We now focus on the next scheduled decision day which is this Thursday. There isn’t any insight on when we might get a ruling. Most experts point to the end of the current term, which is the end of June. If it isn’t this Thursday, we will wait for Monday and possibly the following Thursday to find out the Supreme Court’s opinion(s) on Hollingsworth v. Perry (Prop 8) and United States v Windsor (DOMA). We are so close.
June is National Pride Month and there are pride events going on every weekend throughout the United States. Seeing the news and images from these different events reminds me of my first pride experience. It was last October when we were beginning our adoption journey to become dads. Matthew and I had just travelled to Atlanta to meet with our adoption agency and had no clue that Atlanta Pride was happening the same weekend. You can click here to read about that journey. I am amazed how much progress Matthew and I have seen in just a few short months. This progress would not have been possible if it were not for the LGBTQ individuals that educated and pushed the need for equality in the past five decades.
When mentioning those that have paved the way, I have to mention one particular individual. Matthew’s Uncle Dan. He epitomizes all that one would desire or need in a role model. Dan has spent a majority of his life working towards equality in our community and does not shy away from an opportunity to educate about the lack of equality.
In 2008, I can honestly say I was clueless about the Stonewall Riots or the equality movement in general. I didn’t even know that some of it revolved around Judy Garland. Uncle Dan, as I now call him, eagerly and eloquently shared his story and the history I felt embarrassed not to know. During a longer than the usual car ride from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, he opened the door to things I hadn’t really thought of and things I hadn’t even noticed. It was obvious that this community has come a long way but still has a long way to go. Oh, I also got to see a burning RV.
Dan and his husband Josh were present and wed the first day California granted same-sex marriages. That was five years ago today, June 17, 2008 (my birthday by the way). They have travelled across the United States showing their support by getting married again and again in each of the states as they legalized same-sex marriage. Dan and Josh demonstrated by saying “I Do” over and over that we are getting closer and closer to being able to say “I Do” just once and it counts 50 times. Dan and Josh thank you for making this moment in history possible. As silly as it sounds, if it wasn’t for couples like you, I wouldn’t be getting excited to watch the SCOTUS Blog and patiently (not really) wait for decisions on marriage equality.
June is here. I am truly excited! June has always been one of my favorite months of the year. Maybe it’s because my birthday falls in the month of June. Is it possible to have two favorites? Just consider it a tie between June and December. I love the excitement and happiness people show around the holidays and not to mention the cooler weather. The heat and humidity in Tennessee can be a little too much, and I have already reached that point this year. This June is going to be much different from any before.
We both have settled back into routine following our wonderful visit to Abilene to meet the expectant family that we have matched with. I can honestly say that some part of me is still there emotionally, and I guess physically, I think I left a sock at the hotel. Today marks 98 days from the anticipated due date. 98 days! That seems so soon and yet so far away. What do we do? What needs to get accomplished between now and then? We turn our focus to the month of June.
June 2013 has the potential to change everything as we currently know it. The LGBT community is no longer years and months away from a ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) on issues surrounding marriage equality. We are now only days away from the decisions on California’s Proposition 8 and the much broader Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). It is time for forward movement and time to leave inequality behind. No longer talks of separate but equal. It is time for just equal. There are a lot of people anxious for the month of June to hurry along.
I have always tried to figure out a way to celebrate June as my birthday month, and I have been unsuccessful. This year it will be somewhat a month long celebration. June 2013 has been designated as LGBT Pride Month. That is exciting. An entire month! The 17th will be my day though. A day I will be celebrating my 33rd birthday (34th as Matthew would say). We plan to use this month to spend time with family and friends as we continue to prepare for the arrival of Baby T-Rex in September. Since it is officially LGBT Pride Month, I wanted to share an excerpt of an interview we did in the first couple of months of our adoption journey. Sometimes it is good to look back and reminisce. You can read the whole interview here. We are so happy to share our story with you and are excited that you are a part of our journey.
Q What obstacles have you run into as a hopeful adoptive gay couple?
Finding the right agency for us was a definite obstacle. There are a lot of Christian-based adoption agencies in our region as well as in our surrounding states. We both are Christian, and we were shocked about how we were received when it came to our desire to adopt. One agency offered to let us pay them their fee, but they would not promote us like other families. If we found the birth family, they would proceed with the steps to complete the adoption. This was very disappointing to both of us, but we didn’t veer off course.
