Gays Reading

Mark Daley (Safe)

February 08, 2024 Brett Benner, Jason Blitman, Mark Daley Season 2 Episode 38
Mark Daley (Safe)
Gays Reading
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Gays Reading
Mark Daley (Safe)
Feb 08, 2024 Season 2 Episode 38
Brett Benner, Jason Blitman, Mark Daley

Jason and Brett talk to Mark Daley (Safe) about his new memoir chronicling a piece of his journey becoming an adoptive parent. They talk about some of the systemic issues within the adoption process, chosen family, and the impetus to telling this story.

Mark Daley is a social activist, entrepreneur, and foster-turned-adoptive father. Daley has over two decades of experience in message development, communication strategy, and public policy, including as a communications director and spokesperson for then-Senator Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. He has worked with more than thirty members of Congress, numerous governors, and other elected officials. He is the founder of One Iowa, the state’s largest LGBTQ+ equality organization, and TheFosterParent.com, a national platform to connect interested families with foster organizations. Daley lives in Southern California with his husband and three children.

**BOOKS!**
Check out the list of books discussed on each episode on our Bookshop page:
https://bookshop.org/shop/gaysreading | By purchasing books through this Bookshop link, you can support both Gays Reading and an independent bookstore of your choice!

Join our Patreon for exclusive bonus content!

Purchase your Gays Reading podcast Merch!

Follow us on Instagram
@gaysreading | @bretts.book.stack | @jasonblitman

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Show Notes Transcript

Jason and Brett talk to Mark Daley (Safe) about his new memoir chronicling a piece of his journey becoming an adoptive parent. They talk about some of the systemic issues within the adoption process, chosen family, and the impetus to telling this story.

Mark Daley is a social activist, entrepreneur, and foster-turned-adoptive father. Daley has over two decades of experience in message development, communication strategy, and public policy, including as a communications director and spokesperson for then-Senator Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. He has worked with more than thirty members of Congress, numerous governors, and other elected officials. He is the founder of One Iowa, the state’s largest LGBTQ+ equality organization, and TheFosterParent.com, a national platform to connect interested families with foster organizations. Daley lives in Southern California with his husband and three children.

**BOOKS!**
Check out the list of books discussed on each episode on our Bookshop page:
https://bookshop.org/shop/gaysreading | By purchasing books through this Bookshop link, you can support both Gays Reading and an independent bookstore of your choice!

Join our Patreon for exclusive bonus content!

Purchase your Gays Reading podcast Merch!

Follow us on Instagram
@gaysreading | @bretts.book.stack | @jasonblitman

What are you reading?
Send us an email or a voice memo at gaysreading@gmail.com

Jason Blitman:

Hi, Brett. Brad. Hi,

Brett Benner:

Twice in one week.

Jason Blitman:

Braddy.

Brett Benner:

Hi, Jason.

Jason Blitman:

What's the story? Morning Glory! Ha ha

Brett Benner:

What's a tale? Nightingale. Which is actually very appropriate with the tail.

Jason Blitman:

Boo.

Brett Benner:

I know, it's really bad. It's

Jason Blitman:

Today we got a bonus episode

Brett Benner:

We do.

Jason Blitman:

with the lovely and handsome Mark Daly

Brett Benner:

He is, he is very lovely. He is very handsome. Um,

Jason Blitman:

memoir, Safe. Mark is great. His book just came out a couple of weeks ago. Uh, and here's a little about him. Mark Daly is a social activist, entrepreneur, and foster turned adoptive father. Daly has over two decades of experience in message development, communication strategy, and public policy, including as a communications director and spokesperson for then Senator Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign. He's worked with more than 30 members of Congress, numerous governors and other elected officials. He is the founder of one Iowa, the state's largest LGBTQ equality organization, and the foster parent. com a national platform to connect interested families with foster organizations. Mark lives in Southern California with his husband and three children.

Brett Benner:

Literally an underachiever, but there you

Jason Blitman:

I know I like felt a little. Not important enough for him, but that's okay.

Brett Benner:

ha ha.

Jason Blitman:

As always, folks, if you like what you're hearing, please share us with your friends. Give us a five star review wherever you're listening to your podcast, because that is how other listeners get to find us. Follow us on social media at Gaze Reading. You can shoot us an email gaze reading@gmail.com. You could pick up any of the books that we talk about on our bookshop.org page. We've got merch

Brett Benner:

We've got an Instagram page, and we also have a Patreon

Jason Blitman:

and a

Brett Benner:

All of this was, yes.

