Parenting: How Do We Keep Up?

April 10, 2014 by  
Filed under Brandy Black, Same Sex Parent

By Brandy Black

parenting three kids

The other day I sat with my three children and the computer and went down blog memory lane.  In an effort to find out when we transitioned from crib to toddler bed with our oldest, I took the computer out and began flipping through blogs and pictures.  The twins were thrilled to see images of their big sister as a little girl, we read about all the silly questions she had and the funny things she would say. Sophia pointed at the videos and pictures “Look Penn, look Bella, that’s me at your age.”

It got me thinking about how little I document their tales, I have a book for everything on our oldest, a birthday book, travel book, art book, scrap book, photograph books and the twins I think I have one maybe two.  I already feel them hating me in therapy years from now!  I swore I wouldn’t be that parent.  I’m all about fair, everything equal, to the point that I got in a fight with our couple’s therapist years back. I believe in making things as fair as humanly possible. Yet here I sat with the computer on my lap, heartbroken, wondering what stories I will be able to show them.

The truth is, there is a lot of juggling with three kids.  Life moves fast at our house and I’m lucky to remember to pay the bills and make sure they get haircuts and clothes.  I don’t know how people do it.  I envy the parents like John Jericiau, who seem like they have it all together.  I need more hours in the day so that I can sit down and write my thoughts, make picture books and take the time to collect memories that will last them forever.  If anyone has any advice on the topic, I sure need help.

I guess the twins have many amazing experiences that my oldest didn’t, like being dressed in the mornings by their big sister or learning games and how to spell their names in Japanese and having one another to laugh with each morning.  I hear them in the monitor giggling “You funny” Bella says to Penn, laughing. They have the gift of family, one that my wife and I truly fought for and it was a sacrifice, not a loss but a conscience effort to selflessly give our children the gift of siblings.

This is how I talk myself off the ledge, this is how I justify the tough conversations I will have with the twins when they are 10 and want to see all the sweet memory books that I put together for them.  Or perhaps you will suddenly see an influx of blogs and images of our twins.  “Not sure what happened in the early years kids, but I sure kicked in when you were two.”

 

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Tortillas and Tomatillo Sauce

By: Stephen & Adam Podowitz-Thomas

Stephen and I fell in love over freshly-made tortillas and tomatillo sauce.  Our first official date was at a hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant in downtown Palo Alto, CA, nearby where we were both in graduate school.  I had spent some time building a schoolhouse near Merida, Mexico when I was eighteen, and loved the food and culture I experienced while there.  Ever since, I have kept an eye out for authentic Mexican places, but had never heard of this tiny place that Stephen raved about.  Nervously venturing into the restaurant, I was excited by the aromas I smelled and the sight of Stephen standing up to greet me.  Needless to say, the food was stellar, but even more so the company.

We made many more visits to La Morenita, often sitting at the same table as that first date.  I was excited one visit to spot chilaquiles on the menu (a breakfast favorite from my time in Mexico), and Stephen was always happy to get another order of their chicken sopes (a dish hard to find in Manhattan, his collegiate stomping grounds).  It was also at the restaurant that we realized that we both wanted kids, after laughing at a child delightfully chowing down on his first tortilla chip.

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Stephen mulling over our options at a traditional tapas restaurant

Over the years, eating out and trying new foods have become a big part of our lives.  We look for restaurants serving cuisines we haven’t seen before and get to know the places we live and visit through the foods they share with us.  Developing memories of Hawaii while eating the best saimin (a noodle dish) on Kauai during our honeymoon and hiking a tall hill in San Francisco for Nepalese food has kept our relationship interesting and fun.  Further, this sense of exploration, instilling a deep sense of wonder and discovery in both of us, is something we hope to impart to our kids in the future, because it was such a key lesson of our own childhoods.

