Gay Couple Who Adopted Son Via Facebook Ad Help Celebrate Social Network's 10th Anniversary
Brad Benton and Brad Leston have had a lot of celebrating on their schedule as of late. They were blessed with a second child over the weekend. Their first, Kyler, marked his 3rd birthday late last year. And today, Facebook turns 10. Without the world's foremost social network, the D.C.-based couple's family picture might look a little different. A few years ago, after more than nine months of placement on adoption wait lists, the couple decided to buy a Facebook ad in the hopes of fulfilling their dreams in an unorthodox manner; less than 24 hours later, the Brads had received a response to their ad that lead to the couple's adorable first child.
In honor of Facebook's 10th anniversary and this incredible story, we caught up with the social network-minted family to chat about their thoroughly-modern and incredible experience.
Instinct: How did you guys meet?
Brad Benton: We are actually an online success! We met online via a dating site while Brad Letson was in Washington, DC doing a show at the Kennedy Center. Our first date was dinner and a movie. We saw the film version of RENT on opening day. We both knew that day that there was something special there between us.
Brad Leston: When my show contract finished and I moved back to NYC a few months later, we continued our relationship long distance for about seven months until I moved down to Washington, DC permanently.
How did the decision to take out a Facebook ad in your adoption quest come about?
BB: We knew we possibly had a long wait ahead of us once we entered the waiting parents pool with our adoption agency. After about 9 months, we decided we needed to be more proactive in our efforts, mainly just to help us feel good about the long wait and to feel like we were being proactive. We saw a TV interview with a couple who made their connection to their child’s birth mother through and ad they had placed on Facebook. We knew nothing about the ad space on Facebook, but I knew a little about digital marketing, so we said to ourselves, “Heck, we can do that.” After a few short hours of researching the process and playing around with images and headlines, our ad on Facebook was up and running that evening.
What expectations did you have for the Facebook ad?
BB: That’s a great question. We knew we would get some type of response from our Facebook ad, but I think we felt we would have to “weed through the crazy” that would flock in from scams or what-not. We had absolutely no idea how effective our ad would be, but within a few short hours, Kyler’s mom saw our ad and checked out our adoption web page. We strongly believe it was fate that brought us together, but it never would have happened without Facebook. Fate was the reason, but Facebook was the bridge.
BL: There were a ton of people who responded to us, providing positive thoughts after viewing our Facebook ad and our web page, some saying, “If I could have a baby for your two I would do it in a heartbeat! I wish you the best of luck on your journey to becoming a family.” Those responses were just as important to us. Even though they weren’t making an adoption plan themselves, maybe they would know someone who knows someone who…
What do you think your adoption situation would have looked like if you never placed an ad on Facebook?
BB: That’s a tough question because we truly feel that Kyler was meant to be our son. It’s hard to think that if we hadn’t placed the ad on Facebook that this adoption would never have happened, but I guess it’s probably a true statement. I don’t know how the connection would have been made otherwise with us living in Washington DC, and his mother living in Florida.
Were you surprised by the media attention that followed your successful adoption story?
BB: I think we are both surprised by the media attention we have received. However, we knew even from our hospital experience that people loved our story. One particular nurse from the hospital got so connected to us and our story that we have remained in contact with her even today. As far as the media, yeah it’s kind of an amazing story when you actually think about it. Our adoption was not done through Facebook, but the connection was made through the power of Facebook’s social and ad strategy. That’s kind of cool! It’s just another example of the power of the digital age we live it, and hopefully it gives hope to others on ways to leverage that digital power to help in their adoption journeys.
BL: We are always surprised that people are drawn to our story. We consider ourselves a normal family, same as anyone else. Our method of growing our family might be a little different from others, but our goal is still the same—a happy and healthy family.
How does Kyler handle the extra attention?
BB: What? Are you kidding? This boy loves attention. The first television interview we did, he was only a few months old but he was totally quiet the entire time and the reporter, Laura Evans, commented on how great a baby he was. For our segment with the BBC, Kyler was a natural in front of the camera—not shy at all. This boy is a big personality. I think he has handled it quite well.
When will Kyler get approval from his dads to use Facebook?
BB: LOL, Hmmmm, I think there are age minimums on Facebook, right? It will be interesting to see how things go as Kyler grows up. He’s growing up in the digital/social age and he doesn’t know any different. We’ve got to remember this, but also keep him reined in a little until he’s mature enough to handle it. So, you won’t see him IM’ing with his daycare buddies anytime soon.
What's the adoption experience with your second child been like? Has this experience differed from Kyler’s adoption in any way?
BB: Our adoption process for our second child has been completely different. We have been waiting 2.5 years to expand our family. This time our adoption agency contacted us with the possible match. A week later we were selected and are now just awaiting his arrival.
BL: Facebook or social media has played no part in our second adoption, but rest assured, Facebook will come into play when sharing this story—and the tons of pictures we tend to post. We are indeed proud Dads.
How have your experiences changed your perspective of social networking/Facebook?
BL: I don’t think our experience has changed our perspective of social networking or Facebook at all. If anything, it has solidified what we have known all along: the power of the internet is a real thing. After all, that’s what started this whole journey for us, from that moment in November 2005, when we first typed “Hello” to each other.
What advice would you have to other couples hoping to leverage FB in their parenthood journey?
BL: We always tell prospective adoptive parents to “market” themselves in whatever way they feel comfortable. You can’t deny the power of Facebook. And if couples are comfortable with opening up their lives and putting their story out there then they should go for it. But above all, keep the faith and the belief that the family you are meant to have will happen when the time is right.
Stay up to date with the Brads and their kids via their ... you guessed it, Facebook page My 2 Brads!
For more touching stories stemming from Facebook's first 10 years, head here. If you'd like your personalized video celebration of Facebook's big anniversary, check out the incredible Look Back feature, launched today.