By Bianca Dalangin
My name is Bianca Y. Dalangin. Born in Cavite, the Philippines, my father and I migrated to the United States when I was three.
At the age of seven, my dad came out to me . Because I was raised in an archetypical traditional family who did not really practice these beliefs, I initially thought that having this preference was morally wrong, and even illegal. Being clueless and naïve about the LGBTQ community, I constantly questioned my dad’s motives and choices, and wondered if he was ever going to be that “normal” dad again.
However, as I grew older, I realized that his sexuality or preference of another gender did not change his character in any way. He is my dad. He was there, is there, and will always be there to kiss wounds, mend patches, and teach life lessons. Even when I grow older, and colder, and sassier, he still loves me, and keeps his promise of unconditional fatherly love. He will always be my dad, and I will always be his daughter, and I will always love him forever.
As soon as high school started, I resurrected the Los Angeles Chapter of COLAGE. COLAGE is an organization for people with LGBTQ families, who have learned to love their families and share their beliefs of equality and family with the world. I want people who are in the same boat to be inspired and to know that they have people like them to talk and relate to. At the same time, I want people who are not in the same boat to be aware and educated of LGBTQ families and to live with open minds. I am more than proud to be leading the LA group, and am having so much fun meeting new people whom I can relate with. It is definitely challenging to keep a new group running, but I do not regret being part of the COLAGE family and spreading the COLAGE love.
Long ago, the “normal” family consisted of a pious, domestic mother, a manly working father, three children, a white picket fence, a dog, and a goldfish with a thirteen-day life span. Today, that belief has changed. The next family loves each other unconditionally, and lives through an unbreakable bond of friendship. The next family tells their deepest secrets and humiliations through dinner conversations and family fun nights. The next family cheers for each other, win or lose. We cannot completely eliminate the limited thought of how a normal family should be like, but we can at least try our very best to open up more hearts, clear up more minds, and share more of the world’s many loving families.
The Next Family is now.
By Anthony Romeo
It’s the time of night in New York City when the neon lights are casting a purple pallor over the low-hanging clouds, wispy violet tendrils inching through the avenues, before another sun goes to sleep in a sleepless city. And I’m not watching it at all, because I’m watching a baby try to poop.
This must be one hell of a poop. I can see the furrowed brow of concentration and force, coupled with the scrunched cheeks and tightened fist of determination. This baby is about to accomplish something enormous, and I can’t turn away.
These things have been happening lately, you see. I just find myself captivated. Whether it’s a baby in a grocery store who can’t stop putting the broccoli in his mouth or the little girl at the rink in a hockey jersey in her Dad’s arms, smiling at me as an entire period of hockey passes by without my knowledge.
Our neighbor’s 11-month old baby is the light and the joy of living in our duplex. He hugs me, and tugs on my facial scruff, and always beams when he sees me. He sat on my lap for the entirety of his first musical. We immediately steal our friends’ babies and hold them until we are forced to give them back. Maybe steal is a harsh word.
If I had ovaries, I think it would be safe to say they’ve been aching. I want a baby. I want a baby very, very badly. All around us now, as my husband and I slide handsomely into our thirties, our friends are having babies. I’ve always been less interested in trends and more focused on what feels right for me individually.
I am so excited for my friends when I hear about their pregnancies. I have amazing friends, beautiful, loving, caring friends. And they’re going to make amazing moms and dads, I’m sure of it. Far be it from me to begrudge a woman her vagina. But there’s that part of me that wants a baby so badly for myself, for my husband. To make our family happen. We want to experience every moment of our baby’s life, from the first time we feel a tightened grip around our pointer fingers to the first diaper change, first word, first anything and first everything.
We started looking into the adoption process. In approaching my 30th year, I’ve lost the ego that tells me I need to have a child that is biologically mine. I will take any baby. I don’t care if the baby is Black, white, Asian, chubby, skinny or a jerk. Do you hear me? If you have a baby and it’s a jerk, I will take it. Pack his stuff in a box, I’ll pay for shipping and handling.
Well, the adoption research didn’t take very long, as it turns out. $2,500 for a home study. $1,000 for a home study update. $3,000 for pregnancy-related expenses. $3,000 for travel. $6,000 for out-of-state agency fees. $2,000 for “finalization expenses.” $1,500 for additional attorney fees. $150/hr. for birth parent counseling. $150/hr. for pre-adoption consultation. $150/hr. for private adoption information meetings. With specific agencies, there is a $20,000 child placement fee.
That’s at least $39,000. Thirty-nine thousand dollars. So ultimately, if we’re able to find a child who never needs to eat, wear clothes, go to school, leave the home or have any substantial quality of life, it looks like we just might be able to afford this.
If “Toys ‘R Us” sells toys, then logic would follow that “Babies ‘R Us”… nevermind. I already checked.