Q What’s been the best part?
When you make the enormous decision on what journey you will take to growing your family you then learn what it will take to get there. You basically open up your life to be reviewed. Everything from medical history and medical tests to financial stability is scrutinized. Someone even comes into your home, on multiple occasions, and decides if you are going to have a child. Then you create marketing material. The text gets reviewed and edited along with pictures and layout. You read books and attend a weekend intensive course. It takes months to complete.
You might be thinking how does this have anything to do with the best part? The day when everything is complete, and you are an approved waiting family, you feel like an overnight success. An overnight success that took four months. We received our Dear Birthmother Letter when Matthew was working. I waited what seemed like days for him to get home so we could share the joy of opening them together. This is no joke, it felt absolutely amazing to see our very own letter after seeing so many of them of the families before us. We felt like we truly worked hard to represent who we are as individuals and as a couple, and we were truly happy how it turned out
Q Why do you think there’s still so much opposition to gay adoption?
I personally think that the opposition comes from misinformation as well as ideas and a thought process that is outdated and taught. There are a lot of people and organizations that are working hard to educate people that there isn’t any difference in a child raised by a heterosexual couple versus a same-sex couple. While you have one group using recent data from research saying there is no issue, there is another group using data from research several decades ago that didn’t even include same-sex couples in their research.
Q Do you think attitudes are changing?
We both feel positive and optimistic about new studies and commentary that show the tide is changing among individuals in the United States. It is also encouraging by all the changes happening around the world. The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on DOMA and Prop 8, as well as the push for equality is full steam ahead. We have great representation and positive images of gay individuals as well as couples in numerous television shows and media outlets. I guess I will use my chance to reference Dan Savage. I honestly believe that every day it gets better.
Q What do you know about the open adoption process now that you wish you had known when you started?
I wish we had known that we didn’t need to worry about “the what-ifs.” We didn’t need to fit into a certain box to become parents and we didn’t need to say this or that to become parents. All we had to do was be ourselves, and everything else would happen when it is/was supposed to. Fortunately, we learned it truly early on in our journey.
Thanks for reading. You can read the rest of the interview here.
By Trey Darnell
Matthew and I matched with a wonderful expecting couple more than a month ago. The time had come for us to travel west and meet them. This past Thursday we said goodbye to our cats and flew to Texas. Our flight arrived in Dallas, and we rented a car to complete a three-hour drive to Abilene, Texas. I am sure most of you are aware of our love of In-N-Out Burger. Driving through Dallas-Forth Worth, we spotted several locations, but we did not stop. We were on a tight schedule and needed to be in Abilene for our match meeting early that afternoon.
To be truly honest, Matthew and I had a lot of anxiety leading up to this meeting. It seemed to escalate while driving to Abilene. A counselor from our agency, Independent Adoption Center, would facilitate the meeting. This would be the first time that we would meet the expecting mother and father. We were overly excited and nervous to meet both of them. The moments leading up to the meeting felt like a first date. We had built a foundation of communication over the past several weeks and now it was time to meet each other.
Our counselor had reserved the children’s activity room at the Abilene Public Library Mockingbird Branch for everyone to get together and participate in the match meeting. There was not much about this exceptionally large room that indicated children or activity. It was full of six-foot tables and chairs. It did not have that small quaint feeling that we hoped for. We picked a table in the middle of the room and allowed our anticipation and nerves to build even more. We heard a library representative say, “The activity room is located in the back”. We stopped breathing.
Matthew quickly stated what I think we all were feeling. “I know we are all extremely nervous”. The ice had been broken. Questions were posed to both couples and with each one it seemed to get more and more comfortable. Thirty minutes quickly turned into an hour and a half. During this time, we learned about the expecting mother and father as individuals and as a couple. Looking back on the match meeting, all the anxiety left as we said goodbye to the counselor and began our weekend in Abilene. I am thankful for the anxieties as it allowed us to be aware of this truly memorable moment and prepare us for the spectacular time we would have the rest of the weekend
Over the next few days, we were welcomed into this energetic, funny and loving family. We were able to spend time with parents, grandparents, siblings and cousins. Each and every one of them made an extra effort to spend time with us and show their support for us as a couple and potential adoptive parents of their future daughter, granddaughter, great-granddaughter, niece and cousin. We told stories and listened to stories. Needless to say, some were embarrassing. We learned about them, and they learned about us. We laughed a lot. Family members commuted from hours away, and everyone made sure they had ample time away from work to meet and support the mother and father and Matthew and I. We felt so welcome and loved by this family, and we are extremely excited to merge them with ours.