Jason Blitman:

uh, that we're talking about, you can find links to in our show notes.

Brett Benner:

Amazing.

Jason Blitman:

Amazing. I'm just repeating you.

Brett Benner:

Enjoy this episode of,

Jason Blitman:

Enjoy this episode of, no, we gotta say our names first, Brett.

Brett Benner:

oh, that's right. I always do it wrong, Jason. That's why you've led it. Okay, here we go. Hey, and you. You are. And I am rt. And welcome to, oh my

Jason Blitman:

And enjoy this episode of Gays Reading

Mark Daley:

Hey guys.

Brett Benner:

I like your background. I like that blue of that. Is that wallpaper or paint?

Mark Daley:

It's like stick on wallpaper. This was like an outdoor, it was like a back patio, like a deck that overlooked the backyard and when I sold my company and started working from home, Jason threw a desk in here and that was it. So now this is my office

Jason Blitman:

so random. Where are you from?

Mark Daley:

I grew up in Boston, or outside Boston.

Jason Blitman:

Oh, interesting. I knew, no, obviously I knew that, but I was so surprised by it for two reasons. Reason one I'll say reason two first. Reason two, the way you just said outdoor, Was giving like maybe a little Canadian,

Brett Benner:

A boot.

Jason Blitman:

Midwestern.

Mark Daley:

all the time.

Jason Blitman:

you,

Mark Daley:

I tell that story in the book though, about my accent, because when I was working on the Hill in DC, I worked for this Congressman from the panhandle and back when Democrats were elected in Florida and I had. I would call, down to reporters and stuff and they would call back asking to speak to Matt or Max or, and everyone's Oh, we don't have a Matt on staff, and then we realized what it was. So I just really beat it out of me, but now I get Canada all the time. I don't know why

Jason Blitman:

That's so funny. It was just the way you said outdoor. And it's also funny that you just. Inadvertently and passive aggressively called me out on something you said in the book that I clearly didn't remember, but which mark is why I said to you, I like to read the book just before I interview somebody and you harassed me into reading it too soon. So I didn't remember that story.

Mark Daley:

apologize.

Jason Blitman:

But so

Brett Benner:

was that will stay on the episode I

Jason Blitman:

said thing too. But thing one is that when I first saw your headshot, I don't know if you've ever gotten this before. It was giving me British. You come, you like give a very like UK

Brett Benner:

Could see

Jason Blitman:

vibe In your author photo. So then when I was like, wait, he's from Boston. No, that's not right. He's British.

Brett Benner:

he Wynn's brother

Jason Blitman:

Yeah. Anyway, I don't know why I was compelled to tell you that. I'm so curious to know the inspiration behind the story. So for our listeners, would you mind sharing a little bit about what your book safe is and how it came to be?

Mark Daley:

First of all, thank you guys so much for having me on. I'm so excited

Jason Blitman:

that you're

Mark Daley:

Thank you. SAFE really is the story of my husband and my journey to become parents. We, like so many gay men of our generation, are that first generation of legally gay married people. We didn't have a ton of role models, because I didn't know Brett then, of people who are raising children. Who are in same sex relationships. And so as we started our journey, we were trying to figure out how to go about doing this, what we wanted to do. And, we both had sort of a connection to the foster care system through our families. And we thought that fostering with the hope of adopting just felt right to us. As we were going forward. It was just a rollercoaster ride, it was so many ups and downs and it was so emotional. We get these kids, we fall in love with them. And we ultimately come to the realization that for our family to stay together, another family has to break apart. Which is just a really torturous thing to have weighing on your conscience, as you're going through this also, you're waiting to see whether or not these other set of parents can get their life back together. And are you wrong for wishing them to fail so that your family stays together, but on the flip side, you really don't want them to fail because, who wants to see somebody else fail, it's just an awful. Human to put away. And for us is the journey unfolded. We, I just saw so many things that were wrong in the system that I just felt like we had to do something about it. And foster care is too is far too important. I always say it's like the backstop of, it's where kids end up when they've been failed by adults and systems. That is supposed to protect them over and over again. And so my goal was to really just elevate the issue of foster care on the public conscience,

Jason Blitman:

yeah. It's interesting that you say that specifically, I. I was telling you privately that I feel like the target demographic for this, and I think that's for a handful of reasons, but, I'm 35, my husband and I have talked about starting a family, so then to get your to read your book and hear your whole story. And the journey that you went on, which I won't spoil because, or, even just to get to the point of fostering we very much have been on that journey too, and so I felt like I was reading a version of myself, that all of that to say, you talking about raising awareness and bringing to the consciousness of the general public of the foster system and of children who are in the system You talk about familiarity with the numbers and the children across the country that are in need of foster homes. Are those things that you know off the top of your head? Are they things that we could talk about to start at the quote unquote beginning?

