adoption

Movie Review: ‘Storks’ Better Than Expected

September 23, 2016 | By Brent Almond | POP CULTURE

storks movie review

Movie: Storks (PG, 86 minutes)
Moviegoers: Daddy (47), Jon (6-3/4)
Individual Reviews: Daddy ★★★1/2, Jon ★★★★

Plot Snapshot: Storks deliver babies…or at least they used to. Now they deliver packages for a global internet retail giant.  Junior (Andy Samberg), the company’s top delivery stork, is about to be promoted when he accidentally activates the Baby Making Machine, producing an adorable, and wholly unauthorized, baby girl. Desperate to deliver this bundle of trouble before the boss gets wise, Junior and his friend Tulip, the only human on Stork Mountain, race to make their first-ever baby drop – in a wild and revealing journey that could make more than one family whole and restore the storks’ true mission in the world.

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[The remainder of this review contains mild spoilers.]

Storks is actually two stories told simultaneously, merged at the end. The synopsis above is from the film’s marketing materials, but it fails to mention the other plot line of an overworked couple and their only child, Nate, who longs for a baby brother.

Trigger warning: If you’ve got an only child longing for a baby brother (or sister), be prepared to squirm a bit. I know I did.

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Movie Review: ‘Pete’s Dragon’ Soars With Disney Magic

August 11, 2016 | By Brent Almond | POP CULTURE

Disney's Pete's Dragon

Movie: Pete’s Dragon (PG, 95 minutes)
Moviegoers: Daddy (47), Jon (6-3/4)
Individual Reviews: Daddy ★★★★★, Jon ★★★★★
Family Favorites: Star Wars (episodes IV-VII), Ghostbusters (all versions), Despicable Me

Plot Snapshot: For years, old wood carver Mr. Meacham (Robert Redford) has delighted local children with his tales of the fierce dragon that resides deep in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. To his daughter, Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard), who works as a forest ranger, these stories are little more than tall tales…until she meets Pete (Oakes Fegley). Pete is a mysterious 10-year-old with no family and no home who claims to live in the woods with a giant, green dragon named Elliott. Grace sets out to determine where Pete came from, where he belongs, and the truth about this dragon.

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[The remainder of this review contains mild spoilers.]

Disney’s new remake of Pete’s Dragon is a truly enchanting experience, and a welcome improvement on the rather dated original. Directed by David Lowery and filmed entirely in New Zealand, the movie is at its most magical when it’s just boy and dragon. Fuzzy, purring Elliott acts as both loyal pet and doting parent to Mowgli-esque Pete. And while I rarely think 3D is justifiable, the flight scenes alone make it well worth the extra cost.

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19 Amazing Things About Growing Your Family Through Adoption

June 8, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LGBT STUFF

Growing your family through adoption

If you’re familiar with BuzzFeed, you may think all they do is publish annoyingly addictive celebrity listicles (list + article = listicle), and nostalgic quizzes about Saved By the Bell or Friends that you’re secretly proud of acing. While that is part of BuzzFeed’s feed, they also do the occasional feature about an awesome dad who makes lunch notes for his kid every day.

And not too long ago, they enlisted my help during “Parenting Week” to represent the voice of adoptive moms and dads. The assignment seemed fairly simple: a listicle (!) about adoption. I initially thought this would be easy-peasy, but as I started to consider all of the different kinds of families and scenarios that adoption can entail, I got a little overwhelmed. And as adoption is not always a joyous process, finding tangible positives (or “Amazing” things) proved challenging at times.

But in the end I found inspiration talking to my adoptive parent friends, an extended doodling session, and time spent reminiscing about our family’s experience. It was a great exercise in remembering all we went through, and makes celebrating Fathers’ Day in a couple of weeks all the sweeter!

Check out the full list on BuzzFeed.

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Have you visited and liked Designer Daddy on Facebook? Followed SuperLunchNotes on Instagram? Friended me on Snapchat?!? What are you waiting for? Hop to it — there’s so much fun and conversation and silly videos to be had!

