Nicholas and Paul met in New York by chance. Two days later – on their first “official” date – they talked about having children.
Nicholas always wanted to be a dad. As an adult, he figured surrogacy would be the easiest way. Paul preferred starting as a foster parent, then adopting, because that would take a child out of the often-cumbersome state care system as early as possible.
They married, and bought a home. Soon, they began the foster-to-adoption process.
The Foster-to-Adoption Process
In January 2013, the couple became licensed as foster-to-adopt parents in New Jersey. They attended adoption classes, which focused on working through the system rather than “how to be parents.”
Two months later, they got a call regarding a 7-year-old. The men had requested a child from birth to 3 years old, so they said no. The next call was about siblings, from troubled backgrounds. Again they declined. They had learned in their adoption classes that saying no is okay.
The third time was the charm. “J” was just 7 days old. He was the birth mother’s sixth child. He weighed 6 pounds, 7 ounces, and was “the most beautiful thing” they’d ever seen.
“When he was put in our arms, it was like he was meant to be our child,” Nicholas says.
Bringing Home Baby "J"
Four days later – on May 6, 2013 -- Nicholas and Paul brought the baby home.
He’s thrived there ever since. “If possible,” Nicholas says, “he gets more beautiful every day!”
The process has been eased thanks to state resource workers and regular visits. In addition, J is assigned a case worker and law guardian.
“Each case is unique,” Nicholas notes. “Ours has been pretty simple. Our case worker is in touch weekly, and does a monthly visit. The goal of everyone is the best interest of the child.”
The Road to Gay Adoption
Nicholas and Paul’s road to adoption has been eased because J’s birth mother abandoned him in the hospital. She visited briefly, just three times – all when he was an infant.
Still, the process takes a while. The state has a responsibility for “family reunification,” and makes sure that decisions are not made in haste.
“Patience is a virtue,” Nicholas says. “Everything happens for a reason. We would not have done anything differently.”
However, he notes, “we’ve been lucky to have so few hiccups. We know other parents do not have such a smooth process.”
The couple has been lucky, for example, that J has been very healthy, with an amazing disposition. They know little about his birth mother’s health history, including such basic information as whether she drank while pregnant.
The Support of Family & Friends
Their families have been supportive. It took Nicholas’ relatives a while – he’s from the South – but they’ve moved through the stages of accepting him first as gay, then as married, and now as a father.
“Having a child changes things,” Nicholas says. “Everyone loves babies. I think my family sees us a real family now.”
Many friends have embraced the couple, and their new son. Others don’t understand the process, and ask insensitive questions. Paul and Nicholas have learned to focus on the most important thing: their son.
Now, J’s mother is pregnant again. Paul and Nicholas intend to adopt the child. Soon, J will have a sibling.
Next : The Legal Adoption Process & Support Networks
Stay tuned for Part 2 to learn more about the legal process, support networks, and what to know when navigating the adoption process as a gay couple.
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Dan Woog is a writer, educator and LGBT activist. He has written 17 books. Subjects include LGBT issues in gay education and the workplace, gay male athletes, and the importance of straight allies. He is also a co-founder of OutSpoken, Fairfield County’s support group for LGBT youth.