Alumnus Gavin Glynn learned self-discipline from dance instructor, Dwayne Goodwin–a lesson that assisted him in fostering and adopting five children as a single parent.
As Glynn said for the Lasting Impressions column, he wanted to be part of the American Heritage Dance Tour in Russia so he gave up trips home and was expected to be on time to class. He couldn’t come up with the money after seven months of intensive training, but he said “I left ISU with the best self-discipline I could have ever acquired, and I attribute my success as a show producer in Hollywood to this training by Dwayne Goodwin.”
That self discipline allowed him to give up a promising career in Hollywood to adopt and foster five children. Glynn, a single gay man, had gone though the process of adopting seven-year-old Iby when he received an e-mail in January 2002 about four orphans being evictedfrom their two-bedroom apartment. Glynn and Iby went to the apartment to offer some ideas about finding a larger apartment and offer some resources.
The Lee siblings, whose mother had died suddenly, had no relatives and family friends were unable to take them in permanently. They were in danger of being split into different foster homes. Glynn asked Iby if he would like some brothers and sisters and, after Iby answered in the affirmative, Glynn called his adoption agency. Within five hours, 15-year-old twins Patrick and Shane, 13-year-old Emily and 12-year-old Grace were moved to Glynn’s home.
“Just about every family gathering is laugh-out-loud funny remembering our first year together,” Glynn said. “I wasn’t prepared for four more kids so I sent out an e-mail to Popluck, a gay adoption social club. Within an hour, blankets, beds, televisions, computers and many other necessities came streaming in from the Los Angeles gay and actors communities.” Someone even donated a vehicle large enough to transport the entire family.
Glynn said the Lee siblings had never had much adult supervision as their single mom worked very long hours. Iby had never been allowed to go anywhere at his previous foster home. “It was a very rough ride setting the rules, limitations and healthy boundaries for safety and trust. When a dog is hit by a car, and you try to help it, it will bite you. It is the same with foster children because they only know life with their parents and life after their parents are gone, making it extremely difficult for them to integrate the two parts of their life. If they attach to you, they feel disloyal to their birth parents. Essentially, one does not adopt children, the children adopt the parents.”
Glynn said raising twins is a challenge, with expenses doubled for everything from proms to college educations. He took a twins parenting class and learned “you are never supposed to compare your children because it devalues them to you as individuals.” He said he was furious when Dan Quayle knocked television’s Murphy Brown for being a single parent, but now “feels enlightened to the sheer loneliness of single parenting your loved ones.” Glynn said becoming a single parent meant losing all his single friends. He said you need a support system, whether a neighbor, cousin or teacher–someone.
Shane Lee, a 21-year-old junior majoring in communications at San Francisco State, said: “We stayed a family. We became a strong family. We used to be individuals. Our dad helped our bond as a family grow.” Patrick Lee, a junior studying cinema at San Francisco State, 19-year-old Emily, a student at Los Angeles City College and Grace, an 18-year-old student at West Los Angeles College, all agreed.
Glynn is a consultant for “This Week with George Stephananopoulos” on ABC News, a resource substitute for Los Angeles Unified School District and Culver City Unified School District, an ESL teacher and Saturday School teacher for at-risk youths. He said he left Hollywood so his kids would not grow up spoiled and unattended, and teaching allows him to work the same schedule as his 8th grader, Iby.
Prior to his current career, Glynn was a show producer for Tokyo Disney Sea at Walt Disney International. He received his master’s of fine arts in directing at United States International University, his bachelor’s degree in industrial organizational psychology from Circle University, and is the proud recipient of an Academy Award – Best Short Documentary as executive producer of “Dolphins: Minds in the Water.”
Although he didn’t get to go on the Russian dance tour years ago, Glynn’s affection and loyalty to Illinois State remains strong.
“The friends you make in high school are the greatest, but the friends you make at Illinois State University are for life,” Glynn said. “Illinois State is still the crucible of humanity where the east coast meets the west coast, and ideas are furthered into idealogy all across the globe to make this world a better place.”