An Adoptive Dad Reviews ‘Kung Fu Panda 3’

February 1, 2016 | By Brent Almond | LGBT STUFF, POP CULTURE

Movie: Kung Fu Panda 3 (PG, 95 minutes)
Moviegoers: Daddy (46), Papa (48), Jon (6)
Individual Reviews: Daddy ★★★★, Papa ★★★1/2, Jon ★★★★★
Family Favorites: Star Wars (episodes IV-VII), Big Hero 6, Ghostbusters
Daddy & Papa’s Favorites: The Matrix, O Brother Where Art Thou, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Plot Snapshot: Po is living large as the hero of his village, content to “fight monsters and get high-fives from bunnies.” Two challenges soon arise to rock Po’s world: the supernatural villain Kai, who is stealing the chi of China’s kung fu masters; and the appearance of Li Shan, his long-lost biological father.

Po and Li Shan travel to a hidden village where Po meets scores of other pandas, reconnecting with his inner dumpling-eating, hill-rolling, oversleeping self. But Kai is on the hunt for our hero, so Po must train his new panda posse into fierce warriors in order to battle the otherworldly foe.

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[The remainder of this review contains plot spoilers.]

As an adoptive parent, I’ve always been interested in how movies like the Kung Fu Panda series handle the topic of adoption. I was particularly curious about Kung Fu Panda 3, as it introduces Po’s birthfather into the story. This is something more and more adoptive families can relate to, as open adoption is increasingly the norm.

I went into the film with some concerns about how they would treat the dynamic between Mr. Ping (the goose who raised Po) and his biological father. I was half-expecting a bait-and-switch, perhaps revealing Li Shan was not in fact Po’s father; or maybe Po having to choose between one family or the other.

Yet the moviemakers did a good job of resolving the family-related conflicts — which were almost entirely between the two parents, not Po.

Adoptive dad Mr. Ping seemed to struggle more with this new family dynamic — his protectiveness, mistrust, and competitiveness on full display. While I appreciated the honesty with which they portrayed these understandable (and familiar) emotions, I was glad they didn’t roost there, which might have caused some adopted kids or their parents to feel uncomfortable. However, I thought that within the confines of a 90-minute kids’ movie, they evolved the characters quite nicely.

Kung Fu Panda 3

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Designer Daddy’s Top 15 Blog Posts of 2015

December 30, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LGBT STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES, POP CULTURE

Designer Daddy Best of 2015

2015 was quite a year for me, for my family, and for several communities to which I belong. A flurry of sticky-note success; a milestone in equality; venturing into kindergarten; the return to a galaxy far, far away; the tragic loss of a friend — all of these contributed to one of the most eventful 12 months in my recent history. And it’s been exciting, fun, cathartic, intimidating, and inspiring for me to chronicle it all here (and a couple of other places) in word and doodle.

So if you’re a new reader curious to know what this site is all about, or a familiar friend sharing some moments of reflection, welcome. These are my 15 favorite blog posts of 2015.

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Thousands of Foster Kids to Benefit From Boycott of American Girl

November 27, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LGBT STUFF
American Girl boycott benefits foster kids

Amaya signs copies of American Girl magazine and meets new fans at Comfort Cases packing parties.

Earlier this month I shared the story of 11-year-old Amaya, featured in the most recent issue of American Girl magazine, chosen from among thousands of submissions because of her inspiring story. Part of her story is that she and her brothers were adopted from the foster care system by two loving parents, both of whom are men.

This ruffled the right-wing feathers of One Million Moms, who called for a boycott of American Girl Doll and parent company Mattel over this supposed furthering of the Gay Agenda. From One Million Moms’ web site:

“The magazine… could have chosen another child to write about and remained neutral in the culture war.”

Yet One Million Moms were fighting a one-sided war, as their boycott all but backfired. Due to the group’s homophobia, the story gained momentum and went viral. Amaya, her family, and American Girl were discussed, interviewed, and featured in an endless number of publications and news outlets, among them local Fox and NBC affiliates, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Yahoo, ABC News, Good Housekeeping, Upworthy, Slate, Perez Hilton, and The View. Even Ellen DeGeneres posted in support of the family on her show’s Facebook page.

ELLENPHOTO

Ellen shows her support for Amaya and her family, temporarily crashing the Comfort Cases web site!

The other part of Amaya’s story is Comfort Cases — the charity co-founded by one of her dads — and its work supporting foster kids. As a result of the boycott and the related coverage, Comfort Cases is ending 2015 on a very, very good note.

THE BACKFIRED BOYCOTT, BY THE NUMBERS:

Comfort Cases held its annual Holiday Packing Party on November 21, assembling 500 more cases than the previous year, a 70% increase.

The total number of cases collected and distributed in 2015 topped 10,000 — 4,000 more than 2014, and an increase of 65%.

