As a teenager I would fantasize about being married and having a family. Looking back I suppose it was a way to deny what I knew in my heart: I was gay In the 70’s gay people didn’t have kids. If I had a family, then I wasn’t gay. That ended up not working.
I have always loved kids. I had three neighbors all younger than my little brother. I remember enjoying their company so much so, that one day I drove them to the Bronx Zoo! I’ll always cherish that memory.
And then when I was about to turn 30, my little brother had his first kid! My nephew Adam made me an Uncle. I remember being close to penniless, but finding a way to visit my day old nephew in the hospital. I fell in love the minute I saw him! I vowed right then that I would have to become a father, one way or another. My brother eventually had two more kids, and I fell in love with them as well. I can still see my youngest nephew, Jeremy, who didn’t know me that well since I lived an hour away, laughing as I was kicking the leaves on the side of the road at the Bronx Zoo. He was round two years old. And I remember trying to get my niece, who was a little older, through the Butterfly exhibit! I cherished those times with the little ones in my family.
Then I met Peter. Two weeks into our relationship we happened into a toy store in Soho, NYC when he said to me that the saddest thing to him about being gay was that he couldn’t have kids. I said, what are you talking about, I plan on having kids! We discussed ways that this could happen, in general terms, and in a way, this cemented our relationship quite early on. He moved in after four months of dating, and even though he went back to school, and I could barely support myself, we started planning.
We discussed adoption and pretended like it was a possibility for us poor people. we “acted as if” it were possible. Eventually he got a job, we moved to a bigger apartment, and I ran into someone who told me about a support group for gay people wanting to become parents.
We joined the Wannabe Dads and Moms group at the local Gay Community Center. The first night we attended, we met two different families that had just had babies through foster care, or adoption. We were inspired! It took two years, but we took advice, followed the steps of those before us, and eventually were ready!
We hired a social worker who spoke to the group, we hired one of the lawyers she recommended, and then we hired an adoption expert to guide us through the process. We met a pregnant woman through an ad we placed in April of 2003, and at the end of May, 2003, we attended our son’s birth.
It was the greatest day of my life. An impossible dream had become reality. I still cannot believe how easy, for the most part, the process was. I was a 44 year old gay man in the USA and I was allowed to be a dad through adoption! Peter and I were beyond ecstatic.
And our son is named after both our dads, Paul Nunzio. All of our family celebrated with us! Both sets of parents came into NYC to help us on a regular basis, and we began to raise our son in NYC! (Paul just turned 14 and has friends all over the city!)
It turns out Manhattan is one big neighborhood. He sees friends from t-ball when he was five, to elementary friends who go to different middle schools, and back to the new high school he starts n September where he will see old friends and new ones. Our dream, beyond our wildest imagination, was to become dads. And I know it is corny, but in our hearts we both feel that every day that we are dads is Father’s Day.
I don’t care about a gift, I just care that I have a child and he calls me daddy Mitch.