Meet Dale Dalbey, a Super Dad who’s been doing it all — on his own. After adopting his son as a single dad, Dalbey decided to become a business owner, running SYNERGY HomeCare of the Emerald Coast. Here’s how he does it all.
After helping care for his young nephews for several years, Dalbey was confident he had what it takes to be a parent. “The decision wasn’t one in which you say, ‘Hey, I want to be a dad,’” he explains. “It was more like, ‘Hey, I have decided to start the process and I am not looking back.’”
Once he started the process, he stuck with it. Over eight years ago, Dalbey became a dad when he adopted his son Noah from China.
At 19 months old, when he and Dalbey first met, little Noah weighed just 25 pounds. “I literally carried him in a large Baby Bjorn for three months to create bonding experiences,” Dalbey says.
Born with a significant cleft palate and lip, Noah underwent several surgeries, “but has always handled them like a champ,” his proud dad says. Under the care of a team of specialists from Children’s Hospital of Alabama, Noah has gotten all of the care he needs to grow into a healthy and active nine-year-old.
“Sometimes you get the look, ‘Are you crazy? I could never do that!’” Dalbey says. But he’s not, and fortunately, he doesn’t deal with many negative stereotypes as a single dad. In fact, the hardest part he’s faced is pretty standard for most parents.
“The biggest challenge was realizing how completely your life and your interactions change,” he explains. “The spur of the moment dinners with friends after work became a thing of the past. Everything centered around Noah’s bath time and bed time.”
Parenting on his own might not be crazy, but starting a business while doing it takes guts. However, that move turned out to be a wonderful one for both Dalbey and Noah.
“After a career in banking ended, I started my SYNERGY HomeCare business in 2011. At SYNERGY we provide services to the elderly to help them live independently,” Dalbey explains. “Noah is part of our team as well. He comes to the office to put together marketing materials, and clean the office. He was able to dote on Mr. Tom, a friend who went to our church who later became a client.”
Being a business owner and a single dad is a winning combo for Dalbey. He’s been able to schedule work around other activities, keeping him extremely involved in Noah’s life. “With technology, I do not have to be tied to the office. I can be at soccer games, field trips or doctor’s appointments when I need to be,” Dalbey says. Even better, his son is learning by example. “Noah also learns about hard work and good deeds while watching his dad grow a successful business.”
It turns out that parenting has been much easier for Dalbey than he anticipated. Noah’s an easy child, he says —easygoing, smart and sweet. “I have always said I only adopted one because I was given the perfect child the first time and was afraid I would appear ungrateful to God if I asked for another,” Dalbey says.
Living just two miles from his own mother makes things a little easier for Dalbey. “[s]he is always there for Noah and me when we need her. I tell people all the time that it really does take a village to raise a child. Parent(s), grandparents, family, friends, teachers, clergy – no parent can do it well all by him or herself.”
Dalbey’s favorite part of being a dad is watching is son play soccer. “I think it is a metaphor in many ways,” Dalbey notes. “He has coaches and people cheering him on, but at the end of the day how he performs on the field is up to him.” Dalbey says he’s doing a great job so far, but points out that Noah hasn’t yet reached the teen years. “I have been warned that the hardest days of parenting are yet to come,” he jokes.
When it comes to his words of advice for potential single dads, Dalbey is practical. “No one – man or woman – has an easy time as a parent, single or married,” he says. “Have a good support system. Take care of yourself. Enjoy every minute of it because it goes by too fast.”
Even more importantly, he suggests to all parents, “Treat your child like a human being who deserves not just love, but respect and time.”