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Gay, Dads, Adoption, Horrific, Nightmare, Child, DFS, Adopt,
Advice, How To, Relationship, LGBT, Thought-Provoking, Inspiring, Life-Changing

Read a few pages. - Enjoy!


Chapter One


There has always been a simple saying that “Everything happens for a reason.” I believe this is the ultimate truth, and for 206 of the most challenging days of my life, I leaned on this to help me to take “one day at a time.”


It was an extraordinary, warm spring day in the East Bay of Northern California when our lives changed forever. I stood on the top steps of our three-story townhome in Livermore, dropped to my knees, and prayed. I knew the call was coming at any moment, and this gay agnostic/Catholic was taking one last opportunity to ask God for some help and guidance. I prayed that whatever decision that was coming was the right one, since my partner and I both believe that everything happens for a reason. I knew I had to accept whatever decision came.

Seconds later, the call we had been waiting for and dreaming about, came. I was stunned, ecstatic, overjoyed. My eyes watered and I stood paralyzed at a loss for words. When I hung up the phone, I thanked God for answering my prayers. My mind was racing, and I could not even manage to move. Finally I got myself together and called my partner DJ, who was at work at the time. He didn’t answer. I decided that this was too important to wait, so I jumped in my Chevy Volt and drove to his workplace, all the while trying to think about what I was going to say. Just thinking about telling him made my eyes well up with joy.

It was a glorious day in the Bay Area, with bright blue skies, pleasant temperatures, and the view of the marine layer far off in the distance toward San Francisco. Livermore lies on the outskirts of the valley and is surrounded by rolling green hills, mountains, and wine vineyards. DJ’s work was only a few miles from the house, so I arrived quickly and stepped inside. Every piece of sporting equipment known to mankind filled this big box franchise. The store was busy, and he had a very long line of customers to attend to. Damn it, I thought to myself. He noticed that I had walked in, and we made urgent eye contact. He shrugged and gestured to his long line of customers, but I stormed over and cut to the front of the line. Trying not to cry in public, I said, “Babe, we are matched! We’re going to be daddies!”

He looked stunned, but he had no time to react before a frustrated customer gave him the look of death. His eyes lit up like the bright star on top of the most glorious Christmas tree. “I will call you as soon as I can,” he stuttered as customers pushed by me to make their purchases.

Before I even arrived home, my phone rang, and of course it was DJ, who had taken an emergency break. I told him that I had just received the call that I had been matched with a young woman from Golden Valley, Arizona; with the code name Bette (adoption agencies give a birth mother a code name before you match to protect her privacy). At first he did not know what to say, and then he began to cry and said, “Oh my God, we are daddies.” He was engulfed in emotion, jubilation, and joy.

At the time, the only thing I knew was that she was in Golden Valley, she was two months pregnant, the gender was unknown, and that she and the baby were healthy. The baby was due in November of 2014 and would be a C-section one week before the due date. We knew about her medical history, since we had read her profile the night before when we decided to submit my profile booklet to her and officially be in the adoption pool. Our adoption facilitator, Jill, had told us that she had spoken with Bette several times and that she was polite, warm, friendly, easy to talk to, and very outgoing. According to her medical files, she did not drink, did not smoke, did not do any drugs, and had no previous psychiatric issues. She was taking great care of herself by taking prenatal vitamins, eating well, and having regular visits to her OBGYN. She was not married but had a long-term rocky relationship with her boyfriend Doug. We knew that she was 24 years old, that this would be her sixth child, and that she had successfully placed two children for adoption with separate adoptive families in the past two years.

The matching process had happened quickly. Essentially Bette, the birth mother, had been presented to all of the agency’s clients the night before. The process asks that you carefully review all the information (medical history, medical records, etc.) and decide if you want to be submitted to the birth mother. We had decided that she was a nice fit for us, and she was open to same sex couples. After discussing it with Jill, the adoption facilitator, we decided to submit our profile. Profiles are short packets of information about the adoptive parent or parents. They include information about the applicant, dozens of pictures, a “Dear Birth Mother Letter,” and other relevant information. The birth mother then looks at all of the profiles that are submitted to her and decides on a family to match with.

