Sunday, April 7, 2019

Mirror Mirror On The Wall, Where Am I? A Look At Depression by Henry Amador-Batten

I am a man of deep self reflection, I often pause, contemplate and when able, I try to correct.

I believe that the road to self awareness and discovery requires many moments spent looking into your own eyes and being prepared to embrace what you see.

Lately I have been all to often disappointed with the man that looks back at me.

He was always kindhearted, spirited, loving and had a amazing sense of humor.
He was the guy you turned to when things were tough and the first guy you would call when it was time for a celebration.

He was that go to fellow that would never let you down.
But now? 
Now I barely trust him to make it through a day unscathed.
I don't trust him with my own secrets and I certainly would not entrust him with anything you hold too dear.

Over the past 4 years I have been dealing with depression, apparently somewhat severe.

It is so easy to think that the root of your sadness is any one of a million things that bombard you on a daily basis.

I had a debilitating accident that took my career away and sent us spiraling financially but more importantly emotionally for a long while, that could be it right?

I have put on a good (or perhaps, not so good) fifty+ pounds, but that is probably because I became so much less active after my accident right?

My marriage began to lose a bit of its intimacy but that's probably the extra weight wouldn't you agree? 
I mean I hardly feel sexy, sexual.
Or it could be because of the strain forces on us by the accident and literally losing half of our income in an instant.

Or may be it's because of what began to happen to us when we brought our adopted son into our home, that's probably really it, I think.

Or it could be my Fathers passing in 2018, I always referred to our relationship as torn, tattered and taped. He left when I was very young baby and posed in when he felt so inclined.
There were probably more things I should have done towards the end of his life but I just did what I could and what was expected of me, no more and no less.

But that is part of what of what depression does to your mind, It keeps you coasting but not diving or jumping to deep or to high.

I had three surgeries in 2016 and I'm in a state of chronic pain. 
There is one last surgery available for me, a reverse shoulder replacement, but sadly I am too young for it.
This specific procedure comes with an expiration date and if I have it now, in my mid fifties, I may end up far worse than I am right now and with many precious years left of life.

So I have to medicate to feel myself or chose motionlessness which I'm rarely comfortable with, I said rarely, but not never.

So the constant pain is probably why I always tend to fall on the darker side of things right?
It's probably why I am so much less active, feel less attractive, worry about my marriage and struggle so desperately dealing with our eldest sons mental health issues, right?

Or perhaps it's because I find myself at 55 struggling with my identities, my spiritual, physical, emotional, parental, financial and marital identities.

You see, that right there is why so many people, men especially miss the signs of real depression. Men who are three times more likely to commit suicide than women, have such a difficult time asking for HELP!

There are so many other things to blame your feelings on, and its oh so easy to say that once one thing clears up you will be able to tackle another, or to fool yourself into believing that as soon as a specific problem goes away, it will some how grab a handful of others and together skedaddle off into the sunset.
Only then leaving you able to breathe and laugh and feel at peace again.

Now I am not saying that many people aren't able to deal with all sorts of thing and still function happily and naturally.

I was one of them and I rocked it for 50 years!
Here is where I stand up and take a bow.

But for so many others, those joy-filled moments lessen and lessen.
The mornings when you awake ready to tackle the day start to feel a bit abstract.
The last time you accepted an invitation to hang out with friends feels like forever ago.
The vision boards are dusty.
The Summer plans are left dangeling.
The Laundry wins.
Clean eating and cooking feels momentous and all you want to do is sleep.

Sleep is where you feel light and hopeful, sleep is where the possibilities for a different day might come, and yet they don't come, and when they may is simply an uncertainty.

No, for people like that, people like me, asking for help is the only way through it.

Look in that mirror and ask your self just how long you haven't loved who you see.
Be honest and then reach in, reach up and reach out.

We're all worth it.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline : 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
The GLBT National Hotline : 1-888-843-4564
The GLBT National Youth Talkline 1-800-246-7743

Sunday, March 31, 2019

What's left when all else fails? A dark look at adoption. By Henry Amador-Batten


Some of you have followed our adoption journey.
You watched or read from the shadows as our little family of three grew to become four.

