Wednesday, September 24, 2014


I have three sons.  When people ask about my kids, eventually they ask how old they are.  Their ages are 5, 7, and 19.  "Nineteen?!?" people interject incredulously.  "You have a 19 year-old?" "You don't look old enough to have a 19 year-old."  (I should probably take it as a compliment, one that I may not continue to receive as I go gray and my hair thins).

So then I feel compelled to explain: when I met my wife she had a 7 year old son.  She explained very clearly that she was a package deal, her and her son came together, and I had to accept both of them, or neither of them - no exceptions.  I accepted.

Before I proposed to my wife, about a year after we met, I asked Adrian, her first born child, for his permission to propose to his mother.  He said okay.  He was actually excited about it, he gave me a hug and his approval.  Until right now while writing this, I did not realize how huge his approval was.  Only a year after meeting me, after having gone through many changes, being away from his biological father for long periods of time, and now this guy, this goofy looking guy was going to marry his mother, and he accepted, approved of it even!?  Adrian is a special little guy.

In a car ride a few years later, while his mother was pregnant with his first younger brother, the topic of who my first child was came up.  Adrian said, "I'll always be your first son, right?"  I knew then that he had decided to be my son, not that he had a whole lot of choice in the physical arrangement of his new life circumstance, but he embraced our relationship, and requested that he be acknowledged as my first child.  I agreed with him, "Of course you will be.  You are my first son."

Eventually Adrian started calling me S-Dad instead of just Gabe.  At first it bugged me, I got annoyed that he was making some kind of differentiation between a normal dad, and S-Dad (for Step-Dad).  Eventually I came to realize that his choice to call me s-dad instead of my first name was a step up, not down.  He is acknowledging that I am one of the father figures in his life.  It took me a while, but I can recognize now that he is choosing to codify my role in his life by calling me S-Dad.  He is choosing to respect me, to honor me, as a father in his life.

It is an honor to help raise my son Adrian.  As complicated as our relationship, and the relationship of other family members around us is at times, it is all worth the energy and the work, the patience and the struggle.  Adrian is a special guy in my life.  He is my first son and always will be.


  1. You were acting like his father from the moment you asked his permission to propose.

  2. This IS beautiful, brother. What a testament to Adrian's character AND yours. You both are very lucky.

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  4. I am glad you had a chance to read it. Thank you for all of the support you and your beautiful family have given to myself, Adrian, Sandra and our whole family.

    Without any doubt your family is a big reason why Adrian is such a loving dynamic young man, and your accepting nature is what has shown him how to love and accept others as well.