My Three Sons, Because I am Their Father

Why would a person choose to fly from San Francisco to Switzerland, spend one night, fly back to San Francisco for a night at home, then fly to Frankfurt the next day?

Three adopted sons!

Dennis always wanted to be a parent. “Even growing up gay, I knew, somehow, I wanted to have that experience,” he recalls. When the time was right, he and his partner considered international adoption and surrogacy. But one adoption agency stood out because it was doing outreach in the gay community. They decided to foster-to-adopt through our Children and Family Services program (formerly Lilliput Families).

“Our parameters were a sibling pair under the age of 3,” Dennis says. As they looked through binders of children’s profiles, “We realized our parameters were too narrow,” he says. “If I could have adopted them all, I would have.”

Dennis and his partner met three brothers—all age 3 or older—who turned out to be a perfect match. “We brought a picnic, and we spent the afternoon together,” says Dennis. He knew right away that he wanted to adopt them: Isaac, age 7, Brian, age 4, and Chris, age 3.

The boys were the youngest of six children, whose mother neglected them due to mental health issues. They had been in and out of foster care since Chris was 7 months old. Though Dennis expected a longer process before bringing the boys home, he was asked to take them sooner. Only two weeks after the first meeting, the children moved in with their new dads.

Very soon, the boys asked, “Why do we have two dads?” Dennis explained, “There are different kinds of families, and ours is a two-dad family.” When Chris was teased in school about not having a mom, he knew what to tell the bullies: “I have a mom. Everyone has a mom. I live with my dads.”

Dennis ensured that the boys stayed in touch with their older siblings, who were also in foster care. “They have two older sisters and an older brother in the Army, who are part of our extended family,” Dennis says. “To this day, we celebrate milestones, birthdays and graduations with them.”

When his partner left the family, Dennis became a single dad. Dennis’ demanding work travel schedule was an additional challenge. “It takes a tribe,” Dennis says, “so my tribe stepped in.” He was so committed to minimizing his time away that he made dizzyingly short international trips.

Dennis’ dedication to his sons has paid off. They have matured into responsible young men. Now age 21, Isaac is in the Army, following in the footsteps of his older brother. Brian, age 18, took a gap year after high school to work full-time and save money. Chris, age 17, is completing his senior year of high school and will attend UC Santa Cruz in the fall.

What would Dennis say to someone considering adoption? “Do it! Absolutely do it. Once, I thought it was important to be related by blood. But now I know that’s not true because I am their father.”

He credits the foster-parent training he received for preparing him well. “They were very supportive,” he recalls. “It was not all roses and wonderful. They were very realistic with us.”

“This agency does great work,” says Dennis, “and I feel fortunate to be part of their family.”

June 1, 2023