A little back story for our new friends.

My husband and I adopted our Ben at birth.
We were living in South Florida at the time.
He came into this world in October of 2011, almost exactly two years after we were married in Boston, MA.

I honestly can't look back on my life and remember a more happy time, perhaps our wedding day but that's a close call.

There are definitely pressures and fears that creep into most all adoption stories, especially when your a same gender couple, the year is 2010, the birth-mother has troubles and the nation had yet to legally recognize our family.
But all of those scary thoughts and memories drifted away with each of his beautiful smiles and laughs.
They took flight at each and every amazing milestone.
They never stood a chance with each year that we celebrated another holiday,
and they were certainly no match for the love that grew within us for this little human being.
A love that still brings me to my knees with gratitude.

But this is not that story.
Our family came through those trials triumphantly.
The Universe stayed by our side and guided all the powers that be so that he could be ours.
And now, 7 and a half years later, he is still a daily reminder of just how lucky we are.

No this story starts in 2016 in a completely different state with a completely different little boy and a hope that he too could be ours.

Joel and I had decided that the time was finally right for us to add to our family.
We decided that the foster care system would be the way and that just like in 2011 the Universe would certainly help us along.

We're not that tight right now, the Universe and I, but I'm working on it.

We went through the process and became foster parents.
The room was furnished and prepared for whatever/whoever may have came our way.
We had engaged in all the age appropriate conversations that Ben needed and we settled back, comfortably knowing that we were ready for this next big step in our lives.

One evening, while Ben slept and I waited for my husband to get home from work, I was occupying my time by looking at photos and videos of children available for adoption.

I ran across a little boy, just about five years old at the time the video was filmed. He sat so proudly in a crisp blue shirt answering a list of questions being asked by a mysterious person off camera.
"What is your favorite color?" he was asked. "Blue" he replied as he gently touched his blue shirt.

You could tell by the creases in the shirt that it had just come out of a package, you could also tell by the way he touched it that he felt special in it.

The rest of the questions you could easily guess yourself.
What do you like to do?
What do you like to play with?
Who is  your favorite super hero?
Place to play?
And on and on.

Finally the big one, what type of family do you want?

Yes, that one got me too, brought me to tears and as if possessed by some paternal force, my fingers clicked on his link for more info.

What was his answer about a family you ask?
Something along the lines of, a family that will love me and take care of me.
He had already been in the foster care system for around two years and I'm certain he had heard those phrases many times before.

Thats where it all started.
It all started with that little boy who could make anyone fall in love with him in mere minutes.
A very intelligent little boy that that on only our second "date" asked us if we would be his daddies.
A boy that after meeting with more therapist and psychiatrist than I can count, leaves them all saying the same thing, "wow, he sure knows how to say what I want to hear."
A little person that not twenty four hours after we unpacked his bag calmly let us know that he hated everything about us and that his caseworker had made him choose us.

That statement has become pretty much his daily mantra and now all these years later, we're inclined to believe him.

So right now you might be saying, come on now, he's was just a baby, children that age are not that cunning or manipulative. 
You might want to stop reading right now but I need to remind you that this is a story about things that have gone terribly wrong, this is not a happily ever after story, yet, and it may very well never be. 

I urge you to read on for as Blaise Pascal said, "between us and Heaven or Hell there is only life which is the frailest thing in the world."

"Well Mr. Amador-Batten, I've only ever had two cases where parents chose to terminate their adoption, both times they had to accept a neglect/abandonment charge, I don't think you and your husband would like to have that charge, would you?"

That was what the newest caseworker told us ( I paraphrased) after I sent an email saying that we were ready to make him re-available to be adopted, in other words, terminate our parental rights.

This email was sent three years after he came into our home and two years after his adoption was finalized.

This email was sent after a year and a half of intensive in home therapy, after two rounds of parent and child centered therapy, after two hospital stays at a psychiatric children's unit for attempting to take his life and consequently putting ours in danger, after living in a residential treatment facility for nine months and now having challenges at a step down program.

