Friday, June 11, 2010

Our son is 4 days old! And growing!

Here we are in Phoenix, Arizona, and zombie-like! I had brought a collection of different kinds of power bar type foodstuffs and had to remind my spouse to eat periodically.

And to all the other parents, remember the child wakes up every 3 hours through the night, to the minute! Us 2 dads wake up and change the diaper together - if we don't each hold a leg we have no idea what to do! Then he gets a bottle and I starting to worry as I am running out of nipples! Meanwhile, this is when I start singing (I am afraid I made him tone deaf!) the A,B,C's to my son at every feeding. I think I made him too smart, he is a 7 year old lawyer, there is not 1 loophole that eludes him whenever we have a conversation!

We change him on the chair next to the bed - of course my back is going to hurt! In a few days we will figure out it is better to do this on the table inside as we do not have to bend and hurt our bodies. At this point in our lives we are slow learners!

My folks flew in Wednesday and ended up in the adjoining apartment. I was so happy to see them and shocked, I didn't know if they really belived their gay sons had a baby! After all it had only been a 6 week gestation for us!

We all just sat around for 4 more days just watching the baby grow! Although my dad did make it to the health club every day. One time my mom had the baby on her lap on his belly. We had been scared silly of the babies sleeping on the belly thing but during the day we were OK. At the 4 hour mark I told my mom the doctor said he should eat every 3 hours and it was now 4 so I had to wake him up or he would be malnourished! I took my instructions very seriously!

Most evenings I would drive 10 minutes to some shopping center and get us all Chinese food for dinner. Now, I am a New York Jew, and I know my Chinese food, and this is not it! (They also still owe us an egg roll that they stiffed us on the last night - they must have known!) Although none of us lost any weight! I also developed a roll of film at the super market in the same center and when I picked them up I got my first congratulations!
For being a grandfather! No thank-you! Unfortunately that accusation has happened several times since, once by one of my old bosses!

I had also by this time found a BabiesRUs a few towns away and started to learn to buy nipples that were reusable. That was a big step! I also sent out some mass emails about the blessed event, I think AOL read the mass email as spam!

Thursday, the 8th day, was the day of the traditional Jewish Bris. I had investigated this before the baby was born and I had a "Moyel" all set up. He is the person that does the religious/traditional circumcision. Did I mention that he was also a pediatrician? I wasn't taking any chances! Needless to say, Grandpa and the 2 dads were sobbing throughout, and Grandma held strong. I couldn't bear to look, but my spouse peeked and has been traumatized since! The baby didn't really care, he had a cloth with some wine in his mouth - again, that is tradition! Me, I just never thought I would have a child, let alone bring him up in the tradition that I grew up with. I was very proud in between the tears.

This tradition usually comes with a large celebration, usually a big party in your house or even a hall, and since we were out of town we went to a fancy Italian restaurant to eat lunch afterwards. This was my folks first taste of going out with an out gay couple, there was no way anyone was going to mistake grandma for the mommy!

The staff at the restaurant could not have been nicer. When push comes to shove, everyone's love for a baby comes to the fore and nothing else matters. Several staff came over and were nice as can be, and the greeter herself was 6 months pregnant and was getting advice from me!

All the papers were cleared and we left Saturday for NYC! The gate agent was a little snotty (jealous I think) but the airline steward couldn't have been nicer! He was one of us if you know what I mean. American Airlines domestic 1st class was very nice, I hope it didn't spoil my 11 day old son! We had to hold him on our laps as they wouldn't allow him to be in a baby holder as the airlines had deemed that not safe in case of an accident. The airline steward gave him a little gift, a small airplane pin, he was being supportive of his fellow gays!

I relate this whole story to my son almost monthly as he asks to hear the story of his being born on occasion. I tell him that we flew home via St. Louis and he pooped in every airport! He totally enjoys that part of the story, I can still see the family changing room in St. Louis and the one in JFK. As soon as we landed we changed him so he would be clean to meet his other set of grandparent, Nanni and Popi! I called them from the cell phone in my daze and it turned out they were right in front of us. I thought there was tighter security at these airports!

We all drove to Manhattan and my spouse's folks slept over for a few days and then several times a week after that. They were in between houses at the time so it worked out perfectly for them to stay by us as much as we needed - and then some! After a few days my father-in-law called my spouse at work and said to please let his mother help! We had felt that it was our baby so we should be tortured all night long with the waking up. After 1 week of this and the offer from my mother-in-law, we got over ourselves! I don't think I slept anyway, I know I haven't in 7 years and counting!

