A Gay Dad's Ocean View


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Photo courtesy of Henry Amador-Batten

It was one of the most magnificent days I have ever spent at the beach.

It was our family’s yearly September vacation to one of our North Carolina beaches.

This year, we happily weighed the car down with bikes, bags and all things beach and headed to the Outer Banks for seven glorious days of sun and space.

I sat there mesmerized by the brilliance of the blue sky and the sounds of the waves crashing upon a nearly deserted shore.

As my gaze shifted to my left, I could still make out the distant figures of my husband and our youngest boy as they went off on a great sea shell search.  

Little boys, sandy wet swimsuits and pockets full of shells will always be one of my fondest of beach memories

As much as I would have loved to have stayed fixed on those two silhouettes disappearing into that faraway beach, even hoping that they could have somehow carried my mind and spirit along with them, my physical body was suddenly and forcefully pulled back in to the completeness of my reality. My head was ever so deliberately and unwillingly forced to my right, the sounds of the waves and birds were instantly replaced by the anger and screams that our 7-year-old foster son was directing at me.

This had been going on for nearly 30 minutes, or at least since Joel and Ben had headed off in search of treasure.

Had the sounds of the ocean been real or simply hopeful figments of my imagination?

The irony was not lost on me, how could I be listening to that little human yell how much he hated me and how much he hated his life with us and still be finding beauty and miracles as I felt the warm sand beneath my feet?

How was it humanely possible to appreciate the sun on my face when all the while his tirade had somehow morphed into an invisible hand that was reaching deep within me and literally tearing me apart?

Our soon to be second son has been with us for just a little over six months. He had been in the foster care system nearly half his life. We are his ninth home and universe-willing, his last.

When you become foster parents, they prepare you for the worst. They are very clear that some of these “older” children come with needs that are often extremely difficult to meet. We felt confident that with time, education, and with love, that our family could be all the things this little boy so desperately needed and deserved.

A few months back, we found ourselves actually hitting the pause button on moving forward with the adoption. We felt completely and wholeheartedly overwhelmed by what one little person had been able to turn our home into. We went to sleep at night feeling that as much as we wanted to be his family, we might not have been the right home for him, the right dads for him,  we might not have been strong enough for him or truly capable of helping him right so, so many wrongs.

We were able to overcome that crisis of faith and dive even deeper into what we needed to do to help him. We found new ways to carry one another over this shaky, yet faith-built bridge.

I share all this with you on this first of what I hope will be many posts on carolinaparent.com because this is who we are today and this is what we are living. You will get to know our family and all of our many triumphs and failures. You will learn about all of our struggles to become parents along with the advocacy work we happily do for the gay dad community.

But for now, for today, I am simply an imperfect and struggling parent lifting his face towards the sun and searching for some warmth, some peace, some hope and some love.

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January 2018

Run Club meets every Sunday at 8 a.m. in Midtown Raleigh or Wake Forest. Stroller friendly; children invited. 

Cost: $10/run or $100/annual pass

Where:
Optimist Park Community Center/Greenways
5900 Whittier Drive
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Sponsor: FIT4MOM
Telephone: 919-348-0472
Contact Name: Missy Currin
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Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about tummy time alternatives, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to...

Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
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Dress in your princess best and enjoy magical activities and delightful treats with a princess. Registration required online; limited availability. Choose from either the 10:30 a.m. or 2 p.m....

Cost: $15/member, $20/nonmember

Where:
Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Join Mindful Families of Durham, a Buddhist-inspired spiritual community that supports area parents, caregivers, and their children in the practice of mindfulness and the understanding of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Erwin Road
Durham, NC  27705
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Sponsor: Mindful Families of Durham
Contact Name: Adam, Laura, Josh, Sumi
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Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about carry positions, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to crawl,...

Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
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Enjoy live entertainment, hands-on projects and gallery hunts.

Cost: Free

Where:
Nasher Museum of Art
2001 Campus Dr.
Durham, NC  27705
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Experience the excitement of the NFC and AFC Championship games with 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame semifinalist Torry Holt and former NFL star Terrence Holt at this one-of-a-kind fundraiser to...

Cost: $25-$150

Where:
William Neal Reynolds Coliseum
2411 Dunn Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Children make treasured memories while increasing their knowledge of plants and animals. Ages 7-10. Register online.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Women's Voices Chorus Winter concert, Song of the Universal, expores themes of war, the wish for peace, and the redemptive powers of nature, love and mercy.  Music will include works by...

Cost: $17/adult, $7/student

Where:
University United Methodist Church
150 E. Franklin St.
Chapel Hill, NC  27714
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Sponsor: Women's Voices Chorus
Telephone: 919-307-6860
Contact Name: Publicity Chair
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Make a craft and enjoy tea with Belle. Ages 3-5. Register online. Choose course #110646.

Cost: $16/resident, $28/nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC
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Learn to make appetizers. Ages 11-14. Register online. Choose course #110048.

Cost: $35/resident, $46/nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC
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Take part in Open Studio Explorations, which are open-ended experiences in which children can use the materials in the studio to create at their own pace. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Our PlayHouse Preschool
3501 Hwy. 54 West
Chapel Hill, NC  27516
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Telephone: (919)967-2700
Contact Name: Elizabeth Lenn
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Children delight in discoveries of shapes, colors and textures in nature. Ages 1 and older with parent. Registration required.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Enjoy stories with Amy Godfrey.