As I write this he is being referred and recommended to go back to another residential psychiatric facility.

Does it sound like he is thriving in our home?

All of this in three short years.
He is now nine.

I know, and I can be that little voice in your head that says, how could they do that? how could they have a child for three years and want to send him away? how could anybody be so heartless?

Please know, there is not a single thought in your head that does not already reign in mine.
There is not another idea or solution, thus far,  that we have not already had or tried.
There is not another class, support group, therapist or minister that we have not already taken, joined or sat with.

No, no reasonably intelligent and loving person sends an email like that easily, its rather a last resort, it's what you do when all else seems to have failed.

It's what you do when not giving up on the one feels like your having to give up on the all.

This would probably be a good place to stop right?
We're neck deep right now in attorneys, caseworkers, psychiatrist and our hearts.

I'll be back with more soon but until then I leave you with some questions to ponder.

What do you do when you look into the eyes of the people you love and see only devastation?

What do you do when you feel as though you've reached the end of the road?

To what lengths would you go to save your family?


Friday, June 17, 2016

DADsquared Writer Dara Fisher's Thoughts On The Massacre In Orlando

By Dara Fisher

On Sunday morning I was in the car with my husband on our way to Palm Springs to enjoy my only day off when I used my phone to go online and see what was going on in the World.  

At the moment, I am working about 75 hours a week between my real job and the new position I took at a local non-profit for kids so I haven’t been tuned into most of what is happening these days.  

As I went through my Facebook feed, I kept seeing Orlando so I clicked on a link and it felt like I had been punched in the chest.  I couldn’t breathe and trying to speak to my husband about what I was reading was difficult because I couldn’t stop crying.
There are so many things wrong with this horrific event.  First and foremost, we have lost 49 members of our community.  That, in and of itself, is a tragedy.  Beyond that, this was the result of so many things that our wrong with the human race.  I have thought a lot about what happened over the past week and I would like to say a few things about it.

This was not a terrorist attack, this was a hate crime.  

The nightclub chosen by the murderer was picked specifically because of the clientele it served.  The gay community.  

While many on the right side of the fence are going to stick staunchly to this being a terrorist attack, the murderer claiming ISIS connections, I don’t buy it.  That is nothing but a scapegoat to use this tragedy as a way to facilitate the ongoing war against terrorism, an important issue but separate from what happened.

I will not be using the murderer’s name.  He doesn’t deserve to be acknowledged as a human being and I don’t care what his name was.  I read through the list of the 49 people who lost their lives, I read their ages, I read the stories their families shared about them.  I care about the people we lost, not the one who did it.  I am not going to judge the man, God will sort that out and if he’s lucky, the Bible is telling the truth about our Alpha Omega being merciful and maybe he will get the help he severely needs on the other side.  Though I wouldn’t be willing to bet my money on it since the Bible also claims homosexuals are an abomination and I believe with everything in me that God was waiting for his 49 children when they came home on Saturday.

The first thing that came to my mind as I read about what happened in Pulse on Saturday night was, “I wish this would be a wakeup call to the World so they will see the fear we live with in the gay community.”  

Sadly, I don’t think that is going to be the outcome.  

The internet is already flooded with videos of holier-than-thou pretenders to the righteous throne who are either blatantly supporting the murder of 49 people or at least preaching justification for the murderer’s actions.  I’m not a particularly religious person, or rather an organized religion follower, but I do believe in a God.  I have a hard time believing that God would have wanted 49 of his children to die in such a manner.  This is the largest attack on the gay community in history.  The violent nature of the attack and the fact that a specific group was targeted should be what catches the public’s attention.
When I spoke to my Dad about it, the thing I kept going back to was how the gay community is easily one of the kindest and most loving cultures out there.  When was the last time you heard of members of the gay community protesting with violence?  

I can’t think of too many and the violence that has taken place wasn’t in aggression but rather self-defense.  And even those events are rare.  

