Pride in the Valley: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning in the Hudson Valley, NY
Our region has proven to be a welcoming place for members of the gay and lesbian community. This series of articles includes profiles of local gay couples raising families, a look at the LGBTQ Center in Kingston, and how a Poughkeepsie student helped to form a gay-straight alliance at his school
(page 3 of 7)
All in the Family: My Two Dads
By Lisa Iannucci
If Dan or Scott ever becomes a contestant on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, they should definitely use the phone-a-friend lifeline. After all, phoning a friend was all it took to bring these two Cornwall-on-Hudson residents together in their own happily ever after.
Twelve years ago, during an innocent Friday evening phone call Dan placed to a friend, Scott answered instead. “When I asked, ‘Who are you?’ he made me laugh when he responded, ’Who are you? You called me,’ ” says Dan. (The pair asked to remain anonymous for this interview.) This quip became a running joke when Dan called each Friday to talk to Scott. Anxious to meet the man on the other end of the phone, Dan hopped in his car and drove from Newburgh to Cornwall-on-Hudson. “He told me that he thought he’d stop by and see me, but nobody goes to Cornwall by accident,” says Scott.
Dan, who is 42 and works for the state Supreme Court system, was about 19 when he finally admitted to himself that he was gay, and then he came out to his parents. “It didn’t go over well. We stopped talking for awhile, but after a couple of months, my mom said, ‘We can’t do this anymore,’ and we got back on track as a family.”
Scott, 47, grew up in Cornwall and works for Proctor & Gamble. He didn’t come out until after he met Dan. “I knew who I was and who I wanted to be with, and the other stuff didn’t matter anymore,” Scott says. “My mother was shocked at first, but warmed up to it quickly.”
Seven months after they started dating, the pair moved in together and began talking about having a family. Dan, the middle of three children, loved being an uncle to his two nephews and wanted a child of his own. Scott came from a smaller family. His father died in 1995, leaving behind his mother and older sister, who had Down syndrome. He said he always knew that one day he’d adopt.
After an initial attempt at an international adoption, Scott found an attorney who handled private adoptions in the United States. “I had a really positive feeling about this,” he says. It would prove prophetic. Their quest to extend their family began in August 2005; just five months later, they received a phone call from an Arizona birth mother. She conducted a phone interview, and chose Dan and Scott as the couple for her child. The baby was due in only six weeks. “She liked where we lived and how we portrayed our family and daily life, the people we had around us, and I think the stability that we offered. She never specifically said anything about us being a gay couple,” says Scott.
“It all happened so fast — we’re jumping from an interview to being told that the baby was coming in six weeks,” says Dan. “We didn’t have nine months to prepare!”
“We were never scared or worried though,” says Scott. “It felt right to us from the beginning.”
Today the pair (who married in 2011) are the proud parents of six-year-old Benjamin, who they take to swimming lessons, Little League, Sunday school (“St. John’s Episcopal Church has about six same-sex couples with kids,” says Scott), and birthday parties. “Nobody treats us like anything special. We’ve not had very many comments about being gay dads to our faces,” says Scott. Adds Dan: “We’re just like everybody else. We’re so tired and wonder why we had a child so late. We sit with other moms and ask if their kid does this or that.”
Scott says the best part of parenthood is also what other parents feel. “It’s the love you feel for the child. You don’t understand it until you actually have it.”
What’s the biggest obstacle in their relationship? “Date night,” says Dan. “We need to focus on us and have a date night, even if it’s just getting a sitter. We need to sit and talk. That’s been the challenge.”