Monday, February 27, 2012

Strength in numbers

I've already shared with you that my family tends to be rather private.

We do not have many Gay friends and even fewer Gay friends raising children.

Yesterday we ventured out of our comfort zone.

We picked out a great little outfit for our Son,
I swear he sensed that we were going on an adventure..
and we took a little drive.

A few weeks ago, a Gay couple we know suggested we join a group,
a Gay Family group called South Florida Family Pride,

www.southfloridafamilypride.org


This particular group, some 150 members strong is headed up by a couple of lovely guys raising a beautiful boy and preparing for their next.

The event we attended was a good old fashioned cook out held at a beautiful state park..

There were more than a few Gay Dads running around with 1, 2 or 3 little ones in tow.

All with their own amazing stories of why they became fathers...how they became fathers.
So inspiring.

This BBQ was different because the Florida pride group joined up with an amazing womens group called Aqua....

www.aquafoundation.org


So you can imagine there were many, many beautiful Lesbian Moms with their children there as well.

Their stories equally diverse and beautiful.
So inspiring.

My husband my son and I truly enjoyed ourselves.

It was amazing to be around so many families that looked like ours...
So many stories of how parenthood, for them, came to be.
Such a sense of strength.

It's difficult to imagine, if your not Gay, but think about watching television and never seeing yourself represented..

Do you ever see a Gay family cleaning house in a Windex commercial?

How about a Gay Dad being surprised by his husband with a set of Lexus keys at Christmas with the kids smiling in the back ground?

Or even two Dads (or Moms) arguing that their child is not going through a phase and need Sylvain tutoring!

Nope right?

But let's not forget that in our life time we have seen that change for Black families, Asian families...Latino families,

so change does happen
.

There was an attorney who spoke at the event,
She was sharing the latest info on laws in our state, ideas for easier adoptions etc.etc.

And she said, the new activist on the Gay and Lesbian front were people just like us..
Gay families living amongst all types of families,
Gay Dads at a PTA meeting,
Lesbian Moms at the soccer game...or a ballet class.

She had a point..
Things are definitely changing,
there is strength in numbers,
and yesterday...
I gotta tell ya,
I felt pretty strong!


Namaste


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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Virginia is for lovers?

This morning over coffee I was reading a story on the news regarding the State of Virginia passing legislation banning adoptions by same sex couples.

I thought to myself, how horrible for "those" people, when I realized that I am "those" people,
my husband and I are "those" people.

I have spent so much of my life just being myself, naturally, realistically, wholeheartedly, peacefully and happily.

I gladly admit, I have never been the victim of a hate crime,
I have never suffered at the hands nor mouth of another individual due to my homosexuality..

I have always lived my life openly and honestly and therefore I live a life of beauty and choice.

While I say I have never been wronged by another being,
I have however been wronged by a group of them known as my Government.
(I'm only now feeling the need to report it.)

As a gay man, I have always dreamt of equality on some scale.

My plan was simple..
Live my life as true to myself as possible and always face the Sun, reach for warmth, the warmth in other people.

I have quietly stepped through each and every door that was unlocked and opened for me.

When domestic partnership became available,
my then partner and I went down to City Hall and applied,
just the two of us,
no fanfare,
no balloons,
just a new piece io paper in our lives that brought us a step closer to what our friends and families had.

When marriage started becoming legal in certain states,
my fiancé and I boarded a plane, this time with a few more people in tow and were married..
We came home once again with a piece of paper in our lives that brought us another step closer to what our friends and families had.

When the ban on gay adoption was overturned in our state,
we began the process of becoming foster parents in order to hopefully bring a little one into our lives.
During this process a beautiful opportunity came our way,
this time we came home with more papers..and our precious newborn Son, that brought us yet another step closer to what our friends and families had.

I tell you all this to paint a picture of our spirit.

We have never been card carrying, flag waiving, Gay men..
We can't typically help you redecorate your home,
And our telling you, that dress makes you look slender, may not always be accurate..

What we are is just a regular non traditional family trying to live a somewhat traditional life..

Our concerns are yours.
Finances,
health insurance,
mortgages,
child care,
trying to find time for each other,
and so on and so forth.

How much more like you must we look like before we are no longer a threat?

