Property fathers: Atlanta gay couple flips houses to fund adoptions

Atlanta residents Josh and Joey Bolton-Rogers are now fathers of two children. But due to the cost of adoption, their family wouldn’t have been able to be completed without some extra income.

“We just became so obsessed with this flipping-on-the-side thing,” Josh told Georgia Voice.

Their daughter, Miles, was born in the middle of one of the renovations — the couple lived in the houses during the process — and in total, they’ve been in five houses in about two years.

“When we brought her home, we had sold the previous house, moved into another fixer-upper. She came in the middle of us renovating. We literally didn’t have a floor in our kitchen when we brought her home from the hospital,” Joey said.

And by the time that house was ready to go on the market, the Bolton-Rogers were ready to add another little one to their brood. They started the adoption process and were shocked to learn that around the same time that house sold, they were going to be fathers a second time around.

“We had to go find a new house to buy,” Josh said. “They’ve all been fixer-uppers except for the house we’re in now.”

Building the foundation

Josh and Joey met via a dating app, and their instant connection was a mutual surprise.

“We were both newly out of some long-term relationships and we were just kind of looking to have fun, and we didn’t expect anything to come of it,” Josh said. “We got engaged five months later and we were married 13 months after we met.”

One of the things that bonded them early on in their relationship was their shared desire to start a family. That’s what initially led to the two flipping houses. Their first home, located in Atlanta’s Grant Park neighborhood, was listed the spring after they married.

“Before we even listed it, we kind of spent Saturdays doing little projects around the house, adding wood accent walls and changing light fixtures, painting,” Joey said.

The two saw a positive response to their renovations, and thought it could be a mini-business to help fund the adoption process.

“We put down a pretty large deposit and we bought another fixer-upper in Grant Park,” Josh said. “We renovated that and three months later, we sold that house and we made some money off of it.”

Josh and Joey said they spent close to six figures adopting their daughter Miles and son Micah, and their family is worth every penny.

Providing a roof

Adopting Miles and Micah required a lot of input other than money. The adoption process requires extensive paperwork, home visits, interviews and potential parents marketing themselves to birth mothers. There’s plenty of heartache — they were actually approved to adopt a child before Miles, but the birth mother changed her mind — and a number of factors to consider. The couple chose not to adopt a child through foster care yet because they felt they would not be able to meet those children’s needs, and surrogacy was even more expensive than using an adoption agency.

“I think we maybe want to start the process again either at the end of next year or spring of 2019, just because it can take a year,” Josh said. “We’ve talked about having four [kids]. I think we’re going to enjoy our two for a year or so and then maybe start again.”

They want other adoptive parents to realize that it’s not always a glamorous process.

“It looks good on TV, like you get the college student who made a mistake and she comes from a good family and this baby is definitely going to be yours. It’s not like that at all,” Josh said. “It’s mostly women who had very poor upbringings themselves.”

For example, when meeting Miles’ birth mother, Josh and Joey recalled the circumstances they met her under were memorable for the wrong reasons. Josh said her birth mother had five sons already, whom she has since lost custody of due to drug use. They lived in a one-room motel in Mobile, Alabama, and outside the motel there were prostitutes and alcoholics in the parking lot and on the street.

“I can’t imagine Miles, knowing her now, growing up like that,” Josh said.

Now that Miles and Micah have a solid roof over their heads, the Bolton-Rogerses find it hard to believe that there are still people who think LGBT couples shouldn’t have the opportunity to give children a better chance at life than what they may have been born into. Most recently, Georgia 6th District Rep. Karen Handel spoke out against gay adoption because of her religious beliefs.

“I can’t tell you how frustrating it is for me to hear people — they’re completely against abortion, but then when there are parents like us that want to adopt all of these kids that are going to be in the system, they’re against that, too,” Joey said. “It is one of the most frustrating things in the entire world to have someone like Karen Handel sit on her throne from far away and judge us for giving these kids a home, and not even taking the time to come see they’re happy, they’re healthy, they’re adjusted. They love us. … I literally wish Karen Handel would come over to our house, let me drive her to that motel where [Miles’ birth mother] was living with those boys, with prostitution going on, and tell me to my face that my daughter’s not better off.”