Mark Doyle and Jeremy Pryor’s adoption went so well that Doyle went to work helping other gay couples navigate the process
PLANO — For Mark Doyle and Jeremy Pryor, finding a baby to adopt took only a day.
The couple had discussed starting a family for a year and how they would go about it.
One night in October of last year, Doyle searched online for gay-friendly adoption agencies.
He found Lifelong Adoptions and completed an application without telling Pryor.
“I was very nervous,” Doyle recalls, adding that he didn’t want to get his hopes up. “We were more worried about getting heartbroken through an agency declining us because we’re gay and not being accepted for who we are.”
The next day, Doyle received an email from the agency informing him that a baby had been found for him and Pryor.
Thinking it was too good to be true, he deleted it.
After more emails and phone calls, Doyle finally told Pryor, and the two looked into the future the agency promised.
It turned out that the birth mother, a young woman in Tennessee, had requested that a gay couple adopt her baby because she had a friend who was gay. He’d had a baby with a friend and the mother wanted to help a gay couple have a child.
“She always said that he just made the best parent and him and his little girl were so connected, so she wanted to give another family that opportunity,” Pryor said.
The baby was a girl, a fact that made the three gay couples ahead of them decline, because they wanted a boy instead.
Doyle hadn’t filled out a preferred gender on the application. And the two decided they just wanted a baby.
“I think any child is a blessing,” Pryor said.
So, the two of them signed the paperwork within two days of the initial email, deciding to finally give their family a plus-one.
“We knew that those things are time sensitive and if we were to drag our feet that someone else wouldn’t,” Pryor said. “There was no need to belabor the conversations any further because we’d already had so many of them.”
The birth mother liked them immediately after phone calls, agreeing to let them be involved in the birth and kept them informed of doctor appointments.
Having already planned a trip to Nashville for New Year’s, they planned to meet the birth mother in person before the birth of their daughter.
Although the baby was due in April, complications with the pregnancy led to an early delivery. Doyle got the call March 6 while packing for a business trip. The baby was on her way.
That afternoon, Doyle and Pryor were on the road and arrived at the hospital at 4:30 a.m. after the 14-hour drive.
Nervous about how the hospital would react to them, Pryor said the hospital welcomed them, taking them immediately to the neonatal intensive care unit and preparing a room for them.
“Even being in a different state I wasn’t sure how people would take two gay males coming in to take care of a baby, but they had their arms open wide for us,” he said.
At only 3 1⁄2 pounds, little Emma Kate had to remain in the NICU for 11 days. Doyle and Pryor had to stay for at least seven days for interstate compact clearance for the adoption between Tennessee and Texas.
But she was soon healthy and able to travel home. Before leaving the hospital, Pryor signed the birth certificate. The couple is planning to begin a second-parent adoption, but just need the certificate to be sent to them to begin the process.
Thankful for the little miracle that gave them a family, Doyle approached the agency in June about working for them. He said Lifelong hired him immediately to help relate to other gay couples wanting to adopt.
Although the agency had helped gay couples adopt in the past, Doyle said they didn’t have any gay staff members.
“This is what I enjoy doing is talking to somebody about building their family because they’re in the same situation that Jeremy and I were in,” Doyle said. “They just need someone to encourage them to go ahead and go forward and let them know that it can be done. Just because we’re gay doesn’t mean we can’t have a family or can’t adopt.”
When asked if they want more children in the future, they both answer “most definitely.”
“We haven’t narrowed it down yet, but we definitely want another one for her,” Pryor said.
Doyle said he’s thrilled to help other couples find the children they long for and walk them through the process. And Pryor said he’s grateful to have their story shared with couples who see adoption as daunting.
“It is a daunting process, but we’re just everyday people. We were able to make it work and it’s been a great experience and one we’re obviously willing to do again,” Pryor said. “I think that that’s good for other people to see that as well.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 27, 2012.
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