Maybe surrogacy would be easier, you might suggest. No, $80,000 is not easier than $39,000. Both are batsh*t crazy.
Real life is different than television. Couples like us are different from the couples on “Modern Family” and “The New Normal.” Money has to be earned, and that is hard.
We do not have, and will not have, an extra forty grand, or eighty grand just lying around. Can we afford to have a baby right now, in terms of the costs of living and providing for a newborn? Absolutely. Do we have the time to take care of a newborn? Absolutely. Do we have jobs that allow us the paternity leave to be there as our child grows up? Yes, we do. Are we ready? Mentally, emotionally, are we ready for our entire lives to change and adjust to a new life in the house? Yes. A thousand times, yes. And because our marriage is now legally recognized at the state and federal level, nothing is standing in the way of our having a family protected to the fullest extent of the law.
But unless Oprah or Ellen or Angelina Jolie is going to pay for a baby for us, we’re left watching for one sailing through the air from Rosie O’Donnell’s Koosh Launcher. Santa has left me disappointed every year. Let me appeal to you here, faithful reader. Looking past the insanity of adoption fees, here are the qualifications that I think make us fantastic candidates to be parents.
Me, Dad #1. (Or maybe it’ll be Pop? Daddy? Something cute our baby calls me that I can’t even imagine right now?) Here’s what I bring.
1.) I know every lullaby ever created. I am the best shower singer in theseUnited States. I have seen literally hundreds of Broadway shows and am prepared to sing that baby to sleep every single night of its life until it’s thirty or I’m dead.
2.) I have been a hockey fan for 20 years. I will care too much that my son or daughter is also a Devils fan. That child’s first Halloween costume will be in a hockey jersey. And there will be facepaint.
3.) Happiness and celebration matter to me. So there will be Christmas decorations and Halloween decorations and Easter decorations and the happiest of birthday parties and celebrations for good report cards and celebrations for Arbor Day because trees matter and on President’s Day I might dress up as Thomas Jefferson because it will make my child laugh and all I want in this world is to have a child that is mine and to make it laugh.
4.) I don’t know how to do girl’s hair. I will probably never know how tobraid, but I will happily send my daughter to school with a sloppy braid, because I will try so hard. Hmm, maybe that’s not my best sell. You know what, we have friends who will do her hair.
My Hubby, Dad #2 (Pop might be a better name here, he does wear old hats really well, and that feels like a “Pop” thing to do.)
1. He can cook anything, from anything, and it will be the most delicious dish you’ve ever eaten. I will only eat French Fries, but he will teach our child about being what other folks call “healthy and nutritious.”
2. He is a teacher, and he cares more about children than I could possibly imagine. He has dedicated his life to children, and if he works half as hard at being a dad as he does as a teacher, our child will be President. Unless we end up adopting that jerk baby we discussed earlier. Then maybe he’ll just wind up in the Senate.
3. He can parallel park better than anyone I’ve ever met.I feel like this is something that might not get covered in a home study for adoption, but my husband will out-parallel-park your husband eleven times out of ten. So I’m pretty sure our baby will be a great driver, and a responsible parker.
4. He is a good man. Good men make good fathers. This is a no-brainer.So, there it is. These are among the many and varied reasons that I think we will be good parents, should be parents. Our parents can’t wait to spoil a baby. This would be the first grandchild in our family, and I think you all know what that means.
There will be too many family members passing around the new baby, too many stories about what we were both like as babies ourselves. Too many toys, shiny plastic celebrations of a new beginning. And there will be embarrassing photos trotted out, like this one.
My body and my head and my heart feel like they can’t wait to be holding a tiny bundle of baby-love in my arms. But I have to wait. For something, I suppose. A magical stork in a cabbage patch, a family who hears about two dads-in-waiting or an overhaul of the costs of the adoption system that makes adoption affordable for two dads with a lot of love and a lot of hope. For now, we have our cat. And as much as he puts up a fight when it’s time to put his pajamas on, it’s the best we can do. It is all we can do. It’s just a little less fun to see him poop.
Until then, we’ll find happiness in unexpected places. Grocery stores, hockey games, our friends’ homes. And their babies. Every tiny smile and giggle we’re lucky to share. Someday our prince or princess will come. And we can’t wait to be part of it. Even if waiting is the only thing we can do.
(Author’s Note — All babies pictured in the above article are otherwise spoken for, with parents who will not give them up, no matter how hard I try. I’ve even offered chocolate. They aren’t budging.
Thanks to the parents of Baby Max and Andie Lynn for use of the adorable pictures.)
