Where are they now? The Evans-Stow Family
Rob Stow and Jeremy Evans became licensed foster parents with Child and Family Services 12 years ago. “We knew we wanted to have children,” Jeremy says, “but we weren’t sure what route we wanted to take to make that happen yet.“ The year was 2010, and at the time, gay marriage wasn’t legal in Michigan, which meant very few options for gay couples looking to adopt jointly. “We were thinking about several different possibilities,” Rob shared, “from private adoption, to surrogacy, to foster care. But really, it all just seemed like a legal nightmare.”
Rob and Jeremy were considering adoption through foster care, but had their reservations. Jeremy’s parents had been licensed foster parents when he was in college, and while he saw many positives, he knew that fostering was no walk in the park. “They took in nine infants,” Jeremy recalls, “and about five or six older children. It was tough. All of the kids had experienced trauma and I saw a lot of ugly things about the foster care system.”
As they considered their options, Rob and Jeremy spoke with another CFS family who had adopted, Dave McCleary and Len Mayhew. Talking to them made Rob and Jeremy think that maybe they were up to the task after all. They also read Dan Savage’s The Kid, “which is the book that all gay parents read,” joked Jeremy. So the couple thought about it, and then they thought some more. They considered other gay parents they knew who’d had to take out a second mortgage on their home just to be able to afford a private adoption. “We could have gone that route,” said Rob, “…spent our life savings adopting a child who was also going to have issues-- because what kid doesn’t-- or we could become foster parents. We could help the community, and hopefully, one day, be able to fulfill our own dream of adoption as well.” After considering all the pros and cons, Rob and Jeremy made the life-changing decision to open their homes, and their hearts, to children in need of foster care.
At that time, CFS was the only private agency that would license gay couples for foster care. But that didn’t stop Rob or Jeremy from being up-front and to the point when it came to expressing their needs. “Because my family was a foster family, I already knew the score,” said Jeremy, “which kind of made me come in with guns blazing.“
“We were very strong advocates for our kids, and, frankly, unwilling to compromise on certain things,” added Rob. “That said, CFS seemed like the most progressive, the most diverse agency. They were open to all kinds of families; whether it was us, a single parent, a non-religious family or a non-traditional family… they were understanding at a time when not everyone in this area felt the same way.”
Fast forward 12 years, Rob and Jeremy have had 8 foster care placements, and have since adopted three children who are now permanent members of the Evans-Stow family. The fostering journey has not been without heartbreak, however. Rob and Jeremy’s first foster care placement, a sibling group of 3, lived with them for two and half years before they were returned home by the judge presiding over the case, against the advice of all involved. Thinking back on that devastating loss, even today, Rob and Jeremy are flooded with emotion that comes from the grief they experienced after losing the children they considered their own. “We felt underprepared for the grief,” says Jeremy, “it felt like a death, but no one really knew how to support us, what to say.”
Two months later, Rob and Jeremy got a call from CFS asking if they would be willing to take placement of a 4-month old baby girl. That was how their first daughter, Sadie, came to be adopted in 2017. “The courthouse in Leelanau County was packed,” recalls Jeremy, “I mean the jury box, the viewing area, even outside the building. Larry Nelson was the judge, and he was also a family acquaintance. He had b
ought personalized gifts for Sadie because he knew her- Disney princesses, that kind of thing. The caseworkers cried, the attorneys cried… even the bailiff cried! Everyone was emotional and it was just so great to have them all there for this new beginning. To experience that kind of joy when the right thing happened with Sadie was really amazing.” Then, in 2019, the community came together at the courthouse once again when Rob and Jeremy’s second daughter, Millie, and their son, Gus were adopted from foster care. “Our community of family, friends, and the school has been with us for this whole journey,” said Jeremy.
“And they’re still on it, added Rob. “They’re still advocating for our kids, be it through educational support, understanding behavioral needs, whatever the case may be. Of course we’re not the only gay family in our area, but we’re part of a minority, and Jeremy and I are somewhat well-known due to our involvement in a variety of spaces. A lot people know us, know our kids, and they’ve just been so amazing. The school in particular has been really receptive to the inclusion of gay families , adoption, and literature that supports our kids’ journey. It’s really incredible to have a community like this behind us.”
Rob Stow and Jeremy Evans Live in Leland with their three children, Sadie, Gus, and Millie.