We went back to work and we both got our baby showers! I was shocked, surprised and overjoyed at mine, the staff chipped in and got me a digital camera! It was the perfect gift and I will always be very grateful for that. Enough of those Kodak disposables!

At the end of June a friend of mine, who was a volunteer at my job, came over to pick me up for an event. I noticed she was a natural with the baby. She had been an emergency room nurse and a police detective. She was retired and single, I thought she would be a perfect nanny until we were able to put our son in daycare! She had my minimum qualifications after all!

There is a daycare/pre-K in our development, privately run and highly recommended by 2 people I knew and trusted. Quite by luck, I called Oct 1 and they said they would have an opening. To back up, Sept 1 there was a waiting list and we were #25. Someone dropped out before the new school year had started and they never got around to calling anyone. Because of their slowness, I guess they don't need the money, we were next on the list when I called! Everyone else had found alternative placement. As you can imagine, I wanted my son in a place with a whole staff trained in CPR, etc. taking care of him. Typical paranoid first time parent. I also suspected he would be an only child and I thought the socialization afforded him at this center would be helpful. Turns out we are still close friends with the twins we met at 4 months old, and we run into 2 others from that first baby room as well. It is right in our community and has been wonderful through the years and a great anchor. To scroll forward, my son went to public school with 6 of his daycare/pre-K classmates. That was comforting to me. We run into others from there all the time, it has been a great part of our community life.

And as much art work that I have from his first year at "school," at least I did not save any of the daily report sheets that told me when he had bowel movements throughout the day!

Saturday, January 30, 2010


We raced back to maternity and they quickly put me in scrubs (needless to say I saved those and used them as my Halloween costume for several years!). They explained that since the birth mom had come in the day before unexpectedly she was not on the schedule. Thankfully we made it, we were thrilled that one of us could actually be in the delivery room! I was chosen (by me!) to be there holding her hand through the procedure as I am the more empathic.

They gave her some minor drugs as they could not do more than that for a c-section and I held her hand and tried to keep her clam as she was letting everyone know she was feeling the while thing. In less than 10 minutes it was over for her, as soon as the baby was disconnected from the umbilical they put her out altogether. There had been a sheet up so I did not get to see the actual "operation" and it is just as well, my job was to let the birth mom know I cared about her and she wasn't alone. She has asked for that support earlier in our conversations and I don;t know any of her motivations, money, attention, etc., and I don;t care, she was our angel.

The nurses called me over to cut the umbilical (which was cut already but the parent gets to cut it down further to feel part of the process). I don;t know at what minute I started to sob but I can tell you I didn't stop. I had an instant camera that they took to take pictures of me (the staff was AMAZING, they treated me wonderfully and knew exactly how to guide crazed new parents through this process) and then they whisked the baby to the nursery for hours of tests.

So, here's the thing: the moment I saw this new born I had a feeling of recognition. Through my haze, through the feeling of pure love for this infant that I knew WAS my son, the instant I saw him I knew we had been together before and were meant to be together again at this time. I do not believe in reincarnation per se but I am telling you the exact feeling I had. When I read about Rosie O'Donnell relating her experience in the same situation, I understand completely what she is saying even though my exact feeling was different. As she puts it, like in the wizard of Oz, at that moment her life went from black and white to color. Adopting parents do not get 9 months to prepare mentally or any other way for our child's birth. Papers are not yet signed. But we know our miracle had occurred. We know our world has forever changed for the better. I understood now that winning the money lottery could not compare with this feeling I was having.

They guided me out of the operating room and I went to the waiting room to see my spouse. I could not talk, I remember very clearly from almost 7 years ago that I just gave him the thumbs up. I think it is possibly the only time in almost 18 years that I have really seen him cry.

Eventually we regained our composure and went to see him at the nursery. We were told that we would have a few hours to collect ourselves and I asked at the front desk if there was anyone who gave a baby class. They said they did have someone on staff buts he was out at the time. I am glad I knew to ask from my friends in NY, we would find her later!

I am a little hazy, I believe we drove to Toysrus (there was no Babiesrus but this tore had a large baby section). We were told not to go to Walmart as they were closer to the Mexican border and it was usually packed all day because of that proximity. We needed several things, I most clearly remember we bought a portable bassinet. We had NOTHING, we were completely unprepared for the next step, but we would do what we had to!