The final night was marked by an epic family barbeque Texas style. Many hours went into the preparation of the BBQ. Cloth napkins, table decorations, a T-Rex and a roadrunner. The menu was overloaded with superb food. The menu included brisket, baby back ribs, sausage, green peppers stuffed with cream cheese wrapped in bacon and then grilled to perfection. This evening was certainly a celebration, a family celebration that we were a part of. There was not a better way to end our visit to Abilene than enjoying each other’s company after a terrific Texas BBQ.
I have to say it was a little emotional to say goodbye to everyone that night. Over the previous three days, we felt as if we were a part of their family. We know that this goodbye is only for a short period of time because in just 16 weeks baby T-Rex makes her arrival. We are extremely excited for what the future holds for our entire family, which has now grown much larger. We have already started talking about future family vacations.
Oh, we did stop at In-N-Out on our way back to Dallas before flying home to Tennessee.
By – Trey Darnell
A very hot topic for individuals going through the adoption process is what to do about the nursery. Get the nursery ready? Wait until being matched? Wait until the baby is home? Will working on the nursery jinx adopting? What if it is a boy? What if it is a girl? Why are there so many questions?
There are many people that have told us not to worry about the nursery until after the baby comes. A common theme is family would have everything ready when you return home with the new baby. No offense to our family, but Matthew and I looked at each other and quickly determined that we wanted to work on the nursery during our wait and make it exactly what we wanted. Being able to walk into what has transformed from an empty room into what will one day be filled with rocking, changing diapers, feeding, laughter, crying and a little spit up, we could not be any happier. Would you like to see the result?
Colors – Choosing a neutral color usually means picking a shade of green, tan or yellow. In my opinion, there is nothing exciting about any of those. Matthew and I are fond of the color gray, and when all else fails, it is the color of choice. Valspar’s Colonial Woodlawn Gray has the record of our go to color. Our two favorite colors are gray and white. So it would be easy to guess that the nursery furniture color would be white.
Glider – The glider is by far my favorite piece of furniture in the room. From the very first moment we talked about growing our family, we would visit Pottery Barn Kids and relax in the various rockers and gliders. In the process of constructing the nursery, we have easily tested over 50 different rocker/glider combinations. Nothing ever seemed perfect. On a recent trip to Las Vegas, the first stop was not to In-N-Out Burger (surprising I know) but rather to Pottery Barn Kids. We vetted all of the options available and shared our adoption story to the staff and everyone helped in making the choice. What an excellent decision it was? Looking back, we should have gotten two.
Crib – The crib was also a result of the visit to Pottery Barn Kids. We had looked at various different baby and furniture stores locally. Everything was exceptionally specific to gender or a certain traditional style. Pottery Barn Kids had that special crib that matched the color, look and style that we had pictured.
Bookcases & Dresser – The bookcases are a neat feature of the room and hold a little personal sentiment. They are identical bookcases from Ikea with a twist. Instead of using the particleboard backing, we repurposed twenty year-old lumber that belonged to my parents. This completely changed the look of the bookcases. With the addition of a little lighting it helped finish the room, once bolted to the wall.
Accents – The accents in the room are neutral and have a variety of different textures. The side table next to the glider is a repurposed telephone pole. We have children’s books that Matthew and I both read in our childhood. We also added books that help show the positive message of adoption and having same-sex parents. Birds have become a popular theme in the room. Maybe it has to do with my love of flight. There are two accent pieces that will have a new color once we know the sex of the baby. A baby boy would produce the color blue, and if a little girl we would repaint purple.
The nursery has become my favorite room in the house. I used to think of the nursery from Father of the Bride II. It was beautiful, soft and warm. I could be biased, but our nursery has all of those feelings and then some. There are days that the door to the nursery is open, and we sit and enjoy what will be. There are days the door remains closed. As I mentioned in the last blog, we are expecting a little one in late summer. This is an exciting time for us and allows us to add the pops of color to match the gender of baby T-Rex.
To see other photos showing the creation of the nursery visit our Pinterest at pinterest.com/mattandtrey