Tristan and Jayden are biological brothers, sharing the same birth parents. Like many children in foster care, they are victims of trauma. Their first years of life were filled with neglect, abuse and violence. Entering an overcrowded system, the brothers were bounced between foster and group homes in a whirlwind of chaos until they were legally separated.
Steve and I were in the final stages of adopting Tristan, eagerly anticipating the day he would join our family. Jayden was somewhere in the system, waiting for placement. Because children over 5 are less likely to get adopted, Jayden’s future was still very uncertain. Once our adoption was finalized and court records sealed; it could have been the end of the brothers’ relationship. Hopeful, Steve and I created an alias email and asked the courts to keep our contact information in Jayden’s file.
Tristan’s first year with us was remarkable. We charted a very deliberate course to reverse the negative impact of his early years. In a safe and loving home,Tristan was making significant progress. He acclimated to a new school and benefited from a highly structured environment that included academic tutors and specialists. Tristan’s confidence began to grow as he explored taekwondo, piano and swim lessons. For the first time, he was finally able to relax and enjoy a worry-free childhood.
About a year after placement, the email arrived. Jayden was about to be adopted. We were thrilled Jayden had found a family but were cautiously optimistic about reuniting the brothers. We had concerns about the emotional toll it could take on the boys and potential adverse impact it might have on their progress. Furthermore, we were worried how Jayden’s new family might react upon learning Tristan was being raised by same-sex fathers.
We met Beverly over a series of breakfasts at Luci’s Healthy Marketplace. Jay’s new mama is a bad ass, lesbian, PhD, CEO with whom we easily established a foundation of trust. Before we reintroduced the boys, we consulted therapists, defined parameters and laid down a few ground rules. Because we had the boys’ best interest at heart, it easily fell into place.
We agreed to meet at a local park. When Tristan and Jay saw each other, they broke out in a full sprint and greeted each other with a huge embrace. The boys flew a kite, kicked a ball around and enjoyed junk food – not fully understanding the momentous moment that was orchestrated on their behalf.
Since that day at the park, Jay and Beverly have become an important part of our lives. We enjoy play-dates, sleepovers and celebrate birthdays and holidays together. Like most boys their age, they love laser tag, video games and horses. The brothers also share a unique fondness for costumes and playing dress-up. As tired parents, we’re often disheveled in sweats while the boys prefer to sport neckties and blazers. We stand out in a crowd.
Tristan and Jay have reclaimed their sibling bond and play an active part in each other’s lives. Likewise, Beverly, Steve and I have forged a special relationship of our own. Raising special needs kids, we share care strategies, respite and overcome obstacles together. We are in this together, for the long haul.
Reuniting the brothers is one of the greatest accomplishments of my life. Our family might not be traditional but it is bound by love, respect and our commitment to raising Tristan and Jay in a safe, loving environment.
Adoptive Father and an active volunteer at Foster Arizona, fundraiser for Arizona’s Children Association and has chronicled his family’s adoption journey for Equality Arizona and Project Jigsaw.