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Sitting on a couch in their bright and open living room in Oak Park is Ravi Grivois-Shah, 33. He is snuggling with Anjali, his adopted baby daughter.
Nearby, petting their energetic dog, Patches, is his husband, Tim Grivois-Shah. The 31-year-old elementary school administrator is explaining why he and his spouse chose to raise their child here.
"In terms of folks who are our age, who are moving to Oak Park, we may very well be the youngest couple with a child that I know," speculates Tim. "But we both had that family mentality from the start, so our sense of who is our community might be a bit different in that respect."
Two years ago over Memorial Day weekend, they moved into the 1950s-era brick house on North Euclid, the same weekend they staged their wedding on the deck of the Odyssey, a large boat docked off the edge of Navy Pier.
"We have always viewed our relationship as no different from any of our friends in opposite gender relationships, and so we put together a full marriage ceremony that blended Indian and Western traditions together," Ravi says. "It was really important to us to have all of our family and friends together to be with us to celebrate the evening with us."
Last year, when the civil union act became law in Illinois, Ravi, a family physician with the Cook County Health and Hospital System, and Tim, the new assistant principal at Nelson Elementary School in Niles, headed over to the DMV to legalize their name change and formally claim the same marital rights that opposite-sex partners enjoy.
"We have always used our names jointly, in common use with our friends at work, and with our families and my students, from the day after we were married, knowing all along that we would make it official once the law passed," says Tim, who was born and raised in Arizona, relocated to Chicago to attend college, and recently earned his doctoral degree in education.
Yet, says Ravi, the unofficial act of getting married the first time was significant.
"We got the license the first day we could," says Ravi, a native of the Chicago area. "But we got married on May 30, 2010, as far as I am concerned."
Tim and Ravi say that being working, suburban parents who are raising a child in a nuclear family has always been the plan.
"In 2009, our first step, actually, was to move to Oak Park," says Ravi, who previously owned a one-bedroom condo in the Lake View area in Chicago during his medical training at Illinois Masonic Hospital.
He says that their being gay wasn't a barrier at all in the adoption process.
"The agency with which we were working was very open to working with same-gender couples. So it was a matter of looking at us as a couple and finding the right birth mom," Ravi says.
Anjali was born on Dec. 19, 2011, and they took her home the next day.
"Shortly after that, she was ours forever," Ravi recalls, smiling.
This month, he adds, the paperwork will be finalized for both men to appear on the birth certificate as a parent.
A snapshot of their new life indicates that the Grivois-Shahs are settling into family life well. During the day, Ravi's parents arrive on site to watch over and cuddle their only grandchild. Off hours, Ravi and Tim enjoy doing jigsaw puzzles and cooking together, tending to their backyard "urban farm," and eating al fresco on their back patio with friends.
In Oak Park, the couple often walk hand-in-hand, leisurely strolling their daughter over to Scoville Park for blanket picnics, or popping in to the Oak Park Public Library to take in its collections and programming.
As Oak Park residents, they say the Oak Park Area Lesbian and Gay Association (OPALGA) has been an invaluable resource and support system for them.
"A traditional family is two caring, loving spouses, and grandparents who would love and care for their children, and that is what we envision as a great way to raise a child," Ravi says. "I want to be part of a community of other gay dads, and for her, it is important that she is not the only one in the community to have two dads."
It's really more about Anjali, they say, and what would be good for her in the coming years.
"We just thought about what would our child's life in Oak Park be like," says Tim. "Well, she would have a really awesome park district, great school district, and a neighborhood with kids to play with and parks to play in close by, as well as within walking distance and access to a fantastic library. From our house she could also walk to her elementary school, middle school and high school. What parents don't think about these kinds of things?"