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Boom and Now He’s In College

Oh my God!  Why?” A friend exclaimed, when I shared the news about our decision to adopt a baby.


“A baby!  As in human?” Another friend asked.


More unpleasant, catty chatter among a circle of friends had gotten back to us about the journey we began toward parenthood.  


We widened our circle of friends.


But even family members had doubts in the beginning, questioning our motives for wanting a baby.  


The long and short of it was that we had grown quite close to another couple who adopted a baby from Vietnam.  Watching their journey as two men, spurred conversation between us and ignited the desire to have a family of our very own.  It was a natural decision  for us to have a baby.  


Why does anyone want to have a baby?


After visiting countless adoption agencies and attending adoption seminars, learning more about our very limited options, we made the decision to adopt internationally from Ukraine and we put our plan into motion.


Sharing this news during a visit with some close friends, we learned they had talked about possibly one day having children themselves.  All of our conversation of baby talk sparked the flame again between the two of them.  


And so it all began.  The big, gay baby-boom!  And we were part of it at the turn of the new century in Washington, D.C..


But nothing could have adequately prepared us for Parenthood Road, let alone the journey as a gay couple that ventured to have a baby against all the odds.  Nothing could have detoured us from becoming parents.  Not the endless questions, nor doubts, not the daunting process of paper work and social worker visits, the mental exhaustion nor tears, not even the tragic events of 9-11 or its aftermath could stop us.  


Almost eighteen years ago, a little, beautiful baby-boy entered our hearts, joined our family forever changing our lives, and the trajectory of his.


Becoming a parent has no doubt been one of the greatest experiences of our lives.  But being adoptive parents, especially as a gay men, has not only challenged us to grow as parents but as trailblazers and in ways I cannot adequately express.  And our example has impacted our world around us.  All for the better.


As adoptive parents, you hear a lot of insensitive statements and questions, like “what about his real parents, do you know anything about his real family?”  But as a gay men, in addition to the “mom” question, it’s often, “which one is the the real father?” 


Um, we both are!we’d say and often explain.  


As gay men with a child, we’d get a lot of well-intended advice on parenting.  Because naturally, men are so incapable of being maternal or nurturing.  As gay men with a child, we’d get comments and puzzled looks, oh mom’s day off” was often a comment made by waitresses when meeting our table of men and children.   “No moms” was often the response in stereo, followed with a blank, sometimes uncomfortable stare from the waitress.  As gay men with a young child, you must be ok with being outed every day.  Multiple times a day even.


I myself, would always welcome questions and opportunities to challenge others’ belief structures about roles and parenting. But there were times too, I’d find myself cringing inside when some would get hung up on the real family” question or the “mom” thing.  There were days I’d want to scream and cry like a mom, “they didn’t want him, ok?  He’s mine!  We are his real family!” This child that I love more than anything in this world, more than life itself, given away for God only knows why; I couldn’t imagine my life without this precious soul in it.


Today, as we moved our son into his dorm, I felt all sorts of emotions.  Love, pride, joy.  And fear.  All tangled neatly together inside.  Weeks and days leading up to this big day, we heard from so many others, other parents having been through it before, sharing words of wisdom.  But again, not anything could have prepared us adequately for this moment.  This milestone.  Our first, our last.  As dads.  As gay men.  


We didn’t want to add to our son’s emotional plate on this very big and important day.  So we held it together.  We wanted to do our best for him.  So, we just unloaded the cars, piling all his cargo into big laundry bins and made our way up and into this dorm.  We met his roommates.  One from China who had moved in a week earlier along with all other international freshmen students.  So surprisingly we only met one other parent, an adoptive parent.  A mom.  She was pleasant.  After unpacking, we joined the boys in the Hall cafeteria for lunch.  I wasn’t really hungry.  My nerves were escalating as I knew our time was getting shorter as any further time alone with Mason had already slipped away. 


Then it was happening; the boys finished eating and they stood.  “Mason?” his papa said.  He came and hugged each one of us and we said goodbye.  My knees were shaking and I felt the emotion work its way up into my throat.  I watched our boy of eighteen years walk away with his roommate, already heavily into the next topic of discussion.  And I wanted to scream and cry like a mom.  I wanted to run after our boy and grab him and never let go.  I wanted to tell him one more time, how proud I am of him.  I wanted to remind him one last time of so many things.  Remember to make your bed, pick up your space.  Remember to lock your bike.  Remember to get up when your alarm goes off.  Remember to set your alarm.  Remember to get haircuts.  Remember to floss your teeth.  Remember to listen.  Remember opinions are not always asked. Remember to be kind and caring.  Remember to always follow your passion and do your best.  Remember to respond to texts.  Remember to call sometimes. 


But mostly.  I wanted him to know that his papa and I love him more than anything and may he never, ever forget that we are his real parents and real family forever.

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