My partner, DJ, and I had always wanted kids and a family. Despite the fact that we had an amazing life, had traveled the world and had many wonderful young children in our extended family -- we still felt as if there was a hole in our lives. Something was missing and when we saw other couples strolling their baby, playing in the park or going to Disney we quickly realized what it was. We both absolutely adored children and we knew the time was ripe for us to expand our family.
As a gay couple, we realized that we basically had three options -- surrogacy, in vitro fertilization (IVF) or adoption. We quickly ruled out IVF due to the extraordinarily high costs and no guarantee of success. We ruled out surrogacy after our only real candidate pulled out at the last minute. We finally agreed that adoption was our best option. We knew it would not be an easy task and we were prepared for a very long wait. We had done our best to cut back on our spending and had saved up enough to begin the process. Within a few weeks we had found an adoption facilitator that we liked and we were on our way.
I will never forget the exact moment when the phone rang and it was our adoption facilitator calling to inform us that we had been matched with a birth mother. After months of waiting, preparing and completing the dreaded home-study; we had finally done it. We beat the odds and had matched with a birth mother in nearly record time. We both stood in our California townhome and cried as we shared the news with our friends and family. We dreamed of holding our infant in our arms, taking her to the park and traveling to introduce our baby to our friends and family. We agreed to an open-adoption and we could not wait to meet our new adoptive family. We envisioned them being a close part of our family for the rest of our lives.
Sadly, our adoption process did not go as we had planned. In fact, for 206 of the most difficult days of my life we were subjected to manipulation, habitual lies, theft and fraud by our birth mother. She stole from us, she stole from our family, she abused her children, she lied about serious medical issues with the baby, she lied about the sex, she threatened the adoption almost daily if she did not get her way and she lied numerous times about going into labor. Our adoption experience was so extreme, that it was called one of 'the most difficult domestic adoptions' by several industry experts. While we did succeed in adopting our beautiful baby girl, it was not without repercussions. As a result of our birth mother's behavior and mental issues, it will likely take many years for both of us to overcome the severe trauma that we endured. In addition, we had to completely cut ties with her and our dreams of having an open adoption ended the day we signed the adoption paperwork.
Yet despite our horrific ordeal, we will forever be thankful to our birth mother. Not only did we overcome what seemed like insurmountable roadblocks, but we walked away with our little angel, Amelia. Words cannot describe the love that we feel for our now 11 month old little baby girl. Looking back, we would go through the entire experience again because Amelia brings so much joy and happiness to our lives. We are two of the happiest fathers in the world, and Amelia makes us smile almost constantly. We have been very active parents and we take Amelia with us everywhere we go. In less than a year of life, she has been to Florida, Santa Cruz, Cleveland, Ann Arbor and we even took her hiking in Yosemite National Park. She has brought to us a new meaning to the words 'unconditional love.' To us, being parents and having our own family is truly a dream come true.
In hindsight we realize we made too many mistakes to count in regard to our adoption. There were clear warning signs about our birth mother from the very first time we met her. We were blinded by the desire to become parents and ignored all of the 'red flags.' We so badly wanted to become Daddies that we allowed a sick individual to take over our lives with manipulation, lies and mental torture.
Our adoption experience was extreme and very rare. While nearly all adoptions are stressful and complex, most are relatively a smooth and a beautiful process. With open-adoptions, more often than not the birth mother becomes a member of the family. If I had to offer advice to other gay or straight couple's that are considering adoption it would be to simply 'do your homework.' Thoroughly vet out the adoption agency that you plan to use and ask for references. When you are matched with a birth mother, be sure you really get to know her before making a commitment. Review all of her records, get personal references and ask the agency for her background history. Speak to her several times before committing and meet her in person if that is possible. Set clear communication and financial boundaries. Finally, spend time with her and really get to know her and her family.
We hope our story will help others be better prepared for 'what can go wrong' in the adoption process. The full story plus a full chapter on adoption tips is available in my new book, Anything for Amelia.