MAPLEWOOD, NJ — As a gay man, Arden Canecchia didn’t grow up thinking that getting married and having a family were going to be part of his future. But thanks to the Maplewood resident and his husband, Rich, two of the 112,000 children waiting for adoption across the nation now have a happy home.
As New Jersey families of all backgrounds celebrated Thanksgiving on Thursday, Canecchia, Rich and their sons, Jude and Jonny, celebrated the heartwarming story that brought them together, a journey that began 12 years ago when Canecchia met his husband-to-be.
After deciding that they wanted children, the couple began the arduous process of applying to adopt a child from the foster care system, which can take three years or longer in some cases. But the newlyweds knew they wanted to be part of the solution, so they submitted the paperwork and waited… and waited… and waited.
As days stretched into months with little progress, Canecchia and Rich began to worry that their application was lingering on the back burner. But eventually, the joyous day that the couple had been waiting for came when they met brothers Jude and Jonny and their foster mother for dinner.
Their adoption was formalized on National Adoption Day 2016.
The new family’s transition process was aided by Canecchia’s employer, Bank of America, which supported their adoption. In particular, the company’s four months of parental leave – which applies to same-sex couples – proved immensely helpful, Canecchia said.
For example, during the first months, Jonny had a particularly difficult transition, preferring to eat lunch with the school nurse and vice principal rather than his peers. But Canecchia’s parental leave allowed him to sit with Jonny at lunch and during class and introduce him to new friends.
Canecchia offered enthusiastic support for the need for parental leave to care for a new family.
“This time is invaluable,” he said. “I was able to be present for my boys, helping them adjust to new environments, while teaching myself how to be a dad. Everything from meal planning to setting up their rooms was new, and I’m thankful for the time I was given to learn.”
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Nationwide, an estimated two million LGBT people are interested in adopting a child, according to GayAdoption.org. An estimated 65,000 adopted children are living with same-sex or gay parents.
There were 112,000 children awaiting adoption in 2015, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services stated.
“Some people say that children need both a mother and a father to raise them, but there are many others who believe that gender does not matter when parenting,” according to LifeLong Adoptions. “Over the years, the number of children living with LGBT parents has risen tremendously. As the trend continues, that number will only increase, as same sex adoption and parenting becomes more and more widely accepted.”
“The last decade has seen a sharp rise in the number of lesbians and gay men forming their own families through adoption, foster care, artificial insemination and other means,” the ACLU states. “At the same time, the United States is facing a critical shortage of adoptive and foster parents. As a result, hundreds of thousands of children in this country are without permanent homes.”
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Photo: YouTube / Bank of America
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