Mark Daley:

Absolutely. I know the stats, but I do want to say to, I don't there's 400, 000 kids in foster care on any given day in the US with about 125, 000 that are eligible for adoption, meaning. They're not going home, whatever situation that led them into foster care has not been remedied and they're beyond the point where. They're going to go back to their biological family. That being said, I do, when I say I want to raise the public awareness, we don't need everyone to foster, and not everyone should. I really don't believe it's for everyone. I think it's, there's, it definitely takes a different kind of person to do this. And, but I believe there's something we can all do. And, I like to Think about it like, there's court appointed special advocates, CASAs, which are people who, volunteer, they get assigned to a youth or a sibling set, maybe in foster care, and they go and become their voice in court. And that works, in every state in the country. And it's really, those are wonderful people. It's a time commitment, but it's not nearly as much obvious, of course, as becoming a foster parent. And so there's so many different things we can do, just donating. But one of the things that, happened with us is we, after we were done fostering we co hosted a fundraiser for Senator Gillibrand from New York, and she talked about her plan to provide parental leave and how it was going to be paid for and what it was going to do, and I was like, oh, it sounds like a great plan, so I said to, her staff afterwards hey, that sounds really cool, but, does that cover foster parents? And she said the staff said, I, it It definitely covers adoption. Yeah. And I said what about, adopting from foster? Because typically you have the kid for somewhere between 18 and 24 months before the adoption is finalized. So really when you need that bonding time, that paid leave is on the front end. And the staff looked at me and said, I don't know the answer to that, but I can guarantee you tomorrow it will. And I think that's what I mean by there's something we can all do, whether it's just, letting people in positions of power know that we. Care about this issue. It makes it more of a priority to them and more policies and stuff get done. But as far as the stats, 700 kids enter every day. There are millions of phone calls that get made every year to crisis abuse hotlines, there's, I could go on and on. It's disproportionately one of the real shames of the system is that it disproportionately goes after families that are black families indigenous youth. And in some states it varies, but it's Latino youth are also targeted in certain states. And I think it speaks to how we over surveil communities of color in this country.

Brett Benner:

Can you just also, talk about the differences between the number of people that are adopting who are gay couples versus straight,

Mark Daley:

It's interesting, there are 15 states that have no laws that prohibit discrimination against sexual orientation. In fostering, which is a big deal, obviously for same sex couples across the country, but also knowing that same sex couples are stepping up. At much higher levels. So we are three times as likely to be raising an adopted child as non same sex couples. And we're more than twice as likely to be fostering as heterosexual couples. So it really, it shows that, obviously we don't have biology on our side. There's one thing, but it's also just this need to be of service. I jokingly stayed in the beginning of book, there's no such thing as an unplanned pregnancy in our world, and so for us to have a kid, there's a lot of thought that goes into it, yeah,

Jason Blitman:

I think that I resented that at a point in my life. I think the idea that it's three times more likely that, same sex couples are adopting children. Because it, I almost felt like a burden, like a, it's the queer responsibility to adopt the kids. And yeah, I think that was among the things that sort of turned me off from thinking about it to begin with. It almost felt like a cliche.

Brett Benner:

and I hear you. But see, my cliche is that you would reach out and adopt a child from China. That's the cliche to me, or, I hear you. I hear that 100%. But I also go through a thought process of what I've always done frustrating is politicians and people who work to, say that same sex couples shouldn't be allowed to even have children. And yet same sex couples are the people who are working hardest to get these children who are otherwise just going to be left in the system through up to adulthood. Frankly,

Mark Daley:

yeah. And there's actually, in kids in foster care, there, there are three studies now that have said it's about 30% of the youth that identify as L-G-B-T-Q. That are in foster care. And so that it just speaks to where obviously disproportionately represented in foster care, the population of foster youth, and where that comes down on the bad side is, there was a Supreme Court ruling a couple years ago, or maybe last year, I don't know, time blurs when you have kids, but it's the ruling said that, you could that there was an agency, I think, in Philadelphia, that was taking federal dollars, but then not allowing you Same sex couples to, to become foster parents through their agency. And so they were sued, and the Supreme Court upheld their right to do that because the LGBT families had other had other alternatives. They could go to other agencies. It wasn't like they didn't have an option, and the challenge with that is that, yes the foster parents could have gone to a different agency to get licensed and certified, but the foster youth don't have a choice. That 12 year old kid's not saying, Oh, I want to work with this group. So they, these kids ultimately might end up in a home where their family's not, affirming or supportive and that hurts them even more,

Jason Blitman:

You talked about one of your biggest traumas of childhood was coming to terms with being gay. Let alone. So if you have queer youth who are dealing with that trauma on top of the trauma of losing a family of being in the foster care system can you talk a little bit about that? Your experience in that and how it shaped you becoming a parent.

