The Patterson Family’s Adoption Journey

The Pattersons giggle when they introduce their family—two girls and two dads, standing in front of their Arizona home mastering the art of selfie videos and rocking a cat-ear tiara. Today, their family doesn’t look all that different from the millions across the country: their days are scheduled around school pick-ups and drop-offs, with plenty of time to goof off in-between. 

But it hasn’t always been that easy. In this new emotionally moving short film from Family Equality’s Ric Swezey Memorial Fund Storytelling series, dads Kevin and David share their journey to adopt pre-marriage equality, and the roadblocks around parenting rights they’ve run into since then. 

“We had other friends move out of state to get married, move out of state to adopt kids, because it was easier,” explains David. “I wasn’t ready for that. I shouldn’t have to leave…This is my home…This is where I will have my family.” 

Determined to adopt their children in Arizona, Kevin called the agency closest to where he lived. The woman on the phone asked for his wife’s name. When Kevin told her his partner’s name, she said, “We actually don’t adopt to families like yours.” 

“And that was that,” Kevin recalls. 

Kevin and David eventually found an inclusive agency, and were matched with their daughters in 2013—but their struggle to be recognized as equal parents continued. 

“I remember that time being at work, and you called me. You were really upset, and you said, ‘I’m at the pediatrician right now, and they won’t let me…do anything until they hear from you that you authorize me to be here,’” Kevin recalls. “So I had to…tell the receptionist that this is their second dad…and I remember she said, ‘No, he’s not.’” 

One year after adopting their children, Kevin and David became the first same-sex couple legally married in the state of Arizona. Soon after, David was able to adopt their daughters, too.  

“We just need to protect our family,” Kevin says. “Knowing that there are other families like ours that are experiencing the exact same thing.” 

Stories like the Pattersons’ demonstrate why Family Equality’s advocacy for the Every Child Deserves a Family Act is so important. ECDF would ban discrimination against LGTBQ+ people and religious minorities in foster care and adoption. Contact your Members of Congress today and help ensure other LGBTQ+ people don’t have to face this kind of discrimination on their paths to parenthood.

Ric Swezey Memorial Fund

This film was produced with the support of the Ric Swezey Memorial Fund, dedicated to telling the stories of everyday LGBTQ families in their struggle for lived and legal equality. Make a donation to support our storytelling work here.

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