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NEW YORK (PIX11) — November is National Adoption Month. To celebrate, PIX11’s Dan Mannarino opened up about his experience with adoption.

Just a few months ago, Dan welcomed his baby daughter, Olivia Rose, through a domestic adoption.

This is their story:

Q&A with PIX11’s Dan Mannarino:

Q: Was there a moment, or time in your life, that you realized you want to be a dad?

A: If you ask any of my friends, I’ve been talking about being a dad since I was in high school, and I always talked about being a father but never really talked about being a husband. So my friends said it was no surprise to us when you said ‘I’m adopting’ and doing it as a single man. I always talked about being a young father, and for me the time kind of just hit, right before the pandemic, that I need to do this now.

Q: What made you choose adoption?

A: I always said from a young age that adoption was going to be the route that I took if I wasn’t in a relationship. I think people adopt for a number of reasons, and for me it was to complete my family in the way I knew I could.

Q: What was the adoption process like for you?

A: The adoption process is something I think is so unique, and there is no one-size fits all approach. I don’t think there is an easy way to describe the adoption process. For me, I knew I wanted to do a private, domestic adoption, and I wanted to do it in a way in which I was in control. For me, that was going through an adoption attorney. But there are so many ways, adoption agencies, foster to adopt, so many resources online you’ll spend months reading about.

Q: Can you share some of those resources?

A: Below are resources that I found helpful when going through the adoption journey.   

There are so many different roads one can take when adopting. I highly recommend checking out all the various resources, learning about each, and choosing a path that works best for you and your family. 

There are also a number of adoption agencies — I won’t list them all, but be sure to check out the various agencies in the particular area you live in. 

Here are some helpful links, too.

Q: Do you think there is a stigma around single-parent adoption?

A: I think there’s a stigma around adoption, and then there’s also a stigma around single-parent adoption. The reason for that is because people have very strong opinions of what a family is. My whole belief is that families come in all shapes and sizes and there’s no linear description of what a family is. A family is what you make it. A family could be two moms, two dads, one mom, one dad… and then your own family, there’s the family you’re born into and then the family you choose along the way.

Q: What was the most challenging part of the adoption process?

A: I’m somebody that really likes to really be in control, and know when an outcome is, have a plan, know a timeline. I think the most difficult part of adoption is that there is no timeline. There is a home study process where people examine you and make sure you’re fit to be a parent, and then you’re looking to match with a birthmother, and it’s kind of a wait and see approach. Some people wait a couple of months, and some people wait a couple of years. You’re kind of just kind of waiting and waiting and waiting until one day you get a phone call and the rest is history.

Q: What is your favorite part of being a dad?

A: My favorite parts are the snuggles and the laughs and you know there’s the diaper changes and that stuff, but it’s knowing that we have so many memories that we’ve already created and we have such a unique story and I think that we really just rely on one another.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who is single, and ready, and looking to begin the adoption process?

A: There’s going to be many ups and downs along the way, there’s going to be cases where you get called and they say ‘hey there’s a baby up for adoption,’ and it may fall through along the way, and that happens a lot. It didn’t happen to me, but it happens to a lot of people – and from being in Facebook group chats, you’ll see it. And that’s why there’s a whole uncertainty of it all that you have to prepare yourself going into it with, it’s an emotional journey with the best of feelings and the worst of feelings at the same time – so just prepare yourself for both.

Q FROM INSTAGRAM: Can you share more about the costs relative to this process that would be challenging as a single person? I have thought about this often and feel like money is such a barrier. Thank you for sharing your story, you’re so inspiring!

A: I think it goes back to the research when it comes to finances and what exactly you fall into. There are grants that states provide, there are loan assistance programs, there are a whole host of options for a range of salaries and there are different ways to do it. There’s foster to adopt, there’s private adoption, there’s just so many different avenues, but I think there are options for everyone along the way you just have to find the right one that works for you.” 

Q: Anything else you’d like to add?

A: I want people to understand, and I cannot stress this enough, what a family is. I don’t want anyone to look at me and Olivia and think ‘ugh.’ And that’s the mentality and the mindset and the stigma that I hope to change, because several people have reached out to say ‘I didn’t think I could do this because society told me I couldn’t’ and that… that got me… obviously it gets me choked up because it’s no ones business to tell someone what their family is.