Remember Ruby Tuesday’s? The second-rate chain restaurant where I realized that fatherhood was in my future? How I came to terms with the fact that Eric was going to be an amazing father (over mozzarella sticks) and that I needed to step it up (about the time the potato skins arrived). Despite having that a-ha moment (I think I had a patty melt), that life-changing revelation (just water, thanks), nothing really changed in our lives (except for the few pounds I gained finishing off a tasteless lava cake).
But just before my 30th birthday, things did change. My mom lost her battle with lung cancer and a few short years after that, my dad died in an automobile accident. As an only child, Eric and I were left with no choice but to return to my small Connecticut town and pack up my family’s belongings. With two newly inherited miniature schnauzers (Jim and Emma) in tow, we decided to rent a motor home and spent the next six weeks driving back across the country to our home in California.
It was over the course of that journey our conversations about possibly having a family intensified (in between debaucherous outings in places like Atlanta and New Orleans). Spending so much time with someone in such close quarters (not to mention the three dogs) forced us to discuss subjects we might not normally — things like how many stunningly beautiful gay black men live in Atlanta or how beautiful Iowa is (in the summer anyway) – or how having children might be something we really wanted to do. But it wasn’t until we passed a billboard about adoption on a lone stretch of highway somewhere in New Mexico that my Ruby Tuesday’s moment came back to me.
“What if we adopt a Native American child,” I asked Eric, contemplating what I felt was a novel idea. It was clear that the thought peaked his interest as well and so somewhere between Roswell and Santa Fe we began fantasizing about having a Native American boy who might actually look like a combination of the both of us. This moment took our conversations from the “what if” to the “how” and became the trigger for me to start investigating how we could actually go about expanding our family.
We arrived back in California with our new three-dog family and found that it was going to take time to acclimate to our new life with two inherited, yappy miniature schnauzer and a beloved boxer. But the curiosity of having children was getting to me and I had to know: could a Native American child be in our future? Long story short, the answer was “no,” thanks to the abstract Indian Child Welfare Act, but with our curiosity now in overdrive, there was no going back. This was happening. We taking the next step. The only issue was “how?”