Wayne and Chad had been together for years, and although they shared a great life together Wayne wanted more. He laid his heart open, told Chad how strongly he felt about to having a family, and Chad agreed. The following day they began exploring their options and decided to adopt. The journey wasn't an easy one, but they have generously agreed to share their experience of the path to parenthood, and tell us what advice they'd give to other LGBTQ couples looking at starting a queer family…
Many people say that having a child makes them feel complete. Would you agree with this statement? Why?
Wayne: “That’s a difficult question. It's important that what I allow myself to think and feel is in line with not holding Grayson responsible for ‘making me whole’ because that’s a heavy load for him to bare. I can say I felt more connected to the world around me. I felt a need to give love in a way I hadn’t experienced before and I'm aware it's a gift I've been trusted with. I felt a responsibility to mature, grow and challenge myself because now I have to show what it is to be my best self. And I felt a huge awakening… This is not easy AND this is the most important thing I will do."
Was starting a family something you have always wanted to do together?
"I had always wanted a family. I have never been able to fully express why. It was just a part of me. Chad was not in that mindset at all. After years together we had managed to have a great life. Solid relationship. Money to travel and do things we wanted more or less when we wanted to. But after awhile I was unfulfilled. I spoke to Chad and challenged him. 'Do you see us in 10 years with more of the same? Because that's not a life. We will go crazy without being able to give more than we are taking.' Chad was open to what I said and almost instantly agreed. The next day we started the process of making a family."
How did you decide which option to choose in becoming parents?
"For us adoption was the only option. Our personal feelings were that there simply wasn’t a need for either of us ‘make’ a child. Every day children are born needing love and a place to be safe and grow. Biology just wasn’t an issue or a necessity for us.
"The journey would prove to be a challenge. In Canada the mother picks the family and makes her plan for the child. In our case we were chosen twice in a relatively short span of time. However the first child didn’t make it to term. We were heartbroken but felt it had to be part of ‘the plan’ for us. We healed and moved forward. The second time was more difficult. We learned the family of the girl who chose us had forbidden her choice having learned we were a male couple and eventually we were told that we would not be proceeding. That rocked us a bit deeper.
"Then, after another year had passed, I told Chad that I was struggling. I said I would give it another set amount of time and then I’d need to stop so I could move on. I was overwhelmed with the idea we would never have our family and it was taking a toll. I had to let it all go and allow myself to just live a normal life trusting that if it didn’t happen I’d face it and go on. Within days we got the call. We had been chosen again."
Now that you have children, what does a typical day look like for you? do you think it is the same or different from that of opposite-sex families?
"Well, as it would turn out our typical days are not typical and it has very little to do with our being two dads. Grayson’s medical needs are a constant and that alone makes our situation unique. He has a disease called Maple Syrup Urine Disease. And yes... that's the actual name. His wellbeing treads on a thin line everyday. We are also blessed with a different perspective because we know we can’t loose sight of the big picture.
"That said, we have the day-to-day ups and downs of all families. In fact we have always said that because we are a male couple we have learned life skills that make us uniquely qualified to be our son’s parents. For us, our life experiences set us up with tools to handle more than some. We have become stronger as a couple than we could ever have imagined possible.
"We have been very well accepted and included in our community and family. We are also extremely active in our community in order to have a prominent place where we are judged by our actions and what we bring to the table. We feel it's important to show who we are as a family so that there is less opportunity for preconceived notions to become part of our experience. And while some may think it's unfair we feel it's an opportunity.
"Saying that, we don’t operate in the blind. We know there are those out their who may not initially understand our family. But the majority quickly see us as an example of how it 'should' be rather than what they had possibly believed prior to knowing a family like ours."
How important do you think it is that schools incorporate LGBTQ relationships, marriage and families into the curriculum at primary school age?
"It's a must. We do our best to bring our child up to be inclusive. I expect the school and its curriculum to reflect the same type of values; and I think it should continue into secondary education. I don't believe there is ever a time to stop teaching inclusion and love."
What is the best advice that you can give to LGBTQ couples who are thinking about starting their own family?
"Ask yourself why your doing it? This is the same for any couple. It's to easy to romanticise the idea, but the hard reality is it's not easy. It's not always fun. Your relationship will be challenged in ways you hadn't expected. You will have expectations and if you aren't capable of releasing many of those you will be disappointed. For any couple, however, having a child is the gift of all gifts. And with that comes responsibility you had never imagined. If you're ok with all of the above... GO FOR IT! I wouldn't change a moment of my life and our son is my greatest love."
How do you deal with discrimination towards your family? What do you say to people who don't believe children should grow up with two parents of the same sex?
"We wish them the best and move on. We want to teach our son that the reality is even though it hurts sometimes, you can’t be responsible for changing every heart and mind. Especially of those who aren’t willing or in some cases... able. I’ve had an instance where I was called names and yelled at in front of my son and I had to measure my reaction quickly. I simply kept moving and looked at my boy in the eyes. I told him the man was fearful of things he didn’t understand and that often fear makes people do things they will hopefully one day understand was unfair and unkind. I explained it made me mad and scared when it happened but that above all our job is to try hard to not hold on to anger that isn’t ours. And then I had a small cry when I got home.”
Discover more about Wayne, Chad and Grayson's story in their video of hope about living with Maple Syrup Urine Disease