My Other Life with Patrick L. Sutton

PM360 recently spoke to Patrick L. Sutton, Vice President, Patient & Specialty Services, Cardiovascular, Novartis Innovate Medicines, U.S., about being an adoptive father.

PM360: What can you share about what the adoption process was like?

Patrick L. Sutton: My husband, Michael, and I began the adoption process after relocating to North Carolina in February 2017. We wanted a domestic, local, and private adoption, which immediately narrowed our options to a few agencies within the state. The legalization of same-sex couple adoption was relatively fresh in NC, so we were not certain if our process would be stifled by the newness of state law. Instead, our experience was quite the opposite, and our agency was enthusiastic about us. We matched with our son’s mother after just three months, and when we first met, she told us she believed a same-sex couple, more than any couple, would love her son unconditionally, no matter who he is or who he becomes. Our son, Jack Ellis, was born one month later, but it took the remainder of the year to finalize the adoption. His mother stays in our life through the open adoption process.

Jack Ellis, Michael, and Patrick during a relaxing weekend at Candlewood Lake, CT

What are your favorite things to do together?

Bedtime is a good outlet for me because my son loves scary stories—so I get to process my workday by recapping it in the form of scary tales suitable for a child. And if I get home early, or often on the weekends, we do little science experiments. A scientist by training, I cannot help but geek out by making science fun! As a family we take long walks into town, go to our favorite Irish pub, spend a lot of time in the park, play in the splash pad (not in times of drought), and watch lots of movies.

Jack Ellis and Patrick in awe of a large flock of birds on Captree Island.

What do you enjoy—and what scares you—most about being a father?

My favorite moment is when I walk in the door after a long day, my son—now 4 years old—still runs up to me yelling “Daddy’s home,” then jumps in my arms and gives me a tight hug. My most fearful moments are tied to his future well-being. My son is a beautiful combination of Black, Puerto Rican, and Caucasian. I have genuine fears about the state of systemic racism in this country. I also have the obvious bullying concerns tied to him having two dads. I will never be prepared for the day when I am forced to crush his spirit—and, frankly, I am angry that I will need to.

Jack Ellis eating his favorite chocolate ice cream from a cone in Manhattan, NY.

What are you most excited about doing with your son as he gets older?

We love to travel, but our son times out after two-and-a-half hours on a plane…just long enough to make it to Greemaw and Pawpaw’s house. I am excited for the time when we can be more adventurous. My husband constantly reminds me never to wish away time, prophesying the sad day when my son will no longer greet me at the door and be too big to jump into my arms.

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