PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WATE) — On May 1, Chad and Paul Beanblossom’s family grew over a Zoom call of 80 people made up of family members and friends as the two dads added another member to their family, 17-year-old Michael.
That day, Paul says, was a long time coming.
Chad and Paul had been fostering teenagers before Michael. The two are very passionate about fostering teenagers specifically because once the children turn 18 years old, they are out of the foster care system usually without any family support; as Paul says, “they are kind of forgotten.”
Paul recalls being inspired by seeing a news article about an Oklahoma teen looking for a forever family that “tore at their hearts.”
“While the Department of Children Services does a great job of working with these kids,” Paul says, “Once they turn 18 years old, they are on their own.”
One of the difficulties with fostering teens is that they tend to be “runners” that do not want to be in the system, Paul says. When Michael’s case worker reached out to Paul and Chad, the teen was labeled as a runner, but when he came to stay with them, he didn’t run. He stuck around.
Michael had been in the foster care system for multiple years after his mother passed away.
Michael’s case worker thought Michael would be a good fit for the Beanblossoms. Paul recalls having a conversation with Michael before he came to live with them, asking if he would have a problem with two fathers and he said, “no, that’s fine.”
Michael was quickly the perfect fit for their family. Chad and Paul treated the 17-year-old like one of their own and Michael made the effort the fit in.
“He’s a great kid. For everything that he’s been through in his life, he’s got a fantastic attitude. He’s got a forever family now,” Paul said.
Michael asked if they would adopt them.
The Department of Children’s Services requires hopeful parents to foster their child for at least six months before officially adopting. Paul told Michael if everything worked out after the six-month mark they would adopt him, and they did.
Fast-forward to May 1st. The couple was worried that their official adoption process would get pushed back as in-person court proceedings were halted over coronavirus concerns.
They worked it out to be able to make it official over Zoom.
The night before the Zoom proceeding, Paul says the two reserved a meeting room at a local hotel and decked it out with blue balloons, streamers and other decorations that mirrored a gender reveal party. Paul says they even bought a cake that had “it’s a boy” frosted on the top with little blue booties, a cute touch mostly done to “embarrass” Michael, a job of many parents of teenagers.
On the morning of May 1st, joined by a few close friends and family members, along with 80 others on Zoom, Michael officially became a Beanblossom.
“That moment’s kind of surreal because all this buildup over months and with just one word — all of sudden, we have a kid,” said Paul.
With an “OK, congratulations,” all three of their lives changed for the better.
With tears welled up in his eyes, Paul reflected on that exact moment: “He just changed our world.”
Michael is excited to join a big family as Paul also has three biological children and six total grandchildren. At the same time he is also soaking up as much attention from Paul and Chad as he can handle, Paul says, as he is the only child in their home right now.
The family’s unique story went viral, featured on multiple national and local media stations.
They were not expecting that to happen but are hope from sharing their story they will be able to inspire people to consider adopting.
“Not only young children but teenagers, especially, then all of this is worth it” Paul says, “as they are the ones who kind of get left out of the system.”
Michael will attend and play football for Gatlinburg-Pittman High School, with Paul saying that he and Chad are anxious for school to start back up to see him play.