Hazel's First Days

The adoption process is emotionally and logistically complicated, especially for two gay men. It is one of the most challenging things I've done in my life. More paperwork than buying a house. Higher stakes than writing a dissertation. More planning than moving cross-country. In fact, I'm struggling to think of anything that doesn't seem absurdly simple by comparison. The adoption process is also one of the most rewarding things I've done. Not just because of the result, but because of what the process reveals.

Josh and I have been together ten and a half years, married for two and a half, and have been pursuing adoption since 2012. In Summer of 2012, we bought a house in Portland, OR. Both of us wanted a loft with a single room and concrete floors, but at the time, we had begun thinking about having a child and decided a single room and concrete floors would be impractical for a baby. We ended up buying a very different sort of home in Portland (one with bedrooms and carpet). We also began researching agencies, chose a very good one, but ended up moving before we could start the process. After Portland, we lived in Madison, WI and sat on the waitlist to the waitlist of a small local agency for almost two years. When we moved to Virginia, we chose yet a third agency with a different sense of urgency.

When we first started thinking about adoption, we weren't certain where we'd end up or if the timing was even right for us to have a child. Four years and three states later, we are at a very different stage in the process.

On November 11 (my brother's birthday), we got the call that we had been chosen by an expecting birth mother.

That night, we went Christmas shopping for the baby and bought a cozy little owl mat.

The purchase was mostly symbolic, but we spent hours walking up and down every aisle of the toy store, talking about who our baby would be and who we would be as parents. We had been having conversations like that one for years, but the conversation that night felt different. And so has every conversation since. I have learned more about myself and more about my husband in the last six weeks than in the entirety of the last ten years. He is the bravest, smartest, most generous man. There is nobody I'd want to parent with more.

On December 12 (my stepmom's birthday), just one month after we got the call that we'd been chosen, Hazel Mae was born. We were with her in the hospital right from the first moments after she was born. Her eyes were a flutter, struggling to stay open and covered in goo. I knew instantly that she was the most beautiful creature I'd ever seen. And it felt instantly natural that she was also my daughter. I fed Hazel her first meal, learned to swaddle her, watched her get her first bath. And I watched my husband hold her and look at her with a contented and certain look I'd never seen before.

On December 13, we took Hazel home.

These first days with her have been the best of my life. I haven't slept much, but I've also slept better than I ever have. There will be so many more first days.

Jesse Stommel

Jesse Stommel

Jesse Stommel is faculty at University of Denver and founder of Hybrid Pedagogy. He teaches pedagogy, digital studies, and composition. He spends most of his time with his badass daughter, Hazel.

comments powered by Disqus

Receive new posts by email