PROSPECTS LEFFERTS GARDENS, Brooklyn (PIX11) – Ben Smith is a 28-year-old Brooklyn man from China who recently gained attention on TikTok after sharing his adoption story about growing up with two dads.
Ben was an 11-month-old boy when he was adopted by his two fathers, Bill Smith and Sam Laury from New York City.
One video shows Laury recording himself as he waits to meet his son for the first time.
“Benji, it’s your other dad,” Laury says in the clip. “I can’t tell you how excited I am. I’m going to meet you in just a minute or two.”
Bill said the experience of adopting Ben was positive, despite him being part of one of the first same-sex couples to adopt a child in earlier days.
“Everybody in our world was moved by it, supportive of it, and great,” Bill said. “I mean, a couple of close friends who were just tough said, ‘I can’t imagine raising a kid without a mother’ but you know, [they] then saw the situation and it was a wonderful outpouring of support.”
Ben feels lucky to have grown up in New York City where differences are celebrated, but he didn’t see representation of families like his in media growing up. He saw the opportunity to create his own representation on TikTok. Users on the social media platform are captivated by his videos which have garnered tens of millions of views and Laury is happy to see that the public is still intrigued.
“When Bill and I adopted him, we thought we had a pretty interesting story and people were always interested to hear about it and learn about it,” Laury said. “And now to see him get to tell the story from his point of view is kind of amazing and I’m glad people are still interested in it.”
The first time Ben realized he had a unique family was going to school for the first time. Classmates asked why he had two dads who didn’t look like him.
“I would often times say, ‘Well, just like you have a mom and a dad, I have a dad and a dad and I was adopted from China,’” Ben said. “Usually, kids would give me a little bit of a confused look but that would usually turn into support and they would say something like ‘That’s so cool. I want two dads too!’”
Ben also has a sister named Mabel who his dads adopted from Vietnam.
His parents are no longer together, but it hasn’t stopped the love he’s received from both of them while their nontraditional story touches many lives with their modern family.
“It’s been a wonderful way for other people to feel like they can be part of the family too,” Bill Smith said. “There’s something universal about people coming together in the way we all came together and I think a lot of people feel that they can have a part of that too and that’s a beautiful thing.”
With Father’s Day coming up on Sunday, Ben said he enjoys being able to celebrate twice.