We are Thomas, Jonathan, Grace and Charlotte West.
We met in 2005 and married in 2012 and knew relatively early on in our relationship that we wanted to have children, so in 2013 at a friend’s wedding, we finally decided it was time to get the process started after seeing and being surrounded by so much love. At the time, Thomas was in the Army and Jonathan, to this day, is the CTO for a software company, so it wasn’t until we arrived at our first duty station in Baltimore, MD ( Fort Meade) that things really started rolling. We had suffered two failed adoptions before this, so it was with reluctance that we enrolled in the training program with the Baltimore City Department of Social Services to become foster parents with the hope of creating our family through adoption. It became clear, very early on, that we were the only same-sex couple taking this course and likely one of the few in their entire program.
A few months later we received a call asking if we could take in a newborn. 45 minutes later Grace came home for the first time. 3 years ago on the 18th of September, just around 5:00 pm, daddy, papa, and Grace were just sitting down to eat dinner. Little did we know our 2nd daughter had just been born. It wasn’t our intention to adopt twice, let alone two babies only 5-weeks apart, but later that night as we were all getting settled into bed our phone rang. It was relatively late on a Friday night, but we immediately recognized the number. It was someone from the Baltimore City Dept of Social Services. On the other end of the phone was the deputy director with a straightforward question. “We have a newborn who is immediately available for adoption. Would you like to adopt her?” I think we both said YES before she was even able to finish asking her question. Her next question was, “can you come to the hospital right now to meet your daughter?” It took us all but 15 minutes to get out of the house and on our way to meet her.
Since then Thomas was medically retired from the military, and we relocated back to Vermont. We spend the majority of our time in Vermont now, because that’s where Jonathan’s family lives. Having Bernie Sanders represent us in the US Senate, the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory, and REAL maple syrup around every corner helped us make that move back home too! We also spend a little bit of time in Atlanta, GA for Jonathan’s job, but we don’t expect that to last more than a few years.
We both dream of a time, hopefully, sooner, rather than later, when we’ll be able to travel full-time and show our girls the world. We would make it our mission to teach, through conversation and visibility, that Love is what makes a family. We’ve had our fair share of negative encounters in public with the girls. The worst to date happened in Annapolis, MD when a middle-aged man walked up behind us and upon seeing both of the girls asleep in their stroller asked, “where’d you get her from?”. His prejudice was clearly directed at Charlotte, a 3-month-old African American little girl, my daughter. Even though that particular incident left us both startled and a bit angry, we’ve had many more positive and meaningful interactions with strangers. Visibility and personal connections are how we change things, so hopefully, we’re doing our part.
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We were also in the Mercedez Benz’ 2018 Pride commercial.