Updated at 6:45 p.m. ET on November 1, 2020.
There was a hint of his Trumpism in our very first conversation. In August 2019, Reg responded via email to our online ad seeking a baby to adopt, and a few hours later he and I were on the phone. His pregnant 20-year-old niece had recently left home after a period of family strife and come to live with him. He wanted to help her get her life together, by providing room and board while she got a job and maybe an education. The first step toward those goals, both he and his niece felt, would be finding a family to adopt the baby, who would arrive in less than two months.
During that first call, Reg mentioned that he owned a small construction company in New England, where he lived. He groused about how hard it was to find good employees. When I asked whether the crackdowns on immigration and rise in deportations had caused this problem, he reflexively replied: “No, we just have a country where people don’t believe in working hard.”
That’s not enough to deduce someone’s political affiliation, of course—and what did it matter? Reg was enthusiastic about connecting us, a gay couple in Michigan, with his niece Jasmine, and we spent the next several weeks getting to know Jasmine over text and Facetime. (I’m referring to Reg and Jasmine by their first names to protect their privacy and that of our son.) Later, when we realized what a hard-core Donald Trump fan he was, we asked Reg why he’d picked us. After all, Trump, his vice president, and many Republican officials still oppose same-sex marriage and believe that governments and businesses should be allowed to deny goods and services to LGBTQ people. But Reg said he’d never had an issue with gay people. Plus, a line from our adoption profile had stood out to him as something that could help persuade Jasmine, who was struggling with the decision: “Since we’re two guys, our child will have two dads but never another mother.”