Dearest family and friends,
Russ and I have for many months been wanting to share with you the ordeal our family has been facing, but haven’t been able to, until now. As most of you know, I adopted Mason with my now-ex, and I was the stay-at-home father for the first year and a half of Mason’s life. Upon our breakup, I became Mason’s primary custodial parent and have served in that role to this day. Our family quickly grew to include Russ and Marcus, leading to many years of amazing adventures, emotional bonding, and terrifically fun times.
Once we had made the decision to put our house on the market, we discussed this with Mason to find out if he wanted to move with us to Colorado or remain in California. He said he wanted to be with us, as we are the only family structure he has known, and he has reaffirmed that decision many times over. Thus, we were shocked several months ago to find that my ex had filed suit for full custody of Mason, which would mean he would remain in Orange County and we would have only a few visits with him each year. Ever since, our entire family has faced a whirlwind of emotions. Not only have we had to deal with the tremendous stresses of selling our house, buying a new one, and the subsequent pack/move/unpack–while also fulfilling our full time jobs–but we have had this emotional legal battle hanging over us the entire time, ripping our family apart. We have been so saddened to have Mason taken from us over the summer, as moving him wasn’t permitted by the court until this matter was settled. Marcus has missed him terribly, and Russ and I have had countless sleepless nights. You simply can’t imagine how horrific it is to potentially have your child taken from you, against his wishes.
Finally, after months of hearings, court investigations, and testimony, on this past Monday the judge finally ruled that Mason could move, and we flew back to Colorado that same night, as Mason had already missed the first day of school.
Today, we are relieved, but exhausted and emotionally tapped out.
Needless to say, we have appreciated your support throughout these months. One of the many reasons we moved to Colorado was for a less-expensive life, as I have been struggling to pay back debt, only to find ourselves with what will be over $50,000 in legal fees. I’ve opened so many credit cards to cover the attorneys fees, and have no idea how to pay for them, which only serves to make my stress even worse. (I would prefer to work this debt off, so if you know of any freelance writing projects or marketing work which could be done in the evenings, please let me know.) Reluctantly, on the advice of friends who want to help us out, we’ve also set up a GoFundMe account, should anyone like to contribute. http://www.gofundme.com/272329d4
Still, as daunting as the debt may be, that is nothing compared to the incredible relief we feel to have our “Boo Boo” back home with us. Our family simply wasn’t the same without him. And we are especially grateful to all of you for your support, encouragement, and prayers.
Family has always been paramount to us, and we are so grateful to finally have ours back together.
Kergan and Russ
P.S. Please don’t leave any negative comments about my ex. This entire episode has been so emotionally draining, we want only positive energy moving forward. Thank you for respecting our wishes!
After being interviewed by Corinne Lightweaver of RaiseAChild.US for this The Huffington Post article, I flashed back to when I first met our youngest, Marcus, in his foster home. When my social worker and I walked up to the door, Marcus–without knowing me or why I was there–ran up and gave me a hug. I took that as a sign… (I ignored “the sign” of my next visit, when I took him to a park and he cried for two hours uncontrollably.)
There was also another child there at the foster home, Christian, who was about 11. He was a beautiful kid, loved basketball, and he asked if I was there to adopt Marcus. I told him that I might be, and it was clear to me that as happy as he was that Marcus might be adopted, he knew the chances for himself were slim. I walked away from that home happy that I’d just met the newest member of our family, but also sad that I couldn’t manage to take Christian as well…
Did you know that the number of LGBT people willing to fost-adopt children FAR OUTWEIGHS the number of kids in foster care??? Simply by making adoption by LGBT people across the U.S. legal, we could provide houses for all the kids in foster care. Astounding, and sad–for all the “Christians” in the world–that we can’t do just that.
Thanks to Corinne Lightweaver and Raise A Child, USA, for the chance to chat! Read the interview here!
I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Brian Rzepczynski, MSW, a psychotherapist and life coach specializing in helping LGBT individuals and couples develop and maintain successful and fulfilling intimate relationships. He’s got a great podcast called “The Gay Love Coach,” where he and I talked all things LGBT parenting. Check out my interview with Brian on his new podcast!
One of the great things about Facebook is the ability to reread posts made in the spur of the moment and quickly forgotten. I tend to forget some of the funny things our kids say, and it’s great to have the ability to look back and remember. As two white gay dads raising two amazing African American boys, our house is always hopping. Here are quotes from our 13-year-old, Mason, and our 10-year-old , Marcus, in another edition of Sh*t My Kids Say.
Me: “Marcus, it is 6AM. What are you doing up, trying to get in to that ice cream?!?”
Marcus: “I need energy.”
Marcus: “Do babies have balls when they’re born?”
Me: “Well, boy babies do.”
Marcus: “Yeah, I know… Girls have cracks.”
Me: “I sure hope I’m there to see you when you find someone you love and maybe have kids.”