You can follow Anthony on Twitter
By John Jericiau
At the moment, I’m sporting a deep dull ache in my low back. It came to me one morning, quite out of the blue. I don’t recall any incident or event that would bring this pain on, except last week I did act as ball boy during my sons’ tennis lesson. I pay good money for the session and I didn’t want time wasted while they themselves retrieved balls in the middle of their session, so I darted around the court catching a ball here and reaching down for a ball there, just like you see the boys 40 years my junior do during Wimbledon.
This pain hasn’t reared its ugly head since my last smart move years ago while washing the white picket fence in the front of our house. Both boys were around two years old and had just started their midday three-hour nap, allowing me to pick a project each day and attempt to complete it in the allotted time. To save time on this particular day, I got into a good rhythm of plunging my sponge into a large bucket of soapy water, scrubbing a slat with said soapy sponge, and then lifting and moving the bucket to the next slat, where I would repeat the cycle of plunging, scrubbing, and moving. It was an efficient way to get the job done – unfortunately, I chose to perform this job while remaining in the bent-over position for close to the three-hour mark. Upon hearing one of the boys cry out from inside the house, thereby marking the end of my allotted time, I tried but was unable to get erect (my body), or retrieve from the crib two important individuals (my sons.)
The pain eventually subsided – I think it was a week later – and now this current pain feels like a less intense reminder of that crippling incident. Luckily, I am a physical therapist, so I at least know what to do to soothe the pain (in general use ice, anti-inflammatories, and a good massage, but bag the useless Ben Gay, the TENS unit, and too much time on the heating pad.) I can help you to reduce your pain level, but as a knowledgeable PT I pride myself in being able to give information to help prevent problems from occurring in the first place. Some of this info is definitely applicable to us parents.
For one, think before you act. Don’t try to wash a fence in the bent-over position for three hours. Duh. Don’t just hop out of bed in the morning and start your Yoga routine, just because you’re worried that little Dustin will wake up at the sound of your first om. Get warmed up first. Walk around a little.
Don’t hold your baby over one hip while cooking, walking, or talking on the phone. That baby has grown right before your eyes into a 25-pound sack of potatoes. I doubt you would hold a 25-poung sack of potatoes for any period of time like this. You’d get on the floor or sit in a good chair and put said sack right in the middle of your lap, where your spine will remain protected and balanced.
Speaking of good chairs, your comfy cozy sofa is not one of them. Good low back support is crucial to maintaining the normal arch in the lumbar spine, and most sofas are notorious for forcing you to sit in a slumped position. Be sure to grab at least a couple of throw pillows and place them behind your back before you sit, so you can maintain what we call “lumbar lordosis” while feeding your baby and catching up on shows from your DVR.
When lifting or transporting your baby or toddler, be sure to remember these few tidbits: Keep breathing while lifting, so as not to increase the pressure between your vertebrae. Get your child as close to your body as possible before doing any lifting. It’s pure physics that having the weight as close to your center of gravity as possible reduces the strain on your back muscles and ligaments. This is exactly why you’ll see a fireman carrying a victim out of a burning fire slung over his shoulders instead of in his arms. And always ask your child to hang on to your neck/shoulders during the lift. Splitting the work with them makes everyone happy and healthy.
Easier said than done, but try to get some good sleep each night. A tired body means a tired back, and a tired back is more easily injured. Eat nutritious foods; what you put in your mouth directly affects your body’s ability to perform. Try to keep your stress level to a minimum. Stressed muscles lose a large amount of their normal flexibility, which means that simply reaching down to the floor for a fallen diaper can be met with disastrous results. Herniated discs have been known to occur simply by reaching for a pencil.
Any exercise routine would be beneficial to keeping your body in good condition, but if you only had time to focus on one body part I’d suggest your six-pack. It’s there (somewhere), and by performing a few crunches here and a couple of sit-ups there, you are keeping strong the natural “girdle” of your trunk. Act like you have strong abs at all times, keeping them squeezed in the “set” position during all activities. Do not protrude your stomach out and allow it to act as a shelf for your child to sit on while you carry him.
Our bodies don’t come with an owner’s manual. It’s up to us to use the knowledge we gain in order to break some of our life-long habits. And don’t be afraid to share this knowledge with your own children. Forming good postural habits at an early age (e.g. lift with your legs, not your back) will lead to a lifetime of good health.
By Rob Watson
We just passed Valentine’s Day. Gay parents around the country are being attacked by those who want to deny them marriage equality rights in courts around the country. The reasons do not make sense, but neither does trying to undermine love.
One of the most nonsensical reasons is the suggestion that gay couples marrying is done for only romantic love, and heterosexual couples are doing it for love of family. Rather than submit logic here on why heterosexual couples are as likely to enjoy consensual relationships with each other, and how same sex couples can be as strongly “child centric”, I decided to go ahead and commemorate the day by BEING child-centric instead.
