Meet New Later-in-Life Dad Stephen McCall: Interview by Robin Gorman Newman, founder, MotherhoodLater.com


Stephen McCall
AGE: 43
RELATIONSHIP STATUS: Single 
RESIDENCE: Washington, D.C. 
AGES OF YOUR CHILDREN: 11 & 15

I am a senior staffer for the U.S. Congress.  I also am a distinguished military veteran (US Air Force) and worked over 20 years in the Department of Defense as a civil servant.

I was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome at age 9, so growing up had its challenges. Due to my grades not being the greatest in high school, many of my teachers felt I would amount to nothing in life. I am very humbled that my life story has surpassed the opinions of others. I received my Masters degree with top honors from the public ivy league, the College of William and Mary; graduate certificate from Georgetown University; authored the book “The Tyrannosaurus Tic: A boy’s adventures with Tourette Syndrome; worked for US Senator Elizabeth Warren; and in 2019 received a permanent appointment to the US Congress’ Library of Congress as a military space and missile defense analyst. From the time I was a student pilot as a teenager to traveling abroad and meeting world leaders to being featured in the NY Times, CNN, and various magazines and key notes at conferences, I believe I have beat the odds, pushed to greatness, and lived a life of miracles.

Although people may label me as very successful, my greatest accomplishment in life is becoming a father of two after adopting siblings from Colombia, South America.  They are my pride and joy and make me who I am today, a “Single Father By Choice”.

Family McCall Adoption video can be viewed on YouTube at https://youtu.be/–_XkIyXv88
Also you can follow us on IG at SingleFatherByChoice or steevie1107 (IG and Facebook).

What was your inspiration to pursue adoption of older kids?  My motivation to adopt “older children” came from me never wanting to touch diapers or carry a diaper bag…it would have messed up my image…joking. My motivation came from a trip I took in November of 2018. I was a few months away from a marital divorce and needed a self care trip so I went to Colombia, South America. While in the city of Medellin, I saw a group of kids who asked to take a photo with me. I asked the tour guide why the kids were not in school and he replied, “there are many kids here that do not go to school because they are homeless and do not have a family”. That comment and the photo of me with the kids never left my heart, and I made the decision that day to one day become an adoptive dad to Colombian children. Of course, when I made that declaration, I had no clue how that would ever happen. I knew I couldn’t just call the President of the country and ask for a kid, however I do believe our words have power, and because I believed what I said in my heart, it became reality a little over 2 years later.

Did you always want to be a dad? I always wanted to be a dad and never had the belief they had to be biological. Back to the diapers joke, I really never did want to change diapers, so adoption was perfect. Also due to my diagnosis of Tourette Syndrome, I always preferred to become a foster or adoptive parent. However, with my career and busy life, I never had the chance to follow my heart. But last year I made up my mind to see if adoption was possible for a single person and to my surprise, the answer was yes.

What was your road to parenthood like? My road to parenthood was very non-traditional. First, I went through the entire adoption process during a world pandemic when countries closed their borders, immigration and government agencies paused paperwork, and it nearly was impossible for any family to complete an adoption. I adopted and became a dad during unprecedented times. However, with adoption, we are told often to lower our expectations and expect delay after delay and more delays. Thankfully, everything fell into place, and I flew to Colombia on January 16, 2021. My parenthood journey was very quick compared to many adoptive parents. But with me being a single adult, working remotely, and having a lot of time to dedicate to paperwork, I was able to complete the adoption process fairly quick. The road was definitely not easy. It was mentally draining, but since November 2018, I was on my own path to becoming a parent and honestly did not know in 2021 I would be able to say I am a dad!

Do you find it is challenging to balance parenting, a personal life and professional pursuits? I believe life overall is challenging. However, it is all on a person’s perspective. If a person is not willing to make a few adjustments in their life to be a “present” parent, then maybe it is not the right time to become one. I still can have a personal life and professional pursuits, however I chose to take a pause on many endeavors and focus on my kids. Not everyone has this luxury, but I am very grateful to have the resources to be able to take time out in raising my boys. Is it a challenge being a single father of two kids? Oh yes…but I owe it to my kids for understanding that they have a single parent, and at times I need to put on my own oxygen mask before putting on theirs. This may be in the form of a nap, a walk in the park or me going to the spa for a massage for a few hours to relax and re-energize.