Back at the hospital we again inquired about the baby class and were told the girl had just stepped in. her name was Donna, she was originally from Connecticut, and she gave our son his first nickname, No Neck Nunzio (Nunzio is my father-in-law's name and my son's 1st of 2 middle names). This woman spent 2 hours with us and was like everyone else at this hospital, an ANGEL. She could not have been nicer, more supportive, and helpful. She gave us samples, coupons, a car seat for a donation of $25 which we used for over 2 years, and tons of information. I have since made donations to the hospital and sent her a thank-you letter, our experience in the butt end of Arizona was truly blessed.

Next, we went to see our son again, we went into the nursery, and a nurse was holding him that we had not met earlier and who did not know any of our story. The baby was called baby boy Rose for now and this nurse was calling him Peter. That is not a common name in this part of Arizona, right near Mexico. But it is my spouse's name. It was a sign as far as I was concerned that she was calling this unnamed baby by the name of his adoptive dad to be without any prior info about the situation. My spouse was nervous until the papers were to be signed 3 days hence and I told him that as far as I could tell, God was giving us a sign that this was our baby. I felt like God was literally saying hello to us as a way of saying don't worry. I was never worried, by the way, as I felt this birth mom had all the tell tale signs of someone who could not keep their child.

At this point we were told to get our stuff, we were sleeping over. Now we were in a state of shock! Someone knew enough of the situation to arrange for this babies parents to sleep over the first night of his life with him in the parent room. Again, we were in shock the way this hospital treated us like we were the parents already and it seemed like they were supporting us as if we were any couple that had just given birth. We were thrilled and horrified, we thought we had 1 more day to get used to the idea of having a baby to care for!

The fact that they were asking us to sleep over was not something we were expecting anywhere, let alone this part of the country. My point now is, forget what you read about this anti-gay sentiment in the newspapers, about people thinking gays shouldn't be parents, it is the same as the fact that people who are in the military know they are serving with gays and only care that they do a good job. No one seemed to care that we were gay, they only supported us a million percent in being good parents. And this was not an area that you would label progressive like NYC. That's all for my political message.

We ran back to the hotel to get some clothes, we tried to buy some food, we were in a zombie like state (not in the bad way).

We settled into the very uncomfortable parent room (just a note, I am not complaining!) on a fold out couch. A nurse came in every 3 hours to bath, feed, and check on the health of the baby. I could not handle the bathing part so Peter did his best to learn that. I believe that is the only job Peter kept for the next several years! There was very good security here, there was a line outside we could not cross with the baby as he had some kind of detection device on his bracelet.

The next morning we had the birth mom come in to say good-bye and hold the baby, I wanted to take pictures for him to see when he grows up. Did I mention I took some pictures of her the night before as well, with that huge pregnant belly? I was not keeping secrets from my son, I am the type to drive him to meet her when he turns 18!

There were some details at the last minute, the hospitals social worker wanted to control our exit (and delay it it) for his own personal reasons, our lawyer gave us instructions so that we could leave in a legal fashion and circumvent this guys control issues. I did not think there was any anti gay issues here, he might have been one of us, I felt like he just had to do it his way. My lawyer had worked with this hospital before but no that social worker. Luckily I had my lawyers cell phone number, you do not know when you need to reach yours in an emergency. The hospital had just moved towards pushing breast feeding so everyone was quite generous with the formula samples, good thing, we were not ready to figure out that part on our own just yet!

May 30, 2003, Friday, is a blur, we left the hospital at almost noon and drove to our hotel to wait out the 3 day signing period. We had asked the hotel for a crib, what a laugh, that thing was huge compared to our 6 1/2 pound kid! Luckily we had that bassinet. I don't know what or how we ate, I dimly remember a Chinese buffet the day before that was recommended by the birth mom, we brought some back for her and her husband, I would have bought them any meal they would have wanted! I forgot, we did visit her later in the day after he was born. She was flying high most of that day which I suspect was what she preferred anyway. Can you blame her?