Here is my Valentine. It is not to my partner Jim, whom I adore. He will got his own valentine last week. This one is to my sons for whom I live and for whom I would die. Jason and Jesse, both eleven years old, were adopted as babies from the foster care system. They were each born to drug addicted birth parents and put in life threatening circumstances. I am the only dad either have ever known.
Dear Jesse and Jason,
Hi guys! It is Valentine’s day and tonight you spent the evening writing out your cards and putting together little gifts for all your school mates. I thrill over the joy and generosity you exhibit in wanting to make sure each person is touched, and that everyone of them knows you care.
My sweet boys, this is my valentine back to you.
You have transformed me. I knew who I really was destined to be the minute I looked into each of your eyes. I thought I knew before then, but I did not know completely. In those two instances, I looked deep and heard my soul mutter, “Hi there, I’m your Dad.” The incredible thing is, that each of you looked back with a gleam that said, “Yes, you are.”
I thought when I was young that I wanted to win an Academy Award someday. (You know, that’s the show where I take over the TV for the night…) Watching you grow, and become the young men you have, has been the greatest honor of my life. Lights, camera….no cinematic action, just one heck of a lot of pride.
I also thought, when I was young, that I wanted to be a super hero. (I know you guys have thought about being ones too!). Here is a secret for you. You made me into one. When you were little, you gave me the power to heal owwies with a single kiss. You each would fall down and cry, and then run into my arms and with just one of my cuddles and a single kiss (sometimes to the owwie itself), waala! It was miraculously healed. The tears dried up and in less than a minute, you were back to your happy self. You also gave me the power of incredible magnetic force—as soon as I walked into your pre-school room, your little bodies came flying at me at an incredible speed and force that it almost always knocked me down. You gave me the power to overcome all adversities against all things yucky. Somehow, someway, I no longer wretched at poopie diapers, vomit covered t-shirts (mine) or spiders, the later of which I was the designated hit man against.
(I will let you know as you enter your teen years that I have developed a keen x-ray vision and ability to hear through walls. You have been officially warned.)
There are people in this world who believe that people cannot love as deeply as we do unless the kids were made by the Dad. Jesse, you got this reaction recently when classmates made faces to you after you told them you have two dads. They were wrong and I hope you never let their mistaken ideas get to you. They just don’t know us.
What they don’t understand is, I did make you. And you made me. None of us would be who we are without the others. We pro-created each other. There are people who believe that if we don’t share the same DNA we cannot have the bond that we do. They are wrong. I don’t cherish my DNA. I cherish you. More than anything, you rock my world.
When people attack families like ours, it does make me angry at times. I too get hurt over the ignorance they display. I feel wounded for the people who suffer at the hands of their opinions. I feel helpless sometimes that I can affect a change. I need to be reminded myself of what I just told you: they don’t know us.
I get reminded when something happens as it did tonight when I came to bed. On my pillow was an item more powerful than homophobia and self-righteousness put together. In the creases of the bed linens was something that makes me invincible. It was a slightly wrinkled, cut out white paper heart with these words scrawled on it:
“I Love You Daddy”
With that, you restored my super powers once again. I am ready to take on the world, and I hope you are too. You both have all my heart, all my soul. You are my Heaven and Earth. Happy Valentine’s Day.
Last night we celebrated our friend’s birthday and enjoyed an evening of fun, frivolity, and meeting new people. Fun and frivolity are always goods, but meeting new people is always a crapshoot. You just never know what you’re going to get.
Well last night we got lucky. We spent almost the entire night with two different lesbian couples. One couple was about 3-4 months away from being ready for the adoption journey. We reminisced about parenting classes, the paperwork, the birthmother letter, and the home study. That seems like ages ago, but I was happy to give my words of caution. Having experienced the loss of a child after 24 hours in my home, I might have a unique perspective on the whole adoption thing. While the end result of my adoption journey was a beautiful healthy baby that is now a really great 6 ½- year old, I still find that I get a pang of worry for those embarking on this endeavor. Hopefully through the stories of my ups and downs, the new parents of today can have a little easier go of it. In some ways little ole me might be a kind of trailblazer.
Just when I’m up on my high horse, I meet the second lesbian couple and realize that I am speaking with true pioneers who took risks in the past that those of us in the current can hardly fathom.
Jane and Mary (not their real names) have been in love for 38 years. Jane had a son from her first marriage to a physically and emotionally abusive husband. The ex-husband is out of the picture, and the son didn’t turn out so well due to the collateral damage of divorce. In fact, although they live in the county next to his, they have no contact with him.
They brought a daughter into this world with the help of a gay friend with premium sperm, a turkey baster of some sort, and a cooperating uterus. Since it was illegal at the time and the place they were living (i.e. the United States of America), they had to suffer through a clandestine pregnancy and birth before presenting their daughter to the world.