I have gone to my fair share of Pride events, parades, and the like. They are always an amazing experience.  When you are at a Pride event, you feel welcome, regardless of your affiliation. There is always fun to be had, smiles all around, and a warmth that is unmatched anywhere else, except maybe your Grandma’s kitchen.  We don’t seek to cause harm to others, even those who have acted against us.  When we are faced with adversaries, we try to explain our side and try to get them to understand us, even if they can never fully accept us.
Another important point that needs to be made is that this man was a homosexual.  Or as my Dad would put it…queer as a three dollar bill.  Regardless of his marriage to a woman, this was a gay man.  He was a gay man who was raised in a culture and religion that considers homosexuality to be worthy of being executed.  Islamic terrorists film themselves murdering innocent people in the most horrific ways possible for no reason other than the person being gay.  He spent his entire life having to hide his sexuality and I would imagine living in fear of being found out.  

right wing can point fingers all they want but Christians are in the same boat.  All the stories about these anti-gay legislation signing politicians being caught in gay sex scandals and preachers with Grindr accounts should say something very clear, condemning people for their sexuality, something they are born as and a part of them they had no control over, causes severe mental and emotional problems.  

The end result of these problems is the tragedies that are bound to happen.  
The teenagers that are hanging themselves in their bedrooms because someone found out about them and spread it around school.  
The man who gets infected with HIV because he is Catholic and rather than live openly gay, he has clandestine meet ups with strangers and ends up with a terminal disease.  
The people who marry opposite sex partners to keep up the façade and spend their lives miserable, usually messing up their spouse and kids in the process.  

I’ve seen it all.  How about we lift the stigma of being gay and let people live their lives openly and find happiness?  Happy people don’t sit in dark rooms thinking of ways to kill themselves and/or other people.
Recently it came to my attention that my son is actively bisexual.  He had told us a few years ago that he was interested in both genders but at almost 16, he is actually going out into the dating world and getting involved with people regardless of what they have between their legs.

I found this out through someone I knew in high school because my son lives openly, having been taught from an early age that we don’t live in closets no matter what we end up being. 
This person asked me what I intended to do about it.  It hadn’t even occurred to me that any action was necessary on my part but for the sake of quelling her fears, I told her that I expect my son to make sure I know if I need to buy a boutonniere or a corsage for prom.  I don’t want to be tacky by being unprepared.  I will also make sure we match the flower with his partner’s outfit.  

The strange look I got made me smile the rest of the day.  That woman can be as nasty as she wants to be about it.  She is welcome to have her opinion about homosexuality.  What she is not welcome to do is have an opinion about my child, my family, and how we choose to deal or not deal with our son’s sexuality.  

What do I think the end result is going to be?  I think my son is going to continue to be a good, honest, and well-rounded person.  He isn’t going to be the sulky guy sitting in his room in front of a computer.  He’s going to live in the sun and had the murderer’s family and community been more accepting of homosexuality and the gay community, I think there would be 49 more members of our community.
As heartbroken and angry as we are in our community, we have to pull ourselves together and look toward the future.  The 49 people who died on Saturday deserve that from us.  We have to keep pushing towards equality and acceptance so we can prevent tragedies like this happening again.  Those who don’t know history are bound to repeat it.  Let’s keep this candle burning, make sure our kids and our grandkids know what happened in a nightclub in Florida.

Dara Fisher. A 33 year old Mother of 3 amazing children with her Prince Charming Keith.  
They live right outside of Palm Springs, California. Dara has degrees in Anthropology, Liberal Arts, and Business Administration.  
She works full time in the Hospitality Industry and attends college classes in pursuit of her MBA when she's not busy being Super Mom.   
She spend her spare time crocheting, quilting, and making a mess with pretty much anything she can get my hands into.  She is a huge Doctor Whofan and  can't eat while watching The Walking Dead. 
Oh and she also happens to be the daughter of gay parents and the Mother of a child with Asbergers  Syndrome and ADHD

Photo Alex Garland

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Changing Face Of The Gay Community And Just Who It Belongs To.

