Christopher Harris, MD

Dr. Harris is a dad of an eight-year-old daughter and a pediatric pulmonologist, in Los Angeles, CA.

What was the biggest challenge you faced while going through the adoption process and how did you overcome it? I had to go through three different adoption agencies before I found one that would work with me.So it took me about 2.5 years to go thru the process.

The first agency that I used didn’t complete the home study. I did the classes, and they visited the house, but they didn’t work to get it approved. After more than a year of waiting, it became clear that they weren’t going to approve me. This was especially clear because others who were in the same adoption class had been approved and had children placed with them.

Next, I went with another adoption agency who explicitly told me that they would work with single women but not single men. Finally, at the start of 2002, I went through the phone book calling each and every adoption agency and asked if they’d work with me. Adoption Connection/Jewish Family Service agreed, and the rest is history.

What was the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a dad and how did you overcome it? The biggest challenge is time. It’s just so incredibly busy. I have certainly relied on after care at school and liberal use of baby sitters and family to meet all the demands of work and life.

What’s the most surprising lesson that being a dad has taught you? The thing that has been the most fun actually is that it has really encouraged me to think on my feet and be creative. When you see behavior that you don’t like the easy thing is to get upset and scream and yell. It’s a lot more fun to be fun and distract from that behavior and be creative. It more fun to think about how I can decrease this behavior without yelling and screaming.

What’s the one bit of advice about fatherhood you wish someone had given you much earlier?  I don’t think anyone can tell you all the things you learn about yourself as a parent.

What’s the one thing about being a new dad that shouldn’t be missed?  I think any parent will tell you the magic of holding a newborn.  I will always remember bringing my daughter home and sitting in a particular chair listening to Ella Fitzgerald and knowing that we were going to be on this roller coaster together.

What’s the most underrated thing about fatherhood? As a single parent I don’t think people realize I do it all. Right now I’m washing four loads of laundry, lighting charcoal to make dinner, and overseeing homework.  People don’t realize the juggling that is involved.

Why are fathers important? I think it is important for fathers to be nurturing. It’s not just mothers.  Being a father is more than bringing home the bacon and watching sports in front of the TV.

Career, marriage, kids…How does a guy stay sane?  I really try hard to continue to make it to the gym. My gym time is my time.  When I’m able to make it frequently, it’s definitely good for me.

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