They were finally able to consummate their relationship last year with a fabulous wedding attended by 800 of their closest friends. They are supremely proud of their daughter, who is successful in her business and out & proud in her own gay life with her own loving wife who is now pregnant with their first child, a baby girl.
Most of the night was spent learning about the great pains they had to go through in the workplace, in their daughter’s school, and even their own back yard. They remain completely amazed how things have turned around in this country, and how much easier it is to live as an out gay person. Alen and I had to confess that we often forget that we are actually a gay couple, not because sex after children has dwindled to a trickle, but because we perceive so much support from those around us, namely family, friends, and neighbors. We realized after we left the party that we owe our perception (and in most case reality) to all the Janes and Marys of the world who came before us and made today easier for us to survive. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Last year a young man, and son of a prominent Republican Senator created shock waves when, by coming out, he changed the public policy of his Republican father. Will Portman came out to Senator Rob Portman, who previously had not supported marriage equality.
Rob Portman listened. Then he reflected. He realized the son he loved and knew was a truer representation of what it meant to be gay than all of his previous perceptions put together. He changed his stance and made the political scene aware: marriage equality could be a bi-partisan effort.
Like Will Portman, I am also the son of a staunch Republican dad to whom I came out. My dad is older than Rob Portman. He adheres very much to the viewpoints of Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. Rob Portman presumably knows all those people personally.
Like the Portmans, we too had our political theory versus family integrity moment. In 2000, another Republican father of a gay son, Pete Knight, placed an anti-same sex marriage initiative on the California ballot called Proposition 22. Knight, unlike Portman, faced the child he should have fought to protect and used his political infrastructure to his son’s detriment. He was determined to not only disapprove of who his son was, but to codify discrimination against him into the California legal system in a preemptive strike against same sex marriage.
As the proposition 22 campaign raged through the state, I made a point to avoid the discussion of the initiative with my dad. Even though my parents were supportive of me and my life, they still voted their dogma and exclusively supported conservative candidates and ballot measures. We argued politics constantly, but in this instance I avoided the whole election roster like the plague. I could not handle a discussion with them where they explained to me how they would vote for something that was tearing me apart.
My dad however insisted that we talk and review the entire ballot. We tussled on most…he, the right winger, dealing with his renegade progressive son. Then we got to proposition 22. My heart was sinking fast and every ounce of me was gearing down for the emotional fight I knew was going to happen. My dad brought up the initiative. He looked me dead in the eye and said, “Mother and I have talked. We are dead set against this. There is no way that we would support anything like this.” My eyes welled up and through the tears I was fighting back, I looked over at my mother who nodded vehemently in agreement. “Thank you,” I whispered with all the forced energy I could muster.
I fully understand the emotion behind Will Portman’s tweet on the day his dad announced his change of position: “Especially proud of my dad today”. Rob Portman deserved that pride. Pete Knight and other fathers in our country have not stepped up as he did, and as my dad did in 2000.
There is an enormous part of life that is uncharted and as our children bring new challenges, we often need their input to help solve it. On gay rights issue, Harvey Milk predicted the Portman situation directly when he said, “Every gay person must come out…. Once they realize we are indeed their children, we are indeed everywhere, every myth, every lie, every innuendo will be destroyed once and for all.” Will Portman helped Rob Portman see that the myths, the lies and the innuendo were not true.
Rob Portman, and my dad, showed us all that love and family are bigger than politics. I won’t probably see eye to eye with them to follow the rest of their party line, but the fact that they have shown that they have the ability to listen, they have my sincere respect.
They are the kind of dads that I intend to be.
TNF: Tell me about your family. How old are your kids? Did you get married/have a ceremony?
Garon: There are three dudes in our house. My husband Jamie, our little guy Matteo, and myself. Jamie and I got married in June 2012, first legally In front of the United States Capitol in DC. Then we jumped on a plane to Ft. Lauderdale, and that weekend our parents flew in and married us in a ceremony in front of 70 friends.
We never would have guessed that just a few months later we’d have our little man, but in November of 2012, Matteo was born in Howard County, Maryland. We worked with an agency, Adoption Makes Family, in Maryland and they market heavily toward jails and hospitals so that when a child is born, and a mother wants to place him or her for adoption, they are the first call. It seemed a long shot, but that’s exactly what happened just 5 months after our wedding.
We woke up one morning, Jamie was packing for a business trip to the UK later that day when the phone rang. “What are you guys up to?” said the adoption agency director. I looked at Jamie and in the worst makeshift hand signage possible I motioned to him, “do not say you are packing!”
“Your son was born this morning, “ he said. We were completely in shock. We had no idea he was coming that morning, or that we were the next family for placement.
TNF: How did you meet your husband?