Mark Daley:

Yeah, it's funny. I grew up outside Boston in a working class neighborhood where, I didn't know any gay people growing up or any out gay people in that sense, and so we, you know, and it was. and you didn't see them on TV, Will and Grace was a few years after me, and honestly, what we did see was AIDS and the epidemic was full swing in the 80s. And I think, that was a so you have this fear of and the this. thinking of, this eight year old kid thinking, if I, grow up to become a gay man, I'm going to get AIDS. And that's the fate that have, and can I do something about this? And, you have these fears, but as you get older, obviously, you understand that is not the case. But, and so many other things happen. But I do think, for me, I am very fortunate that I have an amazing, loving, caring family that, there really wasn't. a question when I came out, like I never worried about them turning on me the way that so many have experienced. And I think that was my saving grace in that. I think, part of when we were in this process of becoming foster parents, I was thinking about what I craved so much was knowing that I belonged somewhere and to some one to some community. And that was what I found in my family and my parents, my siblings and extended family too. And I think that was. We wanted to be able to give to other kids. We wanted a baby. We had no idea whether or not it was straight or whatever, but it was still, knowing that they had a sense of belonging to a family. I thought it was so important.

Brett Benner:

I just have to jump for one second and say, I think it's the jumping into a family and ultimately an instant family, right? But also jumping into a family from a relationship that's relatively new. Can you talk about that a little bit? The tremendous I just the stress that. Accompanied this journey, adding to the fact that you guys are fresh. You guys are brand like, Chip and I were together for 10 years before we started to explore this. And part of that was because it, it wasn't really a lot of it that we knew wasn't really done yet. And then we went to surrogacy route. So that was a whole very untested waters in a lot of ways. So Talk about I'd love just to hear that like a fresh relationship. You're brand new You're getting to know each other and then suddenly oh, we're gonna add this to it as well.

Mark Daley:

Oh yeah. No, Jason and I met in 2013 and we bought a house in 2015 and he proposed to me at the. But the final walkthrough and we got married six months later and we decided to start our journey. We had kids in less than a year. It was definitely a shotgun wedding. We were both almost 40 years old at the time and we were just thinking if not now, when? And we knew we wanted more than one eventually, so we better get started. And, it was a lot. It was, You're right.

Brett Benner:

you Irish?

Mark Daley:

Yep. So is he.

Brett Benner:

There you go

Mark Daley:

Daily Academy.

Brett Benner:

Yeah, come on. Wow

Mark Daley:

Yeah.

Brett Benner:

Yeah,

Jason Blitman:

Something that, that I thought was very interesting is you didn't dream of getting to be a father. You were too busy dreaming of someday being me. when did that shift? When did you know you wanted kids?

Mark Daley:

To be honest, probably when, I met Jason and that and I saw him engage, I tell a story about we were in North Carolina, and we're like playing wiffle ball with his, friends from college their children, and I was just watching him interact with them and play with them. And I was like, wow this guy needs to have children. And it was like, I could do this if I was with him, I'm like, I always enjoyed being an uncle and I loved being around, which is a whole lot different. I've learned being an uncle and being a dad, but it's, it's amazing. It's an incredible reward, but it was, doing it with someone that I knew was really meant to be a parent, I think made it so much easier. And part of the thing about, gays of our generation, I think about just, we grew up in a time where it really wasn't, and I grew up in an area too, where being gay really was a punchline. It wasn't and I didn't want to be a punchline in that sense. And so I think I was, 25 when I came out. 24, 25 when I came out. And I think, I knew before that. And I also met women who I absolutely loved and I dated them. And they're beautiful, wonderful, smart, talented women. And, who I still love. But there is a difference when, you're gay and you meet the first guy you love. And I think That's really what made me come out, when I was that age as I got in a relationship. That was iT.

