By: Henry Amador
Today I begin a series of journaling the experiences that my husband Joel and I will be having on the road to becoming second time parents.
If these articles shed some insight on what it sometimes takes, or if our footsteps make it easier for another family to follow along than my purpose will have been greatly served.
Before we move forward lets take a tiny step back for a bit.
We were legally maried in 2009 in Boston MA.
We returned home from an amazing honeymoon in Buenos Aires to the revelation that we wanted to be fathers.
It wasn’t like the clouds parted and we heard music or anything, it was more like a faint rumbling that just kept getting louder and louder.
Marriage equality was growing, and there was this faint scent of growing our family on the horizon.
I remember during our wedding ceremony the Reverend added a blessing about our family tree bearing fruit and at the time, albiet the sentiment was lovely, it felt a tad abstract to me.
We lived in Florida and trust me, Florida did not want ( does not want) gays to be married or to have children, dear Ms. Anita sent out some messages that were still being held onto by many of those good old Floridians, but hey, we went ahead and got married right so why not kids?
We explored possibilities for a while, well over a year or more if my memory serves me.
We thought about surrogacy but quite frankly the cost was out of reach for us.
We met with facilitators and agencies but were greeted with a familiar unspoken yet loud, your two gay men, what do you want us to do with you?
There were moments that turned into months where we felt discouraged enough to call it a day.
But then that rumbling would kick up again, and each time it presented itself it seemed to have taken on a new sound, a different type of vibration.
It began so innocently, so hopeful.
It returned with fear and discouragement and then finally, it’s newest incarnation, tinged with anger and resentment and rebellion.
feelings that we could no longer ignore, feelings that led us to want to get up and fight, to make a difference, to have a baby.
Joel and I had a discussion one morning and the idea of becoming Foster Parents with the hopes of adopting came up.
I remember we were at a Starbucks earlier in the month (Starbucks seems to play a big role in our becoming dads, more on that later) and I saw a leaflet for a private fostering agency, I took it and laid it on my desk, now the time felt right to reach out.
We had to attend what is called a MAPP class, Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting.
We attended an orientation to see if we could get into a class as they only held so many throughout the year.
We were very surprised to see quite a few same sex couples in orientation and we were quickly led to understand that we were welcomed there, not necessarily according to the laws but certainly in their eyes. Gays had been allowed to foster in Florida for quite some time, but it was illegal for us to (openly and honestly) adopt.
We got into a class and were stunned to find that our class was made up entirely of same sex couples. the first MAPP class going through the state of Florida with openly gay couples.
In retrospect, the state must have been gearing up for what was to come but we had no way of knowing that then.
It was an interesting time because at each class we were joined by state level employees that observed and took notes and were obviously trying to figure out how we fit into the old concepts and laws.
We all graduated and learned during class that if we were to be placed with a child that should become available to adopt that one of us would have to adopt and the other follow suit at a later time with a second parent adoption. We didn’t care at all, we just wanted our baby.
We went on to be pretty awesome Foster Parents, it takes a rare breed I tell ya.
There are case workers, inspectors, guardian’s ad litem and a whole slew of folks knocking on your door on a weekly basis to check on the babies/kids.
There are court dates and doctors appointments and just all kinds of things required and expected of the people the state places another’s child with, and rightly so.
One of our babies I will call him “Z” came to us at 3 months old and left us 8 months later, when he arrived his eye was still swollen shut from the skull fracture inflicted on him by his father, his second skull fracture in his small three months on earth.
That dad would go on to loose his rights and Z’s mother would go on to get him back, I think about him all the time, I have never actually lost a child, not in the painful way that many parents sadly have, but I liken it to that, it still feels like an ache that just sits with you, forever.
Our second placement was “A” and when we picked him up he was 3 days old, weighed four pounds and was suffering greatly from drug withdrawals.
He also was reunited with his mother who the courts had determined was now fit to parent.
That was another great loss to Joel and I.
It started to become clear to us that adopting through the state might not happen.
We also began to question our ability to continue to take in children and then say goodbye.
Joel and I would fall asleep at night wondering if it would ever happen for us. I kept saying, If we could just meet a girl that didn’t want to keep her baby, I mean it happens all the time right?
Well one day we got a call from a friend of a friend, there was a girl and we met her at Starbucks.
4 months later our son was born.
3 months after that Joel and I became the FIRST same sex married couple to jointly adopt a baby in Broward County Florida ( take that Florida) and now nearly 3 years later we want him to have a sibling.
We have since moved to NC, a state that very much resembles the Florida we knew all those years back, That damn rumbling is back and by the end of this month, August 2014, we start their MAPP class.
We are hopeful, we have an ally in the form of a caseworker, once again only one of us could adopt, although that’s what they told us last time and we all know what we did with that.
What will we find?
How will we be greeted and treated?
Most importantly, what will we name our new child?