Marcus: “But if you’re not, I’ll do the funeral and dig and put you in there.” (more…)
I’ve been a fan of yours since 1984, when I first saw your wonderful film debut in Another Country. At the time, I was a young gay man and had recently come out to my parents. I was attempting to find identifiable versions of myself in the larger LGBT world and was using cinema, literature, and the arts as a starting place. You, as your character was depicted in that film, represented an ideal gay man to me, which I had yet to see, in either real life or reel life. Your character was everything I aspired to be. You were smart, droll, handsome, and seemingly secure with your sexuality. (Plus you got to snog the ever-adorable Cary Elwes, which scored points in my book.) Call it youthful naiveté, but at that time I assumed that you yourself were much the same as your character, given you continued to live your life off-screen as an out gay man.
But being out doesn’t necessarily mean one is secure, does it, Rupert? Being out doesn’t necessarily mean that a person feels whole and worthy. As you and I both know, being out isn’t the same thing as being enlightened.
Your recent quote on gay parenting was a rude awakening for me, making me realize that, all this time, I’d given you far more credit than warranted. While you may have played the gay father to Madonna’s child in The Next Best Thing (likely leading to endless sessions on the couch with your therapist), does that mean you’re qualified to speak out about LGBT parenting, or any kind of parenting? Not really, but here I sit, staring at your quote in the Sunday Times, where you say, “I can’t think of anything worse than being brought up by two gay dads.” Given the lives we’ve both led, I can’t help but think, “Really, Rupert? WTF?”
In all of the world’s endless possibilities, Rupert, you can’t imagine anything worse than a child being raised by gay men?
How about a child being born to a father who is in jail for attempted murder? Whose mother sees fit to pierce the ears of her then 6-month-old son, but cannot find the time to fix his club feet? Who later takes this same son to a crack house, which is then raided by police, leading to a year and a half of foster care? (more…)
I’ve always wanted to have kids. And that desire has never wavered, even during the days in California when gay and lesbians were prevented from adopting. I knew, intrinsically, that I was meant to be a dad, and often found myself contemplating what parenting might be like. I gave much thought as to how I wanted to raise my children, the example I would set, and the values I wanted to impart.
In truth, the life that I wanted to give them was only slightly different from the one I was then living — just better. I wanted my children to eat better, to exercise more, and to live life more fully than I had, without fear. I wanted them to never doubt my love. I wanted them to discover their own potential and embrace themselves, whomever that led them to be. And once I did have kids and began parenting, I found that I was surprisingly successful in achieving most of these goals.
Today, we eat healthy. largely vegetarian, and most of what we buy is organic and all-natural. We exercise regularly, attend church, volunteer, talk about the issues of the day, and discuss ways in which we can not only improve ourselves, but how we can help make this world a better place.
Still, there have been challenges.
Our eldest son, Mason, was diagnosed at an early age with a condition that, if not treated immediately, could have left him with stunted growth. We took him to specialists, ruled out possible causes, and did every test under the sun. His endocrinologist recommended an unproven, off-label drug for him, which we easily agreed to. It was the only option available and, happily, still seems to be working.
For our younger son, Marcus, the road has been much tougher. We first met him at age 2, and he’d already been through more hardships than most people experience in a lifetime. While initially sullen and withdrawn, once placed in our home, Marcus opened up, evolving into a sweet, active, and chatty boy. We were aware of how challenging his hyperactivity could be, but given his checked-out demeanor when we first met him, all we could focus on was how much better he seemed. Once in school, however, this manic inability to focus became an issue.
It also seemed that, once set off emotionally, Marcus could not be stopped. While most parents find ways to combat a temper tantrum, with Marcus, it was more like a temper tornado. He simply could not control or calm himself, and it was scary to see how helpless he felt. (more…)
For any parent, having a sense of humor is helpful in making it through a day with sanity intact. For my partner Russ and I, given our challenges as gay parents, it is absolutely essential. Luckily, our boys Mason (11) and Marcus (9) say so much funny stuff that it is usually easy to find laughter in our everyday life. Here are just a few exchanges from the past year, pulled from my facebook updates:
Marcus (singing): “I hate you, you hate me, let’s get together and kill Barney…”
Me: “What did Barney ever do to you?”
Marcus: “He stabs people. He’s friends with Chucky.”
Marcus: “It’s true. I heard it on the news.”
Marcus: “If you have a wife, you mostly have to listen to her. Girls are bossy, right?”
Me (in Cockney accent): “It’s time to get ye to school, Harry Potter!”
Marcus: “Dad, he doesn’t speak French…”
Me, scoffing , to our 11-year-old: “Mason, you don’t want to be popular…”
Mason: “Yes, I do. I’m on that trajectory.”
Marcus, to me: “Babies are cryin’–Get a move on, Mama!”
Russ, as Marcus yawns: “You look sleepy.”
Marcus: “No, I just need oxygen.”
Marcus, to me: “You can’t get it, cuz you’re old.”