Saturday, 2 days after his birth, she was due to go home. For any moms out there, is that normal, 2 days after a cesarean? I don;t think so, but the state was paying. Oh, yeah, luckily for our wallets her welfare had kicked in earlier in the week, that saved us a lot of fees. She had asked us for a ride to her house but we did not get there in time. We were still in touch via the 800 number transferred from my home phone to my cell now in Arizona. She asked us to take her to the pharmacy for her prescriptions, again, we would do anything she asked. I somehow knew to have her sit in the front seat while I sat in the back with the baby. I was VERY nice but trying to keep a distance so she could not develop any attachments. Don't get me wrong, she was very sweet, very supportive, her roommates had 2 kids and they gave us some stuff for the baby. I was thrilled for the hand me downs, it was a great gesture.

Peter and I are still zombie like trying to feed the baby and change diapers every 3 hours. Remember that meck? Their first bowel movements where they are still digesting what they received when in the womb? I think that was almost finishing, it was just so difficult to wipe!
At some point I went back to the maternity ward crying to the nurse, I needed more nipples cause I did not how to get my own! Don't worry, I would soon learn! While I was there I also managed to beg for more formula, they brought me a case which fell! They brought me another case so I took the unbroken half and the whole other one. Oh yeah, I was a bargain hunter there as well! Really its just we did not know what to do yet, how to buy formula!

Sunday morning comes and I would get breakfast at the hotel buffet and make a plate for Peter and bring it to him, he would not leave the baby nor take it to the breakfast room. I don;t recall why, we were not in our right minds just yet. We packed the car so we could leave as son as the papers were signed. Again, I had 2 cases of Enfamil samples packs from Donna who taught us baby care, many small bottles for feeding and the baby stuff we were starting to collect.

The birth mother calls at about 11 am to tell us she signed the papers and the lawyer was on his way to us to complete the job. We profusely thanked her and of course she and I were crying, yes, in this situation I was just a big crying girl! As soon as the lawyer left us we got in the car and headed to Phoenix. Not that we didn't love where we were. we just felt now that the papers were signed, the birth mom had relinquished her legal rights, we wanted to get out of her town! We would eventually fly out of Phoenix so that was to be our home base until the next set of papers were completed by the various state courts in NY and AZ. We drove 3 hours through the desert, stopping at some restaurant/fast food type place as the baby was crying for a feeding. We did manage to feed him you know!

Eventually we rolled into Phoenix, we were staying at a golf resort, it was off-season so we had a lovely 1 bedroom apartment with ALL the amenities, including a washer/dryer in the kitchen, something every new parent should have close by! And my spouse shocked me by showing me he knew how to operate such appliances! As always, thanks to Jackie of Southwest Airlines, a friend of my dear college friend, Mindy, as with he rental car, she recommended this place and it was perfect for our needs! It pays to have friends and contacts when you have this kind of a big country wide situation. Again, I felt the whole thing was God driven, he was helping us every step of the way, truly in my heart, this feeling is still with me!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Almost there!

April, 2003, our 2 weeks of $10,000 worth of newspaper ads begins. These ads went into local papers, pennysavers, not major metropolitan newspapers, this is where this type of ad would go. There was no response for the first 4 days. Some of the ads went into weekly publications so we were told they would sit in peoples house's for a week and extend the possibility of responses out for a 3rd week. Finally someone answered. An ex-stripper with a daughter with diabetes? Someone who needed money for medical stuff right away? It was a tough call but we hung in with this and any birth mother that responded. On the Jewish holiday of Passover my dear friend, Marion, and her husband were driving Peter and I to my parents house for the 1st Seder. The phone rang and I hushed everyone up. I was told the day before this girl had answered the ad and I should overnight a packet with our story detailing our love of kids and the picture book I spoke of earlier. All calls were forwarded from the extra phone line we set up so we were available 24 hours a day and could not be interrupted by our regular house hold calls.

I had a lengthy conversation with the young woman as Peter and our friends listened in. She sounded great, she was pregnant with a baby not by her husband, they had been on a break, and she had given up her 3rd child for adoption several years back. She was a perfect candidate for going through with the process, she was busy with the twins she had with her current husband after all.
She had our info and was going to send us her pictures. I was flirtatious, supportive, friendly, all the things I was told to be. She was in Arizona.

That afternoon the other girl called to tell us her sonogram said she was carrying a girl, then she got upset that I didn't sound happy enough,I was not fully trusting this one anyway, she called a week later to say she miscarried, so that was finished, we will never know the truth. We were also working with one other person who could not afford another child, we were not sure of her because her spouse had not agreed to anything. Also, they were in Colorado and I would have to hire an adoption agency to handle the details, everything is state by state rule.

