Parenting certainly is a box of Cracker Jack’s – ooey, gooey, with unexpected surprises, but so deliciously satisfying that keeps you coming back for more. Such is the love family, and, more importantly the love of parenting. My son, however, has his lot of surprises because he has three fathers: Daddy, and Papa & Frankie. Since we are three men and a son, a number of female friends, family, and caregivers have asked if our son has some kind of motherly or female energy that he can rely on. Well intended, they try to mother him but he doesn’t respond in kind. For that, the reason may be understood by sharing the following.
At the time of considering adoption, I had heard of successes and disappointments; of a long and grueling process that could take two years or longer. Since we choose open adoption, where knowledge between the birthmother and with the adopting parents were to be shared, I figured to add an additional 2-3 years to account for bias’ and roadblocks in the process due to us being gay male prospective parents. So we began the initial 3 month interviewing process in order to qualify as being suitable for the process. In that, we were asked about our hopes, dreams, and any names we had considered. From only a light reflection, there was only one name that came to mind: Emily. From there, our profile letter to birthmothers went out, only to realize that my prior beliefs of the process were wrong.
While I had originally figured on years before getting any takers, we were met with an invite to meet within a week by a young lady. It was terrifying and excited for this first time experience, but I reserved some space for disappointment in the outcome. She chose the place of meeting through her advocate, which was a place my mother used to work at but that wasn’t known to anyone. We met, exchanged uncomfortable sizing glances, and began to interview each other without completely introducing each other. We were not sure as to what we were going to say, how she would find us, or really how to come to a resolution – but it was a blind date with potentially serious outcomes, and somehow we appeared far more nervous than her!
She then said, “I read several letters, and I chose yours for a reason, but I think there might be a problem. I see in your letter you hoped for a girl, but I’m having a boy.”
We were stunned. “Oh no,” we said. “We just had a girl’s name come to mind but we are open to having a boy or a girl.”
With a relaxed smiled, she casually asked, “Oh ok. What was the name by the way?”
We said, “Emily.”
She stopped and looked up, “My name is Emily. Have you thought of any boys names?”
We stopped and looked at her, “No.” Right then, I brought up, “I like the name, Devon.”
She smiled, “I like that Devon, too.” Then she continued to explain, “I’ve looked at a number of birthmother letters from parents who want to adopt, but I specifically chose you because I don’t want my son to be born and raised in prejudice and discrimination.”
On that note, our relationship made sense, and we then proceeded as family. Less than two weeks later our son was born, and six months after that, Emily passed away due to unexpected heart trouble. Ups and downs followed: the adventures of being a stay-at-home dad, the difficulties of divorce, the development of a new relationship, two homes, and co-parenting. Throughout, we’ve remained true to our love with our son and our promise to Emily: to raise our son free of prejudice and discrimination. Devon, no doubt, has felt that, and knows in confidence who his mother is. For every year, on Mother’s Day, Devon attaches a note to a balloon. We go to the beach near our home, and we send it up to heaven. Devon’s note basically says one thing only: I love you, Mommy.