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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