This past Sunday was Father’s Day, the first Donald Taylor, Jr celebrated as a dad. The 36-year-old single gay man from Louisville spent the day with his adopted 13-year old son, Paul—marking their first few months together officially as a family.
“As a gay single man, I worried that fatherhood wasn’t in my future,” Taylor told the Today Show. “I didn’t have a partner, and despite increasing acceptance of gay marriage and parenthood, I never forgot that some states had laws forbidding gays from adopting kids.”
When he contacted a foster agency, though, they assured him “we’re looking for the best parents we can find, period.” With more than 100,000 kids in the foster care system, half of them over 7-years-old, there is always need.
Paul came into Donald’s life two years ago, when they spent a few weekends together to give Paul’s then-current foster family a break.
“Although Paul was small for his age he seemed older than other kids I knew,” said Donald. “He was extremely polite and guarded. and worried too much about things kids shouldn’t have to think about, like whether he had enough money or would get his shoes muddy.”
When Paul’s foster family announced they could no longer care for him, Donald told the agency that he’d like to adopt him.
“I can’t explain it,” said Donald, “but I knew right away that he would be my son.”
It hasn’t been an easy road: Paul brought a lot of emotional baggage with him, and temper tantrums were the norm initially. But as they have relaxed into familial routines, Donald has noticed a change.
“His face isn’t so scrunched up, and his voice is softer,” he notes. “We’ll read before bed, which is a need he didn’t get met when he was younger. Or we make S’mores on a little campfire in the backyard. Of course, I was a proud papa when he made the honor roll this spring.”
The two celebrated the finalized adoption on April 1, or as they call it, “Gotcha Day.” Donald says that Paul still doesn’t believe it sometimes, and asks if he will be taken away.
“We’re stuck with each other now and, despite our worst days, I’m not going anywhere,” Donald reassures his son.
He says that, any challenges aside, “I’m blessed with an awesome child, and I wish more people would give kids like Paul a chance. It’s never too late to give someone a happy childhood.”