By Dara Fisher

Recently I had a conversation with a friend from high school that caused the wheels in my head to start turning. 
He is gay, though we’ve been friends since before he came to that realization.  He jokingly called me a “fag hag” and I was taken aback.  I’ve had several people call me that name before but they were folks that didn’t know me personally or at least well enough to know that my existence in the gay community is one I was born into, not chosen as a social situation.  This friend however is very familiar with my family and knows my gay parents.
When I protested his label by saying that I’m not a fag hag but rather a member of the gay community, he informed me in no uncertain terms that I was not actually part of the gay community because I am not a lesbian myself.  We had a few little exchanges and ultimately, we left at the agree to disagree point because he wasn’t willing to listen to my point of view and being as stubborn as I am, I certainly wasn’t going to let him tell me that I didn’t deserve to be part of a community that technically I have been a part of longer than 
he has.

KGP’s, (Kids of Gay Parents) are part of the gay community.  I jokingly say that we are the chosen ones but it’s not far from the truth.  Our parents intentionally created us, adopted us, or inherited us with the purpose of having a family and being part of the gay community.  Very few of us are “accidents” because homosexuals of the same gender can’t get each other pregnant, no matter how hard they try.  When our parents decided to raise kids, it wasn’t with the intention that they were going to raise us like straight people.  Most of us have a social group of adopted lesbian aunts and gay uncles that make up our family units.  We aren’t raised with the same limitations as some of the kids in the straight community. 

I can’t speak for all KGP’s but in my case, my parents couldn’t have cared less what my sexuality ended up being.  They also didn’t care that I was a girl but spent the majority of my time on hobbies that would be considered masculine.  Being a tomboy was perfectly okay and neither of my parents ever made a judgement call on it.  I didn’t have traditional gender roles that taught me to adhere to a specified path based on my genitals so I got to explore the world as a human being, not just a girl. 
Ultimately, I ended up being a girl who is brave, opinionated, intelligent, and kind.  I don’t fear judgement because I grew up with people around me who supported who I was and who I became. I also learned that opinions are like backsides, everyone has one. 

As a parent myself, I adhere to the same policy as my parents in regards to how I raise my kids.  I don’t want my children to follow the rules society has decided must be enforced.  I want them to be who they want to be.  My son is a soft spoken self-professed nerd and my daughter is a tough as nails, take no crap girl who is tougher than most boys I know.  Rather than force them to adhere to the rules society has assigned to their gender, my kids live as individuals.

Interestingly, there is no official inclusion of KGP’s in the gay community.  The community has expanded to include transsexuals, gender fluid, pansexuals, and more yet there isn’t an actual statement of inclusion for those of us who are born into the gay community.  That makes me sad.  I feel like I have to explain why I am part of the gay community because we aren’t openly accepted yet.  Sometimes it feels like we are a suburb of the gay community when we should be treated in the same regard as everyone else.  

My friend’s reaction to my statement about being part of the gay community pretty much sums up how I feel about it.  Because I am not a homosexual myself, I’m not allowed to consider myself part of the community.  Like the gay community is some type of exclusive club.  When I think of the gay community, I consider all forms of alternate sexualities to be included.  I consider the friends and family of homosexuals to be included.  I would even include the members of the straight community who support gay rights.  So it seems natural that the children and grandchildren of homosexuals should be part of the gay community.  After all, we are the next generation of gay rights activists who are privy to the inside workings of the gay community and who will be carrying out our parents legacy and history.

Growing up within the gay community has given me a lot of insight in my life.  I have personally worked to educate people on gay rights and gay issues because I have the ability to share my life experience and in a few cases, change the way society sees the gay community.  I have spoken extensively about AIDS in hopes of removing the stigma the straight community has stuck to the gay community.  I had a coworker who thought all gay men had AIDS.  I spent two hours explaining to her that HIV/AIDS is not a gay disease, it is a bodily fluid disease that can be contracted just as easily by heterosexuals as by gay men.  I also clarified that no, not all gay men have HIV/AIDS.
A hot topic I vehemently fight against is the pedophilia accusations.  That is one of the things that angers me to my very soul.  I have been asked and several people have assumed that my father was a child molester because he is gay.  I have even been asked if my Dad molested me.  Usually my response includes a few curse words and a cheeky statement about me not being my Dad’s type but it still makes me furious.  The religious zealots are the usual suspects in the gay men are equal to pedophiles arguments and most of the time I realize that I am sparing with an unarmed opponent.  I also have come to the understanding that I am the poster child for gay families.

