As a soon-to-be English educator and writer, I often tend to look for stories in people. Whether you realize it or not, everyone has a story, whether it be some out-of-this-world life experience they’ve had or how they went about eating breakfast one morning. Everyone’s stories come together to create the intricacies of humankind. It’s what makes each and every person’s story so different and beautiful.
I’ve worked in residence life at Rutgers University for the past four years. During this time, I’ve met some pretty incredible people with some pretty incredible stories. One of these people was Michael.
I only briefly worked with Michael last year, but it was through our Facebook friendship that I found out about his story. Michael and his husband, Bill, are starting their family… by adopting not one, but three children at once. Three siblings to be exact. (A 7 year old boy, a 4 year old girl, and a 2 year old boy.)
As someone who wants to potentially foster and/or adopt children in the future, seeing their story unfold on Facebook really meant a lot to me. It meant even more to me as a lesbian to see such a happy adoption story.
You know what meant even more to me? Seeing our department at work send a department-wide email out to its hundreds of staff members, congratulating Michael and Bill, and offering a place where people could donate items for their 3 kids really gave me a lot to smile about and be proud of.
In a matter of days, Michael and his husband will be bringing their three children home. I’ve set up a fundraising page so that we can help them out.
Michael was kind enough to sit down and share his story with me… Get the tissues ready, folks. These children are so lucky to have these two men as their dads!
Congratulations again, Michael & Bill. I’m so happy for you both!
Tell me a bit about you and your husband, and your story. (how you met, how long you’ve been together, etc.)
A: My husband and I have been together for 5.5 years. We met online at match.com. I work at Rutgers doing marketing and assessment for housing and residence life. He is the director of information systems at a copier company. I grew up in North Jersey in a small town named Rutherford. He grew up in Philadelphia. We are both self-proclaimed nerds. We bonded over our love of video games, geeky books, and all things nerdy.
When did you start the adoption process?
A: We began the adoption process in December of 2011. We began going to various information sessions with agencies in mid-December. We were given a list of agencies from a lawyer who we contacted to ask about the process and what he recommended we do to ensure everything was legal. We found our agency in January of 2012, the Lutheran Social Ministries. We then began the paperwork, foster care classes, and preparing later that month. We took a couple month hiatus to find a house to finalize our home study. We were approved in September and were contact in mid-February of 2013 about these children. We learned on March 28th that we were chosen to be their forever family.
How/when did you decide you would be adopting three children?
A: When we began we were not sure if wanted an infant or older children. My husband wanted an older child and I wanted an infant. When we found out the infant adoption cost and process, we decided that we would go into the process looking for 2 or 3 children. This way, he could get an older child, and I would hopefully be able to get a younger child. We also wanted to adopt children that were at risk for not being adopted. The most at-risk children are sibling sets who have older (older than 2) children in them. We knew we wanted more than 1 and felt that we could also help a sibling set that may not have been adopted due to their being a sibling set.
What are you looking forward to the most about fatherhood?
A: I am looking forward to a lot. A lot of it is mundane. I just want to sit and watch a movie with my children or eat breakfast and laugh. I look forward to helping them with homework and teaching them to ride a bike. My husband looks forward to finding connections with each child. He is excited to watch them grow and develop.
What are you the most nervous about regarding fatherhood?
A: Everything! We are both nervous about the adjustment. We have both read a lot of literature on the attachment and adjustment period for older children from foster care. It can be a 2-4 year process if all goes smoothly. I fear the difficult times that may last weeks or months. We all have an ideal family in our minds, and I need to be able to know that our family may never meet my ideal perceptions. This does not mean it is bad. It just means I need to adjust my expectations and love the family I have.
What is most difficult about adopting three siblings at once, versus a single-child adoption?
A: For us, I think it is the fact that we are outnumbered. We joke that we cannot do man-to-man defense. We will need to help 3 children grieve the loss of their birth and foster families, while helping them adjust here. Also, we need to integrate them with our families. Our families are super-supportive, and they are super excited to meet these children. We have to help everyone understand that we will need to avoid large gatherings, as not to overwhelm the children. Our choices are no longer about what we want, but what will help the children appropriately grieve and adjust to their new life in our families.
How can people help you as you welcome your three children home?
A: Be supportive and understanding. Offer advice in a non-judgmental manner. Listen when we need to vent. At the end of the day, these children are going through a lot, and their adjustment here is going to be a long process. We need people to understand that we may need to withdraw before we can go on play dates, bring them to large parties, or do “normal” family things. The support we have from our families and friends has been overwhelming. Even the opportunity to tell our story here is wonderful. The outpouring of support, gifts, and help has been amazing.
What else would you like to tell people about your growing family?
A: Right now there is not much to tell. We are two guys who wanted a family. We are on the verge of the largest life-changing event in our lives. Check back with me in a month or 6 months or a year, and I will probably have a lot more to share about who I am and how everything is going. Right now we are experiencing excitement, anxiety, and overwhelming love when we think about these children.
You can make a donation to help Michael & Bill’s growing family out by visiting http://www.gofundme.com/2tsbz4 or clicking the widget.