A Gay Dad's Ocean View


Published:

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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November 2017

Step back in time with a 19th-century costumed interpreter and watch the millstones at work grinding corn into meal. Registration encouraged online. Tickets available at the...

Cost: $5/adult, $3 ages 7-16. Free for ages 6 and younger

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Celebrate the wonderful world of exotic animals and reptiles. Enjoy live specimens, presentations, raffles, vendors and much more. Purchase tickets online.  

Cost: $12 ages 13 and older, $5 ages 5-12.

Where:
N.C. State Fairgrounds, Kerr Scott Building
1025 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Website »

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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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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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Cost: $18

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Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Cost: Free and open to the public.

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Downtown Durham
120 Morris St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Sponsor: Durham Arts Council
Telephone: 919-560-2719
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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
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Crowder District Park
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Where:
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2900 Horse Shoe Farm Rd.
Wake Forest, NC
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Search for salamanders, owls and more. Ages 10-13. Register online.

Cost: $12/resident, $16/nonresident

Where:
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2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Park West Village
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Telephone: 919-234-6710
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Sponsor: St. Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
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Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder District Park
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Children ages 18 months-4 years and their parents enjoy free creative movement and music classes. The creative movement class focuses on the development of gross motor skills and...

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Where:
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Cost: $7-$10

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1720 Guess Rd., Ste. 90
Durham, NC  27701
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Website »

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Children ages 18 months-4 years and their parents enjoy free creative movement and music classes. The creative movement class focuses on the development of gross motor skills and...

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Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
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Cost: $16/child

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Website »

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Cost: Free

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Raleigh, NC
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333 Crossroads Blvd
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Cost: Free

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5801 Falls of Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Sponsor: St. Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Sarah Rapp
Website »

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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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Cost: Free

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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Cost: $35-$55

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Fit & Able Productions presents the Turkey Chase trail festival at Umstead Park. Take part in a 5K, 10K or 20K. After the race, enjoy fruit, brownies and other...

Cost: $25-$45

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8801 Glenwood Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27617
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Sponsor: Fit and Able Productions
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Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
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View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

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Cost: $7-$10

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Sky Zone Durham
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View map »


Website »

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Cost: Free

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Quail Ridge Books
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Website »

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Website »

More information

See the classic holiday story brought to life onstage featuring favorite characters Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and...

Cost: $15 and up

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Fletcher Theater
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Take a 30-minute tour to view the main power drive and milling machinery. Tickets available inside the park's visitor center. Online registration encouraged.

Cost: $5/adult, $3 ages 7-16. Free for ages 6 and younger

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
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View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Explore the historic nature of Leigh Farm Park with a friendly guide. Venture inside the historic farmhouse while being captivated by tales about life at Leigh Farm throughout the years.

Cost: Free

Where:
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370 Leigh Farm Rd.
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View map »


Sponsor: Durham Parks and Recreation
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Contact Name: Natalya Buckel
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Cost: $15 and up

Where:
Fletcher Theater
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Catch this comedy classic on the big screen—as the symphony plays the charming and delightful score by John Williams live. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $14-$29

Where:
Meymandi Concert Hall
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