The legislation being passed in Virginia allows agencies to deny placements that conflict with their moral or religious beliefs, including opposition to homosexuality..


What kind of morals does my family need to exhibit before we are no longer a threat?

The Legislative Democratic Minority vehemently opposed this legislation saying the intent is clearly to make it tougher for gays and lesbians to form families.

Why?
What is it really?
No home is better for these children than a Gay one?



It is extremely difficult to read this news and not personalize it.
As I stated earlier, my husband and I are "those" people.



I guess it's time to finally apply for that Gay card..

As much as I despise the rainbow flag, (I really think there should have been a Gay vote on that design!) we may, sadly, have to hoist her high above our home.

All of this made me realize that my peaceful way of being may be flawed.

Perhaps instead of walking through doors that others unlock, I should be kicking some in on my own.

I apparently have something to defend that I never dreamt I would...or should.


My Family...my Husband....my Son....

and our, traditional families values!























Namaste

Monday, February 20, 2012

Today is one of those days...

Today is one of those days.

The kind of day that makes you look back at your life,
your decisions, your choices, your actual role in the creation of you destiny.

September 8th 2011 was the day we got a very long awaited call.
It was our fostering agency letting us know that we were officially, finally licensed foster parents.

That chapter in our life had actually begun November of 2010.

I'll go into all those details a different day but suffice it to say becoming a foster parent is not for the faint of heart and certainly not for those who aren't 100% committed to children and to family.

On September 9th 2011, the day after our congratulatory call ,we got another call from our agency asking us that magical question, are you ready to be fathers?

There was a baby available who needed a home.

All they were able to tell us at the time was that he was almost 4 months old, African American and had been sadly...abused.

We said yes, we'd take him.

the day we met Z
























We had to pick him up that evening at a designated location.

He was beautiful, with his black and blues and all.
We was the most perfect little stranger.

We came home with this tiny boy, a plastic bag with a few of his belongings, and a glimps of our new family, prior to this only imagined, but all too suddenly...real.

Our little Z (I choose not to use his full name) was so fragile and quiet.

We came to find out that the day we picked him up was his actual release date from the neo-natal intensive care unit.

He was admitted due to a skull fracture (not his first) inflicted by his father.

I find it so beautiful and touching to realize that although Z suffered horribly due to the actions of his father, he was brought into a home with two new daddies that completely wrapped him in love and safety and security.

Perhaps the months he spent here with us cancelled out some of the sadness his little heart must have felt.

Life has a funny way of reminding us who's in charge..

All the while we were working towards becoming foster parents there was another life circling the heavens above..

While we were helping Z grow, that new life was also growing... inside of a person we didn't even know existed.

While we were dealing with the reality that Z might one day leave us to go live with his grandmother,
the universe was a arranging a coffee date for us to meet with a woman who couldn't keep her baby.

While we were learning to let Z spend more and more time with his birth family,
we were spending more and more time picking out our own babies name and learning to let the idea of really being fathers, legal ones, sink in.

And while our tears of sadness began to dry after the heart wrenching goodbyes of our precious Z,
the tears flowed once more, only this time of joy, as we held our son Ben for the first time.

Yes, life is in charge isn't it?

Today we sent our final letter to our fostering agency closing our home as foster parents.
We did this knowing that Z will be in our hearts forever,
and that our son will be in our arms... forever...

the day I met Ben





















Yes, it's one of those days!




Namaste

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

a risk worth taking.

The following was written for It's conceivable now and can not be reproduced without writers consent.



























I was reminded the other day of just what lengths some of us must go through....
choose to go through..
in order to create our families.

A client of mine was sharing her story about her desire to be a mother and how she and her husband had finally decided to go the route of invitro-fertalization.

The cost was astronomical as was the emotional toll it took on her entire family.
But after years of failed attempts, up and downs and much much faith, their twins were born and their family feels complete.

We began the discussion after over hearing another woman telling her stylist how she and her husband were not even trying to get pregnant...how a baby right now was not exactly in the plan but, hey, they'd figure it out.

Her thoughts about pregnancy were so nonchalant, so matter of fact and so, well, simple.

Simple was certainly not how our son came to us, nor how my clients twins came to them either.

