During my studies at the Louisville Presbyterian Seminary, I had the blessing of sharing classes with Rev. Bojangles. I loved listening to his southern draw and thoughtful answers. After graduating, I followed Bojangles story and was so impressed how he and Dominque fought for marriage equality. Their peaceful protest that placed Christ in the forefront eventually led to their arrest, which gained worldwide recognition. Finally, in June of 2015 Bojangles, Dominique and all other same-sex couples were granted legal the right to marry. And so began their, and so many others, journey to a family.
Dominique was born in Seymour, Indiana and raised in North Vernon. He currently lives in Louisville, Kentucky. I (Maurice) was born and raised in Greenwood, South Carolina.
Currently living in Louisville, Kentucky.
When did y'all decide to expand your family?
As soon as Dominique and I became a couple, we discussed wanting to adopt one day. It was a dream for both of us and we knew there were some things we needed to accomplish before moving forward with it. So we began paying off our debts and securing good, reliable jobs. We also wanted to have our educations completed. I got my MDIV at Louisville Seminary and Dominique completed his Bachelors through the University of Phoenix. Understanding we would never be all the way “ready” financially for a child, we still wanted to prepare ourselves as best we could to provide for our little one when that day came.
How did y'all choose the adoption path? And was it difficult adopting as a same-sex couple?
Being a same-sex couple, Dominique and I had few choices when it came to being parents. We could either adopt or use a surrogate. The astronomical cost of having a child through surrogacy made it clear that wasn’t going to be an option for us. We focused on adopting at that point, although we both had wanted to have a biological child of our own. It was decision that was tough but ultimately the right one for us.
It took us some time to find an adoption agency that was friendly to LGBT couples. The initial one we chose told us they had no problem adopting children to same-sex parents so we moved forward paying the necessary fees. The thing was that we were not legally married yet because SCOTUS had not ruled on marriage equality when we first applied to the agency. Therefore, only one of us could be the official adoptive parent. As we completed the paper work and home-study the SCOTUS ruling came down and we immediately planned our legal marriage a couple of weeks later thinking we could both now be the child’s adoptive parents. It didn’t work out that way though.
Not long after we were legally married, a got a call from the adoption agency telling me that they would no longer be able to adopt to us. The catholic agency they were affiliated with had a rule that all married couples must have been married for at least two years before moving forward with adoption. We were upset of course and asked why they hadn’t told us this in the beginning, knowing we were plaintiffs in the SCOTUS case and were awaiting the ruling. They gave us some ridiculous explanation but the sting of being treated like that hurt both Dominique and I deeply. We’d been together for 10 years but because of bigotry had been denied the right to marry. Now we finally got that right and this agency was going to play the 2 year card. Needless to say we asked for our money back and began looking for another agency.
God was certainly looking out for us because it wasn’t long before we found a wonderful agency called Adoption Assistance of Kentucky. They welcomed us with open arms and helped us restart the process which includes a large amount of paperwork, home visits, letters of recommendation, and both federal and state background checks. Of course, all of those are necessary but they do take a considerable amount of time to complete. Yet Dominique and I had learned that patience brought good things. We completed all of the requirements and were put on the list of waiting adoptive parents with the agency.
Almost two years passed and we had only had a few birth mothers choose to look at our profile. Twice it came down to us and another couple but each time the other couple was chosen. While it was disappointing, we both kept working and praying for the time when we were chosen.
The greatest challenge that we faced in adopting was the cost. While I knew they were not cheap, I didn’t realize that they normally ran from $25,000-$40,000. That is a huge amount of money for a couple like Dominique and me. We have great jobs but with a mortgage and student loans, we by no means had the opportunity to save such an amount. It was upsetting to us because so many children need to be adopted but the agencies set the costs so high most middle-income families simply can’t afford the initial cost of the adoption, not to mention the actual cost of raising the child. Dominique and I were not going to quit though and decided to start a Go Fund Me page to help raise some of the funds.
For two years, our friends, family and anonymous givers donated half the cost of the adoption! Without them, our dream would not have come true. We are immensely grateful for each and every donation given. The remainder of the adoption fee was covered by a personal loan through our bank. While ideally we would have liked to have paid in full and had no monthly payment, it was the only option we had to make the adoption possible.
When did you hear that your son was being born?