Sharing food and the love that it entails has fed into other aspects of our lives, from our own exploits in the kitchen that we discussed in our last post to planning our recent wedding.  One of the very first decisions we made in the planning process was that we wanted a family-style wedding dinner with our closest friends and family gathered around a communal table.  We purposely kept our guest list small and on a beautiful August day in California, were able to enjoy a meal where passing dishes was expected, while laughter and conversation filled the air.  The night reminded us of the many family dinners we had when we were kids, surrounded by our loved ones, and enjoying food prepared by our parents.  And we hope that it was simply the first of many dinner parties for us, parties that we hope to eventually share with kids of our own.

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Our family and friends sharing food and conversation at our wedding

Read more about Stephen & Adam and their adoption process on Facebook.

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Rediscovering the Foods of Our Family

By: Stephen & Adam Podowitz-Thomas

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The fish swam lazy laps around the tub, ignoring the ring of grime, and wondering what it had done to deserve this temporary imprisonment in porcelain.  My grandmother had arrived with the carp from her parents’ fish shop on the lower east side, intent on turning it into gefilte fish for that night’s dinner.

“Hold on a second,” my husband, Adam, said,  “she put a live, whole fish in the bathtub?”

While it was certainly one of the stranger things my family used to do, the story exemplifies the impression food from my childhood has left on me.  I was telling him the story because we were working on a recipe for a Passover dish, something that came from my past, and something we hoped to share with a child of our own in the near future.

My husband and I had been talking about growing our family through adoption for sometime before we decided the moment was right to start the process. We carefully researched our options and settled on domestic open adoption because we wanted our future child to know their birthparents.  We hope to have an open relationship with our child’s birthparents, as well. We wanted our child to have very positive associations with being adopted and know that everyone in their extended family (particularly, us and the birthparents) loves them.

Once we found the right open adoption agency, we were off and running. From our first information session to “going live” (in adoption lingo, that’s screened, approved and available to match with birthparents), we took about 1 1/2 months. That’s pretty fast for our agency, considering we had background checks, health screens, home visits, and many rounds of edits to our “dear birthmother” letter, but we were motivated to get it started.

And then began the waiting part of the process. Given how fast we got the paperwork portion done, you can probably tell that Adam and I like to keep things moving.  Rather than just wait, we decided to use the time to think about the things that really mattered to us growing up.

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Baking Cookies at Grandma Thomas’ House

 

One of the things that makes us both think of family is food.  Adam grew up in Georgia and North Carolina and has fond memories of helping prepare his mother’s mac ‘n’ cheese and his Aunt Deanie’s dill bread.  I grew up in New Jersey in a family with Eastern European roots, and I loved visiting my grandparents in New York, where they would cook stuffed cabbage, borscht, and sweet noodle kugel.  Adam and I have decided that there won’t be any fish swimming in our bathtub, but thinking about our family traditions made us realize how much food has been a part of them for both of our families. We decided our love of cooking and the foods we remember fondly growing up were things we wanted to pass on to our child.

We set out to find those recipes and create our own versions of family classics, but between spending many years in school and moving to the other side of the country, we had forgotten many of the basics.

My first stop was my mother.  I wanted my bubbie’s borscht recipe for us to try out that weekend.  “She never wrote it down,” my mother responded.  The same held true for most of my grandparents’ recipes.

Adam didn’t have much more luck. His family was a bit better about putting things down in writing, but when it came to Aunt Deanie’s dill bread, we hit a dead end. He knew which cookbooks some of the standards–brownies, biscuits, and beans–came out of, but there was no way to completely recreate the more special, and therefore more important, recipes.

While we didn’t have much luck sleuthing out written recipes, we still had our taste memories and the little bit of information our parents could provide.  Armed with this base minimum, we have started experimenting.  We’ve been taking advantage of online resources and cookbooks with ingredients and techniques that sound like they will reproduce the food we remember.  Sometimes things don’t come out quite the same, but in most cases our intuitions have served us well.  We’ve been incredibly stubborn, recreating recipes over and over again, changing small ingredients and tiny processes until it tastes the way it did when we were five.