There aren’t a ton of people my age that were raised in gay families.  While there are adult children of gay parents, gay families didn’t become mainstream until fairly recently.  There are a lot of questions people have about the outcome for children that are raised by gay parents and within the gay community.  While I appreciate being able to speak and advocate for the gay community to society as a whole, my personal favorite part of being a KGP is being able to speak to other gay families and let them know that their kids are going to turn out great.  There seems to be an underlying fear of the outcome of gay parents raising kids, even within the gay community itself and I feel privileged to be able to represent the “final product” if you will of gay families.  

I recently read a study where they took a sample of adult children of gay families and reported their findings.  The KGP’s involved in this study seemed to portray being raised in a gay family as a negative thing.  Supposedly they had self-esteem issues, professional problems, and social problems.  The study claimed to represent the true cost of being raised in a gay family.  I was surprised by the study because I know a lot of KGP’s and I have yet to witness this type of outcome.  As an academic, my first thought was to see who created the study and how they ascertained their study samples.  The study was done by a Christian foundation and their subjects were pulled from mental health facilities!  They specifically studied people who reported having mental health problems that they blamed on their gay parents.  This “Christian” foundation intentionally skewed their results and knowingly published false information with the intent to mislead the public into believing that gay families were dangerous.  Of course what they didn’t report was all of us who have no mental health issues from our upbringing and have progressed through our lives on par with our straight raised contemporaries.  Had they used the methods taught in elementary statistics to gather their study subjects, what they would have found is that baring mental health issues, we all turn out okay.  

All of the KGP’s I know are happy, well-rounded, college educated people with their own families.  I can think of only one case in which the KGP had issues later in life and those weren’t because she was raised by gay parents, it was because she already had mental health issues when she was adopted.  If we aren’t considered part of the gay community, why is it that we represent some of the best the gay community has to offer?

As we become adults, KGP’s have a tendency to stay tied to the gay community.  Why?  Because we are no different than any other human being.  If you grow up in the Irish-American community, you tend to stay within that community.  If you were raised as a gypsy, you will remain a gypsy.  As humans, we are drawn to our people and our community represents our safe place.  The same concept applies to KGPs.  When we grow up, we have a tendency to remain close to the gay community and participate actively in the community.  

Over the years I have been involved in such things as gay pride parades, assisted some of the local HIV/AIDS charities, spoken to groups about issues that affect the gay community and specifically gay families, and been a vocal supporter of not just gay rights but human rights.  I know that not everyone agrees that KGP’s should be considered part of the gay community but as a community that is progressing by leaps and bounds daily, we represent a growing part of the gay community and ignoring our existence isn’t going to change that.

Dara Fisher. A 33 year old Mother of 3 amazing children with her Prince Charming Keith.  
They live right outside of Palm Springs, California. Dara has degrees in Anthropology, Liberal Arts, and Business Administration.  
She works full time in the Hospitality Industry and attends college classes in pursuit of her MBA when she's not busy being Super Mom.   
She spend her spare time crocheting, quilting, and making a mess with pretty much anything she can get my hands into.  She is a huge Doctor Whofan and  can't eat while watching The Walking Dead. 
Oh and she also happens to be the daughter of gay parents and the Mother of a child with Asbergers  Syndrome and ADHD

photo: The Washington Blade

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Mother’s Day Through A Gay Dad’s Eyes

Another Mother’s Day is right around the corner.
Our fourth since our son was born.
As any writer will tell you, especially a gay dad writer, this day gives birth (pun intended) to many articles about how our types of families handle this yearly event.
And let me tell you, that there are countless scenarios playing out all over this great big world of ours, this is just humbly.. mine.
Read full article HERE

