The Guncles' Bill Horn and Scout Masterson's Blog: The Ups and Downs of Our Son Bosley's (2-Year) Open Adoption
In their first blog for PEOPLE, Bill Horn and Scout Masterson recount the harrowing (and touching) adoption story of their son Bosley
Please welcome our newest celebrity bloggers, Bill Horn and Scout Masterson !
The couple, known lovingly as Tori Spelling‘s best friends “The Guncles,” have appeared in the reality series Extreme Guide to Parenting. The twosome also made regular cameos on Spelling’s show Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood.
After two-plus years of riding on an adoption roller coaster, we’d like to share with you why we’ve been silent about the adoption of our son, Bosley Jo.
Fast forward to the happy ending — on Nov. 9 in an L.A.-area Children’s Courtroom, we finalized our adoption of Bosley. What should have taken six months took two-plus years filled with court dates, lawyer bills and more than a few tears.
In early 2014, we were just gearing up to start the process for our second open adoption. Not only did we feel we had more room in our home and our hearts for a second child, but as two only children, we felt that it was important for Simone to have a sibling.
Our search was remarkably and uncharacteristically short. A birth mom from Wisconsin, who was familiar with our family, reached out about the possibilities of us adopting her unborn son. After numerous calls and a visit to see her, we really felt connected. With the help of our adoption agency, we mutually decided to move forward with the adoption.
Not only is Bosley’s birth mom a kind and warm person, but all the signs said that this adoption was meant to be. As fate would have it, Bosley would be born in the same town that our dear friend JoAnn (a.k.a. JoJo) had lived. JoJo had always said that she knew we’d have more kids, and that we’d have a girl and a boy.
Sadly, when Simone was 2, JoJo became terminally ill and lost her life from a rare brain cancer. Bosley would be born in the same hospital that JoJo had frequented as she battled cancer, before dying at only the age of 39. Bosley’s middle name, “Jo,” honors JoJo.
From day one, we knew that Bosley’s birth dad had been in a long-term relationship with the birth mom and that the relationship had ended after months (if not years) of his outbursts and vices. One day, she’d just had enough. The breakup sent him into a spiral that landed him in jail. (We later found out this was not his first brush with the law.)
Over the next few months, we heard from both our birth mother and adoption counselor that, from jail, the birth father was supportive of any decision that was made regarding Bosley being adopted.
On Aug. 29, 2014, we received word that our birth mom had gone into labor two weeks early. We quickly packed for an undetermined amount of time and jumped on a plane with the whole family. By the time we landed, Bosley had been born. We rushed to the hospital, and within 12 hours, we were all together in a hotel with our adorable little man.
Adoption laws and parental rights vary from state to state. So while we’d already gone through this process with Simone four years earlier in a different state (her adoption, we now consider “easy-breezy”), Wisconsin has its own rules and procedures. The one thing that remained the same was that we’d have to stay with the baby in Wisconsin until the state cleared us to leave. So along with Scout’s mom (a.k.a. “Nana”) and Simone, we settled into a two-bedroom Milwaukee hotel and awaited the okay to return home.
This waiting game certainly comes with uncertainty, but we knew the drill. We had been through it before and we were mentally prepared for the wait.
We kept ourselves busy with work, walks around the neighborhood, lots of family TV time (rock on, “Austin and Ally”) and lots of heavenly Wisconsin fried cheese curds.
On day eight of Bosley’s life, our nightmare began. We got a call from our local adoption counselor, letting us know that she had finally reached the birth father (who was now out of jail) for the follow-up relinquishment forms he needed to sign to complete the adoption. He let her know he was considering fighting for partial custody and wanted to spend “holidays and the occasional weekend” with Bosley.
This truly rocked our world. To be honest, had he expressed his intentions a few months earlier, we may not have proceeded with the adoption. We had waited as long as we could to tell Simone about a baby brother. We wanted to be sure. But now if the adoption were to fall apart, we’d have to tell Simone that her new baby brother wouldn’t be coming home after all.
And by this point, Bosley (in our minds and the birth mother’s mind) was our son and Simone was his sister. Period. End of story. No one was breaking up our family for “holidays and the occasional weekend.”
Despite the potential looming custody issues, we were able to bring Bosley home in mid-September. And then, for the remainder of the month, we waited to see if his birth father would actually submit the proper paperwork to the court. If he didn’t do it within 30 days of Bosley’s birth, then he’d essentially be relinquishing his rights to fight for custody.
On the very last day of the waiting period, we received word that he had submitted the paperwork and hired a lawyer. Our hearts sank.
The next (nearly) two years were a roller coaster. A few days before Christmas 2014, we awaited word to see if a Wisconsin judge would make us return Bosley to the state and hand him over to his birth father until the court case was resolved. Our lawyer warned us that if Bosley were returned, we’d have very little chance of ever getting him back. Imagine sitting and waiting for that phone call!
Luckily, the judge realized Bosley was best left in California with us and ruled in our favor. If he’d ruled the other way, I’m not sure how we would have made it through the holidays — not to mention how we would have been able to tell Simone (age 4 at the time) that her baby brother was being taken away. As a safety precaution, we had a child psychologist on standby to help us explain this to Simone. Luckily, we never had to use her.
Summer 2015 involved a jury trial to determine if the judge could even rule on what was best for Bosley. Ten out of 12 jurors had to determine that our birth father might be unfit to parent. And that’s exactly how they ruled – 10 out of the 12. We didn’t have to be present, since this was technically a fight between the birth father and birth mother. We wouldn’t have been let into court.
Thank God for our birth mother. She was determined that we would be Bosley’s parents and she took that tenacious spirit to court daily. (As did the amazing lawyer we hired.)
A second trial had us flying to Wisconsin only to sit in the courthouse hallway for nine hours. We were never called to the stand and our testimony was postponed TBD — a completely wasted trip. We took it personally because it felt personal. This never-ending custody fight was emotionally and financially draining us.
Earlier this year, Bosley’s birth father finally agreed to drop the case. Ironically, we had some great conversations with him — and we will always wonder whether, if he’d had the opportunity to meet us in person before Bosley’s birth, this mess would have ever happened. We’ve gotten to see a very sweet side of him — probably the side our birth mother saw at the beginning of their relationship.
Ultimately, he came to realize that his priority had to be getting himself better and that we’d never cut him off from Bosley. That’s not the point of open adoption. Open adoption, ultimately, is a very beautiful thing.
So on Nov. 9, we sat in the Los Angeles court, surrounded by friends and family (auntie Tori Spelling was there), and we were FINALLY named Bosley’s parents. The emotional roller-coaster ride was over — and our “ticket” to ride cost us more than $250,000.
It’s important to say that we believe in open adoption now more than ever. Our struggles these past two years are rare, and when all is said and done, we have two amazing children thanks to the process.
We have plenty more to say about Wisconsin’s ridiculous adoption laws and court system, but we’re leaving that in the past. What’s important is that our little Bosley is growing and thriving right where he was always meant to be.
And he’s now officially and forever Bosley Jo Masterson-Horn.