While Frank Lombard awaits his transfer to Washington, D.C., to face child sex charges, some Triangle dads worry that his alleged crimes could reflect poorly on their desire to raise a family.
Lombard, who is gay, is accused of inviting an undercover officer to have sex with this adopted 5-year-old son. In a search warrant for his home, investigators released a transcript of a Web chat between Lombard and Det. Timothy Palchak of the Washington Metropolitan Police Department. In it, Lombard invited Palchak, who he did not realize was a police detective, to fly to Durham to have sexual contact with the child.
Lombard told Palchak that he shared his home at 24 Indigo Creek Trail in Durham with a homosexual partner, but that partner did not know about his activities. Authorities have not arrested the partner, and do not suspect he was involved in any crimes.
When officers arrested Lombard Wednesday at his home, two children were present, the FBI said. Both were taken into protective custody by the North Carolina Department of Social Services.
Under North Carolina law, an unmarried couple – whether gay or straight -- can not adopt a child together. For an unmarried couple to adopt, one person must adopt the child as a single parent, then the second person can also adopt the child. It is not clear whether Lombard’s partner had adopted the child at the heart of this case.
Shawn Long, a gay dad in Durham, is an advocate for adoption, and worries that Lombard has cast a shadow on homosexual parents.
“Gay parenting is just parenting,” Long said Monday.
Long and his partner have been together for 15 years. Three years ago, they adopted a son. The process was long and complicated. The couple went through background checks, home visits and parenting classes with straight couples.
"We watched as each one got a placement and they adopted their kid and we waited and we waited and we waited and as a gay family it was a bit longer for us," Long recalled.
Now, he worries that Lombard’s case could make the process even more difficult. “What has happened is horrible, but it's just an example of a single bad person," Long said.
Attorney Sharon Thompson has seen the discrimination gay couples face. "There is more discrimination. They've got limited agencies. They can't do foreign adoptions because most foreign countries don't want gay adoptions,” she said.
Long said he believes those challenges are greater for men. “It is definitely much easier for two females to adopt as a family than for two males,” he said.
For Long and his family, the wait was worth it. “I love him more than I can ever say," he said of his 7-year-old son.
He hopes the news of one person’s alleged crimes does not reflect on his family, or others who want to be parents.