Brett Benner:

you find that because I found that having children out of necessity solidified something even more in terms of our relationship. But did you find, did you have a feeling of things changing, suddenly going from a couple to a family, say, and not to minimize people who don't have children, it's not a family that is a family arguably, but I'm just saying it becomes a larger spectrum, so to speak. How was that feeling going from, being a couple to suddenly being a unit of family and frankly, a larger family, not just one,

Mark Daley:

Yeah, it's you nailed it. Part of it is just responsibility, right? Like your your responsibilities in life have grown, it's not just you and someone else. And if it's you and someone else as adults, it's if we did part, we both be okay, because we were okay before, where now it's there's so much so many more people to think about it so much more responsibility. For us, you Going through the foster process in particular and not knowing whether or not the children were going to stay or whether they were going to go that, you start grieving a loss and you're managing the different phases of grief. And oftentimes, I'm at 1 phase and he's at a different phase. So maybe he's at acceptance and I'm at anger. And so you really don't want to talk to each other because you're just going to end up in a fight. As you mentioned earlier, like we weren't together that long, and so we were still struggling to find what is our common vernacular and how do we communicate about life and emotions and what I'm feeling and what I need in this moment and what I think that means, whatever you mean, just, or whatever you're doing means I'm telling myself this story and, pulling everything we can from Brene Brown as we go. And, how do we grow together?

Brett Benner:

For people who are thinking about this journey. What do you think is needed or what qualities should someone have? Yeah. What does it take to, because there are like this, your story is one of a lot of. Hurdles and potholes and setbacks, and I don't know, personally, I don't know that I could have done that.

Mark Daley:

I think it's really comes down to like patience and what I mean by that is in part it's with the child, right? It's this idea that Whatever you're feeling, whatever you're going through, it is a jillion times more for the kid. So it's really being patient with the kid and learning and trying to help as much as you can. And on the flip side, it's being patient with the system. And what I mean by that is, Jason, I shared this in the book and he's totally okay with me sharing this, but he's got now over 20 years of sobriety and he lives very much in that one day at a time attitude. Where I am the complete opposite on that, where, spreadsheets and you name it and it's just,

Jason Blitman:

A new drink every night.

Mark Daley:

Who doesn't love a good bottle of Cabernet, right?

Brett Benner:

exactly. Just a little something to take the edge off.

Mark Daley:

yeah, right? But so it's been, it's really, it's funny because he's, There were so many times in the book, I talk about, I've had my first panic attack during this process and him saying to me like, where are your feet? Remind me, where are your feet? There's nothing you can do beyond this moment. So just You know, breathe and keep going because otherwise, you're only hurting yourself,

Brett Benner:

Yeah, I would have hurt myself a lot. For all the negatives that come up and let's be honest, there is, there's a lot in terms of even going down to caseworkers who are so overloaded. There are angels in your story and I'm sure out there who are, in the right frame of mind, who are trying to help, who do get it. Thank God for that. Right.

Jason Blitman:

Were so overloaded. First of all, gave me a lot of anxiety back just to the book and your experience with some of yours. Something that I don't think we think about that you address in the book is that the Everyone is dealing with these people. You're navigating this, but also so are the biological parents, you know, and so are the grandparents, and so is the state and the city, you're sort of in your own lane, but it's like a multi lane highway that's going on here.

Mark Daley:

