Earlier this week, in the midst of attending funerals for friends killed in the Orlando nightclub shooting, Randy Lowe and Joshua Melendez might have had little cause for celebration. In fact, little did the couple know, as they spent Father’s Day assembling floral wreaths to honor the victims of the massacre, that in just three days they would become fathers themselves.
But life has an amazing way of showing its beauty amidst it brutality, because just days after the couple mourned the loss of lives in the Pulse nightclub shooting — including the lives of two close friends who were victims of the gunman’s wrath — the adoption of their two foster sons became official.
Randy and Joshua first met in 2009, and after a first date that included eating ice cream while they walked along the Disney Boardwalk, they fell deeply and madly in love. From early on in their relationship, the couple knew for certain that they wanted to become parents, and in 2011 they began the process of becoming foster parents.
In October 2012, Jacob, who was just 12 days old at the time, and his older brother Robert were placed in the couple’s care though a community-based foster care program; and eventually, Randy and Joshua began the process of seeking full parental rights through adoption. Although the process itself was long and stressful, with several hurdles and setbacks along the way, the couple tells Babble they were patient and steadfast in their commitment to love and nurture Robert and Jacob.
The family had been preparing for an August court hearing to formalize the adoption, but in a seemingly miraculous twist of fate, on Tuesday night, the couple received a call from their lawyer telling them that their court hearing was moved up to Wednesday, due to an unexpected opening in the judge’s schedule. They almost didn’t believe it.
“My legs almost fell out from under me,” Randy tells Babble. “Our lives were changed overnight.”
Showing up to the courthouse on Wednesday morning dressed in their best suits, Randy, Joshua, Jacob, and Robert finally became a family in the eyes of the law – though anyone will tell you they have been a family since the two boys first entered their home. Later that night, the foursome celebrated with close friends at the boys’ favorite place: Chuck E. Cheese.
Just days earlier, the family had been in a state of mourning over the lives lost in the Pulse nightclub shooting, but Randy tells Babble he was amazed by the outpouring of support for him, his family, and the LGBT community, saying that “the craziness was overwhelmed by the love of a community coming together.”
By all accounts, Robert and Jacob are two happy, well-adjusted, beautiful boys. Randy tells Babble that Robert, who will enter first grade in the fall, loves watching American Ninja Warrior and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (his favorite turtle is Michaelangelo because “he’s silly.”) Athletic and active, Randy says that Robert is “always running, jumping, skipping and flying everywhere.” And at just 3-years-old, Jacob is the “little helper” of the family. He enjoys helping wash dishes with Randy and helping garden with Joshua.
“Joshua has taught me a lot about patience,” Randy tells Babble. “I had always wanted a home, husband, family and it seems to have happened all at once.”
Randy and Joshua were married in January 2015 when the state legalized same-sex unions. Lowe runs his own floral and event family business – Lowe and Behold – and Melendez works in the entertainment department of Disney World. They said they have received an overwhelming amount of support, and hope that their story of love amidst tragedy helps show the world to embrace love. “We tell the kids to embrace and love everybody,” Randy said. “No matter what you have or don’t have, love is free – but it is an intentional action that you have to commit to, it doesn’t just happen.”
Despite the arduous journey it took to legally become the boys’ parents, not to mention the recent grief and tragedy in Orlando, Randy and Joshua’s goals are the same as any parent — they simply want to raise healthy, happy, kind children.
“We can’t change everyone’s opinion, but we’re going to love these boys and raise them to be good human beings,” says Randy. “We have a family now – something we’d never thought we’d be able to enjoy. Our house is now a home.”