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."
Joe also blogs at 1 regular joe