New Book Exposes Challenges, Heartaches and Joys of Single-Man Adoption: A Family of Choice: A Gay Man's Story of International Adoption

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In 2001 Paul Hampsch set out to fulfill a lifelong dream of fatherhood. As a gay man, the odds were stacked strongly against him when he became the second unmarried man in history and probably the first gay man ever to be allowed to adopt children from Ukraine. Hampsch recounts his remarkable saga with stunning clarity and profound emotion in A Family of Choice: A Gay Man's Story of International Adoption, published by Dorrance Publishing Co, Inc., Pittsburgh.

In 2001 Paul Hampsch set out to fulfill a lifelong dream of fatherhood. As a gay man, the odds were stacked strongly against him when he became the second unmarried man in history and probably the first gay man ever to be allowed to adopt children from Ukraine. Hampsch recounts his remarkable saga with stunning clarity and profound emotion in A Family of Choice: A Gay Man's Story of International Adoption, published by Dorrance Publishing Co, Inc., Pittsburgh.

At the turn of the new millennium, Paul Hampsch was a successful professional settled in a long-term relationship with his life partner Domenic and living, by most standards, a very good life in Arizona. He enjoyed a loving relationship with both his partner and his parents - had lots of supportive friends - and lived a stable, thriving existence. But his unfulfilled desire for fatherhood led him on a search that took him from Arizona to Kersch in Crimea, Ukraine and back. In the end, he returned with two wonderful and healthy sons, Paul and Andrew.

In recounting his story, filled with months of frustration, unfairness, cruelty, and setbacks, the author warmly portrays the grace and kindness he also experienced as he and his sons found one another in an orphanage half a world away. At first, because it seemed society would not allow it, Hampsch thought adoption was not a possibility for him. But after much thought and investigation, Domenic and he made the decision together to adopt a child or children to complete their family. They discovered that if both people do not share the same last name, then only one may adopt a child. And so the decision was made that Hampsch would be the adoptive parent. Even though only one parent would adopt, both were required to endure a long and thorough process of scrutiny before being approved by the state for adoption. Once vetted, the couple came to the conclusion that their best hope for a healthy child was a foreign adoption.

Arriving in Ukraine, they knew, because of homophobic attitudes they would encounter, Domenic must be silent and stay out of most of the meetings and negotiations with officials. Paul was stunned to discover, when speaking with the director of the National Adoption Center in Kiev, that there were 35,000 orphans in the country. Even so, when informing him that he had been approved by her center, the director stated, "You will be allowed to adopt, but you will never leave this country with healthy children."

After viewing many heartbreaking scenes of children with limbs missing or birth defects and encountering officials who had "children for sale," a chance occurrence found the pair transporting healthy children to Crimea and making a positive impression on the director of an orphanage there. Then one day while Paul Hampsch was walking into an orphanage, a small blonde child ran into his arms and with no intention of leaving. Soon afterwards a slightly older boy also chose Paul to be his father. As the amazing and moving scene unfolded, it was clear to all present that destiny was at work, and the family Paul so desired had finally come into being.

This gripping personal story is significant not only for the poignant drama it presents but because of the society issues it addresses. The account offers both insight and hope for single men, gay and straight, and for lesbians who are increasingly becoming parents through adoption. Twenty-two states now allow gay men and lesbians to adopt. In June of 2007, USA Today reported that the number of single men adopting foster kids had doubled. In August of 2008, the first federal survey of adoption that included statistics for single-man adoptions was published. It surprisingly reported that 73,000 never-married men had adopted a child and 100,000 single women, a much higher ratio of men than had been anticipated.

With new capabilities in fertility technology allowing for surrogacy along with the opening up of adoption laws, more and more single men are becoming fathers. Also many more foreign countries offering a wide range of children now consider single men as adoptive parents. Among them, in addition to Ukraine and other eastern European nations, are Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Peru, and Bolivia.

Tragically not too long after the adoption of Paul and Andrew, Paul Hampsch's life partner Domenic died. Hampsch now raises his children as a single father and faces the challenges, wonders, and bittersweet joys of parenting alone as do so many thousands of others in our nation and throughout the world. His story brings hope and inspiration to all those single men who, like himself, long for fatherhood and a family of choice.

A Family of Choice, A Gay Man's Story of International Adoption by Paul Hampsch ($18.00, hardcover, 164 pages, 2009, ISBN 978-1-4349-0431-7) is available directly from the publisher, Dorrance Publishing Co., Inc.

For book ordering information, please contact Kathleen Haak, Merchandising Coordinator, at (800) 788-7654 or visit http://www.dorrancebookstore.com.

For review copies please contact Jessica Cunningham-Stillwell at (412) 288-4543 or visit http://www.dorrancepressroom.com.

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