Part of the thing like for us, it was like we were in some ways we were like strangers in this strange land, right? Like we were, two white guys who are successful in our careers who walk into rooms and get to share our views and our opinions. And now we're in a system that doesn't want to hear from us. that is a really foreign position for us to be in, right? And then, you try to move forward. Put yourself in the shoes of these birth parents who may be struggling with addiction or whatever it might be, in mental health issues or whatever it might be, who've been victims of abuse their whole lives as well. And now they've lost their children who they love more than anything in the world. And they're facing the same situation. People are just telling them where to be, when to be, sometimes they're giving the wrong addresses. They're, I can't imagine the frustration for them if I felt as frustrated as I was and we're resourceful, we're. It's a different, where we haven't had to deal with a fraction of what they've had to deal with in their lives. And I think that's, what I tried to do in this book is try to be as compassionate as possible towards everyone in there. There is a social worker in there who was a nightmare and I think I definitely, it was actually probably fair to her to be honest with you. But the other social workers were exceptional. And that's the other, thing that I tried to make sure is we had some really great allies in there. One thing I did want to add to it too is, since this has come out, I've started doing work with in the child welfare space and one of my biggest projects is with the California Department of Social Services, which is a state agency that oversees foster care in California and, I, one of the first meetings I went into, I was shortly after, we had gone through some terrible situation with the boys that we had and we're, I'm sitting in this meeting and sharing my frustration with something and this woman at the end of the table beans forward and says, I was a foster parent and then I went and graduated college. And I got, I went back to college, graduated college, got my master's in social work, and now I run this department. And I was like, Oh, we're going to get along. And I, I month later signed a contract to work with her and she, they developed these amazing programs. And, one of them is like the child and family team, which is something where I'm like, if we had that, it would have been different. And now it's being implemented across the state. And the way that works is when a kid enters care, they try to build a team around them. And it's, it might be the foster parents or if they're in a kinship. Resituation where it's the child goes to live with a grandmother or an aunt or uncle or whatever it might be, or a coach, someone who knew the kid prior to entering care they might bring in a teacher or somebody who knows the family, the pastor or the, I have no idea, but you have someone from the community and then they have, the therapist is there, the the social workers there. And the idea is that with everybody sitting around the room and the birth parents, of course, to sitting around the room, they're developing a plan together with the child in the center. It's what does this kid need? How do we, focus on the strengths that this kid has and help them, move forward. And then also let them see that there is. You know that this is temporary, because the goal is always that this is a short term temporary thing and that the goal is obviously reunification with the biological family, but if the family can't do what they need to do, that's when adoption becomes a possibility. And that, so in our in during our journey, that was what we the situation we were in as we were waiting to see whether or not these parents would be able to turn it around and get their kids back or whether we'd be able to adopt. But it's been really, enlightening and heartwarming to see that there are some things being done, like these child and family teams that are really helpful that we didn't have just by nature of going through the process in 2016. They weren't offered that in 2017, but they're doing it now, which is great. And so there's advancements being made but there still needs to be so many more things that need to happen. And that's just California. Other States aren't doing that.

Jason Blitman:

You, talked about reunification and you talked about. If biological parents are not able to reunify with their kids, then that's when adoption becomes an option. I think it's not uncommon for people to put a lot of judgment on biological parents, and I think you paint a very interesting picture of just like really understanding everything going on. I think there are so many truths to be held. In the process, you are capable, you have an open heart, you are ready to be a parent. And so, it can, I imagine, be very challenging when you are watching somebody not show the same capabilities. I think it was talking to Lara Love Harden about her story that really changed my thinking entirely. So for our listeners, if you have not listened to our episode with Laura Love Harden on her book, The Many Lives of Mama Love, go listen to that. But she, talks about being in prison and her kids getting taken away from her. And I think as a gay man who is not able to have children on my own, I know I'm fully capable of being a dad and would be a good one. And I had this chip on my shoulder of if you can't, if you can't be a good parent, then you shouldn't be allowed to, but it's wait a minute, there's so much more to it than that. Can you talk a little bit about what that experience was like for you?

Mark Daley:

Yeah, it really it's and first I want to say that, if it weren't for Laura Love Harden, my book never would have gotten written. Laura is my agent and friend and she's amazing. There's, in part of the stories when I met Laura and I was explaining my story to her I had no idea of her backstory. So it was before she had even sold Many Lives as a book. And I was telling her the situation, that we had gone through and the story of the boys that we had and their family and what she, then later told me was that, when she finally told me her story, um, she said, what drew me to you is that you had so much empathy for this family. And I think that's the thing that you have to keep in mind is like, these are people that in our case, these parents were as much perpetrators against their children as they were victims of the adults in their life as children. And, dealing with whether it's diagnosed or undiagnosed mental health issues, addiction issues, all these things that honestly I can't relate to, I can only empathize with. It's, but as you were saying, it's yes, we can offer their children all these things. But at the end of the day, they're their children until they can't be their children anymore. And I don't want, I didn't, I never wanted them to fail. But Their failure did mean that these children that I fell in love with and, we're doing the four got to stay with me and Jason and I knew that they would be safe,

Brett Benner:

Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

And to that point, one of your questions in the book is that you hadn't thought about what if we fall in love and one would think that's inevitable, but also I think it's not giving yourself enough credit because Brett, going back to your what does it take, I think, as an observer, as a reader of the book, as a person in this conversation, it feels like it takes the capacity to fall in love. With a child that's not your biological child with somebody who you can open your heart to, and so I think, I gotta say it almost seems like it's inevitable because, you If you're going on the journey, you're capable of falling in love and you will fall in love because that's why you're doing it. Because that's what it takes.

