Richard: “It’s hard to believe that my son just turned 18. The years have gone by so quickly! As I look at the pictures, it’s amazing to see how Jonathan has grown and changed over the years, and I also think about how I have changed as both a parent and a person. Initially as a new dad, I probably made every mistake in the book, and I learned as I went. I remember when Jonathan was first placed with me, making a ribeye steak and asparagus for dinner and was shocked when he wouldn’t eat it. I quickly learned about chicken nuggets. I was in a relationship for 15 years, which ended two years ago. I recently started dating again. I adopted though the state of New Jersey. Adoption seemed the best fit for me; I know there are so many children in my own backyard who need a family. As fate would have it, my son and I have a certain resemblance so everyone assumes he is biologic. Jonathan no longer corrects anyone who makes that assumption. He only corrects people when we get mistaken for brothers: “No, that’s my dad! I have taught my son to think for himself, to take pride in who he is, and to not sweat the small stuff. My son was 5 when placed for adoption with me. There is a certain stigma around adopting an older child. People think that they are broken. I do not share that belief. Be patient, celebrate wins, stick to your guns and always follow through on what you say. Like any child they will test you. Oh, and teenage years and that teenage attitude is pure hell … Way worse than toddler temper tantrums … but they will pass. My son is now 18, has great grades, has a part time job at a movie theatre, is on the high school wrestling team and will soon be off to college. Typically, the only advice I ever give to parents is, “Don’t listen to anyone else. Do what you think is right, and you will always make the right decision for your family.” Parenting is hard. Parenting will change you. You may even get pushed to your limits and wonder why you went down this road in the first place. Stay the course. When I look at my son now, I am so incredibly proud of the young man he has become, and I also know that he has changed me for the better…Having gay parents is not easy, and they will get teased, most likely in middle school. Try to get involved in groups where they can meet kids that have families similar to their own.



Having grown up with gay parents, I would like to give the parents that read this blog some advice. Your family is different from that of other families. When I was little I didn’t know what gay meant, so I looked it up in the dictionary. Every now and then I got made fun of by other kids for having gay parents. Dads, please do not rush and call the school principal every time your child comes home upset about an unhappy interaction because they will only get made fun of even more. You cannot force people to like gays, but they will learn acceptance by seeing your family under regular circumstances. Your children will have to learn to stand up for their amazing family. As I got older, kids started to understand that gay was just a word that it made no difference in what type of parents you had. Middle school was hard, but trust me, it will get better. Your children will just have to wait and see. When I was little, gay marriage was not legal, so people had very different perspectives about it. Now with gay marriage, having gay parents is much more common, but please remember not to embarrass your kids. I am so thankful for being adopted and for the life that my dad has given me. He has worked so hard to provide for me and I can’t imagine my life without him. My greatest memories with my dad are from when we travel together. We had a great time this past summer traveling to Europe and I look forward to many more adventures. Love you dad so much!