Don Lariviere

A Tale of Two Years

One year ago today, my partner Matt and I were halfway on a journey to a new life.

Since meeting in Boston on a blind date in the summer of 2000, we’d spent a lot of time vacationing in what would become one of our favourite places on earth: Montreal, Quebec. Our affinity for Canada was born during our very first trip, just a month into our new relationship, and after many more trips it grew even stronger, particularly after the 2004 U.S. presidential election. We would ultimately devise a long-standing yet half-baked plan to move to Canada before our 40th birthdays, all the while expecting it never to actually happen.

In the summer of ’06, it happened.

After an extended interview and offer process, I accepted a new job in Richmond Hill, Ontario. In the space of a two short months we sold our home in Charlotte, North Carolina and said our goodbyes. We packed our lives into a moving van and started driving, stopping just over halfway in central New Hampshire to stay with Matt’s parents for a few days while our movers got a necessary head start in their northbound trek.

Since finally landing in greater Toronto one year ago this week, we’ve had quite an adventure. Matt turned 40 in Canada after all and I’ll soon do the same, we have two new jobs, a new home we’re preparing to move into, and plans are underway for our wedding a year from now (in Montreal, of course!).

But with one dream come true, we’ve turned our attention to another: the possibility of adopting a child. We’ve always had a long-standing yet half-baked plan to become dads, all the while wondering if it would actually happen.

We love children, and are fortunate enough to be able to surround ourselves (though not often enough) with 11 nieces and nephews between us, the youngest being my only brother’s son, Evan, one month old today. Canada may have brought us a lot of things we wanted, but being separated from family when all you want to do is fawn over a new baby is one of the more difficult realities of life in another country.

And so we’ve taken only a few small steps toward exploring being dads, enrolling in the course Daddies & Papas 2B among them. Just a few weeks in, we’ve already learned things about ourselves and each other that will help us decide whether or not fatherhood is for us. The thought of finding my son with a 104 degree temperature at 3 a.m. is inherently terrifying, but the thought of a newborn looking into my eyes and smiling for the first time is a joy I can’t even begin to fully imagine.

In some ways, the start of this process has already been like coming out of the closet all over again. Reactions from family and friends have been just as varied, and, in some ways, maddening, as when they first found out many years ago that we were gay. Many of our heterosexual siblings and friends have embraced the idea, knowing us well enough to know we’d be fantastic fathers. Our parents – proud mothers, fathers, and grandparents themselves – have been decidedly more suspicious.

Matt and I have never had a lot of money between us, but we’ve apparently given off the impression that we’re jet-setters who can travel wherever and whenever we’d like, or throw together a cocktail party for 50 at a moment’s notice, or indulge ourselves at fancy dinners that last well into the wee hours of the morning.

“But you guys are used to a certain lifestyle,” we’ve heard.

“A child will really put a damper on your plans,” they say.

“But, at your age, is a child the right decision? You should be stashing money away for retirement,” they’ve advised.

My brother is scarcely two years younger than me, but I suspect this advice wasn’t offered to him and his wife. Matt’s sister has three kids, and her husband was in his late 30s when they had twins back in 2001. I can’t help but wonder if the difference here is really a few years in age and the assumption about certain lifestyle preferences, or if it’s the unspoken uneasiness about two men raising a child.

And so begins our second year in Canada. Before it’s through, we’ll be homeowners, permanent Canadian residents, and husbands. We’ll come to learn if Oprah was right: 40 is the new 30.

Finally, we’ll be further on our journey toward fatherhood, though we know we can’t predict how it will end. Tonight, we’ll toast to a successful first year of our exciting journey, and wonder about the possibilities of where we’ll be a year from now.

Don Lariviere, Ontario (via the USA)