Being two gay men who were raised in the deep South, there are some deep rooted insecurities that will most likely always be burned into my brain. Despite living here in New Orleans, little flashes of the past bubble up every now and again. But I have to say, now being two dads living here in the ‘Big Easy,’ we fall more in love with this city by the day it seems.
We both came from Mississippi; I’m from Hattiesburg and Douglas is from Jackson. I moved here right after high school back in 2001. Douglas moved here after Katrina in 2006. We met as security guards (lol) at a local gay club on Bourbon Street. All it took was one glance at each other and we were hooked, line and sinker. People often ask me if I believe in love at first sight. My response is always “You bet, I do.”
We partied hard for a few years and then got serious about life around 2 years into our relationship. Douglas decided to go to school and I worked at a restaurant in the Quarter. We didn’t know much about where we were going, except we loved our city and wanted to live here forever.
Each year that went by we could see life’s path form right in front of our eyes. As each cobble stone formed in front of us, we hopped on to it. Before we knew it we were 9 years together and stronger than ever! In 2015, We were one of the first gay couples to be married in Jackson Square!
Very soon after, conversations started shifting from where we wanted to vacation next to the casual, “Hey, do we want to have babies?” And as fast as we spoke it into fruition, that cobble stone appeared in front of us and we took that leap!
We were told that a gay couple could expect to wait 5-7 years to adopt a newborn baby. Myself being 34 at the time, and Douglas 36, we knew we needed to hop on the baby train fast if we didn’t want to have walkers at a wedding or graduation. So, we did what we needed to do thinking we had half a decade to wait. And then, as life would have it, about 2 weeks into this 5-7 year wait our telephone rang. And just like that our wait shrank from 5-7 years to 3 1/2 weeks. We didn’t know whether to cry, sweat, or faint.
We welcomed our first born home on December 4th of 2015.
We quickly learned that all the books we have read and the advice from family and friends were all lost in translation. We were dealing with a super, tiny preemie. She was born at 30 weeks. And to put it mildly, that was TOUGH. We improvised and learned what we needed to on the spot. We found out putting all children into one book and charging twenty bucks for it is ludicrous! We found out instantly each kid is different.
There was something that came with having a child. I don’t know, it’s hard to explain. For example, in the beginning, that feeling you have when you carry that baby and carseat into the grocery store and strap it into the shopping cart for the first time and start wheeling it around with your head held so high.
The validation. The empowerment. That feeling right THERE. It’s like a breath of fresh air. It’s like you are saying to the universe, I am doing the dang thing!
And then that random old lady strolls by and glances over only to say, “your baby has no socks on.” ::facepalm::
Yes, you take the good with the bad. Touché lady, touché. You learn your lessons quick, and in a hurry.
When our daughter was a year and half, we decided to hop back on that baby train. We knew it couldn’t happen any sooner than our first child so, we started the process again.
This time was a little different. In the beginning, I heard sad stories of “failed” adoptions. Like- gut-punch stories of pure heart break. And to sum it up, we had a failed adoption our second go round. The birth mother just disappeared. No explanation. No resolution. Just- vanished. I admit, it stung. But for us, thankfully we were only strung along for about 2 months. Some families are strung along the entire duration of the pregnancy. I cannot even imagine. Indeed, this did hurt. We knew what we wanted and there was no stopping us. So, we just picked ourselves up by the bootstraps and carried on. You live, you learn. And you appreciate the hard times because it allows you to be grateful when things do work out. 3 months later our second daughter was born.
Having a 3 1/2 year old and a 2 year old keeps me busy. I left my job as general manager at the restaurant after our second daughter was born and became a full time stay at home dad.
I created my blog Nola Papa because I felt as a LGBTQ family, it’s important for us & others like us to help light the way for the ones that need hope. Parenthood can be scary and the path to parenthood can be even scarier. So I put my life and experiences out there to help disarm any fears. If it’s one thing I’ve learned, we’re all getting there together, so why not help each other while we’re getting there?
About Erik Alexander