For most “waiting families” the matching process is a very difficult, lengthy and emotional time. In fact, waiting times of twelve to eighteen months are not uncommon. It is a challenging time for most families. These families are engulfed by the fact that they must be chosen and each time they are not matched, they question why. Waiting families dream of having their first child, but are bound by the fact that they must wait to be chosen. For us, Sandi was the first time we had submitted our profile. Our expectations of being selected were low, we were emotional and nervous. Immediately after we submitted our profile DJ had already become optimistically-anxious, “Drew, this was just meant to be. I know it in my heart. I feel it. This is the one for us and we’re going to be selected!” On the other-hand I was sure that we would not be selected and was keeping my hopes realistic, “Babe there are so many others that applied for this baby. Why would she select our profile? We’re unmarried, gay and it’s a single adoption. Let’s be realistic.” While our opinions differed drastically, our emotions and nerves were extremely high. DJ would call Jill every hour to see if there were any updates (much to her dismay).

Much to my surprise, at about 8pm that evening, I received a call from Jill. “Hi, Andrew, I have Bette, the birth mother, on the other line, and she would like to speak with you. If the conversation goes well, you will likely be matched with her. So please keep calm and just have a natural conversation with her. Are you ready? I’ll connect her now.”

Of course I was ready, and I indicated to Jill that I was eager to speak to Bette. There was a long hold and then Jill’s voice returned and said that Bette was now on the line. It was a bit awkward at first, since it was somewhat difficult to hear her over the sound of several kids in the background. She seemed slightly reluctant to talk, answering my questions in terse replies: “yes,” “no,” “sure,” “ok.” Eventually she asked if I was comfortable with the process being an open adoption, with sending pictures on a monthly basis, and with in-person visits at least once a year. She also said that she would be breastfeeding the baby when it was born and wanted to ensure that I was ok with that. I indicated that I was fine with all of the stipulations and I was very hopeful that she would choose me. Jill then ended the call and said that if it were a match, she would call me back that night or the next morning. I set my phone down, and that was the point that I started my praying on the stairs. I was expecting a long wait; at the earliest it would be the next morning, since it was already late. Much to my surprise, the phone rang just minutes later, and it was Jill. “Andrew, are you sitting down? Bette would like to speak with you.” I was so caught off guard that I just stayed on my steps and mumbled that I was ready. Jill got us both on the line again and told me that Bette had something to say.

“Hi again, Andrew. My name is actually Sandi, and I would like to match with you for my adoption.”

Jill then jumped in and asked me if I wanted to match as well. I quickly said, “Hi, Sandi, it is a pleasure to meet you, and we would be honored to match with you.”

Again, Jill jumped in, congratulated us both on the match and indicated that more information would be emailed that night. We spoke for a few more minutes and then Jill ended the conversation. My emotions were pumping; I wanted to cry, laugh, and jump up and down. I wanted to call everyone I knew.

My initial thoughts about Sandi were that she was a little bit cold, difficult to speak to, and seemed very distracted by her children, but otherwise seemed like a fairly nice person. That night, Jill emailed me Sandi’s contact information, full name, email address, cell phone number, the additional documents that I needed to sign, and Sandi’s bank account information. She also suggested that I send something nice to Sandi as a kind gesture to start our long relationship as adoptive dad and birth mother. I called the only flower shop that was still open and ordered some flowers and chocolate-dipped strawberries to be delivered to Sandi’s home the next day. I was also informed that Sandi’s family was much different than what I was accustomed to. They were very poor, did not work, and lived under the poverty line. Hell, I had grown up in Lorain, Ohio, a melting pot of cultures and finances, and I could proudly say I was a very open person to any and all people. I was not worried about her being in a “different class” than DJ or myself.

I grew up the son of two hard-working and loving parents in a blue-collar town outside of Cleveland. My father was a teacher, and my mother stayed at home with my sister Kerri and me, so we were far from well-off, financially. My mother was a wonderful elementary school teacher who taught for 28 years. She took our early childhood years off so that she could be home with us. In reality, I still considered myself “Lorain;” I was still comfortable on someone’s rickety front porch with a sofa on it, with multi-cultural food, and with a mixture of different people. I had long since given up drinking alcohol, but back when I did drink I preferred Olde English 800, Colt 45, or Schlitz 40s over fancy drinks or microbrews. In the interest of full disclosure, my high school and college years involved attending free-style rap parties in one of my close friend’s basements. The Puerto Rican market that served random pig parts and the best rice and beans on Earth knew me by name, and it was my first stop every time I went home to visit. I am what one may call a Lorainite at heart, while wearing a business suit in my office.