Some of us have to make it a life mission..
I'm not complaining..just stating a fact.

I remembered a specific day on our journey to fatherhood that brought us both to tears...
Not painful tears, but tears of laughter.

At the time the event was not funny but now in retrospect I find it so surreal that I have to laugh.

Here's what happened.

I was heading over to pick up our sons birth mother.

She has suffered for a very long time with addiction but I'm happy to say now, is working towards a healthier way if life.

So that day I was heading over to her apartment to take her for a sonogram appointment.

I was in the habit of texting her when I arrived at her home since she lived in a very undesirable neighborhood and I always felt better with her coming out to me.

So on this one day I text that I had arrived and she responds for me to come in...
ok now if you know me you know I have a very creative imagination...
so creative that I decide then and there that I'm about to be set up and robbed by either her room mate, a very squirrely skinny guy that I happen to know deals in a less than desirable substance or by one of the crazy characters that came in and out of that place.

I call my husband and tell him my fear and he says that I should not go in...

I text her again that I'd rather wait for her outside,

her response...I don't feel well, need you to come in.

Oh, genius I think to myself, brilliant, concern over our yet unborn son will surely get me in..

I'm definetly getting robbed but I have to take that chance..

I decide to leave my wallet, cash and keys in the car..

I also leave my iPhone in the car so I can crawl back to my car after the attack and get help
(I told you I had a very creative imagination)and I slowly head back to her door..

I knock..
no answer..
I knock again..
still no reply..

I go back to the car and text again, she responds,
the doors open come in.

Here it comes..
the mugging..
my first mugging ever..
but hey, she's carrying our soon to be baby, I gotta do what I gotta do right?

I slowly open the door to a very dark apartment.

I call out her name and find her alone lying in bed..
alone..
no big plot..
no masked men..
no nothing just her, sick in bed.

(are you disappointed?)lol

Whew I'm so crazy I start telling myself...
what a crazy mind I have..

Until I hear a knock on her door..

Joe? (the roomie) The knocker asks... Joe, you in there?

Mom yells from her bed..go away!

I'm looking for Joe the voice yells back.

I said get the F**k away from my house she screams back.

Now imagine if you would...me..
sitting on a dirty couch, watching this exchange going back and forth wondering..
where am I?
What am I doing here?
Is this really my life?

When suddenly he opens the door, I had not locked it since I was being robbed remember?

He steps in looking like a character from that old prison show OZ...
no shirt, tattoos all over his chest, neck and arms...( I have nothing against tattoos, I have a bunch, but these were different..you know..very different)

He glances in and sees me on the couch....

Ah...I think to myself....now it's robbery time!
This was the plan all along, get me in first, no witnesses, they got me!

I start to get up to prepare to defend myself when he looks over at birth mom and say...
are you ok?
I don't know if you know but there's a strange dude in your apartment....

As if protecting her.....
From me!
As if I was the dangerous element in this equation...
Again, completely surreal...and now in retrospect, hysterical!

There was no robbery that day...
roomie Joe was mia so there was no drug deal...
mom was sick so there was no sonogram..
And I was "cool" so mom didn't need any protecting that day.

I realized two very big things that day..

First..
When you step out of your world and in to another's,
You have to accept that you are the outsider,
that you are the block that does not fit,
You are the stranger they warn their kids about.

And finally

When you want a baby and can't just have a baby, simply...
you will find yourself doing things you never thought you would do,
stepping through doors that terrify you...
Accepting all the unknown risks that may come your way, truly dangerous or imagined,
and hopefully,
when that day comes that you hold your baby(s)in your arms you can look back
at all you had to go through......and laugh!


Namaste

the father the son and the holy secrets..part 3

I was recently asked to re-post a few older blog post I wrote about my Father and of course it got me thinking.....surprise, me thinking!? Lol

Firstly, what an amazing twist these "Father, Son, Secrets" blogs have taken since part 1 right!?

And secondly, about my family being so big on secrets, no correction, BIG on secrets.

Perhaps it was that crazy Spanish Catholic guilt thing?

I could trace it back to early immigrants desires to fit in, (hmmm future blog post), to hide thier family's weaknesses?

Or perhaps it was just the time,
As a culture, we seem, so much less concerned about appearances these days.

