It’s been proven to me in my mid-life: miracles happen.
I’ve even had two!!
But let’s start at the beginning....
In 1986, on the day my 21-year old son, Johnny Symons, came out to me as a gay man, one of my precious dreams died: that was to have my son become a Dad. Saying goodbye to that dream took months, and was a most painful aspect of accepting his gayness. Johnny and I love babies and kids; we’re the kind who gravitate to them.....our eyes find them in any setting, and we like engaging with them in play, story-telling, learning, comforting, explaining, and helping. And kids magnetically find us too. Realizing that I would never ever see Johnny fulfilled as a parent, and that no child would never have this remarkable man for a father caused me to grieve in ways I could not explain. Straight parents and even mothers of lesbians had different futures than I could foresee for my son: they had different options about becoming parents. But over the years I adapted, and found that my dream of being a grandparent through Johnny hurt less, like a wound that is painful for a long time, but eventually heals into a scar. I was happy and grateful to watch Johnny’s life unfold successfully, and I celebrated his finding a splendid life partner, William Rogers. Johnny settled in California to do educational outreach with gay youth, then he returned to graduate school, and eventually created a personally meaningful career as a documentary filmmaker, focusing on gay issues.
Three years ago, Johnny began filming the experiences of his friend, Kelly, a single gay man, as he sought to adopt two brothers, Jesse (5) and Ray (3), who lived in two different foster homes. Since Kelly would never father a family and these two young boys would never grow up together, Kelly decided to create a family with them. Johnny followed the unfolding of their tender story.
Within a year Johnny surprised us by saying that he and William were attending "adoption classes," and were being assessed (and eventually approved) as potential adoptive fathers. They were eager to adopt a child of color: William is biracial, Johnny has lived in many parts of the world and thrives on diversity, and there are so, so many kids of color who need homes.
Eventually they found the 10-month old baby they would adopt, whom they named Zachary Symons-Rogers. From the first time I met Zachary I was in love all over again, (just as I’d felt about Johnny.) Zach is jolly, bright, exceptionally agile, extroverted and delightful, charming everyone he encounters! Now 2 1/2 years old with a strong loving personality, Zach has a remarkable aptitude for all sports, especially basketball. He’s been "shooting baskets" since he was 18 months old! An astonished friend of Johnny’s remarked, "Hey, a new paradigm: the next Michael Jordan with a gay white Dad!"
Johnny filmed their ongoing story of being gay men adopting Zachary, continued following Kelly’s experiences with Jesse and Ray, and then sought out two other gay male couples who had quite different and unique adoption experiences. Johnny created a feature length documentary called "Daddy and Papa," which was accepted and premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last month—with rave reviews. "Daddy and Papa" will be shown at Film Festivals around the world, and can be seen on Public Television (PBS-Channel 56) in June of this year. You can also learn more about the film and see photos of the four families on Johnny’s website: www.daddyandpapa.com
Then in November the second miracle happened: Johnny and William received a call from the adoption agency with which they’d worked. The social worker at the other end of the line said, "Zachary’s birth mother has just given birth to another baby boy, do you want him?" They’d known they wanted to have another child, and a biological brother seemed too good to be true!
Ten days later they got their 3-week old baby, whom they named Kenyon Symons-Rogers. He is thriving in their care, and Zachary is proud of having his own little brother.
So there they are, Zachary and Kenyon, the two miracles of my life, living in the loving, healthy family of Johnny Symons and William Rogers. My parents, now 86, are thrilled with their good fortune in having their first great-grandchildren, telling stories of their development and sharing pictures of them with their friends.
Four fortunate and delighted generations—that’s miracle #3!
Susie Symons, M.A., is a psychologist and counselor who specializes in working with lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and their families.
You can download a really cute one of the three of them (Johnny,William and Zach) from the website, www.daddyandpapa.com
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