We learned that Josiah’s mother was in labor early on a Tuesday afternoon and we both rushed home to prepare for the trip up to Ohio for the birth. We’d been packed and ready to go for several weeks after having met his birthmother who chose us as his adoptive parents. So when the call came, we were overjoyed but of course very nervous. With any adoption, there are risks and we certainly felt all of the anxiety and outright fear that comes along with that. We knew the birthmother could change her mind at any time so while we wanted to let loose and celebrate, we also tried to be realistic and not get our hearts destroyed should we not be able to take him home.
I remember we pulled over in Florence, Kentucky to get some supper on our way up and at that point we were wondering if it was even going to happen at all. We’d received some mixed messages from our adoption agent during the drive up. Dominique and I parked and joined hands. We prayed out loud a prayer that I’ll never forget. “God we need you hear and now,” I prayed. “There can be no distant silence anymore…we need you to make this happen for us. We put our complete faith in you and you alone.” We both said amen and just looked at each other. Had we come this far for nothing? Will the birthmother up and change her mind? What about our dreams? What about little Josiah who we’d dreamed of for the past several weeks while preparing his place in our home? All of these questions consumed us during that evening.
I got out and walked into the restaurant to get us some food and as I waited on our order I saw Dominique waving to me from the parking lot. At that moment our food was brought out so I grabbed it and headed out the door. “I just got the call. We need to head up to the hospital. Josiah is being born,” Dominique said smiling ear to ear. We don’t remember much of the ride from Florence to the hospital. I know that our minds were racing though. This was really happening! All these years of waiting and praying and now, hopefully, it was all about to come true!
Can you describe the moment you saw Josiah for the first time?
The moment Dominique and I entered the hospital room and saw Josiah we were in complete awe. He was perfect, from his head to his feet. His mother handed him to us and said, “Here are your daddies Josiah.” His little eyes were trying to take everything in and I found myself just staring at him. “This is our son,” I kept saying to myself as the joy in my heart overflowed. There were no words to express the feelings Dominique and I were experiencing holding Josiah for the first time. As we sat on the couch in the room marveling at him, we thanked God for answering our prayer and being present with us during the most important moment of our lives.
For the first week, we had to remain in a hotel in Cincinnati until the courts allowed us to bring Josiah back to Kentucky. It was a crash course in parenting for sure but we did it. Josiah consumed our every waking (and sleeping) moment during those days and neither of us would have had it any other way. We loved it and I just couldn’t believe that he was ours. I found myself learning about his habits without even noticing it. For example, how he’d start huffing and puffing before he’d begin to cry or how many time he needed to be burped for each feeding. Every bit of it felt so natural for us. We’d hoped and prayed for a child and now Josiah was with us and we doing our best to live in each moment.
When we got the ok to bring him home we were packed and ready to go. Seven days in a hotel room was about all we could take. We loaded all of our stuff back into the car and made sure Josiah was secure in his car seat and then headed back to Kentucky. The moment we crossed over the river we said, “Welcome to Kentucky Josiah. This is your home now.” Of course, he was sound asleep but for us, it was a big moment. There had been some challenges along the road to adoption that seemed impossible but God made a way. Here we were crossing into Kentucky with our new son and all we could think about was how grateful we were. There was nothing that was going to keep us from being the best parents Josiah could ever want or need.
What has Josiah taught you about parenting? About each other?
In the weeks that have passed since we brought Josiah home there have been so many lessons learned. Just caring for him brings “ah ha” moments continuously. One of the things that has surprised us is how a baby completely consumes you. The things that were priorities before take a back seat to Josiah and his wellbeing is what we are most concerned about. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s just something we couldn’t fully understand until I experienced it. We prepared so much but when he’s actually home, it’s as though we didn’t know anything.
Josiah has strengthened the bond between Dominique and me in many ways as well. We depend on each other more now than ever because his care is around the clock. I believe we appreciate our time together now more as well. We work so much of the day and then when we’re home, we bond with each and other and Josiah during time we would have likely filled with tasks before. I look so forward to our time in the evenings.
Being able to be parents with Dominique has taught me how incredible he is as a father. His love for Josiah is inspiring. The way he holds him, talks to him, and interacts with him is beautiful. Dominique is one of the tenderest and most loving parents I’ve ever seen. His ability to take everything in stride is something I’m learning from. I have a tendency to worry too much and be hard on myself for mistakes. Dominique learns from it and then moves on, not missing the precious moments in between. I’m so grateful to God for him in my life.
If you would like to help Rev. Bojangles and Dominque cover the expense of their adoption loan then please visit their Go Fund Me page.