When Doug Raguso and Tom Hove met online in 2012, Tom was serving in the military, and Doug had been serving on the Seattle Police force for about a decade. Not long after they tied the knot in 2013, the couple began talking about starting a family.
“We have always known we wanted to be parents, separately,” Tom said. “When we got married and I got out of the military, we began the conversation around having kids, and what that would look like.”
Doug has seen a lot in his 18 years with the Seattle Police Department, including when children were being taken into foster care. Tom, who is now a social worker, said both of their professions definitely played a role in their decision to start their family by fostering-to-adopt.
“Joining the foster care system as parents, you sign up for the roller coaster of emotions that come with the process,” Tom said. “It took about two months after the kids came home before I felt like this was real, and this could be our forever life.”
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In August 2017, newly licensed foster parents Tom and Doug took baby Camillia into foster care from the hospital, as soon as she was born.
Less than a month later, the couple tempted fate by jokingly telling a social worker that parenting was “super easy,” and they could “totally do another one.” “Then, about three weeks later, at around 9 o’clock at night, we got a call about the need for a placement for an infant straight from the NICU,” Doug smiled. “And our son Tevin was placed into our care the next morning.”
Now almost four-years-old, brother and sister Camillia and Tevin have officially been adopted by their dads.
While the couple said fostering-to-adopt wasn’t always an easy road, they loved being able to care for foster children who were in need of a loving home.
“There were times that unification was probable, then unlikely, then probable,” Tom explained. “It was a lot to take in. But we had to focus on the kids, and what was in their best interest.”
Camillia and Tevin both ended up staying with Doug and Tom throughout their foster care journey, and their dads eventually adopted them both.
As a gay police officer with two Black children, Doug said his family has been somewhat controversial. Tom added that their family has “a special dynamic.”
“Both our kids are Black and my husband is a police officer. It has proven to spark many conversations,” Tom said. “It’s also it’s given us many ‘Aha’ moments and wake-up calls. But we have surrounded ourselves with individuals that share our family make-up and can influence us in how we can best support our kids and ensure they are exposed to their culture and community.”
Since they first started their journey to fatherhood, the couple said they were given a lot of support by the nonprofit organization they worked with in Seattle, Washington, Amara.
“They have been absolutely amazing. Informative, supportive, loving, and ultimately family,” Doug said. “We would absolutely recommend Amara to anyone looking to pursue a similar path.”
For other gay men or couples considering a similar path to parenthood, Tom and Doug said it’s important to be patient with yourself throughout the process of fostering-to-adopt.
“Operate with an open heart and an open mind,” Tom added. “And find stable sources for support, guidance, and self-care.”