I have always known that one day I would be a dad. Looking back, my fantasy always included another husband; yet, I often wondered how I would make my dream a reality. My fantasy was usually abruptly halted by the reality that a woman was needed to make this dream come true. Little did I know that my dream would become my life.
My partner and I will celebrate nine years together in July. We plan to commemorate our life together by getting married. Wow…I’m getting married. How many gays and lesbians can actually say that? I digress.
When we began our adoption process in 2006, we agreed that one of us would stay home with our child for the first year or two. In Sept. 2007, we adopted our son. Up to that point, I had worked since I was 14 years old. I just turned 40 in June (2008). I hadn’t realized how much of my identity was tied to my work. I had a successful career. I worked for a large pharmaceutical/medical device firm where I managed clinical research programs and eventually moved into marketing where I managed a multi-million dollar product portfolio. I was hardly prepared for what was to come.
We got the call on Monday, Sept. 17th, that a birthmother wanted to meet with us. At the end of our meeting, we brought our son home, and thus began the post-placement process. On Tuesday, I was officially on family leave; I never went back to work.
The first three months were easy; my partner took time off, we had relatives visiting and friends checking in quite frequently. My mom, who lives just 5 minutes away, also spent quite a bit of time here.
In Jan. 2008, my partner went back to work full-time, and I began to notice that our friends and family were not around as much as they had been a couple of months back. Everyone seemed to go back to their daily routines, except me. I was left to navigate a new routine, one that included daily baths, playing, changing diapers, feedings, washing clothes, all the while trying to maintain my identity. Who was I? I felt lost.
It rained quite a bit in January, so my son and I were hold up in the house. The feelings deepened. I began to feel depressed. What? This was my dream. I was a dad. How could I be depressed? I never get depressed. It didn’t help that when I was out with my son a few women remarked, “babysitting I see.” Babysitting? My son? Hmmm.
Eventually, the weather cleared, and we got out more. I also created a mixed parents group, which helped because I was with other moms/dads who were experiencing the same thing. Then one day I noticed something different. I wasn’t depressed. I wasn’t bored. I was a dad. I don’t know when it happened or why. Perhaps, I just needed time to adjust to the new me, the stay-at-home dad.
I still occasionally get the patronizing, “so what is your day like?” or, “when are you going back to work?” questions. I just laugh, and think…at least I don’t have to work.