In a new piece written on his Medium account, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg details how he became a father. Buttigieg and his husband, Chasten, first announced they were first set to become fathers in August 2021. The news came after the pair had previously explained their adoption struggles. In early September, the two announced the birth of their first children, Penelope Rose and Joseph August Buttigieg. Now they have confirmed that the children were adopted.
"It was what they call a 'surprise' adoption scenario — a mother had given birth that day and wanted to arrange adoption," Pete writes in a new Medium post. The piece was written by both Pete and Chasten but in Pete's voice. "The agency explained that there were some sensitive circumstances and potential health complications for us to weigh, but also that we would need to quickly decide whether we were prepared to travel to the rural hospital and begin the process. And one more thing to consider: it was twins!"
Hours later, the two men were holding the children, who were born premature, in their arms.
"Health issues meant nearly two anxious weeks in the hospital before we were discharged, but the day finally came," Pete writes.
According to the post, Penelope developed "severe reflux, terrifying us when she would stop breathing and turn purple in a matter of seconds." It had been previously announced that Joseph, who they nicknamed Gus, developed a respiratory infection as well. Now the Buttigieg family has revealed it was RSV and the entire family — including Pete and Chasten — soon got it.
By October, we had started to feel more confident and comfortable with all the routines (and the surprises) of parenting. Then one day, the kids got a cold. Soon it was a cough. Then Penelope started to have trouble breathing. Over FaceTime, our doctor expressed concern about the way her belly was retracting under her ribs as she worked to take in air. Chasten drove her to the Emergency Room while I stayed home with Gus. His skin took on a mottled look, and by the next day he was admitted to the hospital too. Just as we had during our first days with them, we again learned to live out of a hospital room, this time in Traverse City. We would take turns shuttling supplies from home and sleeping by the kids’ side, and I would try not to distract the nurses when the phone rang with a work call.
While most of the family recovered, Gus's condition reached "critical" with the child being intubated. He was transferred to a children's hospital in Grand Rapids, Mich., where he and the family stayed for days. Pete wrote that he was reminded of his father, "whose last days played out on a ventilator in an ICU room like this as he lost his battle with lung cancer." As this was all going on, he often still had to work. Gus stabilized after a week.
The children, now 1 year old, are both currently healthy.
As much of this was going on, the Buttigiegs were under attack by Republicans. Some accused Pete of not doing enough to fight the supply chain breakdowns and going on parental leave — much of which was spent in hospitals, according to this new information. The Buttigiegs have not publicly responded to the lion's share of those attacks, which have often stemmed from homophobia, suggesting that two men should not be parenting children together.