Garon: Jamie and I met at the Washington Sports Club in Columbia Heights and it’s still the gym we go to today. We saw each other on the floor, in the locker room, our lockers were right next to each other but no one said anything. It wasn’t until we were walking out that I caught up to him and said, “hey, I’m Garon. What’s your name?”
TNF: Do you feel different from other families? If so, how so?
Garon: No, I don’t think we feel different at all. Family looks like so many different things in my opinion, and we’re one of those many variations. We clean up cheerios, change diapers, laugh, watch Lion King, and worry about our kid just like anyone else. However I will say that when we move through airports and board flights, it feels like absolutely everyone is staring. We either get the ‘that’s so awesome’ smile or the ‘disapproving glance’. Gate agents have asked us, “So whose the dad?” TSA always seems momentarily confused. Flight attendants love it.
TNF: Is it tough being a gay couple where you live? Do you feel accepted?
Garon: Washington, DC is a wonderful city to be gay in. I actually think it’s one of the most gay populous cities in the US. But you never know what might happen and we’re not taking any chances. We often take long multi-hour walks around the city with our son. When we do, there’s a baseball bat in the bottom of the stroller. Sometimes gangs come in from other cities to commit a crime as a challenge and then leave. I think two dads and a baby would seem a bragging rights target. We’re prepared to beat the shit out of anyone that tries. President Obama said, “No one in America should ever be afraid to walk down the street, holding hands with the person they love.” I hope one day soon, that comes true.
TNF: Why did you decide to start GayDadSwag?
Garon: Right after we adopted Matteo, I started looking around for a site that connected gay dads. There was nothing. I thought there’s got to be a site that brings together gay dads from around the world, shares their stories, their pictures, and gives straight allies a place to voice their support.
So I created Gaydadswag. To me Swag is the way you carry yourself. It’s you being you, in whatever way that is. And we’re cool with that. Initially it started as a Tumblr. In the first two weeks it went around the world. So I spent a couple months building the dot com and creating a team. Now www.gaydadswag.com is the first of it’s kind in the world. I hope it changes minds and hearts and gives people a window into these beautiful lives. There’s people from all walks of life that write us and tell us they read it. Mom’s groups, straight dads, kids, and young people from all over the globe. Google analytics shows us that people in places (to name a few) like Saudi Arabia, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Botswana, Uganda, and Russia, are looking at it. We are so grateful to have that direct connection to them.
TNF: What has having a family meant to you?
Garon: Honestly, it’s everything. I knew I wanted to be a young dad before I knew that I was gay. I knew I wanted to adopt before I knew I was gay (maybe because I’m adopted myself). So when I came out, I thought, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t continue this dream of having a family. Looking back, I wish I had a site like Gaydadswag to show me what that might have looked like.
I sort of went on blind faith. There’s this beautiful moment that happens once in awhile, when the three of us are lying in bed, or on an airplane, or reading together, and I stop and look at them and I think, there’s no where else I’d rather be than with these two. I think often about when I might die. Will I live well into old age or will I be killed in an accident of some kind? I tell myself, whenever that moment comes, I hope the last image I process, is of my husband holding our son. That’ll be enough for me.
Jamie is from Rotterdam, New York. Garon is adopted from Sri Lanka, his family is American. Matteo is half black, half white. They all dance to P!nk & Madonna on the regular, play soccer in the house, and travel a ton.
Thank you Garon and Jamie for bringing tears to my eyes with your beautiful story. Keep in touch with The Next Family.
Lots of things can change in a year. But one thing that has not changed is our desire to become dads. If anything, we are more determined to become dads. This morning I woke up and I looked over at the room we set up as the nursery next to our bedroom upstairs. Once we were approved as a family with our agency, we started to set the nursery up just in case we got picked in a situation that moved very quickly. We wanted to be prepared and have all the basic needs purchased and ready for a little one. The nursery is perfect in every way. The crib is beautiful. The baby monitor sits waiting on standby mode for our child’s arrival home in the future. The tree and monkeys swinging on the wall is perfect and makes us smile every time we walk by. The toy chest is perfect too and sits empty. Now we just wait for the perfect birthmother to connect with and help us complete our family.
This morning, when I walked by the room, I took a moment to look in and reflect on the one year mark of our journey. Standing at the door to the nursery with my shoulder leaned against the door frame, my mind drifted off to a year ago. I remember our employers kicking Justin and I out of work early on a Wednesday to make sure we were on the road to get ahead of a snowstorm. They wanted to make sure we made it to the agency to take a 3-day course and sign our paperwork. We pulled out of our driveway and stopped to get gas. The snowflakes were falling and Justin sped up to get ahead of the storm. We were off on our journey to Indiana and meet our counselor at Independent Adoption Center (IAC). That weekend about a year ago we officially joined IAC and took another step on our journey to become dads.