Mark Daley:

It's, I say this to him the story of it is like the woman who was our trainer who was just like, she was hysterical and lovely. And, she said there were so many questions that people ask these what if this and what if this and what this and every question she said, it depends. It depends on the bio parents, on the kids, on the judge, on the social worker, on the, every case is different and so nuanced in that, that you really don't know until it just unfolds in front of you. It's we were hoping for this slam dunk of Mom has a baby and that's it and, disappears and you get to take the baby and, six months later you're adopting and everything moves on and it

Brett Benner:

Isn't Disney birds land on your shoulders and you jump off into rainbows.

Mark Daley:

exactly right. Belle in the opening scene of Beauty and the Beast, there we go, but it's

Brett Benner:

Each has a child on your hip.

Mark Daley:

but I don't know how it, it doesn't work that way, and life doesn't work that way. It's much more nuanced, I've got friends who have fostered, and some who've gone through, reunifications, where, they still see the family, and they take the child, one week and a month, and, because they're just close to them now, in that case, it's a single mom, and they're very supportive of her and in her life, and Sometimes that's what it takes.

Jason Blitman:

It makes me think a lot about chosen family, which we talk about a lot on the show, and I think just the idea of, again, it's like meeting somebody where they're at and being that piece of family when they need it the most as gay people. I feel like we're slightly perhaps more hardwired to do that. It's interesting, Brett, because thinking about it on the flip side, I also talk a lot on the show about how I haven't talked to my dad in many years who is a person who I'm biologically related to, who did change my diapers, who did tuck me in at night, who, you know but so there's something very interesting and but he doesn't have the capacity to, like it's very interesting and very complicated and very nuanced, but I do think as gay people, we have learned to adapt to what it means to be a family. And we've had the people come in and out of our lives and we've had the people impact us when we've needed it the most. And so I think to pass that on is interesting and important.

Mark Daley:

Jason, what you were saying about Chosen Filmmaker is really interesting in part because I've had the luxury of like my, my family has been so supportive of everything I've ever done that, I've never really thought about what you were saying in that context, like why gay people would make You know, good foster parents because we naturally come at this with this, through our own experience or the experience of our friends and being able to support love and empathize with kids who under, are feeling detached or need a place to belong and, us being welcoming because we are naturally go towards a chosen family. That really might speak to that. I always just thought it was like we can't get pregnant on our own. So therefore that's why we step up at larger numbers. And really the truth is probably a lot more than that. I've had social workers. I'm not even telling you, I would be lying if I told you it was a dozen cause it's probably, two dozen social workers that have pulled me aside at conferences or meetings and stuff. And it said to me, whenever I see a same sex couple come in, I raced to them because I know they have thought about this and they are here. And, if. They get a kid and the kid has, needs occupational therapy or speech therapy or whatever's they're getting it and it's gonna get done and it's gonna get taken care of. And that kid's, I don't have to worry about that kid. And because we just go through so much to get in that room in the first place,

Jason Blitman:

Yeah, and I will also say not all gay people would agree with me about the chosen family thing. I know people who are, who, if they can't have a biological child, they don't want children. And that's a whole different conversation and a very interesting perspective and I don't agree with that, obviously, but yeah not all gay people feel the same way that I do. Okay. So the book takes us on a journey, highs and lows as you said. I don't want our listeners to leave this episode thinking man, we, they're just, burdened with the woes of gay men and adoption. What do you like to do for fun? What's

Brett Benner:

Wait, I have to say to this, but I just want to preface this by saying, and I said this when I was talking about the book to somebody, and I do have to say this, and I would say this for all the listeners, because despite like these circumstances, which are harrowing at times, you, Mark, as an author, as a person, You're very charming. Again, not a spoiler, but there is a positive at the end of this rainbow. And there's not and it speaks a large part to who you guys are. And I want to say that because you and your writing and you and your narrative, it's not a downer. It doesn't come off that is certainly there are moments that are provoke tears. I totally choked a few more than a few times, but.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah, listen, it doesn't, it's not a downer, and it almost reads like a thriller, like a page turner, because you want to know what's gonna happen, and you want to know what's going on, and I think that's, obviously a testament to you but I think the story's sort of in and of itself, for me, it's an important book, because we don't have enough of these stories in the world, there's a lot of assumptions that get made, there's a lot of judgment that gets put on both the gay community and parents who need to put their kids up for adoption or who's who have their kids get taken away or you know whatever it is and i think that to me was the most important thing it's like the story just needs to exist in the world and people need to experience it for the sake of empathy

Brett Benner:

but I didn't mean to cut Jason's original question off. I just had to interject that, but going back to now you can say what do you do for fun?

