'Children are full of love. We have experienced more happy interactions with our baby than we ever had without.'
Editor's note: This article was originally published on June 16, 2021. It has since been updated.
Two dads have kicked off 2021 Pride Month by inviting the world to witness one of the most emotional and vulnerable moments of their life. Ben and Aaron Ptashinsky-Skinner, proud fathers to a 3-year-old daughter, aimed to highlight the "power of acceptance through visibility" when they shared online the heartwarming video of the very first time they met their child. The short clip tugged many hearts online, racking up over 445k views in a matter of four days. "This was our way of celebrating Pride," Ben told Good Morning America. "Parenting is about love, and we have so much love to give. This is the moment our lives became complete."
According to the parenting blog Gays With Kids, the Ptashinsky-Skinner couple met in 2006 when Ben answered a lighthearted "boyfriend application" that Aaron posted on his MySpace page. Little did they know at the time that this was to be the beginning of a beautiful love story. After getting engaged in 2011, Ben and Aaron exchanged vows and tied the knot in 2015. As their relationship progressed, they noticed that America was also going through a positive shift in its attitude toward the LGBTQIAP+ community. With the advancement of gay rights in the country, they were finally able to harbor viable dreams of fatherhood and decided that adoption was the way forward for them.
"In our particular case, we wanted to provide a life for a child who would not be given the opportunities we could give them, without adoption," they explained. A simple Google search of "gay adoption Orlando" led them to Heart of Adoptions and they soon found their match. "[Our birth mom] was 6 months pregnant when we were matched," said Aaron. "We were able to attend the gender reveal a week after being matched and the room was filled with tears and love. [She] was so amazing to let us be a part of that. Treated us as if we were actually the biological fathers of our baby."
Although the birth mom tried her best to make them feel included, Ben and Aaron soon learned how emotionally exhausting the adoption process could be. They hit another hurdle seven months into the pregnancy when the birth mom had to suddenly move 1,200 miles away from the dads due to a family incident.
"She stopped going to doctor visits," explained Ben. "However, she did stay in touch and made us feel like the parents to her baby." Unable to bear the anxiety brought on by the long-distance arrangement, the couple decided to move closer to the birth mom for the last few weeks of the pregnancy.
Charlotte Ptashinsky-Skinner was born on July 28, 2017, and her dads instantly fell in love with their daughter. "As cheesy as it sounds, my life has been enriched," Ben said of life with Charlotte. "We still are able to do everything we did in our old life - dinners, travel, movies, etc - however, we have this beam of light who gives us purpose every day." Although Aaron had feared before their daughter's birth that people might treat his family differently, he's since been pleasantly surprised by the support and love they've received from both loved ones and strangers alike.
"Children are full of love," said Ben. "We have experienced more happy interactions with our baby than we ever had without." Being Charlotte's dads has also brought them closer to their respective families, the couple revealed. "It is truly a blessing seeing the family come together and just love," said Ben. "Our sexual orientation isn't ever the topic of conversation; we are just a family."