I kept staring this morning into the nursery. Smiling as I remembered the next hurdle in our journey – the home study. Looking back, that was nothing in comparison to the roller coaster rides after we were approved. But I recalled a year ago Justin and I sitting in our living room scared to death and stressing over the visit. That day a year ago I got up and paced around the living room waiting for the doorbell to ring. We were waiting for our social worker to come to the house to start the first visit of our home study. We had no idea what to expect as we saw her car pull up outside the house. The visit went fine and our social worker put us at ease that she was not looking to see if we were perfect housekeepers. There were no white glove tests looking for dust. But what she was looking for was a safe, loving, and committed family to raise a child.
I wiped away a tear after some other thoughts of our year journey flooded in. Everything on this journey has brought us closer as a couple and made us stronger. There is nothing we would change. Not even the painful ups and downs. The connections we have made have been incredible. The supporters from all over the country that are cheering us on have helped to give us energy. We know we are on the right journey and have to be patient now. We do not know how long the wait will be. But we have to hold onto faith that it will happen. It will happen when the time is right.
Walking away from the room I thought of what the upcoming years could bring us. There will be late nights in that rocking chair holding our son or daughter. There will be nights where they are scared of the dark and two dads that help comfort them. The room will be filled with laughter as the child plays in the toy chest in the corner. The room will be filled with good memories of reading books before bedtime and knowing this is what life is all about. And that room that sits quiet now will be filled with love and joy from two proud dads and their child that are connected in love as a family. Two proud dads watching from the door frame as their child sleeps in the crib. I picture us turning away going to bed and our hearts filled with happiness and pride about our child. Thinking about the years to come and what they will grow up to accomplish. There is no doubt our lives will be changed drastically. But I have a feeling we are about to turn a corner and our the real journey is about to unfold before us.
We are an approved family with Independent Adoption Center. Visit our profile and Dear Birthmother Letter at http://www.jasonandjustin.com.
Originally sitting down to write a blog on nature versus nurture, my auto-correct took over and changed nurture to neuter. I decided that this change was appropriate.
We have three sons now, and one might assume that there might possibly be a smidgeon of similarity between at least two of them. After all, two of them spent nearly nine months in the same womb, were exposed to the same foods and the same hormone levels in utero (which some say makes a difference in the outcome of the child), and even had their cord cut by the same two guys (Daddy and Papa, that is.) It’s even possible that they both share the same paternal genetic material, since Daddy and Papa randomly donated the Y chromosome and let nature decide the rest. If you’re asking yourself why we would randomize it, we considered the feelings of our adopted son in our decision. We did not want him to think that the genetic link was so important that we would manipulate the conceptions so that each father would for sure be biologically related to one offspring each. Where would that leave our adopted son? Since there was no chance that our adopted son has a genetic connection to us, we wanted to show him that the parental connection is what matters to us the most, not the genetic one. Granted, it is interesting to see yourself in your son or daughter, whether through physical features or personality characteristics, but personally we could care less about the biological link. Anyway, even to this day, half the people we meet swear that the three boys are mini-Daddy, and the other half have no doubt whatsoever that they see Papa staring back at them when they look in our sons’ eyes. This is despite the fact that our adopted son is African-American, and our other two sons have light or blonde hair, while both fathers have dark hair and are obviously white.
Daddy and Papa often talk about the fact that we see our sons differently than others. For example, we are often taken aback when someone mentions that our oldest son is black. Really? We do everything we can to honor his heritage, we take pride in the fact that we have black friends, and we think he is an incredibly beautiful boy, but the black is often lost on us. We just see our son. And as funny as it might sound, and this might be a function of being at the birth of all three of them, but I actually feel like I personally gave birth to them. Of course I did not feel the physical pain, and I don’t want to minimize the role of the bio mom or our surrogate/friend, but the emotions I felt in the hospital were so great that I felt like I myself willed them through the birth canal.
The fact that we see our sons as homogenous parts of one big happy family, all nurtured in the same way by the same two guys, makes their differences all the more shocking. I won’t name names, because I don’t want one or both of them (although one of them is much more likely) to have a meltdown if or when they finally read this blog later on in their life. But how can one of our sons eat everything you offer him, while the other still to this day refuses a slice of bread? How can one son make friends the minute he walks into a crowd, while the other son treats everyone with trepidation and suspicion? Why will one 6-year old laugh at the top of his lungs when Daddy drops on the floor his just-made model Lego Dinosaur, while the other 6-year old collapses to the floor in the middle of a restaurant when his plain pasta (no sauce, no butter) arrives from the kitchen with a single microscopic drop of marinara sauce on it? Why will one son try (and mostly excel) at every physical activity presented to him, while the other will complain of a side stitch, roll his eyes constantly, and basically state that “humans were not meant to be treated this inhumanely. “
Honestly, I have to give that particular son more credit. He has a heart of gold, and is one of the most caring individuals I know. I love him immensely. And as he heads closer and closer to pre-puberty, he has shown signs of changing and maturing. When he is talking to adults, he finally is looking directly at their chest. He now likes yellow in addition to pink and purple. He recently licked a tangerine slice. Are we fathers doing anything at all differently to bring on this change? Not really. We’re nurturers remember, not manipulators. They are our sons, for better or worse. All we can do is cross our fingers and hope for the best. And love love love them.
