Advice From Adoptive Gay Dads in a Multi-Racial Family

Originally published Nov. 2018.

Roland Locher and Tremaine Maebry met years before their relationship began, more than a decade ago. Their paths crossed initially while Tremaine was in a relationship, and they didn't meet again till Tremaine moved to the north side of Chicago and discovered Roland was his neighbor. They started dating soon after, and they were married in 2015.

It took a while for Roland and Tremaine to go through the adoption process, for both personal reasons and those out of their control. When when their home study was approved in 2015, they waited a further 14 months before they were matched with their sons. In 2016, they finally adopted two biological brothers, Jaelon and Jason, who were, at the time, 7 and 9 years of age.

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In Tremaine's own words, here's his family's story.

Tell us about your path to fatherhood: We created our family through adoption. We both came from big families. Initially Roland was skeptical about starting a family; even dating. As our relationship grew, so did our desire to be parents.

Tell us about any obstacles you faced on your path to fatherhood: The biggest obstacle was each other. We didn't know if we were "parent material." Roland is 14 years older than me and I went where the job took me. So we had to make some life changes in order to mentally and physically prepare ourselves. For example, Roland works from home and manages his real estate holdings himself. I was laid off for about a year and didn't know if my next job would require extensive travel or long hours but we managed to get through that (with the help of some therapy and a real look at our relationship).

How has your life changed since you became a father? We were care-free; we traveled when we wanted. Went out to bars and late-night dinners; slept late on the weekends, stayed in bed, etc. After the boys arrived, it was so different. Homework, sibling bickering, bed-time stories, school shopping, clothes shopping, school visits, etc. It took us by storm. Overnight it changed and it took a tremendous amount of adjusting. The hardest part was the emotional component. I was now emotionally tied to their well-being and overly cautious. What if someone tried to harm my kids, or they talked to strangers and something happened. I was scared. Still am...but I am a bit more relaxed but amazed how much these boys have changed me/us for the better.

What have you learned from your child since you became a dad? Patience and communication. When the boys arrived I spoke to them as adults - not on their level. It took some time for me to realize that I needed to develop a different style of communication and be patient with them when things go wrong (as they always do).

Was there ever a moment that you or Roland experienced any serious doubts about your path to fatherhood or fatherhood itself? Never - I can honestly say that once we set on that path we remain focused to making that happen.

Is your family treated differently than others on account of your sexual orientation? I haven't seen that actually. At one time boarding a flight my partner was stopped as he tried to enter family boarding. We had to tell the airline representative that we were together (the boys parents). My partner is white, I am black and my kids are bi-racial (Black/Mexican).

What words of advice do you have for other gay men considering the same path to parenthood? Don't short change yourself...Don't be perfect (or try to be). Follow your instincts...and once you have kids (especially with children who are are adopted) don't try to be their friend. First, be a parent. Set the expectations, ensure they can meet them (the expectations), let them know the consequences and reinforce them when they are broken. It's difficult and it's agonizing at times but in order to gain their trust and respect, you have to be a parent first (rather than just a caretaker).

Where do you see your family 5-10 years in the future? We are moving to Costa Rica in two years (summer of 2019). We want to show the boys a different lifestyle- not one inundated with video games, tv and other distractions. So we decided to make the move and start over together as a family.

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