Remarkable People 2023: Dustin and Daniel Johnson, Remarkable Fathers

I met Daniel and Dustin three years ago, shortly after we launched PFLAG Riverview to offer support, education and advocacy for LGBTQ+ individuals, their families and allies in the region. They are without a doubt Mr. Remarkables!

It was during one of our first monthly meetings that I met Daniel — who was not looking for support, but rather offer it. He showed up to become a stronger advocate for people with other identities in the community and was eager to serve in any capacity, so I invited him to join our leadership team.

Daniel and Dustin began to open their home on a regular basis to us. The first time we were over for dinner, we sat around a huge dining table that would comfortably sit eight. They shared that on their first date they discussed having children, and after a few more meetings they provided an update on their pursuit.

They were being considered as potential parents for six siblings in the foster care system who ranged from two to 11 years old. They would be provided with a grant and if everything went as planned, they would have the children in a matter of a few months.

My first thought was that adopting six children at once was crazy, even if I thought how wonderful it would be for these siblings to get to grow up together with two loving parents. But raising even one child is challenging and they were considering raising six, to say nothing about how these children had potentially experienced much trauma already.

The sad truth is that is what most of us think, which is why there are tens of thousands of children in Florida’s foster care system. Yet this is part of what makes Daniel and Dustin so remarkable: I am sure that they had thoughts and fears, but it didn’t stop them from taking a leap of faith and letting love win.

Their adoption was finalized in May of this year. They became the Johnson family, party of eight and I am so proud of these two parents. Daniel even took a job in his son’s class to help him feel safe and secure so he could learn as he got acclimated to his new life.

I attended an adoption celebration party for the Johnsons. It was awesome to see the support and love that this new family has. All the children’s teachers from one elementary school came to celebrate along with some of the children’s foster families. Their new aunt, grandparents and even their new great grandmother were there to embrace them.

In August, their biological mother gave birth again to baby number seven — and these two remarkable dads pursued and gained custody of another sibling. They are currently walking through the adoption process and everyone is thriving because of these two deeply loving, compassionate souls. Without a doubt, they are raising a truly remarkable family!

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