We had to work with everyone as if they were are only hope because you do not know who will pan out. Did I mention they all got an 800 number to reach us anytime, day or night? You have to bear that expense and it is well worth it. You have to try really hard to keep your expectations low and keep hopeful, there are sometimes twists and turns along the way that you do not expect. We had a woman helping us who behaved like a trusting social worker and our lawyer on the other side saying don't trust anyone. It is confusing but again I was hoping my prayers would be answered and I had to trust the process, that I had done all I could do, and just move forward.

We spoke to the Arizona woman a few times and then there was a communication blackout for almost 2 weeks, we were disappointed but we did not know this was the one. Then she called from a pay phone, her twins had destroyed the phone, I had been buying her minutes for her cell phone so we could talk and now she needed money for dentistry and we confirmed that it was legit so we were investing some money here AND you have to know you could lose it all. She had sent us a pic of the sonogram and explained she was having a boy. We tried not to get too excited, she was turning out to be the best candidate. She did send us her pictures and the next phone call was super easy for me - I told her we didn't care what she looked like but were quite surprised when we saw how pretty she was - she ate it up but like I said it was easy, she was a very good looking woman. She had had had 5 kids and 3 other pregnancies that did not make it to term. We were told she might have answered an ad before us but missed that boat. She tried to have a procedure (I can't type the word) but didn't have the money for it and couldn't get it from the birth father. THANK GOD!!!!!!!!!!!! ( I am not pro the procedure but I am for a woman's right to choose). Her husband did mistake me for the birth father and was angry during 1 phone call but they worked it out. There were some harrowing times, full of worry, scared this was not going to work out, trying to think where the next $10,00 would come from but we forged ahead. All in all the signs seemed to add up for us, I felt that God was working on this for us.

Well, here we are working with 2 birth mothers, it is heading into mid-May and we are told by Miss Arizona that a c-section has been set-up for June 11, 2003. I promptly booked a round trip on American Airlines using frequent flier miles (40,000 each) and had enough for 1 st class. That becomes significant soon. We are a little in shock and still praying that this pans out. We are told by an expert that this is going exactly how a successful situation would go but you can never get your hopes up to high and DO NOT have a baby shower, our friends had been burned when they jumped the gun. Did I mention God? I had been praying my tushy off, as I have said before, yes, gay people pray! I prayed all the time anyway since I found spirituality, I prayed even harder through this whole process.

May 28, 2003 the phone rings at 5 a.m. The prospective birth mother calls to say there was a little bleeding and we should be aware she will go to the Dr first thing in the morning and we should be prepared. I can;t remember how we got such an early call from Arizona with the time difference but the Dr told us he would do the c-section the next day and could we fly out. Are you kidding? She wanted us in the room for the delivery and we were thrilled at the thought and we would do everything to get there! Peter had gone to work and was told to be ready to leave at a moments notice, disconnecting his computer for the trip (it as supposed to act as a lap top,didn't really work too well!). Having first class tickets meant we could change them at any time for free, we got an afternoon flight to Phoenix with a switch in Detroit. My friend from college worked at Southwest airlines and her coworker that we had already met lived near Phoenix so she had helped arrange a reasonable car rental. Peter came home, we packed, we headed to the airport in a zombie state and headed into the sky.

When we landed in Detroit there was a several hour layover and for some reason I thought to check the schedule and there was a flight continuing on in 20 minutes, we had to race through the airport and luckily the airlines automatically move your luggage to an earlier flight which they did in this case and we got on! We had separate seats and they were not 1 st class but we were saving 3 hours! I never thought of the luggage but I am glad it was there.

Upon arrival at Phoenix airport we get our car and head out into the desert for a 3 hour drive. The sign outside the major prison that you pass is quite funny, it advises you not to pick up hitchhikers!
We arrive at the hospital at 9 p.m., exhausted but anxious as we are about to meet our birth mother! She did not look as good as the pictures she sent but after all she was 12 hours away from giving birth! We met her husband, we met her mother-in-law and the twins, it was quite weird all over the place! We left to check into the hotel and our brains were completely fried from the days journey and the thoughts running through our heads. Would we soon be dads? Was this really happening? Was our biggest dream just around the corner?

