Today’s installment in the Huffington Post Gay Voices RaiseAChild.US “Let Love Define Family™” series demonstrates that sometimes “no” is not the final answer. RaiseAChild.US contributing writer Beth Hallstrom interviewed this Texan single father and shares his story.
Finding the right adoption agency was the key to the perfect family for 47-year old Drew Pierson of Indianapolis, Indiana, a single father who adopted siblings Courtney, 9, and Cameron, 7, in Texas four years ago.
"Sometimes you need to turn the tables and interview the agency to make sure it's the right fit for you. You need to be with the one you'll be comfortable with," Pierson, who works in property management, said.
Pierson's lifelong dream of becoming a dad almost didn't come true after his first agency experience. He was halfway through classes with a Christian adoption agency when he was told it would never place a child with him.
"It hurt. It was pretty devastating. None of my gay friends at the time had kids, so I just figured it wasn't going to happen for me. And I was up front with them, too. I told them I was gay on my application, so it wasn't as if I was trying to hide who I am," he noted.
Discouraged but not dissuaded, Pierson turned to the Texas Adoption Resource Exchange, specifically seeking other Christian agencies open to gay parents. Of the 30 agencies on the list, nine were gay friendly.
"So, I called all of them and interviewed them. It wasn't enough that the agency accepted gay applicants -- I wanted one that thought it was great that I wanted to adopt," he said.
"You have to ask a lot of questions -- there's no such thing as too many questions and you have to ask the right questions," he continued.
"Ask about what is important to you and be up front if you have a preference concerning age or gender. Of course, you have a better chance of adopting if you're open to sibling groups or races other than your own, but you shouldn't be afraid to ask for what you want in your ideal family."
He finally chose A World For Children in Dallas, which he depicted as a responsive and attentive advocate that offered numerous family activities including picnics, ball games and a Christmas party.
"Based on my experience, I recommend going with an adoption agency. It's all about the right fit, but I found that the agency backed me up and was my advocate. I knew I could call at 3 a.m. about anything and they would talk me through it or even send someone over. That gave me a true sense of security in the process," he explained.
Pierson had been a foster parent since 2010, caring for two other sets of siblings, but Courtney and Cameron were the first children he fostered who were available for adoption. Their previous foster mother wanted to adopt only Cameron but their court appointed special advocate fought against separating them. When a judge agreed the children should remain together, Pierson got the call and the siblings got a ready-made family of grandparents, aunts, uncles and lots of cousins.
"I called my mother right away and flew her out. She stayed with me and helped us get settled, so the kids met their Mema right away," he said.
Pierson moved with the children from Texas to Indiana to be closer to family in the northeast and Courtney and Cameron spend time with their grandparents each summer. He said he's thankful for the support of friends and family.
"Although I had experience as a foster parent and I was prepared for the sacrifice, you can't think of yourself very often; it's all about them -- I highly recommend having a good support system behind you," he noted.
Pierson said there have been a few bumps on his journey from single man to single dad but described Courtney and Cameron as busy, happy kids who are doing well in school and looking forward to spring sports, gymnastics for Courtney and soccer for her brother Cameron.
To those considering adoption, he said, "Follow your dream! If you want a child, don't let any hurdles get in your way. I almost did but I kept at it and look what I ended up with -- two beautiful children and the family I always wanted."
RaiseAChild.US is a national organization headquartered in Hollywood, California that encourages the LGBT community and all people equally to build families through fostering and adopting to serve the needs of the 400,000 children in the U.S. foster care system. Since 2011, RaiseAChild.US has run media campaigns and events to educate prospective parents and the public, and has engaged more than 2,700 prospective parents. For information about how you can become a foster or fost/adopt parent, visit www.RaiseAChild.US.