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Now We are a Family

Gay parents speak: How three New Hampshire families came together

  • Robin Marcotte (left) and Bobby Kelly adopted Aurora when she was an infant and they were living in Philadelphia; Wednesday, June 26, 2013. They now live in Concord.<br/>ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff

    Robin Marcotte (left) and Bobby Kelly adopted Aurora when she was an infant and they were living in Philadelphia; Wednesday, June 26, 2013. They now live in Concord.
    ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff

  • Robin Marcotte and Bobby Kelly adopted Aurora when she was an infant and they were living in Philadelphia; Wednesday, June 26, 2013. A photograph in their Concord home shows them on match day, when Kelly was selected for a residency at Concord Hospital.<br/><br/><br/>ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff

    Robin Marcotte and Bobby Kelly adopted Aurora when she was an infant and they were living in Philadelphia; Wednesday, June 26, 2013. A photograph in their Concord home shows them on match day, when Kelly was selected for a residency at Concord Hospital.


    ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff

  • Tom Rossman and his partner Matt Miller hang out with their 10-month-old son Ryan at their home in Manchester on June 24, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Tom Rossman and his partner Matt Miller hang out with their 10-month-old son Ryan at their home in Manchester on June 24, 2013.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Tom Rossman and his partner Matt Miller hang out with their 10-month-old son Ryan at their home in Manchester on June 24, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Tom Rossman and his partner Matt Miller hang out with their 10-month-old son Ryan at their home in Manchester on June 24, 2013.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • William and Joe Wesley and their children. <br/><br/>Courtesy photo

    William and Joe Wesley and their children.

    Courtesy photo

  • Robin Marcotte (left) and Bobby Kelly adopted Aurora when she was an infant and they were living in Philadelphia; Wednesday, June 26, 2013. They now live in Concord.<br/>ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff
  • Robin Marcotte and Bobby Kelly adopted Aurora when she was an infant and they were living in Philadelphia; Wednesday, June 26, 2013. A photograph in their Concord home shows them on match day, when Kelly was selected for a residency at Concord Hospital.<br/><br/><br/>ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff
  • Tom Rossman and his partner Matt Miller hang out with their 10-month-old son Ryan at their home in Manchester on June 24, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Tom Rossman and his partner Matt Miller hang out with their 10-month-old son Ryan at their home in Manchester on June 24, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • William and Joe Wesley and their children. <br/><br/>Courtesy photo

We couldn’t parent in a vacuum.

Even before my husband and I adopted our son, we knew that we would need to enlarge our circle of friends. Concord isn’t exactly known for having a big gay community, and we wanted Baxter to know other kids with same-sex parents. So we set out to meet families with experiences similar to our own.

That voyage has been fascinating. Through luck, the internet and a chatty real estate agent, we met and befriended several couples (and their kids). While many of their ups and downs mirror ours, all have had to clear their own paths in the unpredictable world of adoption.

Here are a few of their stories.

Robin, Bobby and Aurora

My husband and I met C. Robin Marcotte and Bobby Kelly through our real estate agent. The two were moving to the Concord area, and she thought they might like to know another gay couple. At the time, they were still in the middle of their adoption process, waiting on a match from an agency in Philadelphia.

These days, Kelly is a resident at Concord Hospital and Marcotte is an adjunct faculty member at Plymouth State University. Life in New Hampshire has been a bit of an adjustment for the former big-city residents, but they’ve been busy enjoying it with their 15-month old daughter, Aurora.

Marcotte answered my questions.

When and how did you and your husband meet?

Singing in the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus in 2003. We started dating two years later, so that puts us at eight years now.

When did you start talking about having children, and why?

On our second date, I asked Bobby what his thoughts were on having children. In my experience, this scared off a lot of men, but it was a topic that was important to me. I wanted to know where he stood. I was happy to hear we shared the same thoughts. We started talking about it seriously in 2009, a year after we got married.

Tell me a little about your adoption process.

We interviewed all the open adoption agencies around us and decided on the one that had the most experience. They were also recommended to us by friends. It took us two months to get the home study complete. Once that was all situated, we went into “the book” and waited for 11 months.

Were there any unexpected obstacles?

The hardest thing was always answering the questions from our family and friends of “have you heard anything yet?” We realized they were being 100 percent supportive, but waiting was pretty challenging as it was.

How were you finally matched?

