Father Knows Best
Oprah's celebrating these unsung heroes, as well as other fathers who've given their all to their kids. "We're saluting all these great dads," Oprah says.
At the time, it was almost impossible for a single male to adopt in the United States, so Larry applied for both international adoption and surrogacy. Surprisingly, both applications went through, and soon Larry became a father of three. Still, he says he was ready for more. Today, Larry is raising nine children on his own! "I never thought I'd be a father of nine. Actually, I never imagined I'd be a father," he says. "Maybe this all happened for a purpose. Because if Kate hadn't died, I never would have done what I did and these kids wouldn't have had a home."
When it comes to raising nine kids, Larry says there is never a dull moment. His schedule is jam-packed, and it starts at 3 a.m.
Watch a typical day in a house of 10.
As if being a single dad isn't enough work, Larry also works full time as a corporate attorney. "When the second bus picks up the younger kids at quarter of nine, I leave and drop Lucia off at daycare. Then I go to work all day and come back and pick her up when daycare closes at 6 o'clock and then head home," he says. "[I work at] a very warm and family-oriented firm, so they're very supportive."
Lili had failure to thrive syndrome, which caused her to have trouble connecting with others—though Larry says she opened up after three months in his busy house and is doing great.
And, Simone's speech was delayed, he says. "She had therapy for about six months, and now sometimes I wish I hadn't given her speech therapy," he jokes.
Henry, who is a sophomore at Notre Dame, says the family is at capacity. "We're at a pretty full limit right now," he says. "Now that I'm in school, I'd like to be around if there's going to be another sibling."
Though he's rooting for Lucia to be his youngest sibling, Henry says he's incredibly proud of his dad. "Just how selfless he is," he says. "I don't know of anybody else who puts people before themselves like he does."
It may have been an unexpected path for Larry, but he says its one he's grateful for. "I love parenting," he says. "I just felt, 'This is what I want to do.'"
With a newborn in his care, Matt had no time for mourning. "Right after Liz died, I had to go straight in and I had to feed her. I mean, she had to eat. I had to change her diapers. Life didn't stop when Liz died," he says. "I didn't know what I was going to do. I literally didn't know if I was going to live through this."
Get to know Matt and Maddy
After Liz's death, tens of thousand of people started reading Matt's blog. The outpouring of support—including notes, money and toys—from the online community shocked him. "To have total strangers giving us stuff and wanting to make sure we're okay all the time was just incredible," he says.
Matt says he's determined to give back as much as he's been given. "We've donated all of the clothes that no longer fit and the toys that we couldn't use," he says. "We've been given a lot of money as well, and we've tried to give that away as much as we can." Matt has also established the Liz Logelin Foundation, which helps widows and widowers with children.
Matt says one of the scariest things about Liz's death is that she took all her parenting knowledge with her. "Liz had read all the books. She had done everything that we needed to do to make sure that this baby was taken care of properly," he says. "It's not something I ever anticipated doing on my own."
Matt says he'd planned to be the free-spirited parent, while Liz would be the rigid one. Given the circumstance, Matt has struck a balance. "I've had to be a little more strict in the way that I do things, but I still let her eat sticks and leaves from time to time."
As soon as their relationship got serious, they say they knew they wanted to be fathers. Together, Gregory and Andy adopted three children—Luke and Alex from Cambodia and Helen from Guatemala.
Meet the Maguire-Newman family
Luke, Alex and Helen call their dads Dada and Ba, the Khmer word for father. And just like any couple, Gregory and Andy stay sane in a hectic household by taking time for themselves after the kids go to bed. They catch up over a candlelight dinner every night. "People will stop us on the street and say, 'Aren't the kids lucky?'" Gregory says. "We think, 'No, we're the lucky ones.'"
Gregory says they encourage family discussion about their situation. "I bring up the subject maybe once every three months to remind them that it is legitimate to talk about," he says. "But the children live it as naturally as they breathe oxygen. Sometimes Luke will even suggest: 'Look, you might ask me what it's like to breathe the air on a different planet, but I don't live on a different planet. I live here, I breathe oxygen, and you are my dads."
Gregory says he faced his own difficulty growing up. His mother died in childbirth, a tragedy that he says influenced his decision to adopt. Andy was also inspired by his mother, who died about 10 years ago. "In the final six months, when we spent a lot of time together, that was what turned me around about adoption," he says. "It became more and more evident to me that she had given so much and I wouldn't be here if not for her. I thought, 'Now it's my turn to do this for some children of our own.'"
Unfortunately, that visit would be the only one between Charles and Jordan. Two weeks after Charles returned to Iraq, he was killed in a roadside bombing.
See what else Charles wrote to his son.
Dana says the journal provides Jordan with a father figure of sorts. "This book is a conversation with his dad," she says. "When he gets his heart broken, he'll be able to hear from him about that. Whatever he needs, I'm hopeful that he'll be able to find it in here in his dad's voice."
The journal ensured that no matter what happened, Charles would live on in spirit. "When I read this journal, it feels to me like he's still alive," Dana says. "I can feel where he pressed the pen down. I hear his voice when I read it. So he's still with us."
Charles also wrote a note for Dana in the journal. "This is the letter that every soldier should write," he said. "I want to thank you for our son. ... I'd like to see him grow up to be a man, but only God knows what the future holds."
Dana says she was struck by certain themes that repeat themselves in the journal. "He writes an awful lot about the power of God in his life and the power of prayer. He writes a lot about his love of military service," she says. "He writes, probably more than anything, about his respect for women. ... I'm very proud of that."
Read an excerpt from A Journal for Jordan
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