I am not sure how we fell asleep that evening, but we headed to the hospital the next morning. We were told there was no c-section on the calendar so we were thrown for a loop but hung around until we could talk to the Dr ourselves. I of course was worried about how we were going to book another trip for the June 11 c-section.
In the meantime I of course had us check out the cafeteria when we got a call. Where were we? I said there was nothing on the schedule. It was explained that it was a last minute thing, that's why it wasn't ton the schedule. We raced over to maternity..................

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Adoption How To:

1. Try to join a support group in your area.
2. Consider an agency or foster care/foster adopt.
3. Interview adoption lawyers.
4. Interview social workers.
5. Referrals for any of the above is always helpful.
6. Do not be intimidated by the process, don't give up!

How we did it:
1. Joined Wannabe dads/moms.
2. Got social worker referral through group.
3. Got lawyer referral from social worker.
4. Got adoption adviser through lawyer.
5. Take paperwork 1 step at a time, talk to people, network.
6. Most people I know have had great success.


We used a social worker for our follow-up visit after the baby was placed with us, I got her from the JCAA, You need a social worker before the adoption and after the placement, before the finalization and I recommend them, a non-Jewish couple in Staten Island used them, there are no special requirements needed on your part, they can do both and they were very reasonable.

The lawyer I retained was Stephen Lewin, an NYC adoption lawyer. He was down to earth and very practical, there are some scams out there and when I got too excited, he kept me grounded and I recommend him. I felt the charge I received when it was all over was more than fair, how may times do you hear that in relation to lawyers! Of course I am cheap and tried very hard not to bother him with a lot of stuff.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


I knew that the Gay and Lesbian Community Center had a support group for becoming a parent called Wannabe Dads and Moms. I tried to contact the person in charge of the group but never heard from him. Today I understand it wasn't meant to be until it was meant to be. Finally one day, a guy from the neighborhood that I knew from a different support group was talking about his adopted son and how they were looking for another child. I interrupted him and asked for advice so that we could start our journey and EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON, he mentioned the most important early step was to go to the Wannabe group! This time instead of calling I got the schedule and we went! Clearly I needed a bigger push to initiate the project and this was my push (I say God's push!)

At our first meeting there were 2 families that had just adopted children. One was a couple with their baby boy, adopted locally, and the other was a single guy who adopted a child from Guatemala. To see actual gay men with their own adopted children was a powerful experience and the statement that I remember most clearly was that if you kept up in the process there would be a 100% success rate. Peter and I were thrilled to pieces to see that our dream could become reality. And again, I was in another support group, and while people referred to the adoption paperwork as a mountain, I learned to interpret it as 1 piece of paper at a time, that is so much more manageable than a mountain!

A few months later a social worker came to talk to the group. Not having any idea what the next step was we hired her to start our home-study, we weren't really ready to proceed but we did have enthusiasm! And I loved her credentials, she had done Rosie O'Donnell's first home-study and was on her show discussing it, that was good enough for me, (I will forever be a Rosie fan!) The home-study is necessary for the social worked to file with the courts that we are appropriate people to raise a child. Again, I am a believer in just going with the process and, not knowing what to do next, I asked for her recommendation for a lawyer. She named 2, one was in NYC so I hired him.. Just take the next step in front of you I always say!

Eventually we hired the lawyer, we had to come up with $5,000, so we did not jump into that, that was after the $750 for the home study (which I delayed finishing for a very long time as it has an expiration before you have to redo it and we had started to get ahead of ourselves - now I understand that our baby was not ready yet so God was slowing us down, after all he knows best!).

The lawyer had us do wills and the "mountain" of paperwork that was in addition to the home-study paperwork, and it all got done! Imagine that! It's all doable! Now what? The lawyer recommended a woman he had worked with who guides you on advertising in the states where the laws are more adoption friendly. We did not feel that an agency would put a gay couple at the top of the list for prospective children so we went the route of "open adoption" where the birth parents would have contact with us leading up to the end of the process and beyond if we so wished. That means Arizona is easier than Pennsylvania as parental rights can be signed away in 3 days vs. 6 months. I could not fall in love and risk having my child taken away. We also put together a booklet of ourselves that needed to be ready to send to prospective birth parents that "sold" us as great candidates for adopting their babies. It had pictures with our nieces and nephews, our family members, etc. It was beautiful! And all true, I had 3 nieces and nephews and Peter had 5, at this point our lives really did revolve around family visits where we played with the nieces and nephews as often as possible, practically weekly. That is what we had as our life priority, we love kids and leaving them at night as we went home and they went to their house was not enough.
And we would spend long vacations with out extended families and even through the fighting and crying and night time wake-ups we still wanted more, we wanted a child of our own to experience ALL of the wonders of parenting!