On the Friday she was born, the social worker called us and told us we were chosen. We were to come in on Saturday morning and meet our little girl and her birth mother.


How and when did you see your daughter for the first time?

Aurora’s birth mother walked us into the nursery, and we all took turns holding her. It was a beautiful and powerful moment.

What have the months since your adoption been like?

It has been an amazing journey. We all moved up to New Hampshire from Philadelphia not long after we were placed, as Bobby finished medical school and started his residency program that June. There have been many adjustments – being new parents, being gay parents in New Hampshire, not living in a city – but they have all been worth it to see our beautiful girl grow up and be so happy.

Are you planning to adopt again?

Yes! Hopefully within the next two years.

Any advice for other same-sex couples looking to adopt?

Take your time, do the research and ask lots of questions. Talk to other couples who have adopted, both same-sex and heterosexual.

Tom, Matt and Ryan

We connected with Tom Rossman and Matt Miller through an online gay parents group. The two were in the early stages of the adoption process and eager to ask us questions. We met them for the first time on Fathers Day, 2011. Our son, Baxter, was less than 3 months old then.

Two years later, Rossman and Miller have a son of their own, Ryan. Both work for Fidelity Investments in Merrimack. As New Hampshire residents who used a private attorney, the two have a story broadly similar to ours. But the two ended up facing a bigger challenge than Max or I could have imagined.

Rossman answered my questions.

When and how did you and your husband meet?

We met in December 1999 after chatting for a few months on a gay website. A group of the regular chatters agreed to met up at a local gay bar one evening, but only three of us actually showed. Matt and I stuck together all evening as the third was a bit scary. And it’s been history since then. We were married on Sept. 3, 2011.

When did you start talking about having children, and why?

We had discussed having kids on and off over the years, but for quite a while it didn’t seem realistic, so it was just a distant thought. After same-sex marriage passed (for New Hampshire) in 2010, we realized that we could adopt.

What other options did you consider, if any?

Pets! Actually, we started down the international adoption route but quickly found out that the countries that had children for adoption typically didn’t allow them to be adopted by same-sex couples, or even single males. Plus we realized that we really wanted a newborn, and that it’s difficult to adopt a newborn internationally.

Were there any unexpected obstacles?

Yes. Our biggest worry was that the birth mother would change her mind. It kept us up at night because of how mentally attached we had become to our baby. If she changed her mind, then not only would we not have a baby but we’d also have delayed parenthood and would be out a lot of money.

As time went on, these worries subsided. Things were going well in our relationship with the birth mother. Friends threw us a beautiful shower. We even had a Christmas stocking made with the baby’s name. With two weeks to go we made travel arrangements to pick up our baby.

What happened next actually was worse than our biggest worry. The birth mother went to a regular checkup and the doctor couldn’t find a heartbeat. We were crushed.

How were you finally matched?

We found out about a potential match on a Thursday but didn’t have many details. Although the baby wasn’t due for two weeks, the mother went into labor the next day. The lawyer wanted to know if we were in! So we compiled a long list of questions, got answers to only a few of them, and took a leap of faith!

The next day we bought plane tickets, told our bosses we’d be back at some point, threw what baby items we had in a suitcase, and flew to Arizona to pick up our son.

How and when did you see your son for the first time?

After arriving at the airport and taking what seems like an hour trying to get the car seat in the rental car securely, we drove to Starbucks – sobbing the entire way – to pick up our baby. We spent the next 30 minutes taking turns washing our hands until the birth mother’s lawyer and her daughter showed up with our baby boy. We had received one picture of Ryan the day prior, so we already had an idea of what he looked like, but he was all the more beautiful in person.

What have the months since the adoption been like?

The past 10 months have been wonderful. We’ve dealt with sleepless nights, going back to work, teething, big smiles, laughs, a multitude of visitors . . . I could go on and on about the magic of this time, but it really hasn’t been any different than what I would expect for an opposite-sex couple.

Are you planning to adopt again?

We’re struggling with this decision. We’d like to give Ryan a brother or sister, but things are pretty great right now.

Any advice for other same-sex couples looking to adopt?

There will be bumps along the way, and people will say, “it was meant to be.” You won’t believe it at the time, but it’s true – don’t give up. For same-sex couples, you’ll worry about being discriminated against, but it probably won’t happen to you. Yes, you’ll get questions from strangers who ask your baby, “Where’s mommy or daddy today?” But they’re just trying to be friendly.