Cost: Free

Where:
The Regulator Bookshop
720 Ninth St.
Durham, NC  27705
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Learn to prepare a meal inspired from Japan. Register online. Choose course #109615.

Cost: $35/resident, $46/nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC
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Website »

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Children delight in discoveries of shapes, colors and textures in nature. Ages 1 and older with parent. Registration required.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

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Parents and their children ages 18 months to 4 years enjoy storytime, craft and snack. Contact Sarah Rapp to RSVP. srapp@saintraphael.org or 919-865-5725

Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of the Neuse Rd
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Sponsor: Saint Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Sarah Rapp
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Ages 18 months-4 years enjoy storytime, craft and snack. RSVP by emailing Sarah Rapp at srapp@saintraphael.org or calling 919-865-5725

Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of the Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Sponsor: Saint Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Sarah Rapp
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Kids ages 11 and older test their knowledge of New Year's traditions, music, movies and more. Register online. Choose course #111618.

Cost: $2/resident, $3/nonresident

Where:
Cary Senior Center
120 Maury O'Dell Place
Cary, NC  27513
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Parents learn strategies for helping raise a child when a sibling has special needs. Register online. Choose course #11159.

Cost: $11/resident, $15/nonresident

Where:
Cary Senior Center
120 Maury O'Dell Place
Cary, NC  27513
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See Agatha Christie's stage version of her best-selling mystery novel. The story tells of ten strangers mysteriously brought together for a holiday on a deserted island, each hiding a murderous...

Cost: See the website for fees.

Where:
Holly Springs Cultural Center
300 W. Ballentine St.
Holly Springs, NC
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Learn how to help your baby excel in motor development and master tummy time. Tummy time is a foundational skill for developing strong babies, and this class is appropriate for newborns and beyond....

Cost: $30

Where:
Baby + Company
226 Ashville Ave
Cary, NC  27518
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Telephone: 773-495-8117
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
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Read "Dragons Love Tacos" by Adam Rubin and make tacos for dragons. Register online. Choose course #109611.

Cost: $23/resident, $30/nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC
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A wonderfully kid-paced hour featuring music, play and dancing with toddler stars singing on the mic at Cotton's gently amplified & participatory music show. Children delight in...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Pump It Up Raleigh
10700 World Trade Blvd, #112
Raleigh, NC  27617
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Sponsor: Pump it Up
Telephone: 919-828-3344
Contact Name: Owner/manager Kellie Paterson McHugh
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Youth ages 9-13 find out how not to be fooled by Fool’s Gold. Learn how geologists test minerals by using properties like hardness, streak, color, luster, and acid reactivity, then...

Cost: $6

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
Contact Name: Wilkerson staff
Website »

More information

See Agatha Christie's stage version of her best-selling mystery novel. The story tells of ten strangers mysteriously brought together for a holiday on a deserted island, each hiding a murderous...

Cost: See the website for fees.

Where:
Holly Springs Cultural Center
300 W. Ballentine St.
Holly Springs, NC
View map »


Website »

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Take part in fun, hands-on science experiments, which include chemistry, physics, materials and an engineering experiment. See website for ages and times. Register online. 

Cost: $55/child

Where:
SMILE Camp
6301 Hillsborough St.
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Sponsor: SMILE Camp
Telephone: 919-538-5278
Contact Name: Sheila Marsh
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Learn to make cupcakes with a winter wonderland theme. Ages 11 and older. Register online. Choose course #111457.

Cost: $26/resident, $34/nonresident

Where:
Middle Creek Community Center
123 Middle Creek Dr.
Apex, NC  27539
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Take 3-5 gently used books for a discount or purchase a book to donate for a discount. Read A. Roo and other guest readers will be present.

Cost: Free

Where:
Read With Me Book Shop
111 E. Hargett St., #110
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Learn to identify common winter birds by sight and sound. Visit a bird-feeding station for up-close encounters, learn how to be a citizen scientist, and take home a feeder and identification...

Cost: $8/member, $10/nonmember

Where:
North Carolina Botanical Garden
100 Old Mason Farm Rd.
Chapel Hill, NC  27517
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Sponsor: North Carolina Botanical Garden
Telephone: 919-537-3770
Contact Name: Elisha Taylor
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Enjoy all things LEGO at this festival that features creative displays and more. Organized by the North Carolina LEGO Users Group.

Cost: Free

Where:
Morehead Planetarium and Science Center
250 E. Franklin St.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
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Website »

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Learn how to navigate the college search and application process, prepare for college entrance exams, and more. Ages 12 and older with parent. Register online. Choose course #109354.

Cost: $5/resident, $6/nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Explore the historic heart of downtown Raleigh on a walking tour of Fayetteville Street. Tours highlight the people, places, architecture and political movements that have shaped...

Cost: Adults (18+) $10; Youth (7-17) $4; Children (6 & under) Free.

Where:
City of Raleigh Museum
220 Fayetteville St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Website »

More information

Gather your recyclables or use some at the preserve and enjoy relay challenges. Take part in engineering feats like bridge building and egg drops using recyclables. Hot chocolate...

Cost: $4/person

Where:
Durant Nature Preserve
8305 Camp Durant Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Website »

More information

Participants develop their naturalist skills and understanding of local nature. Ages 5-8 with parent. Register online.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

See Agatha Christie's stage version of her best-selling mystery novel. The story tells of ten strangers mysteriously brought together for a holiday on a deserted island, each hiding a murderous...

Cost: See the website for fees.

Where:
Holly Springs Cultural Center
300 W. Ballentine St.
Holly Springs, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

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