In honor of National Adoption Day, which is tomorrow, November 20 — and also because we’re excited to be recognized as a “Best Adoption-Friendly Workplace” by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption — we spoke with Trey Williams, an associate director of strategic planning with Intouch 7, who’s not only a (fairly new) newlywed but also a new father. Get your tissues and read our Q&A.
How did you and Cole meet, and how long have you been married?
Cole and I met through online dating in 2012. We only exchanged messages for a couple of days before we met up for a first date at Loose Park. We got engaged on top of Diamond Head in Hawaii eight years later and scheduled our wedding for April 2020. Unfortunately, our wedding date was two weeks after the Kansas City stay-at-home orders were implemented. Knowing that we wanted to start the adoption process soon, we pushed our full wedding back to February 2021 and had a small ceremony with our officiant and two friends on our original wedding date.
Did either/both of you come from big families – did that play a part in your wish to also have kids in your life?
Cole comes from a huge, tight-knit western Kansas family. I’ve been to a couple of his family reunions, and I’m always blown away by the number of cousins he knows by name. We’ve always wanted kids, but as we watched Cole’s niece and nephew grow, we realized that it was important to us that our kids have a connection to their extended family and be within the same age range.
Can you briefly describe what the adoption process was like for you?
We did a lot of research before officially starting the process and were overwhelmed by the number of paths available. There’s domestic vs. international adoption, agencies vs. private lawyers, and fostering to adopt. There’s also a lot of hurdles to clear before you’re even considered to be a candidate for adoption, like creating a family profile and completing a state-certified home study. For all those reasons, we chose to contract with a facilitator, called Adoption Information Services (AIS), based in Georgia. They were very valuable partners and held our hands every step of the way. AIS talked us through what to expect at every step, coached us on the creation of our family profile, identified home study providers that aligned with our desired timeline and budget, and helped us determine our tolerances for the adoption situation. The tolerances discussion was very eye-opening, as there are a number of factors that we hadn’t even considered, including potential drug use by birth mothers, open or closed adoption situations, and involvement by other birth family members (father, grandparents, etc.).
About five months into our journey, just after our rescheduled wedding in February, we received information for a birth mother in Florida through a private attorney. At this point, we had applied and been turned down for three or four other adoptions. We applied and were told that we were one of over 50 applicants. As one would understand, we didn’t have high expectations. To our surprise, on March 12, we were informed that the birth mother had selected us and was due any day. That day was a whirlwind that included an impromptu Zoom call to meet the birth mother and a frantic trip to Target to buy the minimum baby essentials. Luckily for us, the actual due date was a bit fuzzy, and we ended up waiting another two weeks to witness the birth of our daughter.
Did you know about Intouch’s adoption benefit before you began your adoption process?
We actually started our adoption journey before I started at Intouch. So, I knew, going in, that adoption benefits were available, but I didn’t know how easy the process would be and how much help would be available. Adoption is an extremely expensive process and Intouch’s adoption benefits were critical to easing the burden that happened, seemingly, all at once. On top of the financial support, the time that Intouch allowed me to spend with my growing family was great as we traveled and settled back at home.
What has been the best thing so far about being a parent? What has been the most unexpected?
Seeing her hit her developmental milestones has been so much fun! When you start thinking about becoming a parent, you read all the books and familiarize yourself with what to expect from month to month in the first year, but you really don’t understand how cool it is to see your child become a person until you’re in it. My greatest fear with adoption is that I wouldn’t feel a connection with my child – that I’d always see her as someone else’s kid who happens to live with us. This is especially true since she is fully Caucasian, and I am Black. However, Ivy has felt like “mine” from the moment I saw her, which was something I didn’t expect. My favorite moments are when it’s just her and I, and I feed her the last bottle of the day and rock her to sleep. There’s something about her face and the way she looks at me just before she falls asleep, and it’s just us and the nightlight in her room, that is really special. Any tips for those who might also be interested in adopting a child?
If you’re thinking about adopting, don’t be afraid to ask for help and ask others about their experience. For Cole and I, we sought the advice of other gay couples that had adopted or were in the process. Hearing from other couples and hearing the good and bad stories helped us set our own expectations and be ready for anything.
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