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Foster dads Stuart Rosen and Scott Lardizabal will show that love really does define family when they tie the knot just before a judge declares the adoption of their son, “O”, final. “We feel it’s the perfect time to get married. On that day, we will truly become a family,” Stuart said.

The couple will be featured speakers at the annual foster and adopt reception hosted by the Foster Care Project at All Saints Church on May 21 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Previously, they spoke at the event about their experience fostering an older child; this year, they will discuss their life as a family of four with a toddler.

Stuart credits Scott with always being the catalyst for change starting on a trip to buy fish food and adopting a cat; “then we saw an email about a puppy who needed a home.” After seeing a movie that inspired them to talk about their dreams, Scott was very clear, “I want to go to All Saints Church.” They quickly became enmeshed in parish life, volunteering as ushers, serving on committees and organizing many large events.

“Of course, Scott was the catalyst for the next change. He wanted to check out a RaiseAChild workshop at a Foster Care Project reception, and I thought, well, here we go,” Stuart said.

They fantasized about the future, even creating a Facebook page about their imaginary family including a son, Tommy. After one last childless trip to London, things moved very, very fast. The caseworker told us about a little boy who would be perfect for us. We looked at each other and said, “this is happening. This isn’t a made-up Tommy. This is a real, live child,” Stuart said.

When they met “O,” the three made an instant connection. Over the next five weeks, Stuart and Scott visited with “O.” When it was time for “O” to move to his new home, the nascent family enjoyed what Stuart described as a very soft landing. They had dinner with “O” and his foster dad, went shopping for Star Wars-themed bedding, and took “O” home. His now-former foster dad even tucked him in bed and said “good night.” “We did not want this transition to be someone delivering “O” to our door with all his worldly belongings in a garbage bag,” Stuart said.

Today, “O” is a thriving student athlete earning good grades and active in karate, basketball and church choir, a testament to how love and encouragement can affect a child.

Recently, Scott, the force of change, told Stuart they needed to talk about another child–a toddler. Stuart recalled, “When I picked him up, “D” put his head on my shoulder, and I knew that our hearts and our family had just got bigger.”

Stuart and Scott credit much of their success as a family to their extensive support group, which includes relatives and friends, fellow members of All Saints and staff at RaiseAChild and the adoption agency Five Acres.

“The greatest advice we received was to ‘love them anyway.’ Whether they will be with you for a day or a year, whether a parent or relative suddenly wants custody, love them anyway. This moment.”

“Go into it with open eyes, open arms and open heart; just love them anyway,” he added.

The above are excerpts from a RaiseAChild “Let Love Define Family®” series article published in May 19 in the Huffington Post Queer Voices. For more information about the Foster Care Project visit their table on the lawn on Sunday at All Saints Church or their website.