Episode #8 (Part 1): Stories Behind the Every Child Deserves a Family Act

This month we’re focusing our attention on the Every Child Deserves a Family Act (or ECDF) – a bill that was recently introduced in Congress that would eliminate state laws, policies, practices and procedures that exclude potential adoptive and foster parents because of their marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity. Passing ECDF would dramatically increase access to permanent, loving homes for foster care children.

In Part 1 of this two-part series, we talk to guests Dr. Philip McAdoo, and Aaron and Rich Hooks Wayman about their experiences forming their families through foster care.

Meet Our Guests

Dr. Philip McAdoo

Dr. Philip McAdoo is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in communications studies, holds an MA in transformative leadership from The California Institute of Integral Studies, and earned a doctorate of education from The University of Pennsylvania in the Graduate School of Education.

As an LGBTQ activist, Dr. McAdoo was invited to join politician and civil rights activist Rep. John Lewis speaking in support of the Every Child Deserves a Family Act to introduce legislation to Congress that would lower some of the barriers faced by same-sex couples who want to adopt children from foster care. Dr. McAdoo and his family have been featured in The Huffington Post, ABC News, and on the cover of magazines and articles advocating for the rights of LGBTQ individuals and families.

As Director of Diversity, he has launched a diversity speaker series, coordinated global education trips, and advocated for access to education for diverse groups of students. He has created comprehensive academic and summer programs for Black and Hispanic youth and fostered community and parent relationships for diversity in independent schools. Dr. McAdoo specializes in character development particularly from the perspective of diversity and inclusion, having conducted numerous workshops and professional development on diversity as well as LGBTQ advocacy.

Dr. McAdoo has worked tirelessly to combat homophobia in his personal and professional life by fiercely advocating not only for himself and his family, but for the rights of LGBTQ youth, families, and educators as well. He earned his doctorate from The University of Pennsylvania completing his dissertation titled, Out and Visible: A Study of Openly Gay and Lesbian Teachers in Independent Schools. He hopes to use his research to construct a theory of gay and lesbian teacher identity development as a model for advocacy for LGBTQ teachers and students.

Philip currently is the Director of Equity, Justice and Community at the Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC.

Aaron and Rich Hooks Wayman

Aaron and Rich started to date in 2003 after meeting online, and lived in Minneapolis, MN. When they met, Rich was already serving as the guardian and foster parent to two teenage girls (Christina and Mariah). Aaron and Rich got married in 2005 in Minnesota (before the state recognized same-sex marriages).  After our marriage we were joined by a third foster daughter (Lourdes).  In 2006, Rich received a job offer in Washington D.C.  At the time, Christina and Mariah were attending college (and out of the home) and Lourdes was finishing her senior year in high school and did not want to transfer out of state.

In 2006 Aaron and Rich settled in Maryland and in 2007 became licensed for foster care.  They decided that they wanted to do foster-adoption and eventually were placed with twins (a boy, Dajour, and a girl, Dayanna).  It happened very fast.  One afternoon Rich was sitting at work and he got a call at 4 p.m. from the county’s social service office stating that they had toddler twins that needed an immediate placement.  The social worker told them that either they take the twins or they would be separated to different foster homes.  Aaron and Rich told them to bring them right over! At 7 p.m. the twins arrived at our home with their bags of borrowed clothes.

In 2010 Aaron and Rich were allowed to adopt the twins in Maryland!  Also, that year, Rich received another career offer back in Minnesota.  They arrived in Minnesota and Aaron told Rich, “I just want one more baby.”  So, we signed up for foster care again with the goal of adoption.  They became licensed in Minnesota (Minneapolis, Hennepin County) and eventually got a call to accept a one year old boy (Walter) and his newborn baby brother (Jerome).  They were told that they had to accept both or they would be separated to different foster homes.  Of course, they couldn’t say no.

In 2013 Aaron and Rich were allowed to adopt the boys!  That same year, Rich was recruited to a new position in Massachusetts.  In 2014, we received a call ‘out of the blue’ from Minnesota telling us that Walter and Jerome’s mother had delivered a baby girl (Destiny) who had also ended up in child welfare services.  Over the next year we came to find out that the mother delivered another baby boy (Jerome) and both needed a permanent home. In December, 2015 both Destiny and Jerome landed in Massachusetts with our family.

So, that’s how we went from three teenage daughters to six adopted children!  Today, the children are:

Dayanna 11
Dajour 10
Walter 6
Jerome 5
Destiny 3
Jordan 2

We also have a small dog (a chiweenie – half Chihuahua and half Daschundt) named Moose!