A New Family
Danny called his partner. "Peter, you'll never guess what happened!" Peter did guess, though—it was exactly what he had dreaded, and the kind of impulsive leap that was so typical of Danny. They had talked about adopting a child one day, but as far as Peter was concerned, this wasn't the right time. His new play was about to be produced by an Off-Broadway theater. He and Danny had been together for three years, and the relationship was perfect just as it was. Adding a baby to the equation would definitely rock the boat.
But Danny was persuasive. "Let's just take the next step," he urged. "We can always change our minds later, but if we say no now, we'll lose the chance altogether."
A week later, they visited Baby Ace at the home where he'd been temporarily placed. When Danny took him from his foster mother's arms, the child stared at him with big, blank eyes. Danny held him for a few moments, then handed him to Peter, who nuzzled the baby's head, instantly feeling those I-can't-bear-to-let-you-go pangs of a new parent.
When they left a few hours later, Danny and Peter both knew what was going to happen next: They were going to name him Kevin.
Peter's life had been touched by several people named Kevin, but most profoundly by an older brother who had died at birth. Now he felt that Kevin's spirit had been reincarnated in this beautiful baby boy.
The Best Gift
When Peter and Danny arrived in court on December 20, the judge wasted no time. She explained that after a thorough background check, the court had deemed that the men would be ideal parents. Although there was still plenty of paperwork before the adoption could be finalized, she suggested that Peter and Danny take the baby home for the holiday weekend. "Can you pick him up from the foster agency on Friday?" she asked.
It was Wednesday. Their lives were busy, and they hadn't even been able to shop for a crib or pick out baby clothes. But with the help of Peter's family, they managed to put together a layette and a nursery overnight. On Friday, December 22, they picked Kevin up for the weekend and agreed to bring him back on Tuesday. But after their first joyous Christmas with the child, Danny and Peter knew they couldn't part with the little boy. When the social worker called on Wednesday afternoon, Peter simply said that they had decided to adopt Kevin and he wasn't going anywhere. The social worker was reluctant. "We don't have a full clearance—that could take weeks," she said. Finally, she agreed to give them another day with the baby while she checked on the paperwork. Against all odds, the clearance was issued the next day. Kevin was home.
Kevin, a lively, bright, and happy child, will celebrate his fifth Christmas with Peter and Danny this year. Since Kevin has been in their lives, the couple has faced the usual challenges all parents encounter—negotiating discipline styles, arguing over who does which chores—and a few that only same-sex couples deal with.
"The first thing everyone wants to know is what he calls us," says Danny. "It's an easy answer: I'm Daddy and Peter is Papi. We figured 'D' for Danny, 'P' for Peter." The couple knows that one day they'll have to explain to Kevin the story of how he came into their lives. And when that time comes, they'll be prepared: They are keeping a scrapbook of pictures and are making a storybook about Baby Ace. Danny tries to think kindly of Kevin's birth mom. "She must have been in a desperate situation to give her baby up," he says. Though the adoption is long since final, they sometimes walk down the street, catch a young woman staring at them, and wonder—then they tighten their grip on Kevin's hand.
As the holidays approach, Kevin rides his three-wheeler around the playground in their New York City neighborhood. "Watch me, Daddy. Watch me, Papi," he shouts, abandoning the bike and leaping for the monkey bars. It is such an ordinary scene that it's hard to believe how time and chance bent to this occasion, how the very warp of the universe distorted to bring these three into this family. Yet here they are, bound irrevocably by an extraordinary chain of events that led to a small but spectacular miracle of love.
Copyright © 2004. Reprinted with permission from the December 2004 issue of Parents magazine.