Anyway, I was thinking about secrets and how easily we carry them forward, make them our own.

My husband Joel and I have some amazing opportunities ahead of us.

Now having an adopted son, we will be faced with the choices of what we tell him, how much we offer, what color filters will we choose to make it easier for him, for us.

Our son came to us with his very own set of realities...
He had a family before us, the one he was born into...

Now I will state that I truly believe he was born into that world simply to come into ours.

But we still can't deny their existence.

One day we will have to tell him their story, and believe me it's not the prettiest story to share but it's also not the ugliest.
That I know.

We won't be able to hide his adoption, as many "traditional" family's have done..
Waiting for an 18th birthday to shake a world...
Or having a child come to that realization on their own for one reason or another..

No, we are obviously a created and intentional family..
As much as would love to say, "I carried you for nine months", that's just not going to fly. Lol

So we will have choices to make..

How transparent will our family be?
We have already started reading him lovely story books about families with two daddies..

When the time is right we will throw some of those "politically correct" childrens books in that actually us the "A" word, adoption.

We've already spent time with specialist who have given us phrases to use:
"you were chosen"
"we wanted you"
"your so lucky to have TWO daddies that love you"

That's all good, great actually,
but how much of his secrets will we carry forward?

Will we ask him to carry forward?

How much if his truth will we deny him out of protection?
Out of fear of hurting him?
Out of fear of how it will make him perceive us?


Will my son one day be me?
A grown man finding things out, wondering why?

Or will I be a different parent than my own?

Easy answer right?


Namaste

a chip off the new block...



Do you ever have those moments in life, whether actual moments or months or years when your heart and your mind are just so entangled and engaged that you simply feel the need for quiet?

For silence?

Those moments where you go deep inside and wrap your self in hope and faith and trust because....at your core you know change is coming...

Not simple change.

Not expected change.

Not familiar change.

But a type of change that you know will melt you down to nothing and finally fade away leaving an entirely different you.

Well that's where I've been.

So what's different about me now?
Well..... I'm a father.

Some of you are new to our family so you may not get the depth of that sentence.
Yet others will know just what it took for me, and my Husband Joel, to be able to finally own those 3 simple words....

I'm a father.

I can not possibly catch you all the way up in this newest post so please bare with me and be prepared for more.

For now suffice it to say that Joel and I embarked on a journey a bit over one year ago that magically moved mountains.

That journey placed people and situations before us that can only be attributed to the divine.

It took us from thought to action to hope to fear and finally to children.

My future blogs will definetly touch on the topic of the actual, manual, and intentional creations of families.

They will undoubtedly aid in the re-definition of fatherhood as some of us know it.

They will introduce you to men who's innate need and desire to be fathers drove them to some daunting and uncharted waters..

You'll get to know my family very well....

But for now, I have to go feed a baby.

Namaste



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roasting pans..tattoos and beautiful signs

Joel and I had our first Thanksgiving Day dinner at home since we have been together.

We have always been lucky enough to be invited to lovely homes with even lovelier people.

But this year we felt a stronger sense of home..

Perhaps it's all the adoption thoughts.

The idea of growing our family...
Starting new traditions,
traditions of our own.

Regardless, we let our hearts guide us..and had a few friends over.

When my Mother passed away....for a short while I had no dreams of her.

I hated that...

I was afraid that slowly she would be erased from my mind..
From my memories.

That her intensity would fade.

Her presence would soften and become so distant that I would no longer recognize it..

I wrote things down.

I searched for photos.

I even tattooed myself with what she always said to me when I left her home.

On my chest.

Over my heart.
So I could never forget...

Que la virgen te acompañe  (may the Virgen be with you)




Yesterday...bright and early in the day we took out my Grandmother's old roasting pan..

The same pan my Mother always used.

I figure at least 70+ turkeys have been cooked in that pan.

It's old and dented and far from William Sonoma,
but yesterday it taught me a beautiful lesson.

As the morning unfolded our house was a flurry of activity.
Music...
The Parade on the television...
A beautiful table to be set..
Happy things...warm things....

Joel watched over our turkey,
basting often.. (it was the best turkey ever!) 
At one point I reminded him to add more water to the pan.

How much? He asked.

