ACF Employee Talks About Becoming A Child’s Forever Family
By Jesus Garcia, Special Assistant, Office of External Affairs
Nearly six million children and adults in the United States have a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender parent, according to a Williams Institute study released earlier this year. These modern families can be found in communities across America. At the Administration for Children Families, the Children’s Bureau has provided an excellent resource for LGBT families wishing to provide foster care and/or adoption: AdoptUsKids. Various resources are found on this website, which helps prepare potential parents for that giant leap into parenthood.
One of ACF’s employees took that big step just four years ago. Marco Beltran, a program specialist in the Office of Head Start, and his spouse John spent countless nights researching AdoptUsKids and other resources. It all eventually paid off with the adoption of Baby Anthony. Beltran shared his adoption experience with the Family Room Blog:
What is your best memory of your child?
Beltran: “It is hard to say because as he grows there are things that he does or says that make me feel very special but my best memory is when we brought him home from the hospital. John and I were in our sunroom, John was taking pictures and Anthony was in my arms. Anthony was just looking at me and I could not take my eyes off of him. It is hard to explain but his stare was that of an old soul, something about his stare indicated to me that he was were he needed to be, in my arms. At that moment I had many feelings, his stare was so powerful to me and at that moment I felt like this was meant to be, a bond was being created.”
What do you recommend for first time parents who want to adopt a child?
Beltran: “There is a lot of excitement and fear involved in the process. There are many scary stories and successful stories about the process. There are so many scenarios and feelings for why individuals want to adopt. I would recommend to think about your reasons for wanting to adopt and try to be comfortable with it, know that your choice is your choice and that many people are very ignorant as it relates to adoption.
"My recommendation is to talk to people that have adopted about their process. From my experiences many people are willing to share their stories and many are always willing to share resources such as books, blogs, agencies, or names of people that made an impact on their decision to adopt or made the adoption process easier. As we started to think about the process we had to make several decisions. Not trying to be funny but it was clear from the beginning that neither my husband nor I would biologically carry a child to term – it is just not biologically possible. So we talked, and talked and talked, we visualized every situation we could think about in bringing a child into our lives.
"Emotionally our conversation would go from being excited and happy to very sad with the thought of no one would ever see us fit to be parents. We researched surrogates. We talked about international adoption. We Googled and called gay friendly adoption agencies. Through these conversations we eliminated various options. I cannot really explain the reason why we had such a strong interest in adopting a child from the foster care system, maybe because we knew people that worked in foster care, or because we knew families that were formed because of foster care, or we knew families that were reunited and supported in foster care, or maybe it was the messaging from commercials but we wanted to be part of a child’s forever family. In our all researching we discovered Wednesday’s child and Adoptuskids.org and we would spend countless hours reading and visualizing our family. Somehow we figured out this was the right course of action for us.”
How long did it take for Anthony to adjust to your home?
Beltran: “I think it was fairly easy for Anthony to adjust to our home since he was only three days old. I think we had a harder time adjusting. For one we never imagined that we would have an infant. We were expecting a child no younger than 8 and possibly a teenager. By expecting I mean we were prepared for an older child, we had booster seats instead of an infant car seat, we had clothing for children 8 and up, we had board games, books and everything we thought an 8 year old and older would need. And for some random reason, the week prior to getting a call about Anthony, a friend of my mine gave us a crib. I had no idea what to do with a crib so I took it and stored it in a spare room and I decided to donate it but I never got a around to doing that, good thing because the crib came in handy.”
Where did you get parenting advice or did it come natural?
Beltran: “Everybody has parenting advice, from your relatives and friends to strangers in the grocery store. At first we were scared to ask for advice and or to talk to others about our parenting struggles for fear that someone was going to label us as bad parents. Believe it or not this was a big fear for us, largely because we were constantly hearing in the media that a child needs a mom and a dad, and here we are two dads. This made things really difficult and early on we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be perfect, which is funny in retrospect because I have no idea what being a perfect parent meant at the time.
"Now, we are constantly seeking advice from other parents. We have learned so much from other parents that have struggled or are struggling with situations such as potty training, getting a child to bed early, picky eaters, how to get your child to eat vegetables, what is a good car seat to buy, what activities are good to do with a kid when the weather is not so good, etc. Not sure about others but at least for me, parenting can have a huge impact on your self esteem and your sense of accomplishments and when you hear that others are struggling somehow you take great pleasure, not necessarily on their struggles, but rather in realizing that you are not half-bad at this parenting stuff.”
Do you and John want to adopt more children?
Beltran: “Yes, we wanted Anthony to be around this age before we started to talk about another child. So we don’t know if we will or will not adopt but we are pretty confident that we will adopt an older child or at least a child no younger than 5. That being said, I have also learned to keep our options open because we never know when another tiny being with the old soul stare will need a forever family. But if Anthony has any say he wants a younger brother to play with and he would like for his younger brother to also be named Anthony so he will never forget his name.”
What do you hope to instill in Anthony to make him a successful person?
Beltran: “To own who he is, to own his story, to own his strength, to own his diversity, to realize the amount of love and support around him, to grow up and discover and do what will make him happy. Somehow I am hoping that he believes and understands our unconditional love for him and that somehow that will help him in the future. I hope to be a positive example for him as a dad, and that if and when his time comes to be a dad that he will have as much fun and love for his children, my grandchildren.”