While at Subway Sandwiches…
Me: “Marcus, don’t play with your privates.”
Marcus: “But they’re jiggily!” (more…)
First, a sincere “thank you” to all who have helped spread my open letter to Rick Santorum far and wide. It is truly amazing how something written as a late night rant, fueled by both anger and chardonnay, can somehow find its way to the Huffington Post — and beyond! I appreciate the countless notes and comments of support.
The fact is, I love being a dad. While parenting isn’t for everyone, for those for whom it is, it can be the best reward life offers. I am eternally grateful to all who have helped get my message out there–that every kid deserves a home, food, and love. Where it comes from isn’t as important as that it comes at all…
Secondly, this week, several sites are offering Giveaways of my novel, Songs for the New Depression, which–I’m happy to announce–has been shortlisted for the 2011 Indie Lit Awards. All of these are great sites, worth checking out, and I hope you’ll enter the contests!
- Ending Wednesday: The Bilerico Project, a fantastic LGBT news/advocacy website, has three paperback copies–and not many entries yet, so that may be a good bet!
- Ending Thursday: Deep Dish, a fun gay culture site, has two paperbacks up for grabs.
- Ending Sunday: Goodreads, a great site for all things bookish, is offering an autographed paperback.
- Ending Wednesday January 18: Bookish Ardour, a book blog focusing on LGBT, speculative fiction, classics, and more, is offering 3 e-books!
If you haven’t yet, please consider sharing my letter to Rick Santorum with your friends and family. I firmly believe that, together, we can create real change in the world, and make this a place where all are treasured.
Dear Mr. Santorum,
You were recently quoted as saying that a jailed parent would be better for a child than being raised by a same-sex couple. You noted that, if a same-sex couple were to raise a child, they would be “robbing children of something they need, they deserve, they have a right to.” You continued, asserting that “You may rationalize that that isn’t true, but in your own life and in your own heart, you know it’s true.”
Mr. Santorum, the only reason my partner Russ and I even have one of our children is because that boy’s birth parents thought it appropriate, when he was a mere six months old, to take him to a crack house, which was then raided by police. He was promptly placed into foster care, and numerous attempts were made to reunite him with his birth parents. However, as one was incarcerated due to attempted murder and the other would not submit to drug testing, that was difficult to achieve. In fact, when they placed this boy into his birth mother’s arms, he would burst into tears. Further, prior to his crack house adventure, his birth mother found time to pierce both his ears, but could not see fit to give him adequate nutritional care, nor to fix his club feet.
Our other child, in case you are wondering, had a much easier start in life. His birth mother recognized, while still pregnant, that her situation was not the optimum one in which to raise a child, and reached out to us, two white gay men, to whom she entrusted her African American baby. My bond with her was so strong that she allowed me to be in the delivery room when my son was born, and I am forever grateful for the gift she gave us.
Apparently, though, you feel that you know better, and that her long-considered, heartbreaking choice was not the best option. Would you have preferred that she have instead struggled to raise her son anyway, when she fully realized she was ill-equipped to do so? Would you also have preferred that my other son have remained with his birth parents, given their ongoing issues with the law, drug use, and poor parenting decisions? (more…)
Thanks to the great folks at It’s Conceivable for their nice interview with me on parenting. For any LGBT folks considering kids, their site has a lot of terrific information and first person stories about parenthood.
Kergan and Russ
Adoption, They Did It · Tagged: Adoption, California, featured, Featured Feature, foster care adoption, private agency adoption, single parenting, they did it, two dads
Kergan and Russ are adoptive parents to two boys in Orange County, CA. Mason,11, was adopted through a private agency, and Marcus, 9, was adopted through foster care. In 2011, Kergan was named one of HRC’s Fathers of the Year.
Name: Kergan Edwards-Stout
Partner’s Name: Russ
Hometown/City: Orange, CA
Number of Children: 2
Names of Children: Mason (11), Marcus (9)
When did you decide you wanted children?
I’d always known, even as a kid, that I would be a dad someday. I’ve always connected well with children–often better than with adults!
As I grew older, the desire to parent became even stronger. I considered it at various points in my life, but after settling down with my now-ex partner, we decided we were ready to parent through a private adoption.
When our son Mason was a year and a half, however, we broke up. I parented as a single dad for the next two years, until meeting my partner Russ. We went on to fost-adopt for our second child, Marcus.
How did you decide to either biologically have a child or adopt a child?
I never considered surrogacy. While I understand the desire some people have to biologically connect with their offspring, there are just too many kids out there who need homes now for me to seriously consider any other option.
Did you share your journey with your family and friends? If so, have they been supportive? I’ve always been open of my desires to parent, so my family and friends were well aware. Still, when it came time for my first son to be born, and that he would be African American, there were a few issues which arose. Both of my parents are from the South, and very religious conservatives. We’d worked through most of the “gay” issues, but this situation brought up racial issues as well. (more…)