Kendal Butler and Todd Harp waited to become parents but when the timing was right, the stars aligned, and the universe showed up in a big way for them. With the landmark supreme court ruling in 2015 the couple was able to legally marry so they could both be listed on their child’s birth certificate. Kendal affirms, “This was important to us because before that breakthrough, most LGBT parents had to choose one parent to be the legal parent.” Once they began the process with Leigh Shapiro-Walton from Heart to Home Adoption Agency in late May of 2015, Todd recalls that Kendal would often quote Johann Wolfgang von Goethe saying, “At the moment of commitment the entire universe conspires to assist you.” For this inspiring team of Super Dads, no words could be truer.
A few months, a litany of background checks, and one mountain of paperwork later, the couple were in their final approval stage of the adoption process. Their adoption counselor instructed them to begin letting people know they were almost ready as most adoptions that she handles are created by word of mouth where someone hears of a baby being available and has also heard of a family looking. On Sunday August 23, 2015 Todd says, “As I went to sleep that night, I said a simple prayer. ‘God, I think we are ready for a baby. If you think we are ready, would you send one to us.’ I knew that all things are not on my time schedule but as I started to doze off, I happened to think of my first cousin who is a school psychologist in Louisville and decided I would contact her the next day.”
As fate would have it, Todd’s cousin did in fact know of a potential fit and on August 24 of 2015, Kendal was driving to meet their seven-month-old son for the very first time. “I was tied up at work and couldn’t leave right then but Kendal was in his truck almost immediately. He and I talked a couple of times as he drove. We were both experiencing many emotions. We knew not to get our hopes up too high as things can often change quickly and this might not be the right situation,” says Todd. Kendal adds, “I asked Todd, ‘If they let me bring this baby home, are you OK with it?’ He said yes but, like our attorney, assured me that wasn’t going to happen. I knew it would.”
That evening, Kendal drove home to their farm with their precious miracle on board. “I opened his truck door and met my son for the first time,” Todd recalls. “I got him out of the car seat and he immediately smiled and grabbed my cheeks.” Kendal, Todd and Henry quickly moved through the court proceedings and on December 22, 2015, Henry legally became their son. “We celebrate his ‘Gotcha Day’ with a party every year on August 24 however because regardless of legality, Henry became our son the moment we met him and we have never looked back,” states Todd.
Today, Henry Butler-Harp is a very happy, healthy four-year-old who loves singing, playing in the mud, and working on his parents’ 50-acre farm complete with dairy goats, cattle, and horses. “Henry is growing up in his own petting zoo!” Todd laughs. “He loves helping in the barn, feeding the goats and checking on the cattle and his pony named Pete.” Kendal expresses, “Becoming a dad at 43 has made me super focused on enjoying each phase and building positive memories for Henry.” Todd echoes the sentiment and says that his favorite part about being a dad is “to see Henry run towards me with a huge smile and want to be picked up and hugged.” While balance is tough, Kendal and Todd feel blessed by a supportive village that help them in so many ways. “We both have full-time jobs, a working farm to take care of and commutes,” Kendal discloses. “Henry’s grandparents, aunts and uncles are so supportive and helpful.” Todd agrees that while it is definitely hard, they make sure Henry is always the top priority.
Though they try not to focus on it, they would like to take away the prejudices LGBT families often face. Kendal divulges, “Some people won’t like or support us because our family composition is different. I can’t shield our son from people who don’t celebrate our little family, but hopefully, we can raise him to be a proud young man who can weather those storms.” Todd remarks, “I love our little family and how we love and take care of each other. Henry has two loving and supportive parents, they just both happen to be daddies. No matter what, I will be a father until the day I die, and I will worry about him, love him, nurture him, challenge him and want the best for him until the very end."
When asked how they would like to be remembered as a father, the answer was mutual: for Henry to know he was so wanted and so loved. “I believe the world conspired to bring us all together,” voices Kendal. “I want to secure his future for him and equip him in every way possible to be a happy, healthy adult.” Todd agrees and asserts, “I would never describe myself as super. But, if I am a successful dad, it would be because I try to be a supportive and loving dad that works hard to be the best I can for my son. I want him to always be able to tell me things and not fear judgement. I want him to know that whatever he does, there will be unconditional love.”