Richard Avila Winburn
Richard Avila Winburn
San Fernando Valley • Age 53 • Freelance graphic designer
Lives with Jason (husband), Jackson (7) and Noah (5)
I love this one. This is an everyday thing. My husband, Jason, he's a schoolteacher, and he usually gets home around five o'clock or so. ... they can't wait for Papa to get home because he's just like a big kid.
“And they have their alone time and it's usually high jinks like this, or climbing on top of each other, or you toss them across the bed, or, you know, they're rolling around having fun...I'm more of the, kind of, take the kids to school, clean up their mess, feed them parent and he's more of the playful parent. So they love their Papa.”
We gave point-and-shoot film cameras to 12 Southern California parents of young children and invited them to document their lives in the Fall of 2019.
Join this group of families, from South Los Angeles to the San Fernando Valley and San Bernardino, as they show us what parenting really looks like, through their eyes.
“They like to take all of their stuffed animals and bury themselves underneath it... They usually will do that and not say anything for a few minutes until I realize, ‘Where are they?’ and they're too quiet, and I go looking for them. I can't find them. I'm calling out for them. They're not answering me. And I'll go back in the room because I swear, that's where they were last… And then finally, 'I'm yelling, where are you?' And I can hear, 'hee hee hee.' They think it's the funniest thing to hide from me.”
About the photo on the mantle: “This is my family right here. [It’s a] family photo of my mom and my sister, my brother-in-law and my two nieces. It makes me think about why we decided to become parents, is because of family. We have such a close-knit family on both sides.”
“We got Jackson as a foster son when he was 5 months old. And then we got Noah when I was 15 months old. And we've adopted them both since then.
We looked into all the different avenues that gay men typically go through: surrogacy, private adoption. Everything was just — the price was just ridiculous. I mean, a hundred thousand dollars [for surrogacy].
“We heard about fostering ... and we went through the courses, five weeks of courses, and then we became certified. And then a week later, we got a call about Jackson. We told them we wanted a newborn. So we were quite shocked when we got a call about a 5-month-old, and we said, ‘Yes!’ And as soon as we said yes, he showed up at our door five hours later.”
“[When Jackson first arrived], the lack of sleep was a shock for us. He would not sleep, and we were up literally taking turns walking around the room with him. There's just a brand-new child in our house, and we’re responsible, that I think that was the biggest thing for us. If something happens, it says, you know, it's on us.
“And then you just kind of go on instinct. That kicks in and you make mistakes, obviously, but he's still here, we're still here, so we did something right. So as with any parent, it's a struggle. It's always a struggle. But the rewards are so, so great.”
They're thriving. They're doing great, they're smart, they're funny, they have personalities. They fight like brothers, but they love each other like brothers.
“They love us even though they tell us sometimes, ‘I don't like you. I don’t want to talk to you.’ And they'll turn around and say, ‘Daddy, I love you. I love you.’ It's just those little moments that makes it all worthwhile."
“I think a lot of people might have preconceived notions of what gay couples do as far as like, where they go, where they eat. And we're not, you know, we don't go to fancy restaurants, we don't eat out every night. We're just like every other family, make dinner here... we go to public school. We’re just a normal, regular, average family.”
“We were already a few weeks into ‘stay at home,’ and I was thinking how relaxing and serene that moment was. It's been hectic and chaotic at times dealing with the kids during all of this. It was nice just to see them getting along and playing quietly together. Of course, it lasted about 10 minutes... but, hell, I'll take it!
“I think the biggest change I've had is definitely seeing my kids, a little bit different side of their personalities. In these last few months, they seem to be a little more anxious. It manifests itself by acting out… And it's tried my patience for sure.
“My older one, he, does a… twice-a-week class online and it's tough for him to just sit there and listen. And his teacher will call on him and he'll be like, ‘Uh, what did she say?’ And I've gotten feedback from the teacher saying, ‘Jackson needs to pay attention more.’ And it’s like, ‘Okay, well, I can't always be there next to him because I'm actually working myself.’ And teachers are understanding, they get parents are working from home.”
We are already in summertime mode here… finding new ways to amuse themselves!
“We bought them these caterpillars so they can watch them turn into butterflies.
“And when it actually happened, they were just over the moon. My older son put a chair right in front of the little butterfly net. And was just camped out there for a good two hours just waiting, waiting. I said, ‘Come on, you got to, you've got to eat something, you've got to go take a bathroom break.’ [And Jackson said,] ‘No, no, no, I can't miss it.’
“We finally let the butterflies go the other day… the butterflies just all they did was they swarmed around my kids' heads and they were landing on their fingers-- it’s like they knew them. And they were like, ‘Go! Go!’ And the butterflies wouldn't leave. It took them about a half an hour before they finally flew off. They loved it.”