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