Similarly, DJ grew up in the rural central lands of Florida. His family’s modest home sat adjacent to an actual swamp. His father owned a sweeping-truck business, and his mother was a retail sales representative for a food broker. He was, and is, very lucky to have the parents he has because they are two of the most loving and accepting people I have ever met. They adored DJ and his sister and did everything they could for them. Growing up, they often struggled with money or even to put food on the table. His parents worked very hard, and they managed to get by paycheck to paycheck. The town, Lake Panassoffkee, was very small, and most people were considered rednecks. It was a poor town where blue-collar workers lived day-to-day, and most people went to church on Sunday and the local bar most other days.

Every time I share the following story I get yelled at, but it paints a perfect picture of just how rural his home was. In his youth, DJ had a dog named Buddy that he absolutely loved and played with every day. He was his playmate and his best friend; a typical young boy and his dog relationship. Buddy was part waterdog and simply loved running into the water, the swamp, and the nearby low river. For fun, Buddy would chase birds and tease alligators while running up and down the shallow river under the hanging moss of the swamp trees. His parents knew the danger of Buddy’s hobby of teasing gators, but they simply could not stop him. It was in his blood, and the damn dog just would not stay away from the river. Sadly, the inevitable happened one day, while Buddy was running along the riverbank chasing a bird. Thankfully DJ did not have to witness it, but the neighbors saw a 12-foot adult gator grab Buddy and devour him in a few bites. The whole family was devastated, and DJ was heartbroken. Sadly, DJ was also severely bullied throughout his youth and teen years for being small and obviously gay. Today, he would have been protected by new anti-bullying laws, but in the 1990s such protections did not exist. It made for a rough and tumultuous childhood and teenage years.

Many months before we matched with Sandi, DJ and I had made the decision to adopt. I would be adopting as a single parent, and DJ would adopt after we were married. He was still in college studying addiction medicine, and we did not think juggling marriage, school, and an adoption would be in his best interest at this time. Thus, I would be adopting myself, we would marry shortly after the baby was born, and he would then legally adopt. Just like all families seeking to adopt, we went through all the possible avenues. We had our own personal website with all of our information in an attempt to find a birth mother on our own. It included a letter to potential birth mothers, photos, our contact info, and biographies about our families and us. I am a marketer by profession, so I also did a lot of digital marketing on my own. I used Google AdWords as my main method of marketing so that any time someone searched for anything about adoption our webpage popped up on the right hand side as a paid search. In addition, I had target banner ads on many of the most popular websites. We also set up a sponsored Facebook page, “Drew and DJ’s Adoption” and got over a thousand “likes” in a very short period of time. In addition, we were active on many other website such as, where profiles are available for any birth mother to see.

At the same time we interviewed several adoption agencies, sat through day-long adoption agency conferences, and finally decided on a large national agency. We paid the large up-front adoption fees and immediately started the process of getting ready to get into the pool of potential parents. The advantages of working with this large agency were that it worked with thousands of birth mothers and had the largest marketing budget in the industry. In fact, basically any time you did an adoption search on the Internet, their site was nearly always the first to come up. We worked closely with them as they began to build our profile page. They placed us in the African-American program because they said that it would help us get matched more quickly, and we had no race or sex preference. They told us that they mainly did heterosexual couples but had just opened up their agency to same sex couples. It was a good match, and we rounded up several hundred images of ourselves to send to their digital team. The agency seemed well-organized and was always quick to respond to our needs.

