'Pop Daddy' trio, The Iconic House of Mizrahi, plus tips on start­ing your own fam­ily in­side

De­catur cou­ple Jef­frey Roach and Ken Man­ford share their jour­ney to fa­ther­hood in new mem­oir ‘Pop Daddy’

GA Voice - - Front Page - By DAR­IAN AARON

“There’s a lot of wait­ing and hop­ing. Adop­tion is one long act of faith and de­vo­tion. You’re putting your faith in the sys­tem that it’s all go­ing to work out for you and it did for us.” —Jef­frey Roach

When Ken Man­ford, 54, sat down to write the truth about his sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion in a let­ter to his par­ents, he made cer­tain they were pre­pared for the real pos­si­bil­ity that he wouldn’t be able to pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity for them to be grand­par­ents to his off­spring. Af­ter all, he was deeply in love with Jef­frey Roach, 51, and was cer­tain they were go­ing to spend the rest of their lives to­gether de­spite Roach be­ing in­ca­pable—yet will­ing—to cre­ate a child with him in the nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion of their 25-year re­la­tion­ship.

“This doesn’t mean any­thing to you as my par­ents, ex­cept for the fact that you may not get grand­chil­dren from me,” wrote Man­ford in his com­ing out let­ter.

In hind­sight, his use of the word may turned out to be a small sliver of hope for Man­ford, his par­ents and even­tu­ally Roach, now his hus­band and fa­ther to their adopted son Jack­son.

“Deep down I al­ways knew I wanted a fam­ily and chil­dren, even though I maybe never vo­cal­ized it,” says Man­ford.

“I al­ways knew that I was gay and I al­ways just thought—I’m never gonna be mar­ried, I’m never gonna have kids. I ac­tu­ally thought I was al­ways go­ing to be on my own,” says Roach. “There was no ‘Modern Fam­ily.’ There were no ex­am­ples that this was all pos­si­ble.”

“Pop Daddy,” the re­cently re­leased mem­oir writ­ten by Roach, chron­i­cles the cou­ple’s jour­ney to­wards be­com­ing par­ents via an in­ter­na­tional Gu­atemalan adop­tion of their son Jack­son, now 14, prov­ing that the De­catur cou­ple’s de­sire to cre­ate a fam- ily as gay men was not only pos­si­ble but it was hap­pen­ing.

The road to Jack­son

But where would they start? Man­ford ad­mits he didn’t have a clue when he and Roach caught baby fever—lit­er­ally—from Marti, a co-worker in the Dal­las, Texas of­fice where the pair worked af­ter she an­nounced her preg­nancy in 2001. Would sur­ro­gacy, fos­ter­ing or adop­tion be the best choice for their fam­ily? If they chose adop­tion, would they go the do­mes­tic or in­ter­na­tional route?

“Some­one gave us the ad­vice to hire a so­cial worker. We did some re­search and I found a les­bian cou­ple in Dal­las that worked for child pro­tec­tion ser­vices who sug­gested Gu­atemala,” says Man­ford.

“The coun­try has com­pletely opened up adop­tions right now, they’re not re­ally scru­ti­niz­ing, they’re let­ting sin­gle men adopt and there’s been some sig­nif­i­cant suc­cess in that,” he re­calls the ad­vice of the so­cial worker. “The tim­ing is re­ally good right now and we think it’d be a good av­enue for you.” “Their coun­sel was spot on,” he says. What fol­lowed was a se­ries of home vis­its to en­sure the cou­ple’s liv­ing quar­ters were con­ducive for rais­ing a child, back­ground checks, fil­ing fees, end­less pa­per­work and what felt like an eter­nity of wait­ing for Jack-

Ken Man­ford and Jef­frey Roach wel­comed son Jack­son into their fam­ily through an in­ter­na­tional adop­tion in 2002. (Courtesy pho­tos)

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.