Noe Valley Voice July-August 2001

More Mouths to Feed:
Ezekiel Joshua Rubin-Moore

By Maire Farrington

Stephen Moore and Scott Rubin met at a party hosted by mutual friends in San Francisco in 1995, and it wasn't long before they discovered they shared a common dream. "One of the things that we talked about on our first date was that we wanted to have a family," recalls Stephen. "We both have siblings, and we always liked the idea of making a family."

The two men hit it off, dividing their time between Stephen's house in Sonoma and Scott's home near Duboce Park. They moved into their present home on Dolores Street the following year.

Two years ago, the couple began exploring adopting a child. At first, they contacted the county welfare system and an organization which places older children who may have been abused or neglected. But after a year of working through the process, "we came to the conclusion that it really wasn't the best match for us," Stephen says. Scott was hoping to adopt a newborn, and both men had reservations about caring for an older child from a problematic background.

After regrouping, Scott and Stephen decided to retain Noe Valley attorney Susan Romer, to help with an open adoption. They also worked with Adoption Connection, an agency which does home studies of prospective adoptive parents, as required by the State of California. They learned that same-sex couples might have to wait longer to adopt, but that a percentage of birth mothers were specifically interested in placing their babies with same-sex couples.

According to Scott, some birth moms hope that gays and lesbians who may have faced discrimination while growing up will be more open-minded in raising a child, "and will let this kid be whoever he or she is.

"But each birth mom is different," he adds. "Some want a couple who will look just like their kid, or a family that pretends that this isn't an adoptive placement. But we were adopting for a very different reason than to try to create a family that looked like us. So race and ethnicity weren't an issue, and that also widened the pool of prospective birth mothers."

Stephen and Scott gave Romer some photos, along with a descriptive letter about themselves, and within a week they were selected as a potential match by a couple who were 51/2 months pregnant and living in the Tenderloin with their 18-month-old daughter. Their decision to look for someone to adopt their child was "purely economic, as it is for so many birth moms," Scott says.

After the match was determined to be a good fit, Stephen and Scott rented an apartment for the family and provided them with furnishings and groceries. Unfortunately, three months later, the mother decided to keep her as yet unborn baby. "In the end, it turned out to be too painful for them to do," Scott says.

After the adoption fell through, "we had a break over the summer where we were just kind of taking it easy and told our attorney to only call us if there was something serious," Scott says.

Then, on the evening of Aug. 29, 2000, Romer phoned to notify the couple of another potential match.

"All we knew was that there was a Latina woman who had given birth to a boy who was then six days old," Stephen says. "She was going to fly from Arizona to L.A. [to meet with her attorney], and she would be there midday tomorrow."

In less than 24 hours, the couple arrived in L.A., nervous and excited. But when the birth mother failed to show up at the appointed time, they thought, Oh no, here we go again. "We decided to go have lunch and that if she hadn't arrived by the end of lunch, we would take off," relates Scott. "But as we were paying to leave, her attorney came running over, saying, 'She's here! She's here!'"

Back in the attorney's office, their lives were about to change dramatically.

"We walked into the room, and there was this graceful, strong, somewhat suspicious, beautiful woman," Scott continues. "And we started asking her questions, and within two minutes Stephen and I gave each other a look that said, This is it. We're going to do this."

Though the couple were legally required to answer a set of questions about themselves, the birth mother "really only wanted to know one thing," says Scott, "'Will you love this baby forever?' Then she asked how our family and friends would react to him being a brown kid instead of a white kid. And when we said we would never 'return' him and that [our friends and family] were so excited that we would be adoptive parents, she said, 'There's nothing else I need to know.'"

Stephen and Scott confirmed their decision in private, Scott says, "and then the door opened and she walked in and said, 'Congratulations, you're parents!'"

There were tears all around as the couple were introduced to their new son, who was born in Phoenix, Arizona, on Aug. 23, 2000. Baby arrived six weeks before his due date, weighing a mere 5 pounds, 4 ounces.

Before leaving the meeting, Stephen and Scott quickly phoned friends in San Francisco, who purchased diapers, a bassinet, and other baby items. When the trio arrived home that evening, they were greeted by a large welcoming committee.

"People kept coming over and bringing food and gifts, and the next two weeks were like that," Stephen says. "There was such an outpouring of support from friends and family, neighbors that we hadn't met yet...people that we didn't even know."

The baby's mother flew up the following week to sign relinquishment papers, finalizing the adoption. "We had 24 hours to hang out with her, and we really enjoyed her," Scott says. "We asked her how she felt about a same-sex couple, and she said, 'Two men, three women, what do I care, as long as you'll love him forever.' She's a remarkable woman." (Stephen and Scott have continued to speak with her periodically on the phone.)

Baby was named Ezekiel Joshua Rubin-Moore, and is affectionately known as Zeke. Scott, who speaks to his son in Spanish, likes to call him Pico ("little bit") "because he was so tiny when we brought him home."

Scott is Jewish and Stephen is Southern Baptist, so baby is being raised with the traditions of both backgrounds. A bris ceremony was held at home. "It was a lovely afternoon with Scott's mom in from Missouri and a neighbor who came and played the violin," Stephen says. In keeping with the multicultural theme, the mohel who presided "was a woman who was born in China, converted, and is an ob-gyn. So we had a woman who spoke with a Chinese accent when she did the Hebrew. It was a perfect San Francisco bris."

At nine months, Zeke is now an active, robust little guy, who loves music and dancing and digging in the sandbox at Day Street Park. You'd never guess that he started out not being able to drink more than an ounce and a half of milk at a time. This kept Dad (Stephen) and Papa (Scott) waking up every hour and a half throughout the night to feed him.

"But now he's like eight ounces a minute," says Stephen proudly. He's even begun nibbling on Cheerios, though he seems to have more fun tossing them on the floor.

"He's just a joyous kid," Scott beams. "He always seems to look for opportunities to laugh."

Scott, 38, is a writer and consultant with a studio at home. Stephen, 41, is a realtor with B.J. Droubi & Company. Zeke's nanny, Lillian, comes by Monday through Thursday, but "it's rare that an hour goes by that one of us doesn't see him," says Scott.

Sometimes baby even toddles off to work with Stephen. "He goes on inspections, he's been on offer presentations, he's going this afternoon with me to show a house. We're grooming him to be a real estate agent," Dad jokes.

Wherever he goes, Zeke is sure to make friends. "People come up to us all the time," says Stephen. "It's pretty obvious [that we're not biologically related], because there are these two guys and this brown baby.... [But] we are constantly surprised at the variety of people who come up and say really positive things to us."

"We have an incredibly wonderful, blessed life," agrees Scott. "We can't imagine feeling more connected or more like parents."