Meanwhile, as the agency was preparing our information to be placed in the “waiting families” pool, we had many other hurdles to overcome. The largest of these hurdles was the infamous home study. For any adoption—private, open, closed, international or foster—a home study must be completed. The process can be long and sometimes painful. In essence, a licensed social worker agency had to ensure that that my home was fit for an infant and that I was fit to be a parent. For most, the home study takes many months to complete and sometimes as long as a year. Anyone who knows me, however, knows that I am extremely impatient. I was bound and determined to finish this process in record time. You could not be matched with a birth mother until your home study was complete. Since I was adopting as a single parent, only my home and myself were required to do the study. This tedious but necessary process involves three visits to the home by a social worker, a very through medical exam with updated shots and records, a criminal and federal background check involving being fingerprinted, filling out a plethora of paperwork, and obtaining child abuse clearances from every state that I had ever lived in. DJ and I attended several parenting classes and learned adult and child first aid and CPR. I had to have eight people write personal character references for me. In addition, I had to baby-proof my house, which involved purchasing gun safes, fire extinguishers, more smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and wall outlet guards. I also had to move all cleaners, soaps, solvents, and anything not natural to places where kids could not reach. Despite all of these requirements, I was determined to get it all done as quickly as I could.

I actually achieved my goal of completing the home study in record time. Our agency stated that it was the fastest turnaround for a home study that they had ever witnessed. In roughly six weeks I had the signed and official home study into the agency’s hands. This major hurdle was out of the way.

Despite this, things began to unravel very quickly. While the agency proclaimed itself ready for same sex adoptions, we were dismayed to learn they were fairly clueless about the realities of gay adoption. Our first clue was when they called to tell us that our adoption page and profile were up and ready to be viewed by birth mothers. It had me as the father and DJ as the mother. Though they promised it would be a simple fix, this ended up being the undoing of our relationship with the agency. As days turned to weeks and every part of our profile had a mother and a father, they began to make up excuses for these issues. Since DJ was not in the adoption, he could only be listed as my partner. They actually tried to convince us it would be fine just calling us a mother and father. We continued to press them and were then told the issue was much larger and would take them time to fix. Meanwhile, our profile was basically worthless, and we were wasting valuable time. After many back and forth phone calls and emails we finally had enough and demanded our money back. Fortunately, the agency did not fight this. They apologized, returned our funds, and wished us the best of luck. Sadly for us, we were back to square one.

Fortunately, it did not take us long to figure out our next step. We had been following a private adoption facilitator who lived in our area and had a very nice webpage and process. The reviews on her business were all very good, and most patrons stated that they were matched very quickly and had successful adoptions via her services. Along with all the positive comments, nearly everyone stated that the facilitator and owner, Jill, could be terse, cranky, and very hard to work with at times. We called Jill several times and had many lengthy conversations with her. She impressed us with her attention to detail and her commitment to the open adoption process. The way her program worked was that when she had a new birth mother, she sent a group email out to all of her prospective parents. The email had a code name for the mom, all of the available information, the medical records, the due date, and the expected full cost, including the birth mother’s living expenses. In California, as in most states, the adoptive family is required by law to pay all reasonable living expenses for the birth mother, including rent, food, car insurance, laundry, utility bills, clothing, phone bills, and spending money. Each alert that Jill sent out included the estimated birth mother living expenses and projected a total cost. After long discussions and input from our family, we always watched her alerts when they came out and read them in detail. We always ended up passing because many of the birth mothers drank alcohol, smoked, and/or did hard drugs. We had done our homework and knew we did not want to get involved with a mother who did these things for fear of fetal alcohol syndrome or drug-related complications. A few of the other options had serious histories of mental illness. One mother was bipolar and schizophrenic; her boyfriend was bipolar and schizophrenic; her parents were bipolar and schizophrenic; and the grandparents were as well. While we were open to any sex and any race, we were not prepared for the lifetime of mental issues that would likely be inherited.

On Wednesday, April 30th of 2014, an alert came through on Bette. We reviewed all the information and thought about it until the very last minute. We consulted friends and family, prayed, and finally decided that this was our opportunity. Jill told us that Bette was a wonderful person who had a history of completing successful adoptions. She ensured us that she knew of no skeletons in Bette’s closet. We paid the small fee to be submitted, and our profile booklet was sent to Bette along with many other hopeful adoptive families in waiting. We felt our chances were slim to none, since many straight couples had applied as well. What were the odds that a birth mother would choose us, a non-married gay couple, over the many straight couples who applied? However, we also felt that we stood out as a unique option for birth mothers due to our relationship. As stated earlier, we believe that everything happens for a reason, and low and behold I was chosen by Bette to be the father of her infant. Little did I know that that fateful day would change our lives forever. Into our lives walked Sandi Peters, and in turn we walked right into the lion’s den with fresh steaks tied to our necks.