By Desi Rubio, Feb. 26, 2015.
The last time Echo sat down with Kevin Patterson and David Patterson the Arizona’s marriage equality celebration was in full swing.
As plaintiffs in one of Arizona’s marriage equality cases and as one of the first couples in the state to obtain a marriage certificate, their family quickly became the new face of marriage equality – and adoption.
In the Nov. 6, 2014, issue of Echo, these dapper dads told the story of how their family came to be. But this was only the beginning.
Having recently been appointed to the Arizona Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Family Committee, they hope their next chapter will be helping the LGBT community realize that building a family is possible in Arizona.
HRC Family Committee
Their road to marriage equality was fueled by challenges over equal adoptive rights over their two daughters, Cayden, 8, and Cayla, 5, who Kevin adopted two years ago. As soon as same-sex marriage became legal in Arizona, the couple exchanged vows and set out to ensure that David received full second-parental adoptive rights.
“We are trying to make sure everything included in the marriage ruling gets put into action,” Kevin said. “There are just so many moving parts.”
The weekend following the historic ruling was Rainbows Festival, where Kevin and David took the girls to celebrate their big victory for equality. Upon approaching the HRC booth, they both recall asking, “How can we get more involved?”
After a meeting with Bridget Dougherty, HRC Member Outreach co-chair, Kevin and David became members of the HRC Family Committee, they will now have more opportunities to share their story through HRC’s mission, events and outreach to the community. (Read more about the Kevin, David and their daughters in "The Makings of a Modern Family" here.)
“The Family Committee’s goals are to provide an environment where LGBT families and allies can come together and have fun at a family-oriented event,” Dougherty explained.
The events offer families the opportunity to attend educational workshops, support charity events and various ways to teach children the importance of giving back to the community.
“David and Kevin, and their girls too, will be instrumental in bringing these events to life – from planning to participating,” Dougherty said.
The Perfect Advocates
The family of four has had an exciting start to 2015 so far. After taking some time off to be with the girls David is returning to work, Cayden is in second grade and just joined Girl Scouts, and Cayla is anxiously awaiting kindergarten in the fall. Together, their home and relationships with one another is truly defining of a positive family unit. However, there is still a small legal challenge that they need to overcome - the second-parent adoption for David.
“We have a very unique situation preventing us from getting David the second-parent adoption, however we have stayed connected with many people who know how the law works and there are several different plans on how to make it happen,” Kevin explained.
David hopes his petition for the second-parent adoption will happen soon because without it, even while legally married, Kevin’s next of kin (his mother) would still have more legal rights to the girls than David would.
But while their process has had its delays, they still find fulfillment when strangers reach out to them for adoption advice.
David’s new mission is to keep their family connected with the community and HRC was the perfect gateway. His advice to potential adoptive or foster parents is to “keep positive relationships with case workers, constantly be in good communication and get your paperwork in.”
As their second-year family anniversary just passed over Valentines weekend, they have come to realize how quickly they were able to shut down any negative misconceptions or myths in relation to adopting through the state.
“The state of Arizona has a priority for unifying kids with their biological families, but in situations in which that is not possible, adopt or foster through the state, it’s where the biggest need is,” Kevin said.
From beginning to end, their adoption process took a total of 15 months. Yet, they advise potential parents against entering the adoption process with a specific time frame in mind.
“The process is not designed for you (the parent), it is designed to protect the children,” David said.
Their path to parenthood was not easy. These dads explain during the process they were able to self-reflect, set realistic expectations and deal with the failures along with the triumphs. Their triumphs they say were colossal.
They advocated for two young girls, for marriage equality in Arizona and now for other families in their situation.
“There are so many ways to build up Phoenix,” Kevin said. “It is becoming a wonderful place to live and raise a family and we are part of that and are not just watching it from the sidelines."