Jason Blitman:

yeah no it's there You are also a there is more to you than being a new author and an adoptive parent. And so to bring a, another color of you into the conversation is interesting.

Mark Daley:

I do want to, first of all, I want to thank you both for saying that it, that it's not all going to do, because I think that is a challenge I face with this book, right? It's about two gay guys who foster and adopt and, that the I think a lot of people just read the title and think, oh, this is going to be a sad story and I don't really want to be sad. And it's not just sad. It's actually it's fun. And, most people that have read it have done it in two days. They're not getting, you sail through this nuanced book because they're trying to see what happens at the end. And it's also just a hopefully all my pop culture references keep them going. Although some lady on Goodreads didn't like my pop culture references, but everybody else seems to not complain. So we'll take it. No, but for fun, we're just like everybody else, we're it's right now I feel like my life is soccer and dance and, going to move stuff for my kids, which is what basically all parents of children our ages are, seem to do. But, we do a lot of traveling and

Jason Blitman:

You're also this is your first book. Yes.

Mark Daley:

it is. Yeah,

Jason Blitman:

Are you excited for what's about to come?

Mark Daley:

I am so excited. This was honestly, I, I've done so much in my professional career. I worked in politics for a long time. I was one of Hillary Clinton's press secretaries when she ran for president the first time. And I just been everywhere. And I really, this professionally, there has nothing been nothing I've ever enjoyed more. Than sitting down and writing this book. It was just so much fun.

Jason Blitman:

Why do you think it brought you more joy than anything else sitting down and writing this? Yes.

Mark Daley:

I've always enjoyed writing, whether it was, speeches or even, term papers in high school. I think I've just always enjoyed writing and being in the creative process was just so much fun, And honestly, too, like I, I worked with Laura Love Harden and her team and being able to write it and then send them and getting notes from Laura, who's just a lyrical genius. And it's just unbelievable, and she's just hysterical on top of that. So it was so much fun. It was also honestly, it was very therapeutic. Going like reliving this and talking it out and then calling my therapist and you know talking it out some more It really helped.

Jason Blitman:

is there more writing on the horizon?

Mark Daley:

Oh, I certainly hope so, I have a million ideas of things But I you know, I've got to get through this first.

Jason Blitman:

of course. You say a million ideas for things. All nonfiction? Do you see fiction? Is, what's, what

Mark Daley:

I think more fiction. I think more fiction at this point Yeah, I don't know. We'll see. I think it's you know, I also love the idea of doing like celebrity memoirs I think that would be fun, like ghostwriting

Brett Benner:

and who would you want to ghostwrite?

Mark Daley:

Britney's was already done, so I

Brett Benner:

Right. Although she's doing apparently a part, she's doing a part two apparently. Although I don't know what that is. Like it's going to be like 20 pages about dancing with the knives. I don't know.

Jason Blitman:

Hit me baby one more time is

Brett Benner:

There you go. There you go. The woman I was. Mark, before we go,, are there organizations or thing you'd like to shout out

Mark Daley:

yeah, I actually so on my site, which is a markdaley.Us. I put up a couple links there for Casa for anyone who wants to become a Casa. And then I have a site that I created called the foster parent. com, which is for anyone interested in becoming a foster parent, wherever you live, we can connect you with. A local agency, foster care is governed on basically every level of government and it's administered locally. And so we can connect you with local agencies. And then there's foster more, which is an awesome organization that I've been involved with for a long time. They do like scholarships and other things for you if they're involved. So if you're looking to donate to a scholarship, that would be awesome as well.

Brett Benner:

Amazing.

Mark Daley:

Thank you guys. This has been so much fun.

Brett Benner:

Thank you. May know,

Jason Blitman:

to have fun.

Brett Benner:

we do may may every subsequent interview be not as fun. And you always remember this one first.

Mark Daley:

I will

Jason Blitman:

You do always remember your first,

Brett Benner:

You really You you've

Mark Daley:

book virginity

Brett Benner:

the, your podcast. for ity. Yes. You've already been live. We know. But yes. Your podcast for

Jason Blitman:

you've already been live. We know somebody has feelings about it.

Brett Benner:

No, no, No. I don't have feelings. I love her. I think it's great. Thank you Mark. You're awesome. I'm so excited for really. He completely is and and by the way, your kids are adorable just side note.

Jason Blitman:

On a front note,

Brett Benner:

All right. everybody

Jason Blitman:

Have a great rest of your Bye.

Brett Benner:

Bye