Wayne, Sal and HopeStaten Island, New York
By Wayne Steinman
We became dads when our daughter, Hope, was placed in our arms in August 19, 1987 in New York City and she was four months old at the time. Sal was actually the lead parent in the adoption—he was the first openly gay male to experience single-parent adoption. However, we were both Hope’s dads. We had legal papers, the court made sure from the get-go that we had both guardianship papers and wills so that if anything happened to Sal, Hope would become my child. We did our second parent adoption in 1994 or ’95, to make it official, but quite honestly, I never felt any different. It was love at first sight and we knew she was our daughter. Papers didn't matter.
We were together for nearly 41 years and it was the same thing! We didn't have any papers in the beginning either, but we knew our love was real. When we could get legal documents, we did, in order to protect ourselves and our daughter. In 1994, we applied for a Domestic Partnership in New York. We had a Civil Union ceremony in Vermont on October 7, 2000 with Hope as our witness. When same-sex marriage became legal in Canada, we went across the border and were legally married in Toronto on August 27, 2003—our 10 year anniversary is coming up!
We celebrate Father's Day and Mother’s Day. It's nice to be able to share cards and special moments together. We note how much we accomplish as dads. Sal's dad is still alive and we have supportive families surrounding us with birthdays and other things at this time of year, so it's just a big celebration. We also all plan a trip to Provincetown for Family Week in August, which is a nice way to stay in touch and celebrate our family within the LGBT community.
Hope is now 26 and she is a strong, independent, intelligent woman—we couldn't have asked for a better daughter. When she was placed with us 26 years ago there were all sorts of issues—health and otherwise—but we gave her all of our love and support. By fourth grade, she was in the gifted program. She got into Staten Island Tech, a top school and graduated from Wesleyan University. She actually came out in high school, so we have a daughter-in-law as part of the family now too! Hope is now in L.A. and we wish she lived closer, but we're proud of her and ourselves as parents.