The Tragic Story of the First Single Man in California Who Adopted a Child

During the 1960s, the state of California preferred that children only be adopted into two-parent homes.

Adoption agencies used to believe that being placed in a two-parent family was the only way, but Bill Jones challenged that notion.

He was just an everyday guy with an everyday dream. He dreamed of being a father. The only problem with that was, he didn’t have someone there to be the mother, and he was gay.

Steve Majors, communications director for the same-sex advocacy group Family Equality Council, says many young gay men once believed living openly gay meant not having any children of their own.

However, he decided to go it alone — sparking a redefinition of family.

According to NPR, Jones was living alone in San Francisco when he settled on the idea of being a dad. Since officials were having a difficult time finding homes for countless kids, particularly older boys, he applied for single parent adoption.

The screening process may have been the same for a single parent as for a couple, but it also required a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

Jones chose to adopt a young boy named Aaron, though it was evident early on that raising him wasn’t going to be undemanding.

Because the boy’s mother had been a heroin addict, and Aaron himself suffered the consequences, many people did not want to adopt him. Children of drug-addicted mothers are often diagnosed with some sort of psychiatric or personality disorder in childhood. Not to mention, those born to heroin-addicted mothers face a high risk of illicit substance use. At two years old, he also couldn’t speak.

Initially, Jones also turned his back on Aaron. But he later had a change of heart.

Jones told NPR about the experience:

You know, children know when they’ve been rejected. So, I found myself down at FAO Schwarz. I had bought a teddy bear. I went back to the adoption agency and I said, ‘I want to give a present to that kid.’ Aaron heard my voice and came running across the room and threw his arms around my legs. And I just cried.

On February 13, 1969, the adoption was finalized. Taking Aaron home was one of the greatest joys he had ever experienced. Just because he was a single, gay parent did not mean his child was going to be any less loved. Despite not having a mom in the picture, Jones was always there to love him. Ultimately, that’s all that really mattered.

Sadly, Jones discovered that Aaron was suffering from schizophrenia, which made living with and raising him a complicated.

Aaron died at the age of 30 from a heroin overdose.

Nevertheless, Jones has absolutely no regrets about his choice to adopt and love an unwanted child.

“I still cry over the ending. But … I would do it again. I loved him so much, and he loved me, too. And so, I was lucky in so many ways.”

We may live in a world that’s still shocked to see a single guy with kids, but with fertility technology and adoption on the rise, more men are becoming single fathers.

The Williams Institute, an organization on same-sex issues at the University of California, Los Angeles, found there were more than one million never-married men — both gay and straight — raising children in 2010.

Featured Image: Bill Jones