UPDATE Maurice’s father Timothy wrote us to correct an error on our part. Maurice was adopted in Washington, D.C., not Washington State as previously reported. We regret the error, and continue to keep the Mannion-Vanover family in our thoughts.
“You can do better” is the message many are left remembering most about Maurice Mannion-Vanover, who passed away at age 20 on January 14, 2011. Maurice was born with AIDS on September 11, 1990 and a range of developmental and physical problems attributed to a crack-addicted mother. 20 months later, his twin sister passed away.
In 1993 Maurice was expected to live only six months longer, and was welcomed into the home of partners Timothy Vanover and Timothy Mannion. The couple, known as the Tims, were amazed to see that rather than wilting in their care, Maurice grew healthier, gained weight, and saw his critical T-cell count climb.
Three years later, the couple made their new family official, becoming the first same-sex couple in Washington State to adopt. The next year, Maurice became a younger brother when they adopted teenage Kindoo. The family, two white men raising two black sons, eventually moved to New York when Vanover changed jobs.
In Montclair, NY, the family grew to 6. First, a dog named Hunter joined the four guys, and they the Tim’s purchased a horse named Rockefeller after seeing Maurice’s amazing connection to the animal. Maurice seemed to beam with health when riding Rocky. Montclair is hardly horse country, and soon, the family with the horse became local celebrities – children visited Maurice and Rocky daily.
Maurice and Kindoo traveled the world with their fathers, but while in Toronto this month Maurice became ill. His condition quickly escalated – much more rapidly than anyone suspected possible – and Maurice passed away earlier this month. Within hours, Maurice’s beloved dog, Hunter died as well. Even Rocky the horse seemed to mourn Maurice’s passing.
The New York Times story is equally heartbreaking and inspiring. It’s not a long read at all, and I hardly do it justice in my synopsis. You can read it in full HERE.
Maurice, Kindoo, Rocky, Hunter, and the Tims’ story is proof of real American lives, that while unconventional, DO exist and DO touch the lives around them.