Kurt always wanted to be a Dad, but Shaun never gave it much thought, until they were married. Beth Hallstrom, contributing writer to the RaiseAChild “Let Love Define Family®” series for Huffington Post Queer Voices, learns how views on parenthood have evolved for this family.
Depending on who is asked, Shaun and Kurt met through mutual friends. That’s Kurt’s abbreviated story. Shaun filled in the much more romantic details and said, for him, it was love at first sight.
“Kurt had a housewarming party in 2007 and invited a group of friends,” Shaun explained. “I was dating one of those guys and that’s how I ended up at Kurt’s party. We didn’t date very long after that.”
The two had a small ceremony in 2012 with family and friends. A year later, they celebrated with a larger wedding/anniversary party.
The topic of fatherhood and family was always at the forefront after Kurt and Shaun Oaklee were married.
According to Kurt, “I always wanted to be a Dad. I was a suburban kid living a white picket fence life. As I got older and came to terms with my sexuality, I often wondered if fatherhood would be in the cards for me.”
Added Shaun, “I never really gave it much thought, but Kurt helped me see the light. It is possible to have it all. I always wondered if I could live a happy, complete life as a gay man.
“It was one of those moments in time. We were sitting on the couch, talking about buying a house, Kurt opening his private practice as a marriage counselor and the conversation inevitably turned to adoption.”
“I was approaching 40, so it was time to pull the trigger,” Kurt added with a laugh.
Shaun and Kurt also continued to grapple with the possibility of having a genetic tie to their child through, for example, surrogacy.
Around the same time, lesbian friends who wanted to start their family, asked Shaun and Kurt to donate sperm to them. They did and the artificial insemination was successful.
“After that happened, we realized that genetics are not all that important, really. Love was the important connection,” Kurt noted.
They attended an information session at the Independent Adoption Center, which has offices in California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, North Carolina, Texas, New York and Connecticut.
So, they signed on with the agency and, “That started us down the road to where we were in the delivery room when Hayden was born and, the next day, take him home,” Kurt said.
Shaun and Kurt said they wanted an open adoption and felt it was crucial for Hayden’s biological family to be part of his life.
According to Kurt, “Hayden is going to know who his birth mother is - he is never going to question who he is or where he came from. Hayden’s adoption story is part of his life story.”
Shaun and Kurt even have a contract with Hayden’s birth mother that covers visitation. She has babysat for him several times.
Shaun added, “We anticipate she’ll be at his school plays and graduation from Kindergarten. We hope so, because she’ll be invited.”
”Sometimes adoption has a stigma attached to it, especially a closed one that appears shrouded in secrecy. Open adoption takes all that out of the equation. It’s the best of both worlds,” Kurt said.
Shaun, 37, and 42-year old Kurt recently moved temporarily from the Bay Area to Shaker Heights, Ohio, when the software company Shaun works for opened an office there.
“After 15 months, when the Cleveland office is up and running, then we’ll go back,” said Kurt, who is a marriage counselor. “We have a home there, friends and a life to go back to.
Today, tow-headed Hayden is tender, loving, inquisitive rascal and is a very big fan of bear hugs, his Dads said.
“He has a very strong sense of self. As much as possible, we have encouraged him to express his opinion and tell us what he thinks. He’s a very strong willed individual, which can be good and not so good,” Kurt admitted with a laugh.
A baby brother or sister is on the horizon for the Oaklee family. Kurt wants two children while Shaun lobbies for three. “For sure, we want number two,” Shaun explains.
“We’re going to keep on keeping on. To us, having a family means we have it all.” Kurt added.
Have you considered building a family? RaiseAChild is the nationwide leader in the recruitment and support of LGBT and all prospective parents interested in building families through fostering and adoption to meet the needs of the 415,000 children in the foster care system of the United States. RaiseAChild recruits, educates and nurtures supportive relationships equally with all prospective foster and adoptive parents while partnering with agencies to improve the process of advancing foster children to safe, loving and permanent homes. Take the Next Step to Parenthood at www.RaiseAChild.org or call us at (323) 417-1440.
Join RaiseAChild on Tuesday, October 25, 2016 for our 6th annual RaiseAChild HARVEST fundraiser at Mauro’s Café Fred Segal in Los Angeles, featuring performances by singer-songwriter Inara George; comedian Kira Soltanovich; and actor, comedian, and adoptive father Alec Mapa. Special thanks to presenting sponsor Banc of California and media partner HuffPost Queer Voices.