One thing we were surprised about was how many people recognized our adoption with cards, or gifts. I think people went a little bit beyond what they’d typically do for a new baby of an opposite-sex couple. It felt like folks went out of their way to recognize our nontraditional family. Maybe I’m giving too much credit, but that’s okay.

William, Joe and family

William Wesley was the first person my husband and I talked to about adoption, back in 2008. He then worked for Child and Family Services, the statewide nonprofit that – among many other services – interviews prospective adoptive parents and produces home study reports. Those reports are then used by lawyers and courts to clear prospective parents to adopt.

Will visited our apartment and sounded us out. He was interested in knowing how we had come to the decision, our backgrounds, and about us as a couple. While he didn’t end up handling our case – we had a couple of years to go before we’d be ready for an actual home study – it was a useful first step.

The intervening years have brought changes aplenty for Will and his husband, Joe. Will now works for the Rochester School District, and he and Joe have adopted three children through the foster care system. They’re also fostering a fourth.

William answered my questions.

When and how did you and your husband meet?

Joe and I met in 2002 when attending a Christian ex-gay or Exodus ministry. We became friends and did not become romantic until 2003. I was in a relationship with a woman at the time and struggling with my sexuality. We moved in together in 2004.

We joined in a civil union in 2008 and got the free upgrade the next year.

When did you start talking about having children, and why?

I always knew I wanted to be a father. I think from around the age of 5, I was sure it was part of my calling. I purchased books and movies in high school that I was sure I would be saving for my future children.

Joe was not easy to convince. He assumed that being gay kept him from being a father and really never considered the option. He would say that I dragged him a bit through the process but ultimately has seen that the rewards far outweigh the struggles.

What other options did you consider, if any?

I was willing to consider other options, such as surrogacy, but Joe felt that if we were to become parents that we should offer a home to children who did not have any loving adults in their lives.

Tell me a little about your adoption process.

We have worked with one private agency and also worked with the state to foster and then adopt our children. We have three children that we have adopted and another foster child that may be adopted this year.

While there were not many major obstacles, we have found that we have very full lives as a result of our choices. Foster children often come with traumatic pasts, and all of our children have seen their share of pain in their short lives. We participated in a mediated adoption, and therefore our three older children see their biological mother and a biological sister twice a year.

Were there any unexpected obstacles?

We have a son with a severe congenital heart defect. When we started our family, Joe and I said that we didn’t want to work closely with birth families. We also said we wanted no severe health issues and that we wanted children with the same ethnic background. We felt that placing a child of a different race in our family that was already different would be difficult.

Since that time we have done all of those things and have become better people as a result.

How were you finally matched?

In foster care, matching is often determined by the need at the time. We found a placement quickly because we were willing to take on a sibling group. Kids are often split up because a family is not able to take all of the children. Our limit at the time was 0 to 5 years old. Kayleigh was 6 when placed with us, and we needed to expand our parameters.

How and when did you see your children for the first time?

The first time that Joe and I met Kayleigh, Annie and Nathaniel, we were overjoyed. Nathaniel ran to our arms, while Kayleigh and Annie were a bit more reserved.

We had prepared a snack for the kids during our first visit. When we were packing up to leave, Nathaniel was so excited he threw up on us. I am not sure why or how, but I knew at that moment he was our son.

Kayleigh wanted to call me Daddy immediately. She was a bit confused about our relationship. I told her that Joe and I were married, and she decided that if I was the dad then Joe would be the uncle. Later it was decided that I would indeed be dad and Joe would be papa.

Annie was quiet but loved when we read to her and spent a great deal of time snuggled in my lap.

What has the time since your adoption been like?

Our three children moved in with us on Thanksgiving Day 2008. On Oct. 1, 2009, we adopted them. We celebrate that date every year as “Gotcha Day.”

Life has never slowed down since then. We now attend band concerts and teacher conferences. We lost contact with a lot of our friends without children. We made new friends and found a church that fits the needs of our family. We celebrate lost teeth and dry sheets. We look at the world differently. Every child that is in the news, hurt, lost, or alone, could be our child.

We thought we would adopt children with the hopes of providing love and in turn change the world just a little. Maybe we will do that, but only because our children have changed us.

(These Q&As have been edited and condensed. Clay Wirestone can be reached at 369-3305 or cwirestone@cmonitor.com.)

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