After years of wanting, months of planning and even more months of waiting, the dream of creating a family is now becoming a reality for my partner and me. As I look back on our journey, the path to parenthood looks very different now than it did when we took our first steps. Starting out, we immediately found ourselves at a crossroads and had to make some very important decisions on what direction to take. We agreed that adopting through foster care was the best fit for us. Aside from the fact that surrogacy was cost-prohibitive; being biologically connected to our child wasn’t a priority for either of us. Private adoption was a close runner up, but ultimately, we recognized and appreciated that there are so many children in the foster care system that need a forever home. So, that was it, we turned our sites on the foster care system and started on our way.
The first milestone to cross was finding an agency to work with us. I’ll admit that I was leery about how a gay couple (even in Massachusetts) would be received by the system. Would they hold us in the same regard as our straight counterparts? Both my partner and I always dreamed of having a son. Would they shut us out from adopting a boy just because we are men? Would we wait longer than others because some might think we are not as a desirable match as a opposite sex couple might be? From the very beginning the agencies we contacted embraced us and assured us that we would be matched with children based on our ability to care for the child and provide a loving home and not by our identity. The mandatory training course that we took was taught by a lesbian mom who had also adopted through foster care years before. In our class was another gay couple. The panelist of adoptive parents who came into class to share their adoption stories also included a gay couple. The resource materials we were given included information for LGBTQ families. It was so impressive how inclusive the Massachusetts system is of the LGBTQ community. When we finished the pre-work and began ramping up the matching process, our positive experiences continued and we soon accepted that being a gay couple would not influence access or decisions on the part of those charged with finding permanent and loving homes for awaiting children.
At the beginning, we imagined adopting a child, a very young child, no older than three. And no way could we handle more than one! But at the end of the road, our destination found us at the feet of a sibling group of school-aged brothers, one of whom has involved special care needs. The Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange works to facilitate matches for children who are typically harder to find adoptive homes for because they are in sibling groups, are older, and/or have special needs. They post profiles and pictures on line and even hold adoption events where prospective parents can interact with social workers and awaiting children. We were immediately drawn to the profile of two little brothers, feeling some kind of strange connection when we read about them and watched a video of them playing and talking about themselves. When we finally met them, we instantly formed an inexplicable bond with them. In the spark of a moment my partner and I knew that we were destined to be the fathers of these boys. Sure, they were older than we had imagined and certainly the number of kids has now doubled from what we originally planned on. But when it’s right, it’s right. And it feels so right.
We learned that the boys had been living in separate foster homes for years and there was serious consideration being given to adopting them out separately, since it is so difficult to find adoptive parents who want more than one child at a time. It was not looking good that these boys would ever find a home together. We all found each other just in time.
I wonder about those states where the LGBTQ community is restricted from adopting through foster care; how many sibling groups are permanently ripped apart simply because there is no one to adopt them? What if my boys had lived in one of those states? Chances are, they would either age out of the foster care system or be adopted out to separate families. Luckily, we’ll never know. As we move forward to finalizing our adoption, my boys now finally have their forever home and will grow up together as it should be. They will never know the pain of separation again. My partner and I will finally realize our dream of becoming parents. I can’t help but feeling lucky- lucky to live in a state that recognizes that my ability to parent a child is not defined by my gender or sexual identity. But many LGBTQ people, single or coupled, are not so lucky. They are still barred from adopting through foster care. But, who’s more unlucky? Is it the LGBTQ couple who want to adopt but can’t or those thousands of single and sibling groups of children in the system who are needlessly waiting to find their forever home. For our boys, it matters not that they now have two dads, but that they have a loving and permanent place to call home…together.
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