What do you see as the positives and challenges of becoming a parent at age 35 or over? The positives include having more wisdom  due to having more experience in the journey we call life compared to when I was younger. I also believe I have an appreciation for life more now so it allows me to have more patience with my children. I am just grateful to be a dad, and I take every day as a new opportunity. I surely would not have said that when I was 30 years old. The challenges…well when my boys want to play soccer for 4 hours, I may not be able to last the entire 4 hours without ending up in the hospital (smile). My new best friend’s name is called Advil.

Has anything about fatherhood surprised you thus far? The biggest surprise is how much I enjoy being a dad. I was a step-parent before, but being a dad with two kids who carry your last name is an amazing feeling. The other surprise is how much my kids rely on me and I no longer can make decisions for myself but I must consider my entire family. The last surprise is vacation. When I used to fly first class, I now find myself in economy since I have to buy 3 plane tickets instead of 1, smile.

What do you most want to teach your sons? I teach my sons that no matter what their past, they can and will accomplish anything they put their mind to. I tell them often that “McCalls don’t dream but we plan to achieve”. Don’t live life looking for the impossible but look to see how it can become a reality. Then once a reality, find a way to help others achieve their goals and make their dreams become reality.

Are you conscious of raising them to be a Mensch (decent, responsible person)? 100% Mensch! I always stress the importance of being kind, compassionate, caring, giving, trustworthy, and responsible. I don’t care how much money they have if they don’t live a life as a Mensch, the money and fame in my mind is in vain.

Do you have memories from your own childhood that inspire you to create with your kids? My mother allowed me to be creative and be my own person. I will always remember how much time she invested into my dreams. Since I was a young kid, I had a passion for storytelling and film. So one day she surprised me with a video camera to make my dream a reality. She was a very present mother who never put me to the side because she was too busy. We have so many memories that to this day we still sit back and laugh about all the fun we had when I was a kid. And now as adults, we still make memories and are just as close as we were when I was a growing up.

How do you practice good self care and role model for your family? I try to live a life of integrity daily. I am a very open and honest person with my kids, and when I need a break, I tell them with compassion. If I need to take a walk, they know it is because dad needs to clear his mind. They also know if they need a break, they can tell me, and I will make sure they get one. I also am a Mensch, so I am a great role model to my kids. I am not perfect, but I do believe a parent should be their kids hero. In our house, my kids are my hero, and I am theirs. Of course when I tell them no technology after a certain time at night, I am for a split second their enemy and then quickly become their hero again when they want a snack before bed :)

What words of wisdom would you like to share for someone contemplating parenthood over age 35? Parenting comes with a sacrifice of our own self. Especially for those who are contemplating older child adoption, always remember that the children did not ask to be an orphan. They did not ask to be removed from their biological parents and be thrown into an unknown family who expects them to call them “Mom or Dad”. Even if a child is homeless and living on the street, when they enter your home, they should not be “grateful” to you for saving their life. Consider changing your perspective….us parents should be grateful for them making us parents. I cannot speak for those who have babies, but I can speak from my limited experience adopting older children. For me, they are the hidden treasures of adoption. If a person over 35 years old is willing to learn new parenting techniques, not always believe it’s their way or the highway, and make it more of a partnership versus an authoritative parent says child must always do mentality, then I believe you can be a very satisfied parent over age 35 and you can have children who are happy even during times when you have to say no with love.

What do you see as your parental legacy to date? My legacy is our crazy family adventures! My children know that the most important thing in our lives is family time. Making memories is my specialty. They may not be able to explain what I do for a living because my career only pays the bills. But if you ask them about family time, they will be able to talk for hours sharing photos, videos, stories, and adventures around the world. When my kids have kids, I believe they will continue the legacy of making family time the #1 priority. The McCall Legacy…a strong non traditional family union that started with a foundation of love, trust, family time, and we must always find time for fun!

 

 

 

 

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