By Desi Rubio, June 2015 Issue.

Photos courtesy the Bowerman-Fuller family.

In today’s tech-savvy society, where it requires very little effort to upload and share photos online, one Phoenix couple continues to document their nontraditional family in the most traditional of ways.

Inside the Bowerman-Fuller residence, hundreds of family photos compete for wall space; canvas prints, also worth a thousand words, add larger-than-life accents; and a myriad of collages sit proudly in frames throughout their home.

This careful display not only tells a story of two dads and their adopted children, but also one of multigenerational acceptance and unconditional love.

Two Moms

Wes Fuller is one of four boys who were raised in Mesa by two moms – Heather Fuller and Shannon Atkinson. From an early age, both mothers ensured the boys understood the importance of family, created their own unique family traditions, spent quality time and took vacations together and did all the same things “other families did.”

Even without the presence of a dad or a father figure, Wes said he never felt as though anything was missing.

“Both moms really complemented one another,” Wes said. “We were never lacking any specific gender role and definitely had our needs met by both moms.”

Wes said he knew his family was unique, but he was not disconcerted by it. And, at the age of 18 he realized that he, like his moms, was also attracted to the same sex and came out to his family shortly after he graduated from Hamilton High School in Chandler.

That same year, 2003, Wes met a man on the dance floor of the club Boom (now Karamba). They danced the night away, but little did Wes know that man, Scott Bowerman, would change his life forever.

Their connection and chemistry was instantaneous. Then, as they got to know one another, they realized they shared the same primary goal in life: to be parents.

“I came out to my family when I was 26 and, although I always wanted a family, I always thought it was impossible,” Scott said.

According to Scott, his attraction to Wes was instantaneous but his love for him was magnified when he discovered that Wes had been raised by same-sex parents. This, Scott said, assured him that it was “absolutely possible” to raise children in household with two dads.

Wes and Scott held a wedding ceremony in Phoenix in 2006 and, surrounded by family and friends, the Bowerman-Fuller family became official. Two years later, the couple legally wed in California. And from there, they embarked on their journey to parenthood.

Two Babies

In 2010, the couple became certified foster parents and welcomed Eli, a 3-month-old baby boy, into their home and hearts. Less than a year later, just as they got the hang of co-parenting, Eli’s younger sister, Hana, joined him at just 3 days old.

Their family of four was complete and Scott’s adoption of both children was finalized in November 2012.

Fast-forward to Fathers Day 2015, now that Arizona has marriage equality, Wes and Scott are working toward second parent adoption rights for Wes and advocating for fostering and adoption.

In addition, these super dads keep very busy. Every day of the week has a theme or routine: Mondays are spent at grandma’s house for family dinner, Tuesdays have become reserved for hosting “Taco Tuesday” at their house and Wednesday through Friday afternoons are filled with soccer, dance or karate.

Eli and Hana are enrolled in pre-kindergarten and, according to their dads, their personalities are blooming more every day. Eli, now 4, loves Spiderman and being outdoors with his dads, while Hana, now 3, enjoys art and playing dress-up. In fact, one of her favorite photos in the house was taken last Halloween when both dads dressed up and took the kids trick-or-treating.

Two Dads

When asked, the children explained that having two daddies is better than one because they get to do “double more things and have fun.” Even at such young ages, it is clear that they both understand that their family story is a very special one.

According to Wes and Scott, their goals as parents have always been to raise “happy and respectful children [and] to provide a safe and loving home for them.”

Through the support of their relatives and friends, as well as the morals and traditions instilled in both dads from an early age, they are confident that they are doing just that. Additionally, they consider themselves regular parents and currently pride themselves in being the “go-to” parents for couples seeking guidance on fostering and adoption.

Two Generations

The challenges of being a same-sex parent today, Wes said, are very different than the ones his moms faced a generation ago. Growing up in the late ’80 and early ‘90s, Wes recalled having to call one of his moms “aunt” in front of his friends, school administrators and teachers. His home-life was closeted until junior high, when his friends grew curious and began asking him about the two women in his house.

Scott’s adoption of Eli and Hana became official Nov. 21, 2012. Wes’s step-parent adoption is set for June 9, 2015.

Today, both dads feel that Phoenix is continuously becoming more accepting of diverse families. On a daily basis they confidently drop off and pick up Eli and Hana from school and, pay no mind to the occasional looks they receive from other children as they proudly kiss their son and daughter goodbye and wish them a good day.

While the dads agree that they never want to put other parents in a situation where they may have to have the LGBT talk with their kids if they are not ready to explain it quite yet, they do celebrate diversity of all varieties in their own home. In fact, hosting events such as “Taco Tuesday” allows both dads to surround their children with families of all varieties – single moms, lesbian mothers, straight parents and gay dads.

Everyone is welcome in the Bowerman-Fuller home and, according to Scott, it’s acceptance and fellowship like this that has diminished any social or societal apprehensions he initially felt about being a same-sex parent.

On the heels of the Wes and Scott’s ninth wedding anniversary celebration, in March, and just a month before Eli and Hana’s July birthday parties, falls another very special day in the Bowerman-Fuller household: Father’s Day.

Although this holiday is somewhat new to Wes, who was raised knowing the importance Mother’s Day, his family celebrates Father’s Day just as any other traditional family would.

“We just really enjoy fatherhood so much and, although the kids may not fully understand what Father’s Day means, it’s great hearing them shout ‘daddy!’ and being there for them when they need us.” Wes said.

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