One of our early successes was with kreplach soup.  I remember going to a diner in New York near my grandmother’s house that had the most amazing kreplach, small “Jewish dumplings” often filled with coarse ground beef.  It took grinding meat dozens of different ways (some were too fine, some had too much gristle, others had the wrong flavor), not to mention playing with the dough (figuratively and literally–our cat decided pieces of dough looked like balls she should steal off the counter and hide under the couch), until we got it right. But wow, when we hit, we hit it spot on.

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Our first attempt at making Kreplach

 

We have also found ways to blend our food traditions, including stunning versions of sweet potato bourbon kugel, pecan pie rugelach, and dill challah.  Believe it or not, Jewish and Southern food pair unbelievably well, at least if you’re willing to leave out the ham hock in the green beans (which Adam still swears is a sacrilege).  By sharing the flavors from our childhoods, we’ve learned more about one another and begun developing our own traditions that we’ll be able to share with our future children.  We may not be a traditional “blended” family, but we’re certainly discovering new ways of combining our pasts and developing an image of our future.

With all of the work we’ve been putting in to these recipes, we decided it might be worthwhile to record them, both so we can recreate them in the future, and to hopefully make it easier to pass them on to our future kids.  Our blog, Biscuits & Brisket, was born from this effort.  As is so frequently the case, writing the stories that we associate with these foods has brought back other memories and more recipes to try.  It has also created more traditions for us.

While we’re still waiting to match with a birth mom, we’re feeling increasingly confident that when we do, we’ll have the ability to share our love, both for each other and with our child, through our food.  We’ll teach them about the traditions that we hold dear, and create more of our own. And we won’t have any fish swimming in our bathtub.

Read more about Stephen & Adam’s journey to adoption on our profile page.

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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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Practicing Parenting: Daddy Dry Run

November 4, 2013 by  
Filed under Jason Holling, Same Sex Parent

By Jason Holling

This weekend Justin and I had the niece and nephew spend the night. It was a welcomed change to take our minds off the adoption process while we wait to match with a birthmother. Our niece is 2 ½ and our nephew is 5 years old. We had a great time and enjoyed going out to the Omaha Children’s Museum, making dinner at home, and then heading to church on Sunday morning. We joked this was a “daddy dry run” learning how our lives would be changing with a child. They have left to go home now and the house seems too quiet.

We quickly realized when they arrived how much work we had to get our house ready for a baby of our own. We knew we had some time, so we have been doing little things like tying up the mini-blind cords, putting in outlet covers, or putting in baby gates. But we had underestimated their ability to reach on the cupboard and grab onto things or all the fun looking buttons on stereos that were at the perfect height for little hands. We also have some more furniture that needs to go once our little one is walking around to prevent any bonks to the head during those first steps.

Justin and his niece

Justin enjoys dinner and coloring with his niece on our “daddy dry run” weekend.

We also gave all our baby supplies we have been buying a dry run. We had our diaper bag in tow filled with pull-ups, snacks, and wet naps. At the children’s museum we were in full swing pulling out juice boxes and crackers so the kids could take breaks. And back at home, we had a pack-and-play for a quick bed. Justin and I practiced popping it up and trying to figure out the trick to make the sides lock together. One big event for us was the nursery got the kid’s seal of approval. When our niece walked in she said, “Oh pretty!”.  She loved the monkeys on the bed and changing table.

Later that night, we made dinner at home and watched Bob the Builder before getting ready for bed. Bath time was hilarious and something we are going to enjoy with our own child in the future. Getting the tub full of bubbles, they splashed and the whole house was full of laughter. Justin and I got a bath with all the splashing! At the end they put on their pajamas and we had a hair styling station for them to get their hair dried and combed. I can’t wait in the future to end the day with Justin and our child. There is something satisfying about putting away the electronics and having a special moment together to melt away the stress of the day.

