Michael Sharp and Khang Huynh Fatherhood
Khang and Michael’s Journey to Adoption
By Gary Hurtubise
Meet Lucas Sharp – a lucky little boy of Filipino-Caucasian descent – and his two dads Michael and Khang, from Germantown, MD. Theirs is a truly international tale of love, happiness, and family.
Michael Sharp was born in Detroit, MI – one of four children. His father was a fire chief and his mother a secretary. He attended a Christian school, and so waited until after high school to come out to his family. It didn’t go well: Michael’s parents threw him out, and he lived in his car for four months.
For three years after that, Michael had no contact with his parents. It was only after Michael convinced them to attend a PFLAG meeting with him that the healing and reconciliation process began.
In 1999, Michael moved to the D.C area. Today, he is a hair stylist, and part-time radio host for WPFW 89.3 station, focusing on LGBTQ topics.
Khang Huynh was born in Vietnam – one of five children. His mother and father were farmers, his mother taking on a tailoring job to make ends meet. Sadly, she passed away when Khang was only six. After her death, his family sought sponsorship in the United States. When Khang was 14, he – along with his father and brothers – finally made the move to Virginia.
Khang always knew he liked boys more than girls. Fortunately, he never experienced the difficulty of coming out, as his family always knew and accepted who he was. His openness had consequences though; he was bullied at school for being gay. “I kept my chin and spirit up and lived on, though,” he reports.
It was Valentine’s Day of 2003 when the two men first met in person. Michael was (and still is!) into superhero movies; Khang had a ‘gay crush’ on Jennifer Garner, so it couldn’t have been more perfect that the ‘Daredevil’ movie was playing that evening at the Rockville Regal movie theatre, just outside of Washington. “We had an instant connection: talking and laughing throughout the movie and dinner following,” Khang remembers.
Two years to the day from that first night out, Michael asked for Khang’s hand in marriage. Khang accepted and the two men flew to Vermont (one of only two states that allowed same-sex marriage at the time) for their ceremony.
The couple talked about having children on and off a few years into their marriage, though – with Khang still finishing college – the conversations never led to anything. “I believe we started seriously talking about children about seven years ago,” Khang recalls. They initially considered surrogacy, but didn’t know anyone going through the process, “…and maybe it kind of scared us,” Michael admits. However, the two men did have several friends and clients who had gone through adoption. “Because of that, I think we were more comfortable with that option.”
And so began their voyage through the adoption process, starting with finding the right adoption agency. The first organization they worked with led quickly to a potential adoption. However, Khang and Michael were not comfortable with their point-of-contact at the agency. They were told “one of us would have to pretend to be straight and come to the hospital to do the paperwork to adopt this baby.” When they asked their agent to see the health records of the infant, he told them baby ‘looked fine’ to him. In the end, they withdrew. “We wouldn't feel proud telling our child or anyone about this adoption. And we didn't want to start our family journey with a lie.”
After further research, they discovered another agency in the area that specialized in same-sex couples. “We got in touch with them, attended information meetings and shortly after began the adoption paperwork.”
Once the paperwork was submitted, Michael and Khang had to pass a home study, submit their complete driving records, and had to undergo home inspections by sanitation & fire departments. They had to get fingerprinting done for police background checks, undergo physicals, and procure three reference letters. “We went overboard on this one; we had about 25 reference letters from family and friends who know us well.”
While they waited for a match, Khang and Michael took infant classes, and attended same-sex support meetings where they became friends with other adoptive parents. They also went against what their adoption agency advised, by putting together a nursery at home. “We knew it would put our minds at rest if the nursery was set. We painted it, bought furniture, a crib, some clothes and basics.”
After two and a half years of waiting, attending meetings and watching other adoptive parents get placed, the two men began to lose hope. “We never quite gave up but couldn’t help but feel sad.”
It was the afternoon of August 9th, 2014 when they finally got ‘the call’. Their social worker described a potential match for them, and asked them to call her back once they’d thought it over. “We’re not going to lie, we got excited and felt very hopeful but also kept ourselves in check in case it didn’t work out and we wouldn’t be crushed.”
Four days after saying ‘yes’ to the placement, they went to the agency to fill out some paperwork, and took their son, Lucas, home. “It was one of the happiest days in our lives!”
Lucas is half-Filipino, half-Caucasian. Initially, the new fathers chose to keep this a secret (they wanted Lucas to learn about his origin from them, rather than anyone else). That changed when one of Michael’s fellow radio hosts (who is half-Filipina, half-Dutch) convinced the couple to embrace their son’s ethnicity. Now Khang and Michael are planning a party for Lucas’s second birthday, where they will incorporate Filipino elements into it, and reveal their son’s ethnicity to friends and family.
When asked if there are more children in their future, Khang - who is a stay-at-home dad for Lucas - admits he and Michael have begun talking about it. “We haven’t made a decision yet; we’re so caught up in enjoying our lives with Lucas.”
Listen to Michael Sharp on Inside Out LGBT Radio, Tuesday, 2:00 – 3:00 PM on WPFW 89.3 FM or stream at www.WPFWfm.org.
This article was first published in Gay Parent Magazine’s November-December 2016 issue #109.