By Cara Williams,
Special at AFRO
Maryland opera singer David Marshall would not have been considered a candidate for adoption as a single black parent a generation ago. As a single black gay man, Marshall may still have adoption issues in some states.
In years past, adoption has taken place within the strict confines of racial, ethnic and religious communities. Typically, adoption placements occurred between same-race heterosexual couples adopting children of the same race. Open adoptions were unknown and same-sex adoptions were illegal.
However, following a Supreme Court ruling in June 2017, same-sex couples became legal in all 50 states.
Black, gay, and single men have begun to step forward to bring children into their lives through adoption.
David Marshall was one of them.
“They saw a single gay man go by and thought I was worthy of raising them,” Marshall, 42, said as he opened up about the process of adopting the handsome boy who is now his son, Josiah Marshall.
The Journey to Josiah
There were two things Marshall always knew he wanted in life – an opera career and hearing a child – his child calls him “daddy”.
Marshall began singing in church at an early age and fulfilled his dream of pursuing opera professionally. Marshall made his debut with the Garden State Opera Company of New Jersey as Calandrino in Mozart’s Loca Del Cairo and was one of Opera Ebony’s young artists during the 2012-2013 season. He reprized the roles of Hob in Vaughn Williams’The Poisonous Kiss” and Don Ottavio in “Mozart”Don Giovanni” with the Bronx Opera Company in New York.
After the opera tours and accolades started rolling in, Marshall realized that his first goal had been achieved, but his second and most important dream was still out of reach.
His dream come true would require a little more ingenuity. Marshall has found the helping hands that have accompanied him through the journey to fatherhood with a Baltimore-based agency.
While scouring and researching to find adoption agencies that were willing and able to work with him, Marshall came across Adoptions Together, a regional agency with offices in Baltimore, DC and around the DMV (DC, Maryland and Virginia).
Their motto is “Every child, every family, every step of the way,” something Marshall found welcoming. He visited the agency and was warmed to find families that looked like him – interracial families, same-sex families and single-parent families.
“I felt good right away,” Marshall said. “I’m not going to go here and be discriminated against again,” he continued.
So, on January 5, 2015, Marshall went to his first briefing where his journey to fatherhood gained momentum.
Over the next three months, Marshall filled out a lot of paperwork, took classes, and participated in home visits.
Marshall’s obsession with being a father helped him complete the process in April 2015. Three months later, Marshall’s social worker filed his application with the Adoptions Together Domestic Infant program.
The next year and a half, Marshall said, was an emotional rollercoaster. “While paperwork and stuff was tedious, nothing compares to waiting,” he replied.
Marshall kept busy and focused decorating the nursery he prepared for Josiah. Yet random thoughts continued to haunt him.
“Okay, what’s going on here?” Why didn’t I hear anything? Is it because I’m gay? Is that why I haven’t heard anything? Marshall wondered again and again during the long wait after his adoption application was complete.
“Where’s my baby? I’m tired of waiting,” Marshall said. Then the phone call came. Marshall was teaching a class and heard his phone vibrate on his desk. He quickly created an exercise for his class and ran to answer the phone.
The voice on the other end of the line simply said, “We found your baby.
“I couldn’t breathe, my heart was racing and I just couldn’t breathe,” Marshall said.
April 3, 2017 was the day he first held Josiah and he was two weeks old.
It was love and a dream come true at first sight.
In front of family and friends, baby Josiah and Marshall finalized the adoption on November 18, 2017. David Marshall’s dream came true. He was officially the father of Josiah Marshall.
However, David Marshall’s adoption happy ending didn’t end with Josiah. In his quest to become a father, Marshall discovered LGBTQ+ people who wanted to adopt but either didn’t know about the process or still mistakenly believe that same-sex adoption is illegal.
Journey to Josiah connects people from the LGBTQ community and around the world to the adoption process. The goal is to inspire, educate and connect families and the community at large about the gift of adoption.
“Adoption changes lives and brings worlds together,” Marshall said. In the five years that Marshall and his son Josiah have been together, Father’s Day has taken on more meaning — for his own family and the families he supports through Journey to Josiah.
For more information on same-sex adoptions, contact Journey to Josiah here: https://journeytojosiah.org/
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