The definition of family continues to change as we see many variations of loving families that fall outside of the traditional definition. Allow me to introduce you to one such family that may look a little different on the outside but contains all of the ingredients needed to make a family.
Juan and Darrow are a gay couple from Baltimore, Maryland who have been together for over eight years. Although the state of Maryland has a constitutional ban against same-sex marriage, the couple will most likely tell you they're as close to being married as the state will allow. Juan, an analyst and Darrow a social worker, have been blogging about their experience as foster parents who hope to adopt their 18 month old son Ty.
I was introduced to this beautiful family after Darrow saw a post I'd written seeking African-American gay fathers and sent me an e-mail.
Eager to start a family, Juan and Darrow learn that there is a lot that happens before a bundle of joy is placed in their care. The couple documents their experience dealing with the foster care system leading up to Ty's placement in their home on The Daddy Diaries and Meet The Fosters. Readers journey with them to certification classes, through home inspections, and also the endless waiting for a child to arrive.
Their situation is a little different because they are foster parents who are hoping to adopt, which means Ty's birth parents can decide to take him back once they've proven to the state that they're capable of taking care of him.
This small detail is probably one of the hardest realities for foster parents like Juan and Darrow who have fallen in love with their child. They frequently write about how it feels knowing that it's a real possibility that their son could not be with them long-term.
The couple is also not blind to the fact that they're family doesn't look like everyone else's and worries about the homophobia coupled with racism their son will endure.
Darrow: "I have always been hyper-sensitive to the idea of exposing my child, adopted or not, to the ugly homophobia in our society. By adopting, I am bringing him into a situation where some of the same difficulties that I have faced throughout my life will fall upon him. Though the odds are high that our son will be heterosexual, he may frequently be in the position of having to admit the "sin" of having two Dads. His coming out each and every time will be for my sake, for our sake.
At some point in his classroom, there he'll be with the question, "how come you don't have a Mommy?" And the answer is: I am adopted and I don't live with my mother; I live with my two Dads. You can imagine the rest-confusion, laughter, ridicule, children who say their parents won't let them play with him-though it may not happen all of the time-just enough of the time. There is no way for me to shield my son from these kinds of things, just as there is no way for me to shield him from the way people will respond to the color of his skin".
The courage and love exemplified by this family should be held up as a model for other families. Juan and Darrow have proven that love truly does make a family. Ty is with two people who want nothing more than to love and nurture him and provide a support system through adulthood. What a blessing.