“Do you want to adopt a little boy?”  That is how our journey started to becoming dads.  I remember laying in bed that night next to my husband, Keith – my mind turning.  We just had dinner with my visiting family, and they mentioned that one of our cousins, Bryan was in foster care.  He was only 6 months old at the time

My mind was trying to figure out how to keep him in our family.  My husband and I had been together for about 6 years and had talked about having a family of our own.  We did not know how or when that would happen – but laying there – I knew it needed to happen now.  My husband’s reply to my question was a confident, “Sure.”

The following week was full of phone calls and emails.  Reaching out to social workers and appointments for background checks.  One of those calls was to Carol Barnett from EBCLO.  She was so helpful to us, and I had no idea how helpful she would be in

our bumpy road to fatherhood.  It is true that our son is technically my cousin, that did not make things easier. Carol knew that Bryan belonged with us, but it just was not that easy.  We filled out all the paperwork, endured interviews, and inspections and started visiting Bryan regularly.  Ultimately, the social worker delivered the news that Bryan was not enough of a relative to result in moving him from his current foster care situation to being placed with us.

We were devastated and did not know what to do next.  One of my first calls was to Carol.  Bryan was protected under ICWA (Indian Child Welfare Act), and she encouraged me to reach out to the Cherokee contact to see if there was anything that they could do to help.  This was the move that eventually led to Bryan being placed with us as his foster parents.  She was by our side as we navigated the remaining steps of the adoption process and was in court with us on National Adoption Day in November 2011.

Family has always been so important to both Keith and me.  We both talked about how struggling to come out meant that to some degree, we felt as though we had to give up on the idea of having children of our own.  We came out during a time when kids did not have two dads or two moms.  Today, there are so many sites and social media groups that focus specifically on families like ours!

We celebrate June not only for Pride Month, but for Fathers’ Day too.  For us, it is “Fathers’ Day” and not “Father’s Day”.  I lost my dad to cancer the year before Bryan came into our lives and I am so happy that I get to celebrate this time with my own son.  We are fortunate that Bryan is so proud of our family.  He is frequently seen sporting his Rainbow Mickey Ears hat, rainbow pride shirts, and rainbow pins.  He is proud!

I am reminded of the words of the judge in her courtroom in November 2011 when she declared, “Bryan will forever be part of your family.”  I will never forget all that Carol and EBCLO have done for our family.  May all the parents have the opportunity to celebrate their families this weekend.  Be proud and remember that LOVE IS LOVE!