标记档案: AdoptingTexasPossibleTheyre

Dads ‘Had No ClueIf Adopting in Texas Was Possible. 现在, They’re Celebrating Daughter’s First Birthday

Michael Stribling

Michael Stribling

Michael Stribling and Brian Ritter with daughter Ella.
照片: Courtesy of Michael Stribling

A Texas couple’s journey to becoming parents wasn’t always easy, but the wait was worth it to meet their baby, daughter Ella Marie, who was born last November.

Michael Stribling, 37, and Brian Ritter, 46, started talking about adoption about a year after they tied the knot in 2018. “But actually, being in Texas, we had no clue that it was even possible,” Stribling, who’s been on HGTV Design Star and TLC’s The Little Couple, 告诉人们.

首先, the couple looked into a fostering to adopt program, but Stribling tells PEOPLE they both realized theyweren’t preparedfor the emotional rollercoaster that might come along with that process.

And while they’d talked to some adoption agencies, 他们 “got a lot of shutdownsfrom those that only wanted to work with same-sex families.

Michael Stribling

Michael Stribling

Brian Ritter and Michael Stribling at their wedding.
Talitha A Tarro Photography

But right before Christmas in 2020, Stribling had a chance encounter at the hair salon he owned with a woman who worked at Family to Family Adoptions, Inc., a private agency. (Stribling, who owned a large interior design firm, Michael Stribling Interiors, decided to takea life break” 后 “being overworked and burnt out,” and in the process stumbled upon a career he loved doing hair.)

Much to his surprise, after he asked if they ever worked with gay couples, she replied that they did — and were actually the first agency in the state to advertise in The Advocate.

It was so incredible,” 他说.

They were very supportive, 非常, very open,” 里特, the executive director of Mercury Chamber Orchestra, 以前说过 早安美国.

By February, the couple had signed their contracts to work with the agency. 然后, the waiting really began.

It’s a journey,” Stribling tells PEOPLE. “Some birth mothers were not right for us. Some birth mothers, we weren’t right for them.

When they did finally get the opportunity to meet with a birth mother, they learned she actually wanted to meet with two families — and when she canceled on their original appointment, they thought that meant she’d already made up her mind.

不错过任何一个故事——注册 人们的免费每日通讯 及时了解人们所提供的最好的东西, 从多汁的名人新闻到引人入胜的人类兴趣故事.

But the next day they got a call saying she still wanted to meet them. And as soon as they saw each other, Stribling was completely taken by surprise.

She walked into the room and my mouth dropped,” 他说. “She looked identical to my cousin.

然后, while the couple were on their way home, they got another call from her, asking if they’d want to give the baby a home.

Michael Stribling

Michael Stribling

Michael Stribling and Brian Ritter waiting for Ella’s arrival.
Courtesy of Michael Stribling

The couple then just had three weeks until Ella’s arrival, and while waiting was “野蛮,” meeting their daughter wasone of the most magical moments.

We joke and we say, we thought our wedding was just the crème de la crème,” Stribling says. “但是男人, this moment of just meeting her was just phenomenal.

And when it came time to choose her name, the couple paid homage to agroup of very strong and independent womenin their life.

My mother, and Brian’s sister, Brian’s grandmother, Brian’s cousineverybody has the middle name Marie,” 他解释说. “And Ella was my grandmother’s name.

Michael Stribling

Michael Stribling

Brian Ritter and Michael Stribling’s first photo with daughter Ella.
Courtesy of Michael Stribling

That moment they met her for the first time was captured in an emotional TikTok video, which has millions of views and thousands of likes and comments. “And just like that…Ella Marie was born,” they captioned the clip from her arrival on Nov. 28.

Stribling says success on the platform completely took him by surprise, but they feel fortunate to have a platform to help them spread joy — and hope.

We got on TikTok literally just to post videos for our family,” 他说. “We just are having fun, and we’re just enjoying sharing our life with the world.

If we can literally give hope to other gay men or women who are wanting to go through this process and feel defeated … 男人, we’re doing something right then,” 他补充说.

Michael Stribling

Michael Stribling

Ella in her bedroom.
A Little Joy Photography

不错过任何一个故事——注册 人们的免费每日通讯 及时了解人们所提供的最好的东西, 从多汁的名人新闻到引人入胜的人类兴趣故事.

Stribling, who took a step back from doing hair after Ella was born, is also helping others on the journey to parenthood as the Board President of Family to Family Adoptions.

I’m really able to help other families get through this journey,” 他说.

Michael Stribling

Michael Stribling

Brian Ritter and Michael Stribling with daughter Ella.
Crown Images

Now the proud parents are on the brink of a very important milestone: their daughter’s first birthday.

Brian and I are not capable of doing things small,” Stribling says, explaining that what started as a “小的, little house party” 已 “turned into an event.

I’ve been planning her birthday for the past two months, just every little detail,” 他说, which includes linens, 气球, 而且当然, a separate cake for the birthday girl.

Michael Stribling

Michael Stribling

Photos taken to celebrate Ella’s first birthday.
A Little Joy Photography

最终, he says the day is about celebrating all of the peoplewho went through this journey with us.

We had this group of people that rallied behind us,” 他补充说. “And this party is not just for Ella, it’s for everyone.