David Marshall and his son Josiah Marshall enjoy life together as father and son because of the change in adoption laws. (Photo by JourneytoJosiah.org)

By Cara Williams,
Special to the AFRO

Maryland opera singer David Marshall wouldn’t have been considered a candidate for adoption as a single Black parent a generation ago. As a single black gay man – Marshall may still have problems adopting in some states.  

Adoption in years past happened within the strict confines of racial, ethnic, and religious communities. Typically, adoption placements happened between same-race heterosexual couples adopting children of the same race. Open adoptions were unheard of and Same-sex adoptions were illegal. 

However, following a Supreme Court ruling in June 2017, same-sex couples became legal in all 50 states.  

Single, gay, Black men started stepping forward to bring children into their lives through adoption. 

David Marshall was one of them. 

“They saw past a single gay man and thought that I was worthy of parenting them,” said Marshall, 42, as he approached the adoption process of the beautiful boy who is now his son, Josiah Marshall.  

The journey to Josiah

There were two things Marshall always knew he wanted in life – a career in Opera and to hear a child – his child  call him “dad.”.

Marshall began singing in church at an early age and accomplished his dream of pursuing opera professionally. Marshall debuted with the Garden State Opera Company of New Jersey as Calandrino in Mozart’s Loca Del Cairo, and was one of Opera Ebony’s Young Artists during the 2012 to 2013 season. He  has covered the roles of Hob in Vaughn Williams’ “The Poisoned Kiss” and Don Ottavio in Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” with the Bronx Opera Company of New York. 

After the opera tours and accolades started coming in, Marshall realized his first goal had been accomplished but his second and most important dream was still out of reach. 

His  dream-come-true would take a little more resourcefulness. Marshall found the helping hands that walked with him through the journey to fatherhood with a Baltimore-based agency. 

As he scoured and researched to find adoption agencies that were willing and able to work with him, Marshall came across Adoptions Together, a regional agency with offices in Baltimore, D.C. and in surrounding locations across the DMV (D.C., Maryland and Virginia).  

Their motto is “Every child, every family, every step of the way,” something Marshall found welcoming. He visited the agency and was warmed to find families that looked like him – interracial families, same-sex families, and single parents.

“I instantly felt ok,” Marshall said.  “I’m not going to go here and be discriminated against again,” he continued.

So, on Jan.  5, 2015, Marshall went to his first information meeting where his journey to Fatherhood gained momentum.    

Over the next three months, Marshall completed numerous documents, attended classes and participated in in-home visits.

Marshall’s obsession with being a father helped him finish the process by April 2015.  Three months later, Marshall’s  caseworker filed his  application with the Adoptions Together Domestic Infant Program. 

The next year and a half Marshall said, was an emotional roller coaster.  “While the documents and other stuff was tedious, nothing compares to the wait,”he responded. 

Marshall kept himself occupied and focused by decorating the nursery he prepared for Josiah. Yet, random thoughts continued to haunt him.  

“Ok, what’s happening here? Why haven’t I heard anything? Is it because I’m gay? Is  that why I haven’t heard anything?” Marshall asked himself over and over during the long waiting period after his adoption application was complete. 

“Where is my baby? I’m tired of waiting,” Marshall said. Then the phone call came. Marshall was teaching a class and heard his phone vibrating on his desk.  He quickly created an exercise for his class and ran to answer the phone. 

The voice on the other end of the line simply said, “We found your baby.”

“I couldn’t breathe, my heart was pounding, and I just couldn’t breathe,” Marshall said. 

April 3, 2017, was the day he held Josiah for the first time and he was two weeks old.

It was love and a dream come true at first sight.

In front of family and friends, baby Josiah and Marshall finalized the adoption on Nov. 18, 2017. David Marshall’s dream came true. He was officially the father of Josiah Marshall.

Though, the happy ending with David Marshall’s adoption didn’t stop with Josiah.  In his search to become a father, Marshall discovered LGBTQ+ people that wanted to adopt but are unfamiliar with the process or still erroneously think same-sex adoption is illegal.

Journey to Josiah connects people in the LGBTQ community and around the world to the adoption process. The goal is to inspire, educate and connect families and the community at large about the gift of adoption.

“Adoption changes lives and brings worlds together,” Marshall said.  In the five years that Marshall and his son Josiah have been together, Father’s Day grows more meaningful – for his own family and the families he supports through Journey to Josiah. 

For more information about same sex adoptions, contact Journey to Josiah here: https://journeytojosiah.org/

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