Friday, March 20, 2015

The Next Big Step

I have wanted to be a dad since I was in my mid-twenties. It was something I pretty much kept to myself as that was time when gay men weren’t fathers. It was something I wanted and knew I would never have. Like living on the Starship Enterprise or traveling through time.

When I was married to Ulco, we talked about adopting someday and as happens, life gets in the way. I also liked being selfish. Not in a bad way, just I liked traveling on a whim, spending my money on what I wanted and not having to worry about someone else. No thoughts of braces or college, just the pure enjoyment of self indulgence. But always, I wondered what it would be like to be a dad. In Europe, the rules are such that you have to be no older than a certain age when you receive the first child and then there are other age restrictions after that. I am past that age and many years ago, resigned myself to the fact that I would never be a dad.

Coming back to the US and being around my niece and nephews rekindled that spark. I love taking them out and even though it is sometimes a convenient to drop them off at home sometimes, there is always a part of me that is sad to have it end. Even when they are on my nerves the most, they are still my favorite people in the world.

Before John and I ever got together, when we were great friends and nothing more, we had the occasional conversation about children. He wanted to be a father as well and also due to the way life works out, he never acted on that want. He never let go of the dream even though he realized it was not to be.

After we got into a relationship, John and I talked about it a few times. He is amazing with my niece and nephews and I sometimes wonder if they don’t love and enjoy him more than me. If they do, it’s perfectly okay with me. He’s an amazing guy and I love watching him with them.

In December, a woman came to my office. She came to participate in a small event we were having and even though I had never seen her before, I knew I had to talk to her. She worked with families that fostered and adopted children. A week later, John and I attended an information session to look into the possibility of adopting. Since then, we have been through two background checks, and Monday, we start the 30 hours of classes we have to complete before we begin the home study, after which we will be eligible to foster and adopt.

As we want to adopt, we will only be matched with children who are available for adoption. We want to adopt older children, between the ages of 8 and 12 and we are probably looking at siblings. Once a child reaches 8 years old, nobody really wants them. Everyone wants a baby, then they want an only child. We are looking at older siblings, open to whoever crosses our path that seems like a good fit. being older, not only can we choose them, but they get to choose us. And we know there’s a risk in that. It’s a vulnerability I’ve never felt before.

Since December, I can’t help but look at things in a different way. I know that there is someone out there who is going to change our lives in ways we can’t imagine or understand. There are children out there that have no idea that we are here, waiting for them. Waiting to open our home, our hearts and shake our lives up in every way possible. I sometimes wonder what they are doing. I wonder and hope that wherever they are right now, that they are with someone who loves them. I hope they are being treated well.

If all goes according to schedule, we should be licensed around early August. Given the ages of the children we would like to adopt, the chance of welcoming a child very soon after that is big. We know there will be hard times. We know there will be a lot to handle, but we will handle it. I can’t wait to see John be a dad or to be a dad myself. Every second the clock ticks is one closer to a new life, to a new family.

One second closer to being a dad.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Getting Shaved

Just over a week ago, I had my head shaved. I had done it many times before, but this time, things felt very different. I shaved my head for the St. Baldricks Foundation, to raise money for childhood cancer research. I heard about the organization and the event just a couple of weeks before it would all take place. I knew I didn’t have much time and I also knew that I had to be involved. I signed up to get my head shaved and actually had no idea if I would raise any money at all, so I set my fundraising goal at $1000. It didn’t seem like a lot, but suddenly, there was this number looming and the clock was ticking. I had never done something like that before, and while I know that every cent helps, I wanted to reach my goal. And finally, I not only reached it, but I went a little bit over. 

The event itself was not what I expected. I imagined I would arrive at McMullen’s Pub, have a drink with friends, get my head shaved and be done with it. I hadn’t anticipated the emotions that filled the place. It was crowded to overflowing. So many people there to have their heads shaved including children and women who were donating their longer hair to be used for wigs. There were tears and laughter and hugs and smiles. It was such a mix of emotion. I have friends and family that have dealt with cancer. Some have beat it, others have not, including my dad who passed away almost 13 years ago. And then, while I have never had cancer, going through two strokes taught me the importance of giving and accepting help from others, no matter the size. I would never had made it through had it not been for the kindness and support of others. Sometimes it was just a kind word, sometimes it was more involved, and it was all necessary. 

So I sat in my chair with the buzz of the clippers in my ear and the cold metal on scalp. I was sad and happy and excited and filled with so much emotion. It wasn’t about shaving my head, it wasn’t about any of us shaving our heads, it was about children whose names I will never know, families who will go through things I can’t even begin to wrap my head around and honestly hope I never have to. It was about the parents there that had lost children, about the people that had lost brothers and sisters. It was also about celebrating life, having a beer with friends and realizing that being there, just being able to be there, alive and healthy, was an incredible gift.

I left feeling elated and introspective and since then, I spend quite a bit of time thinking about the event and what it really meant. It has caused me to look at things a little differently and has started me on the path of change, something I have felt coming and now I have had just the tiniest push and the momentum has begun. More on that in time.

I have decided I want to do this every year and I want to do more than that to help. I am gong to reach out to see what I can do to help raise money and raise awareness. I never imagined that such a simple act as getting my hair shaved off would have such an impact. It has shown me that we really don’t need to do big, huge things to make a difference. A difference can be made with a flick of the clippers.

Thanks to everyone who donated and helped me reach not only reach, but pass my goal. It was an amazing feeling! If you are interested in joining me next year, or getting involved, let me know.