I wandered into the kitchen and looked into that old pan.

And there it was ..my sign..my sweetest reminder..

All The years of roasting had left a shadow on the inside of the pan.
It showed us exactly how much water to add.





Just where she would have filled it to..
Just where my Grandmother would have filled it to.

And just like that,
my mind was flooded with memories.

Happy, childhood memories..
Memories of all shapes and sizes..

The same memories I so foolishly thought I would loose.

They are still here....
She is still here....and she always will be.


Silly me.



Namaste

a thanksgiving day thought

Ah, Thanksgiving day.

It is the day we gather.....and break bread.....and give thanks.

On this day I feel particularly heavy....particularly thoughtful.

I find myself wondering why I so easily forget, why I need these days to be reminded to be THANKFUL.

My life sometimes feels like a blur.... I describe it like this.

Me...still...motionless...and life spinning, somewhat out of focus...circling me...I can feel the breeze it stirs up...

I gaze forward, and every now and then I am forced, by this grand Universes, to focus, to see something... to see someone....to smell it... to feel it.

At those moments, the world stops, I can reach out to it and bring the source of my focus in, it becomes mine, becomes real, even if just for that moment, however long that moment last.

And then the world starts to spin once more and I begin to gaze again...to wait for the Universal reminders.

When we leave a funeral we are reminded how fragile life is.
How we should not take one second for granted.
We think of life lost and promise to never take our loved ones for granted.
We promise to live each day to the fullest.

And then the world spins.
And we gaze.

When a day like today comes around we count our blessings.
We give thanks for all the wonders God has sent our way.
We look lovingly at our families....at ourselves.....at strangers.
We donate our time.
We offer shelter.
We carve a turkey.

And then the world spins.
And we gaze.

So there we have it...seconds become minutes and minutes turn to years and we only breakout of the spin when we are reminded to.

That makes me think.

What if from this day forward we each make it our mission to recognize the gazers, the watchers, the motionless ones..... 
What if we give them a few more..... un-seasonable nudges?

What if we stop giving thanks when we are reminded to,
and tell the world to slow down...

Let's slow the spin just enough to be able to see more miracles, to be more joyful, to touch more lives....... 

Not just today..... when we are asked to....
But everyday...... when we are supposed to.....

Happy Thanksgiving Day

Happy Every Day



Namaste

and baby makes 3

As many of you know, my Husband and I want to be Fathers.

It is a desire that we both share that at the most difficult of times is all consuming.
At the best of times is a soft, constant hum, that we just feel and have learned to live with.

We are Family-less Family men..... Childless, Fathers.

My blogging experience started out as interesting career stories, but know I feel I should ad my voice to the world of Gay men stepping out onto uncharted territory, Gay men wanting to be Dads.

Over the past few years we have explored many ideas into Fatherhood.

We have explored surrogacy...... At a whopping cost averaging $100,000.

We have explored international surrogacy possibilities involving sperm and eggs and India and $60,000.

We have explored becoming Foster Parents.

We have explored adopting through the Sates of Florida. Still a viable option.

We have explored private adoption, since the ban on same sex adoption laws finally changed here in Florida. At a cost of $30,000-$60,000.
We were the first Gay Couple to meet with an adoption specialist in Broward and Palm Beach Counties... She even had to re-design all the legal paper work for us to include Spouse and Spouse rather than Husband and Wife.

We have explored ads in classifieds offering to "help" a young lady that has found her self in a less than desirable position.

We explored the idea of starting a foundation, but the hoops we would have to jump through regarding the laws and taxes are to big for us alone.

We explored the ideas of fundraising, I ask you to google "raising money for adoption" and take a peek at the pages and pages of businesses that were created to take money from people trying to raise the money to have a family...Gay and Straight alike.

There are adoption grants.

There are adoption loans.

There are even adoption credit cards.

Is it just me people or is this insane.

There are babies born every minute of the day all over this entire planet of ours.
Not all wanted.......not all loved.

There are couples and singles with hearts and homes ready to be opened to a child, to children. Gay and Straight alike.

Not everyone can afford the cost of BUYING A BABY in this Country.


What do we do about this?


How do we fix this?


I've got my sleeves rolled up!
And i'm ready to change a diaper!!



Namaste