We learned some great lessons in our daddy dry run. Like what to do in church when you get a tug on your sleeve and they say “I have to go potty”.  Or in the middle of the night when we had a tap on the shoulder that they were scared of a new place and wanted to come lay with us. We handled them all pretty well. And when someone asked us at church that morning “are you ready for this full time?” our answer was a resounding, “Yes, we can’t wait!”

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Coming Out of the Closet Again

October 1, 2013 by  
Filed under Jason Holling, Same Sex Parent

By Jason Holling

This weekend Justin and I had his niece and nephew spending the day with us. We went to the Omaha Children’s Museum and then had lunch before coming home to play. With the adoption we are at the ready with car seats and about any baby supplies you can name off just in case we match with a birthmother and she is due quickly. So, with our car seat and booster seat in the car, we picked them up and ventured around town for a day of fun.

We made our way around town with the diaper bag strapped on looking like official daddies getting ready for when we are fortunate to adopt and start our own family. While they are not our children, I must say that his niece and nephew are adorable and you can definitely tell the family resemblance with Justin. They both have blond hair and always sporting a huge smile like their uncle. One of the things that attracted me 9 years ago to Justin was his huge smile. After the museum, we pulled up to a table at a local restaurant by our house and Justin got the booster seat while I grabbed the coloring books, crayons, and spill-proof cups. We made a well-synchronized couple getting the kids situated in the restaurant and food ordered. I think it was our daddy instincts kicking in for when we do adopt a child of our own.

Jason and Justin walking their dog.

Jason and Justin speak about the reactions of others to a non-traditional family.   They are hoping to grow their family through open adoption.

But while we were getting situated at the restaurant and eating, we noticed the familiar stares from other people eating around us. People were really watching us and trying to figure out what was going on with this these two guys with adorable children sitting at the middle table in the room. Were we friends, brothers, or a gay couple? I think as they saw matching rings, they started to realize we were not just friends giving mom a day off from the kids. While they are not our children, what they saw was a non-traditional family out enjoying lunch and showing care and love to two children who were having a great time. We looked like any other heterosexual family in the restaurant, just in this case two guys. We were talking about what his nephew was learning in school, coloring pictures for the refrigerator, practicing writing his name, and even singing the ABC’s at the table.

It’s something we had not considered before we decided to try to adopt. As a gay couple without children, we tend to “blend” in with society and don’t have to constantly announce we are gay. People think nothing of two guys out shopping or having dinner together. Even though both of us came out years ago, we still get asked, “are you brothers” more often then I care to count. People see two tall guys with brown hair and assume we are related. Many times when we do not want to deal with explaining it or making a scene, we just tell them no we are not brothers and change the subject to the weather. Soon we are going to have a child running up to us yelling “Daddy and Papa look at this!”.  It’s going to be very obvious we are a gay couple with a wonderful, beautiful and smart child together and will be constantly coming “out” where we use to just blend in. In the future that we have to tell people we are a couple and not just pass it off as we do not want to confuse our child. Someone asking if we are friends and us not correcting them we think would be too confusing for a child. Our child needs to see their daddies are a committed couple that loves them more then anything in the world.

We have always found people in Omaha are very accepting of our relationship and decision to adopt. When we get the looks with the kids, I think they are processing the new definition of family. The gay stereotype is a one of a guy in leather or out dancing all night to a heavy techno beat. And in this case they see a regular couple with two children having a wonderful time singing their ABC’s. We also think gay parents are a bit of a minority in the Omaha area and they are excited to see their city being progressive and accepting of this new family. This is one area I think media has helped show positive images of gay fathers with The New Normal and Modern Family.

While they may watch and try to figure us out, I can’t help but think it’s done with the best intentions as they can’t dispute the care and love at the table in front of them. They can’t deny the fact that this non-traditional family is not really that different from their own family. And so our adoption journey continues on and we don’t mind coming out a few more times if it helps change some people’s view of a non-traditional family.

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

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