Educator Adopts Newborn Despite All Odds

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Jay Rapp and his daughter Kendall i

Jay Rapp and his daughter Kendall Jay Rapp hide caption

itoggle caption Jay Rapp
Jay Rapp and his daughter Kendall

Jay Rapp and his daughter Kendall

Jay Rapp

All week, we've heard commentary from guests and friends of the program who are conventional and unconventional dads, reflecting on the joys and challenges of fatherhood. We've heard from those who are married and single.

Today: Jay Rapp, an educator who adopted Kendall, a newborn baby girl, seven years ago:

JAY RAPP:

In 2002, I was 34, single and living and working on the campus of a co-ed boarding school in Colorado. Not unlike many others, there were two things that I wanted more than anything: one was to be in a committed, loving relationship, and the other was to be a father.

Jay Rapp and his family i

Jay Rapp and his family Jay Rapp hide caption

itoggle caption Jay Rapp
Jay Rapp and his family

Jay Rapp and his family

Jay Rapp

After years of trial and error, I finally realized that finding my soul mate was beyond my control. What I could control was whether or not I became a father. I had reached a point where I didn't want one to be dependent on the other and felt that it would be a shame if, in the end, I missed out on both.

I had already begun looking into the possibility of adoption the year before. I spent months researching my options: domestic adoption, international adoption, foster parenting, adopting a baby versus an older child in need of a home.

Through a friend of a friend, I met a couple who recommended a private adoption agency just outside Chicago. I vividly remember my first visit with my social worker who was absolutely wonderful. After asking all the required questions, she looked at me long and hard, sighed and said, "I have one more question for you, are you a practicing heterosexual?"

My response was simple and to the point: "At the moment, I'm not practicing anything, but if you're asking if I'm gay, I am." And that was that. The remaining two visits went smoothly and were uneventful.

What was "eventful" though was time it took between completing a mountain of paperwork and the actual placement. It had been a year since I had heard from the agency; and when they finally called, it felt like the single greatest moment in my life — a pregnant mother had come in to sign the papers giving up her soon-to-be-born baby, and I was the next on the list.

By the next week, however, she had changed her mind, dealing me the worst moment in my life. But just days later, the adoption agency again called, informing me that the baby had been born, a beautiful girl, and if I was still interested, she was mine. I was on a plane to Chicago the next day.

I vividly remember holding her for the first time and the love and fear that I felt simultaneously. It was an important lesson that to this day, I tell couples thinking of starting a family.

Thinking about being a father/mother is very different than being a father/mother. I instantly wondered what I'd gotten myself into.

After a few months, the fear subsided and I settled in to the joy and contentment of fatherhood. Like so many parents, I found myself just watching her sleep, calling everyone at her first smile, first word, and espousing her many talents. My daughter has been, is, and always will be the greatest gift I ever received.

As it turns out, I did find love and we have since adopted a second child, another girl. On this father's day, I could not be more grateful.

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