The term "brother" changed again for me in college. When joining Phi Kappa Psi fraternity as a freshman, I met an entirely new group of friends. As the old running joke goes, these are friends I "paid for," but I never really looked at it that way. I looked at this group of rag-tag dudes and felt out of other fraternities they most fit my idea of what I wanted out of college friends. I knew I wanted to hang out with fun people in college, but I also wanted to learn. Textbook learning would happen every day, but life lessons would be taught within the walls of that old house on Milledge.
My Phi Psi big brother is Brian J. He was a great source of friendship, understanding and education. I was always impressed with Brian's passion for government and simply doing the right thing. He was one of several older fraternities brothers I relied on for guidance during those first couple years. It did not matter if the discussion was about school, girls, being home sick or just general college life, Brian and the others seemed to have the answers.
Time marches on, and I've kept in touch with Brian over the years. We correspond mostly via email or visit on a fall Saturday in Athens and now through Facebook. He has witnessed my transition from one college athletic department to the next, my marriage to Courtney and now our baby girl, Arabelle. He's always been kind to shoot over a supportive or congratulatory note.
So when I recently started seeing posts on Facebook about adoption, I immediately reached out to him. It certainly caught me off guard as Brian and I had not caught up in some time. We spoke a good bit at Michelle and Trent's wedding in 2010 and shared the occasional email or Facebook message, so I felt out of the loop.
Brian and I never had a true conversation about his coming out. I've still yet to meet his partner, Bryan. He never owed me that discussion, not at all. I'm sure I will meet him in the near future, and I've always been one to trust Brian's judgment so I'm sure he is a great guy. But when I heard they were adopting not one, not two but three children my jaw surely hit the floor. Courtney and I can barely handle our one little adorable monster, but three at one time? Yikes!
After the fear of handling three kids, all new to you, all at once, wore off, I found great pride in what Brian and Bryan had decided to do. They spent time, money and effort to start a family adopting three children, three brothers. These boys, all under the age of five, will now be provided the care and love every child deserves. I know nothing about the mother of these boys, but I imagine it was not a good situation. The same friendship, understanding and education Brian helped me with in college will now be placed upon these three boys.
Some people have different beliefs than I do. Some believe gay marriage should not be allowed. Some also believe it is wrong or strange for a gay couple to adopt children. Every individual has a right to his or her beliefs, and every individual has the right to agree or disagree with those beliefs. Personally, I believe in marriage and believe gay couples should have the same right as heterosexual couples. I also believe gay couples adopting a child is commendable.
When I think about all of my close brothers in life, from high school to the fraternity to other brothers I've met along the way, I have little hesitation about their roles as parents. Brian as a father makes absolute sense to me. Among many other traits, Brian and Bryan will teach their children values, morals, the importance of education, acceptance of others and compassion. What more could one ask for in a parent?
It is not what the norm sees as the traditional family model, but these three boys have been given a fair shake at life. They have been been placed with two humans who will love, care and provide for them. Every child deserves a chance and an opportunity to be loved and supported.
I still find a bit of humor in Brian and Bryan adopting three children at once. That is crazy to me. I can only imagine three boys, three actual brothers becoming small terrors as they grow older. Then again, my big brother Brian is the type that will make sure they are on the right path. This new family has a big road ahead, and I am thrilled to watch their journey.