'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’
“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)