We prepared our ad. We were artistic - code for not being regular or straight. Whomever answered the ad would hopefully not be as surprised with that code word when they found out that a same sex couple would be looking to adopt their child. I was not worried about the birth moms, I felt that there would be less rivalry with us as there might be with another woman who they might view as judgemental since one in essence was giving up a baby and the other was "good enough" to take care of that baby. Just one of the thoughts in my head. We set up a Fed-ex account so we could overnight our brochure and be ready, we were told this was a competitive market and we have to be at the front of the pack, we were getting readier by the day!

I should also add that we were living in a studio apartment on the west side of NY. We did not feel we would get approved in such a small home as a studio for adoption so we put our names on a list to move into Stuyvesant Town on the east side of NY, a rent stabilized community. I felt that was our only hope. We were on that list for 4 years and then got a 2 bedroom apartment and our rent doubled from $800 to $1600, it seemed like a lot but it was a great deal for Manhattan. This 4 years was part of the many steps in our process to build a suitable life to bring a child into. I would like to point out that we are solidly middle-class, we are not rich, we weren't really sure we could afford adoption or the raising of a child but we had to try, we had to go through all the steps to see if it was doable.

I believe it was about 15 months after we had our initial home-study visit that we were finally able to place our ads across the country. We were gong to do a 2 week blitz and the cost was almost $10,000, more because I wanted to include NY and NJ, thinking it would be easier to pick our kid up locally! Little did I know we would not have a bite from that extra $1500! That's OK, it was all part of our process.

Back Story

As a teenage I was very unhappy realizing that I was gay. I used to imagine having a wife and kids just to feel a little bit better about myself. Alas, it wasn't to be, it was not something I could change, it is something you are born as.
As I grew older the aids crisis came into full swing and I used that as an excuse to not act on my feelings. I drank at gay bars instead.
Finally I decided enough was enough and I put out the word that I wanted to meet someone, I told friends, and i put an ad in the Village Voice. This is 18 1/2 years ago, the whole ad scene has changed what with all the sex adds and Internet dating that now is available. In my day (old-timer that I am) there was one place for nice people to meet nice people and if you were gay it was easier in the Village Voice vs. New York Magazine. I had heard success stories so I thought I would give it a go and 6 months later after 24 interviews (different dates), Peter got the job! I suppose more details about that whole process deserve a whole other blog but I will tell you one story, we made out on the second date and after he left (it was a very innocent make-out session) I called my BFF, Pam, and told her I was seeing stars. What did I know, I had very little experience! She quickly brought me down to earth and explained that it was a lack of oxygen. Thanks a lot!

Peter and my relationship moved quickly , there is a joke about lesbians, what do they bring to a second date and the answer is a U-Haul. We are simple guys and we knew we were meant for each other (OK, now I have doubts about that daily but its been almost 18 years, I can't give up the ship!) and he moved in after 4 months of dating. In case you couldn't tell from the main part of my blog, it is all about economics, he was staying over 4 nights a week since week 3 of dating so I thought it was time to get 1/2 the rent! Peter's story about our early dating is in regards to Date #1, after breakfast I took him shopping for coffee - he said he should have known then that if I went shopping as part of a first date that I was a shopaholic - alas, he was too infatuated with my chubbiness to see anything else!

SO here's the point of the story - Week 2 of our dating we were walking around SOHO and happened into a toy store. Peter stated that the saddest thing to him about being gay was that he couldn't have kids. Penniless as I was I told him I fully intended to adopt a baby and become a dad.
For me, my baby brother become a father at the age of 23 and I figured if he could do it anyone could ( and he does a great job of it, my little brother!) I traveled far and wide to see my first nephew and I fell in love at first sight, after all those years of imagining parenthood, it really was what I wanted. When Peter heard that being a parent was no longer impossible it just further cemented our relationship and gave us a long-term goal. It brightened his world and it helped me as I did not have to think about doing it alone (as a single penniless person!).

And so the long journey began,.
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