By Rob Watson
For years, in thousands of same sex marriage debates which I have participated, those opposing marriage equality have claimed that if it was made legal, harm would be done to opposite sex marriages. There was nothing about their argument that seemed the least bit logical, so I fought back vehemently with all the rational thought I could muster against, what to me, was a purely irrational concept.
I missed something. I should have seen it. It parallels another argument anti-gays have made for years, long before the marriage equality issue was even on the table. They would argue that “homosexuality was unhealthy.” They would point to the fact that LGBT people seemed to suffer from higher levels of depression, suicide, and alcoholism. LGBT people were likely to die younger. Their observations were not fallacies. LGBT people were, and are, susceptible to those problems. It was the premise that homosexuality itself caused those problems that was erroneous.
Clearly, the life threatening issues LGBT people face have everything to do with how they are treated by society, and the people they know. It is the overt external pressure for people to be what they aren’t, and it is the deep seated pervasive beliefs of inferiority that bombard LGBT people every day. It is homophobia, that not only erodes the self esteem of LGBT people, it prevents participation in the societal structures that have proven healthy for heteronormative people: Marriage, families and support by intimates, that have societal acceptance and honor, create mentally and emotionally healthy environments in which modern humans thrive.
It is not the “homosexuality” that kills. It is the homophobia. It is not a coincidence that the same people who argue against homosexuality are also the source of that homophobia which causes the effect they triumph. Their argument is true because they make it true.
Now, they are trying to make their perceived harm from marriage equality true as well. In Oklahoma, state lawmaker Rep. Mike Turner (R-Edmond), is proposing a bill to cease marriage all together in the state. He maintains that he is staying within the principle of equality and follows the will of the people to prevent same-sex marriages from happening in Oklahoma while living up to principles in the U.S. Constitution. He’s right. It would maintain those criteria.
I have come to attempt to understand the impulses of the anti-gay crowd by observing knee-jerk reactions of my young sons. When Trestin Meacham decided to starve himself in protest of same sex marriages in Utah, I saw a parallel. I see a similar impetus here. My son, Jesse, has what can be called “a short fuse”. It is characteristic of many in his biological family, and it is made even more pronounced in Jesse due to his exposure to methamphetamine in the womb.
When he has a conflict with someone, he often wants to take what he perceives as justice into his own hands. Of all the calls I have gotten to deal with a problem at school, the vast majority started in a situation where he was potentially the wronged party. I have conversations with him:
“Ok, Pal, you have to think this out? What would have happened if you took this to a teacher and a reasonable answer could have been worked out?”
“I wouldn’t have acted out and gotten in trouble.”
“Right. Who would have had the tougher time?”
“They would have.”
“Who was the one in trouble by doing it your way?”
“What do you think of that?”
So I need to ask Mr. Turner: “Who will be the one in trouble by doing it your way?”
Answer: You. You are doing what my grandmother would call “cutting off your nose to spite your face.”
Ignoring the bureaucratic mess that will ensue, it boggles my mind how completely gutting a state’s family law and protections for children will help anyone. It also calls into question the “traditional marriage” advocates claims to care about the importance of marriage in society. This action says that its importance is expendable before the need to win.
To all the anti-gays I have argued with over the years, here is my message: “Yes, I was wrong in all those arguments. I am not sorry for arguing for marriage equality. I was then, and still am, right about that. I am still right about its justice and that it holds the highest of ethics and moral principles to support it.
What I am sorry for is missing the obvious. I am sorry that I did not point out that there is a factor that WOULD cause harm to your marriages should same sex marriage become legal: you. To my credit, I honestly did not believe that you would take, or consider taking, actions that make your concerns a self-fulfilling prophesy. I thought better of you than you appear now to be.”
Mr. Turner is saying on your behalf, “If we can’t have it exclusively, then we will see to it that no one has it.” I did not see that coming.
It won’t be the same sex couples, our families, our loves, our lives or our legal protections that will harm your marriages, it will be your destructive initiatives like this one. The possible silver lining here would be the possibility that opposite sex couples affected may stop and reflect on what being prevented from marrying feels like.
Be that as it may, it is apparent that you intend to “win”, no matter who actually loses, even if that includes families like your own.
To quote my son Jesse, “That’s warped.”