With contributions coming in from all over the world, monetary donations to Comfort Cases will triple what they were in 2014. That’s 300%, folks.

American Girl boycott benefits foster kids

Hundreds of cases filled with PJs, toiletries & personal items, ready for distribution to area foster kids.

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As National Adoption Month comes to a close and we enter the holiday season, please consider making a contribution to Comfort Cases or a similar organization in your area. Let’s keep showing those that boycott, fear or hate, that family, respect and love always win.

  Donate to Comfort Cases

Turning Hatred into Love: One American Girl & Her Forever Family

November 5, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LGBT STUFF

American Girl Amaya protested by One Million Moms

Five years ago today, a young girl named Amaya was legally adopted by her foster parents.

Two weeks ago, Amaya was featured in American Girl magazine. In her own words she shared the story of coming from the foster care system, becoming part of her permanent family, as well as the charity work she and her parents do in support of other foster kids.

Not long after the magazine was published, right-wing watchdogs One Million Moms called for a boycott of American Girl Doll and their magazine, warning parents against exposing their daughters to such a family.

And such a family it is.

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The M Word: A Gay Dad’s Journey to Appreciating His Son’s Birthmother

July 20, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

Listen to Your Mother - The M Word - birthmother

I had the honor of participating in Listen To Your Mother – a curated show of readings about moms and motherhood. I was the only male in our cast, and I shared a bit of my journey regarding Jon’s birthmother.

I’ve not written much about this topic, for the sake of my son’s privacy as well as that of his birthmom. However, the events encapsulated in my 6-minute reading took several years in real time, and included a slew of emotions ranging from fear and resentment, to disappointment and anger.

Many adoptive parents struggle silently with guilt and confusion over how they think they should feel about their child’s biological parents, versus how they actually feel. I’m sharing this for those parents — so they won’t feel alone like I did so much of the time. So they’ll know there are no right or wrong ways to think and feel about these complicated relationships.

I may write about this more in time — particularly as it relates to being a gay dad. But for now, thank you for watching (or reading). And if you have one to share, I’d love to listen to your story, too.

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28 Reasons Being Legally Married Gay Dads Is Awesome!

June 18, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LGBT STUFF

Marriage equality currently sits on the Supreme Court’s docket, awaiting a final ruling. Though not assured, all signs point to same-sex marriage finally being legalized in the entire United States by month’s end.

I’ve put a lot of words on this site about same-sex marriage — about mine and others’; about the depiction, support and condemnation of gay marriage in the media and politics; and about its slow progression to acceptance…one ponderous magnet at a time.

Waiting with hopeful anticipation, I’m (nearly) at a loss for words. But many others are not — men who have shared their stories and their families with me over the last few years. Many who have become friends in this herky-jerky journey of being a gay man and a father. I’ve pulled together a fraction of the tales that have paved the long, bumpy road to equality — and the reasons these dads love (or look forward to) being married.

So as we await SCOTUS’ decision, please join me in wishing these dads and their children a long-overdue, exceptionally, abundantly awesome (and legally married), Happy Fathers’ Day!

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1. Your Love Knows No Bounds…or Boundaries

Brian & Ferd, married 6/10/13, Toronto; moving back to New York City in July. [Photo courtesy of Brian Rosenberg]

28 Reasons Being Legally Married Gay Dads Is Awesome!

Brian and Ferd were married on their 20th anniversary as a couple. Several years earlier they had moved to Toronto from New York, as Ferd was coming on the end of his legal status in the US (he’s Dutch). Six days after their wedding in Canada, SCOTUS ruled that they could now get married in the US and both be eligible for federal benefits of marriage. Brian can now sponsor his husband for permanent residency, and the couple is moving back to New York next month. Welcome back, guys!
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Leelah Alcorn and Too Many Lost Children

January 8, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LGBT STUFF

leelah alcorn - designerdaddy.com

Two stories. Two lost children.

A girl born in a boy’s body, into a family not willing to see her.

Leelah was born Joshua. By her account (now removed, but not silent) she opened up her deepest, most intimate self to those that brought her into the world – those that protected, clothed and fed her. Yet they only saw a him — the him they created 17 years prior — and would see nothing else. They sent her to counselors who did nothing of the kind; and in spite of that, she still stood by her new self. And since those that made her could not have their boy, they removed all she held dear: her school, her friends, her connections, the things that helped her stand.

So she ran from her 17 years, and she fell and didn’t get back up.

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