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Ethan has two daddies
A story about how an abandoned child came to find home and family with a Carolina gay couple

by David Moore
Q-Notes staff

Bruce Moyer (left) and Gary Alderman (right) hold their son Ethan Michael on a recent trip to Florida’s Sea World.

What’s better than a cool Dad? What about two cool Dads? If Ethan Michael Moyer-Alderman had a better grasp on English he’d probably tell you he was one of the happiest boys in the world. Even though he can’t quite speak the words just yet, he’s still able to get the point across.

“There are times when the three of us are together and it’s just before bed — so we have relax time to get him settled down,” says proud pop Gary Alderman. “We sit on the sofa and read books together. He’s an active kid, but he knows it’s time to sit with his dads. He points to Bruce and says ‘dada.’ Then he points to me and says ‘daddy’ and then to himself and squeals ‘Eeeeee!’ It’s like he’s saying this is what makes me happy — life sitting here between my two daddies.”

The story about how these two men legally became the adoptive parents of an orphaned Ukrainian child is an interesting one.

“The process took about 16-18 months, in terms of paperwork and a lot of delays,” recalls Alderman. “It was pretty amazing. They do not preselect children for adoption — you visit the national adoption center and choose a child that you want to see.

“I had to travel about 1,000 miles from Kiev to a small town called Sevestopol in the Krimean region on the Black Sea.”

Alderman spent 14 days visiting and waiting on the court date before the judge granted the adoption. At that point Ethan was allowed to leave the orphanage and travel back to Kiev with his new father.

“There was more paperwork there and then I flew with him to Warsaw. You have to go through an American Embassy to get citizenship — that’s where Bruce joined me.”

Although the judge questioned Alderman about why a single man would want to adopt a child, he never asked any questions about Alderman’s sexuality.

“They didn’t ask that at all,” Alderman recalls. “I told them I had spent most of my life very busy with career, but that I loved children, always wanted one and that I had a lot of family support.”

Finally back at home, Moyer and Alderman found their lives suddenly changed.

“Adopting Ethan changed my life dramatically,” says Moyer. “The focus is no longer on us — it is on Ethan and our family. It has allowed me to to grow up and take responsibility. I’ve been a lucky recipient of unconditional love all my life — now I can give that back.

“From a logistical standpoint now we do things based him, on with him or for him and you have to look at what you do personally all the time,” says Alderman. “Our free time has to be devoted to taking care of Ethan. In the beginning it felt weird and almost cumbersome — but after a year it’s natural.

“You develop a level of love that you never understood before. There’s a way that you love your kid that is different from any other kind of love. A friend of ours said that when he had a son, he felt like he’d grown a second heart. It’s a different kind of love you have for your partner or parents.”

Ethan’s unique journey began when he was born out of wedlock to a Ukrainian teen.

“It’s socially very unacceptable to have a child out of wedlock in the Ukraine,” says Moyer. “The mother gave birth to Ethan and two days later she abandoned him in the hospital. He stayed there for two months and then was placed in the orphanage. He was 16 months old and only weighed 16 pounds when we finally got him.”

According to Moyer, the entire adoption process cost around $40,000. A domestic adoption can cost between $8-$12,000.

Since they adopted Ethan, however, countries like the Ukraine and others have largely put an end to international adoptions.

The fact that Moyer and Alderman are both legally recognized as Ethan’s parents might come as a surprise to gay couples considering adoption.

“I have recently acquired second parent adoption rights through the state of North Carolina,” says Moyer. “Gary gave up his superior rights but not his entire rights. By doing that the state will allow openly gay same-sex couples to share parental adoption.”

“We’re the proudest dads ever,” says Moyer, who lives with Alderman and Ethan in a condo in downtown Charlotte. “His birthday was in April and we bought him a four wheeler. He’ll ride it all over uptown on the sidewalk and people laugh and joke as he rolls by. There are other families in the building who have kids, so on certain nights we’ll have play dates. I’d definitely say we’re a very happy family.”

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