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900-mile journey, instant connection

Wilson-McCammon family
“You don’t select your adoptive child. You connect with your child.”

Becoming an adoptive parent requires patience and perseverance. For Reginald Wilson and Wesley McCammon, there was much more: a 900-mile relocation to a new city. Even a brief conversation with these two loving dads reveals that it’s all been worth it, as they speak proudly about their adoptive children, Reginald (RJ) and Regina.

Although they had been together for decades, Reginald and Wesley could not legally marry or adopt in their home state of Mississippi. After years of professional life as public school teachers, as well as hosting foreign exchange students, they were ready to start their own family. The couple realized that one solution was relocation, and chose Washington, DC, a city they had enjoyed visiting on school field trips. DC had legalized same-sex marriage in 2010.

An instant connection

By January 2011, Wesley and Reginald were married and living in DC’s Maryland suburbs. That summer, they completed adoption classes. In March of 2012, their social worker contacted them about a brother and sister who were possible candidates for adoption, and soon after, they met the children for dinner.

“RJ grabbed my hand and Regina grabbed Wesley’s hand, and they led us around Chuck E. Cheese,” Reginald remembers. “From that moment, we knew they were going to be our children.”

“I believe that you don’t select or choose your adoptive child,” he adds emphatically. “You connect with your child.” By April, the two children, then 9 and 10, were living with Reginald and Wesley. Their adoption was finalized in November 2012 on DC’s 26th Annual Adoption Day, and the family’s story was featured in The Washington Post. As they all became one family, the children asked to choose new first names based on Reginald’s.

Great strides, family life

When Regina and RJ took placement tests for school, they were performing two or three years behind their peers. Their parents were concerned about helping them succeed in school. When the children entered fifth grade last year, Reginald began early retirement. This decision gave him much more time with the children, and the opportunity to become actively involved as a parent volunteer in school. “The kids saw me regularly during the day–I could walk right past their classroom door,” Reginald remembers.

Both children made great strides academically and socially, including a smooth transition to middle school this past fall. Then, an invitation came that would make any parent proud. The school’s counselor asked RJ and Regina to be ambassadors, visiting their former elementary school to speak with the fifth graders about middle school. The honor was the result of a nomination by multiple teachers. “This is a testament to how much these children have grown under your guidance,” the counselor told the proud dads.

The whole family is busy these days with the routines of tween life—lots of homework and extracurricular activities, including sports, dance and music. Once the kids head to bed at 9 p.m., Wesley and Reginald have a few hours to catch up. “After 23 years together, we are still each other’s best friend,” Wesley says.

Words of advice

What advice do these dads have for other prospective adoptive parents?

“Be proactive from the beginning,” Wesley says. “When you’re going through the adoption process, just keep following up, and keep in contact with your social worker. When you become a parent, don’t wait for your kids to tell you things. Go to them and talk if something seems wrong.”

“Give your children the love and stability they crave,” Reginald says. “You’ll see amazing results.”