When Vince Thai and Eric Abel talk about their son, Jamestin, their faces light up.
“He’s very resilient. He’s a very, very happy kid,” says Abel. “He’s a very determined boy.”
Although Thai and Abel adopted Jamestin when he was 3 years old, their journey to becoming a family began several years earlier.
Thai and Abel got married and knew they deeply wanted to have a child. But as a same-sex couple, their options were limited. Many countries did not allow same-sex couples to adopt or allow them to pursue surrogacy. And the wait to adopt was so long, it took them years to have a child of their own.
The adoption process was very challenging — especially the waiting, says the couple. They were assessed extensively for their skills and talents as potential parents. Then, finding out whether a particular child was a match took a long, long time. With a few potential adoptions, they waited so long they eventually gave up hope.
Roughly 6.5 years after their decision to adopt, Thai and Abel were introduced to their son Jamestin, who is autistic.
“We like to think he bonded with us right away,” says Abel.
Their first in-person visit was supposed to be only 1 hour, but ended up lasting 3 hours, says Abel. “He just started engaging with us and playing. At one point he went to Vince and sat on his lap,” he says.
After nearly 2.5 months of regular visits, Thai and Abel were able to bring their son home.
“Words cannot express how much joy we felt when Jamestin moved in,” Abel says, noting both he and Thai were nervous at first to become parents to a toddler.
The first 3 months of parenthood were a challenging transition for the new family. Jamestin had trouble adjusting to his new environment, woke up several times throughout the night, and had frequent tantrums. But eventually the family settled into a routine.
Despite the obstacles, Thai says they would adopt another child in a heartbeat.
“If I could do this again, I would have no hesitation at all,” he says.