Our Family

“Ain’t no thing like me, except me!” R. Raccoon

I met my wife in 2010 after moving from New York to Virginia to fight for custody of my daughter. I had just finished a “Getting to know your young child” course and with tears in my eyes and nowhere to go, a fellow pupil in the class directed me to the nearest tavern. Twenty drinks later, it was 3:00 A.M. and I was lying in the parking lot hating life when my future wife pulled up in a dilapidated gray Toyota Corolla. She asked me if I needed to go somewhere and I promptly crawled into her backseat, then she drove me around for a few hours until I could get safely home. Two weeks later, I saw her again in a sober state, and was reminded of the kind person who had helped me in that moment. The sparks flew immediately. The months went on and she helped me fight for visitation with my daughter, I helped her deal with a divorce and being a single mother of two very rambunctious boys. After only two months we decided to stay together forever and rented our first home.

Our family began planning this trip when my wife and I came to the hard decision to not have any more children. There were long nights of debate, tears, second guesses, arguments, and mourning, but in the end, we realized that our life was complete, and that the blended family we have, was the one we were meant to have and protect.

We came to the conclusion that the choices we made a long time ago, which led to us having children at a young age, meant that we now had the responsibility of ensuring that our kids had the best chance possible in an increasingly competitive and closed off world. We both craved having a child with a person we truly loved, but together we knew that the future was uncertain and would require our full attention. Our kids didn’t deserve to be neglected emotionally or financially, anymore then they had already endured their entire lives, and we decided to dedicate all our time and money to them.

So there you have it, I have a 38-year-old wife who has gone through two deceit-filled divorces, a 15 year old stepson who helped get her through them (and saw first-hand the toll it can take), a 12 year old recently-adopted son, and an 8 year old daughter who has dealt with a shared custody arrangement her whole life. Then there’s me, a 34 year old ex-homeless man who accidentally fathered a child in another state and ended up finding the love of my life 500 miles away. We combined all our hardships to tackle them together.

I’m an extreme Marvel fan, and might be a little obsessed, but I never expected that my family would be so perfectly represented by the eclectic group of antiheroes known as, The Guardians of the Galaxy. To me, calling us a 'family' downplays the sacrifices we’ve all made that other nuclear families just can’t understand.

We rarely spend holidays all together and we sometimes go over a month without contact, adding an ominous countdown to every visit. We’ve dealt with so much abandonment and physical abuse that we continually keep a lawyer on retainer. Our calendar must be meticulously crafted a year in advance to account for the paranoia of coordinating with another house and missing a pickup. We carefully scrutinize and record every text message/email with the other co-parents to keep a record for future court appearances. We regularly drive hours between houses and sit in traffic. And up until recently, none of us even had the same last name.

We entered each others lives after this world chewed us up and spit us out, coincidentally in the same geographic location. Since then, we’ve learned to love and inspire each other by making every second we're together count.

Make no doubt about it, there ain’t nothin like us, but us!

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