“As magical as conceiving and childbirth are, adoption has its own amazing pattern of birth,” says Ed Condon, “a birth of the hearts.”
About 30 years ago, Ed and his husband, Norman Lorenz, reached out to foster-to-adopt agencies because they wanted a family life with children. But at that time, agencies weren’t welcoming to a same-sex couple. Through random circumstances, they met a pregnant woman who thought Ed and Norman would be good parents for her unborn child. Norman and Ed were in the delivery room for Maddy’s birth and brought her home from the hospital as their daughter.
In 1996, they wanted to add to their family. This time, they approached Lilliput, now a part of Wayfinder Family Services. There, they found acceptance and assistance. “The organization was inviting, understanding, and open-minded,” Norman says. “They were supportive of our efforts, long before ‘love is love’ was a thing!”
Cheryle, then a Lilliput social worker, remembers meeting Norman and Ed, who were operating Montessori schools at that time. “They were really personable, motivated and excited. I felt good about finding a child to place in their home.” Cheryle began sharing referrals with them.
When Ed’s mother died, the couple halted their search. Cheryle stayed in touch. One day, she asked them to come with her to meet a 15-month-old boy. From the boy’s records, they learned he had developmental needs due to exposure to methamphetamines in the womb. As educators, they were confident they could meet his needs, but… “We weren’t ready yet,” Ed recalls. They went to the foster home anyway.
When they walked in, Ed remembers, “We saw this little boy with the smallest pair of glasses held together by electrical tape.” The cute, bubbly boy was Tim.
“He wriggled over to us on the floor,” Norman recalls, “and we knew at that moment, he chose us!” Ed and Norman brought Tim home in January 2000.
“When I arrived at Ed and Norman’s house,” Tim says, “I had a small red walker and a helmet. They said ‘no more walker or helmet, you’re going to figure it out.’ I did.” Tim began intensive early intervention. “We jumped on it for the first five years,” says Ed, “then continued with speech and other cognitive therapy.”
Maddy, now a teacher, says, “One thing I brag about is that my parents went full speed ahead getting early intervention for Tim. It’s so key because our brains are malleable at that stage.” The hard work paid off. Tim achieved typical development.
For several years, Norman and Ed continued to work with Lilliput as mentors to adoptive parents who needed support or reassurance in dealing with an issue. “It was unique to think that a same-sex family was mentoring husband-and-wife couples,” Norman says. The couple wanted to give back to the organization in gratitude for the acceptance and support they had received. “We were so fortunate that they came along,” says Norman.
Predictably, the children got questions about their family composition. Tim thought it was strange when people asked him what it was like growing up with two dads rather than a mom and dad. “There’s no difference,” he says. “They are loving parents.” Maddy adds, “I went for five years of my life thinking everyone had two dads. I didn’t get it when people had a mommy. I asked, ‘where’s your other dad?’”
Norman and Ed supported Maddy and Tim in connecting to their birth families. Tim contacted his birth parents and has developed relationships with his biological brothers and sisters. “It’s been a great experience,” Tim says, “but I always come back to the family I grew up in. I think of my biological family as an extension of my family.”
While Tim’s mother overcame her drug addiction decades ago, Maddy’s mother is less stable. When she was in middle school, Maddy met her mom. “She made a bunch of promises and never talked to me again,” Maddy says. “That’s something I’m still getting over.” But then Maddy met her half-sister, whom she calls “one of the most beautiful human beings I’ve met.” Maddy and Tim enjoy having nieces and nephews in their extended families.
Now 25, Tim is married to his high school sweetheart Xochitli and continues to thrive at Southwest Airlines. Maddy, age 28 graduated from University of San Francisco with her Master in Education and is a third grade teacher in San Francisco Unified School District. Ed and Norman could not be happier. And of course given their careers in Head Start and Community College - education is always the top subject at every turn. The family gets together often. “My friend makes fun of me,” Maddy says with a grin. “She says, ‘your family must love each other so much because you always get together.’”
Ed asks Tim, “How much do you love us?” Smiling, Tim responds, “To the moon and back. No, to the sun. That’s farther.”