A Gay Father’s Simple Hopes For Justice Sotomayor

So I would never use the word intelligent to describe myself.
I am far from a thinker or an over analytical man.
I am much simpler than that, more basic, I’m a feeler.
I trust my gut and my instincts and I make every attempt to move away from what what I perceive as pain and move towards what my spirit senses as pleasure. The pain/pleasure principle.
I also believe in making as many decisions as I can sourced from inspiration rather than desperation.
That little concept, I believe, can change lives.
Read full article HERE

Monday, March 23, 2015

After Eight Years A Gay Dad Can Finally Call His Boy, His Son. By Joey Troxel

Feb 5th, 2015.  We waited 8 years for this day.  When people ask me about my boy, I always say it’s a very complicated story.  Really, its not that complicated, but I don’t want to tell it in a way that makes anyone involved look as if they made mistakes or that somehow our boy was deprived in any way.  It all started 8 years ago when my sister realized she was pregnant.  She had always told me that she didn’t want kids, she just wanted dogs.  I am 18 years older than her so I have known her for her whole life. We talked about her options.  She was dating the child’s birth father and they really wanted to make it work between them, but it just didn’t.  Relationships are tricky.  Adding a baby to the mix at an early stage can really scare a new couple even thought these two knew each other from high school.  My sister had mentioned to me that T and I would be great dads.  I was somewhat shocked.  T and I were a gay couple in our 40’s, with very active Gym based lives, a historic home in Central Phoenix that we were in the middle of remodeling and we both had careers that we were excelling in.  I told her that I had never thought about kids before.  Of course, at that time, I had never thought about marriage also.  Who could have foreseen that coming just 8 years ago?  Still, the seed had been planted in my head.  T and I talked about it and it was a scary idea.  We really were just self-absorbed with our own well-being and why would we want to compromise that?

Still, my sister was going through something she knew she was not going to be able to follow through with afterwards.  As the months drew on, and we got closer to the due date, my feelings started to evolve.  T and I started getting excited about having a baby in the family. This would be my first nephew.  I wanted to give him everything.  My sister still talked about putting the baby up for adoption, but I was sure she would see his beautiful face when he was born and that would be the end of that kind of talk. 

October finally came and the birth day arrived.  Our little guy was born.  It was tough because I was the second person to hold him (After my mother of course) but once grandma passed him over to me, I was in awe.  I felt something inside of me that I could not have predicted.  I was overcome with joy for this little guy.  I was also crying for some reason.  I felt scared that something would happen to him and I felt excited for all the possibilities of being born in this great technological age.   There was so much I wanted to teach him.  This was tough for me.  While I was immediately attached to him, he wasn’t my son.  He was my sister’s son.  I kept my distance emotionally but still I was there every day to help him get through his new life .  As the first year went on, we watched my sister try and form a mother’s attachment to our new little guy.  But we came to a point where we all knew she was right all along.  This was not the life she wanted nor did she want to put a child through something that wouldn’t be anything but the best for him.  We decided to make the switch and our little guy came to live with us.  By this time, I had already given up my home office and converted it into the most awesome Thomas the Tank Engine room anyone has every seen.  Now that we had a child living with us full time, we realized that one of us would have to quit our jobs to stay home and be an at home dad.  I decided to give up my career as a computer network engineer so my partner could keep his job at the  hospital.  I got a real estate license which would allow me to work my own hours and from home.  We told my sister that we would keep him until she got to a point where she wanted him back.  When that time comes, she could take him.   We thought we had it all figured out.  Ill stay home with the baby, T will work, and I will do the domestic stuff.  I was all about baby bottles, diapers, cleaning the house, and making food for all of us.  No problem. 

Here is what I didn’t count on.  Our 2-bedroom house with a POOL of all damned things to have with a child around was now so small, it made me become crazed!  I could not move left or right without stepping on something.  I couldn’t put something away without it being dragged right back out again.  Our two bedrooms had no place for computers, printers, scanners, and all that home office stuff now that we no longer had a home office.  Our pool was a looming angel of death that scared me in my dreams every damned night because once our little guy starts walking, he’s making a beeline for that thing and he’s going to drown.  It was obvious we needed a new home.  But, as you may remember, the market was so bad that we were upside down in our house.  We could not sell it yet we couldn’t stay in it.  I started to shake as I realized I was about to lose something I worked my whole life to protect.   My credit.  

