Update: A happy, healthy two-year-old | ParkRecord.com
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Update: A happy, healthy two-year-old

Except for his Dolce and Gabbanna diaper bag, Ted Clayton is an ordinary dad. He and his partner, Manuel Maravi, constantly fret over their two-year-old son, Erik. They chase after him, scoop him up in their arms and spray him with sunscreen.

"The world revolves around Erik," Clayton explained Sunday at the Utah Pride Festival as Erik played with his toy truck at the lip of a fountain in front of the Salt Lake City and County Building. "But that’s good. He’s a good kid. He likes to get out and be social. He’s happy as long as he can get out and run around."

A lot has happened since The Record first reported on the young family in September 2006, when Erik was baptized at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. Erik turned two years old May 31 and the couple is dealing with the rollercoaster ride of raising a toddler.

"Now I’m Mr. Mom," said Maravi, who teaches piano from the couple’s home in Bear Hollow. "Of course it changes your life. My first 18 months I didn’t work. Now I’m taking students again. For me, it was easy to adjust my schedule to be with the baby."

Erik is African American with chocolate skin and dark curly hair. He was born in North Carolina, Maravi said, where his biological mother put the boy up for adoption.

The adoption cost $38,000 and involved a complicated network of agencies and home visits. Clayton and Maravi are both listed as parents on the birth certificate and elected for an open adoption, meaning that the couple calls Erik’s mom on holidays. "He may miss some of that maternal stuff," Clayton offered. "He may not have a mom with him all the time, but he’ll know who his mom is."

Clayton said the prospect of an open adoption worried the couple at first, but has ultimately turned out to be a positive thing for Erik. "It was scary at first," he said. "What if she wants him back? But I’ve learned through the experience that she’s a part of his life and always will be. She’s moving on with her life and her family, and we’re moving on with ours."

As The Record reported two years ago, Erik’s mother placed the boy with another family because she broke up with the father and has a 4-year-old daughter with another man already. She returned to the father of the older child, who did not want to raise Erik, Maravi explained at the time. Erik’s mom named him before giving him to the couple. Now Clayton and Maravi are playing a name game of their own. The couple has decided that Clayton will be called Daddy and Maravi will be Poppy. The boy’s full name is Erik Maravi Clayton.

Maravi, 43, and Clayton, 40, started dating in August 1999 and by the middle of the next year were engaged. On Oct. 23, 2000, in Ferrisburgh, Vt., they joined in a civil union. They moved to Park City in mid-2004.

The couple decided they wanted to adopt in 2006 after seeing a documentary at the Sundance Film Festival about gay families called "All Aboard: Rosie’s Family Cruise," in which Rosie O’Donnell and her family join hundreds of other gay, lesbian and straight families on a weeklong trip from New York City to the Bahamas, according to HBO Films.

The film inspired Clayton and Maravi and set them to work. February 2006, just a month after they saw the film, all the adoption paperwork was done, Maravi said. "We decided it was now or never," his partner later added.

On June 1, Maravi and Clayton received a call that the boy, with dark curly hair and a dark complexion, was available for adoption. The two flew to North Carolina the next day.

"We became parents all of a sudden," Maravi laughed. "It was scary but it was great. The people in Park City have been so wonderful. Not only the people our Episcopal church, but people in general, my students, [their] parents."

Clayton, who is a banker with Zions Bank, said the couple would like Erik to know other kids who have two moms or two dads, but he and Maravi aren’t in touch with any other families reared by same-sex parents. "The gay community in Park City, they really pretty much does their own thing," Clayton said. "They just sort of live their lives."

Maravi, who is the head of a gay social club that meets the first every Thursday at Kristauf’s Martini Bar at around 6 p.m., said the lack of solidarity among gay men and lesbians in Park City may be a sign of success rather than apathy. "They community is huge, but a lot of people are not integrated here, not discriminated [against]. They don’t need a group." But, he added, "If we know each other, we can support each other."

Clayton said the couple plans to adopt again. "You learn things from the first time [you adopt], mistakes you make." Clayton, as if remembering something, looked at his son playing near the Lilo and Stitch inflatable playground. "I wouldn’t call them mistakes," he corrected.

Utah Pride, celebrated last weekend, is said to be the second-largest parade and festival in the state behind only the Days of ’47 festivities in July.

Outside the crowded festival lining 200 East from South Temple to 4th South stood two protestors with large signs decrying homosexuality. Some festival goers screamed back epithets of their own, but Cammy Eschler, Nicole Scarton and Antoinette Lilley just laughed.

"It’s just sad how completely uneducated and bigoted people can be," said Scarton, 16, who will be a junior at Park City High School in the fall.

Eschler, also 16 and entering her junior year, reiterated her friend’s point. "People are people no matter who they choose to have sex with," she said.


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