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StoryCorps In Kansas City: The Story Of A Couple's Surprise Adoption

Benjamin Smith Photography
Dustin Cates and Raymond Cattaneo with their son Emmaus.

Editor's note: StoryCorps OutLoud visited KCUR in June to collect stories from Kansas City'sLGBTQcommunity in partnership with the Gay and Lesbian Archive of Mid-America.

Raymond Cattaneo and his husband Dustin Cates were together six years before they decided that they wanted to adopt a baby and build their family.

The Kansas City couple met with a social worker to partake in a home study, and as they were wrapping it up, Cattaneo called Cates from the hospital, where he was doing rounds.

“You said, hey there is a mom here who had a baby, and I think she wants to give it to us,” recalls Cates. Cates rushed to the hospital to meet with the mother and to see their son for the first time. “I can still remember walking in and seeing our little boy, and thinking how could she give him up?”

They started to talk to the mother about the next steps to take.

“About 15 or 20 minutes later, she said well I’m leaving the hospital today and I want you to have him,” says Cates. “So of course, we immediately panicked because we weren’t ready to take a baby home.”

Cates and Cattaneo met with their social worker and lawyer, figured out a plan, and six days later, they brought their son, Emmaus, home.

Road to Emmaus

Credit Courtesy photo / Crystal Liepa Photography
Crystal Liepa Photography
Dustin Cates and Raymond Cattaneo named their son, Emmaus, after a story in the Bible.

“I look at him in that name as a call for me to go change the world, because that’s what he did for us,” says Cattaneo. “It just speaks this idea of unconditional love.”

The name Emmaus comes from a Bible passage that is dear to their family.

It’s from the book of Luke. After Jesus had been crucified and resurrected from the dead, the apostles were walking to the town of Emmaus when they met a man along the road who was Jesus, but at the time they didn’t recognize him. They invite Jesus to walk with them and stay with them and eat, and during that process they realize who he is.

“And that sort of changes their entire world,” Cates says. “That was a really outstanding name for a kid who would do the same thing for us. Who would come into our lives, and turn things upside down, but make things amazing.”

Every part of the present has been shaped by actions that took place in the past, but too often that context is left out. As a podcast producer for KCUR Studios and host of the podcast A People’s History of Kansas City, I aim to provide context, clarity, empathy and deeper, nuanced perspectives on how the events and people in the past have shaped our community today.

In that role, and as an occasional announcer and reporter, I want to entertain, inform, make you think, expose something new and cultivate a deeper shared human connection about how the passage of time affects us all. Reach me at hogansm@kcur.org.
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