2 years goes by and after multiple attempts at mortgage modifications, we had to move on from our old house and used what cash we had to buy a bigger place and in a much better area of town near the best school district in the state.  While the market worked against us with our old house, it worked in our favor in getting a new house for dirt cheap.  Thankfully, this one didn’t have a pool.  I started sleeping better at night.  As time went on, our boy became potty trained, started kindergarten, became a blue ribbon swimmer (ironic, isn’t it?) and has a very happy and healthy life.  He has all the video game stuff you would expect an 8yr old to have as well as his Ipad, fish tank, friends, and cousin to keep his life busy. We do homework right after school, study spelling words for his weekly tests at school and we spend every weekend doing family stuff.

While this is going on, we started thinking about adoption.  We now have quite a few years invested in this along with a long history of financial decisions we had to make along the way.  I have given up my career, my credit, my single gay guy figure (Really!) and my personal space. We also have a college account going for him and weekly tutoring.  We had kept an open dialog with my sister about adoption.  We finally decided to start the process.  I told her we wanted to adopt him and I asked her how she felt about it.  Her response was this.  “I would never take him from his home.  He is very happy with you two and I have always wanted what was best for him.  That has been and always will be with you two as his parents”.  She signed the papers giving up her official parental rights as did the boy’s father.  His response was basically the same as hers.  As I mentioned at the start of this story, I don’t like to answer questions about this subject because of what people might say.  I am sure there are some who think, “A mother hangs onto her child no matter what”.  No, a mother makes the best decision she can for her child, no matter what.  In this case, that’s exactly what my sister did.  She knew this wasn’t for her and she was able to see something in me that she knew she wanted for her son.  Maybe its because when she was growing up and our parents wouldn’t give her things she needed like attention, she would call me up and I would be there for her.  I had her back and I would provide things my parents wouldn’t.  We have always been close because of that.  I also worry that people will say “That poor boy”.  Well, don’t feel sorry for my boy.  He is an excellent student, a fantastic swimmer and he likes baseball, music and art.  He has many friends that are constantly wanting to hang at our house and play video games and all of his friends parents are our best friends.  He has a dog he loves, parents that are on him about brushing his teeth, using his manners and treating others with compassion.  He is not poor in any sense of the word.  He’s happy.   And what about his birth parents?  We have no contact with his dad.  We never really did.  We didn’t hassle him and there are no questions on our end.  His mom is of course my sister and we all love her.  She sends him birthday cards, holiday cards, presents, etc.  She visits ever year for over a week (She lives in another state). She loves him and he loves her.  It’s his mom and she made the best and hardest decision for him that anyone ever had to make.  How could he not love her.  Everyone is happy and 8 years ago, everyone did what was best for one little boy.  No one in our house has ever used any negative words to describe either of his birth parents.  When my boy gets old enough to really understand what happened and why he is not with his birth parents, I will be telling him this:  “From the moment you were born, we all knew that you would be with the two of us (Your two dads).  You were loved then by everyone, and you are loved today by everyone.  Your life is a happy one today because of the decisions that 4 people made who will love you forever” Nobody has any regrets.

On February 5th,of 2015, we went in front of the judge and our boy became ours permanently.  Up to that day, I never called him my son.  I always said “my boy”.  I never wanted to use those words because I was always somewhat afraid that he could be taken from me. 

Everyone, today I would like to proudly introduce you to our son. 

"Who am I? That’s simple. I am a gay parent that’s treated like a second class citizen and I am done taking it. 
Every day I am in the battlefields, in my kid’s school, PTA meetings, swim team, birthday parties with
other parents and I am forcing people to meet me.

Every day I stand right next to them and even if it’s just in my mind, I say “ Look at me will you! I am a gay man, right in front of you. 

I have a partner of 8 years and a 6r old boy. 

My kid is in your kid’s class and will be for the next 11 years. 

I am not going away so now would be as good a time as any to accept me and everything that comes with me."
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