Gay Dad Family Stories

A Gay Dad's Long Journey to Find Happiness

After being abandoned as a child, a gay man becomes a dad, finds love, and is welcomed back by his family

When Juan came out at the age of 15, his family responded in a horrible way: They disowned him and kicked him out of his home. He became homeless for a while, until a family in his neighborhood took him in. They were a family of eight - mom, dad and six kids - before Juan moved in, but they became his family and took care of him. As soon as he finished high school, Juan moved from Texas to Alaska, hoping to start his life anew.


Juan and his daughter

For Juan, the painful experience of being disowned and abandoned made something very clear: If he wanted a family, he would have to create his own. He set his sights on fatherhood. He realized soon that two common paths to gay fatherhood, adoption and surrogacy, were out his reach; they were too expensive. In Alaska, he became close friends with a woman. He told her he was gay and that parenthood was his dream; she wanted to help him fulfill his dreams. And so the two decided to create a baby for him. She would only help out with parenting every now and then. On July 3, 2010, Juan became a dad to a baby girl.

Juan and his daughter

Soon it became apparent that the birth mom had to play a much larger role in Juan's daughter's life than both she and Juan had foreseen. Whenever Juan was traveling for work, the baby needed a reliable caregiver. Moreover, fatherhood was a considerable financial burden to Juan; fortunately Juan's adopted family helped out a lot. Juan and the birth mom also struggled with the legal aspect of both being parents to their daughter. Despite their original plans, their division of parenting responsibilities had become something resembling co-parenting. In hindsight, Juan wished he had done more research and had been more prepared for the job. But by the time his daughter turned 9 months old, Juan, in effect, became the sole parent. Today, after many years of legal wrangling, Juan has been officially recognized as the sole parent.

Juan eventually moved back to Texas when his uncle told him his mother had cancer. "I decided that after two years of not speaking, it was enough, and so I moved back home to be with her," said Juan. Once he was back in Texas, the two worked on healing their fractured relationship. Juan joined the military when he returned to Texas, and his mother helped watched his daughter when he was away on service.

Tommy, Juan's daughter and Juan

Three years ago, when Juan was ordering from a taco truck, he met Tommy Espinoza. He and Tommy, a 36-year-old Shisedo account executive, hit it off immediately. The two fell in love and on a trip to Belize in 2017, Tommy asked Juan to marry him. The wedding is planned for November this year.

At first, it was difficult for Juan's daughter to welcome Tommy into her family. She was used to just her dad, and having a new parent required a big adjustment. But Tommy and Juan worked hard to tie their family together. Eventually the three settled into a groove, and now they are as close as can be. She is excited to be a flower girl at her dads' wedding in November.

Tommy, Juan and Juan's daughter

With serious plans to expand their family (one of the couple friends has agreed to be an egg donor!) and with a wedding around the corner, 2018 and beyond is looking very exciting for this family. The men are currently saving for surrogacy.

Although fatherhood has certainly come with hurdles and challenges, Juan, now a youth case worker, feels blessed to be the proud dad to his now 8-year-old girl. "My life is full of joy now and she's makes me work harder and really appreciate the smaller things in life," shared Juan.

The three-person family

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Gay Dad Family Stories

These Dads Chose to Raise Their Kids in Philly for the City's Diversity

These foster dads say Philly is "actively protecting, serving, and supporting their queer families."

Are you a Philadelphia gay dad family? Ivory Tree Portraits is hosting a special Gay Dad Family Day and offering all the attendees a complimentary photoshoot and digital print! Put May 4th in your diary, meet other local gay dads and their kids; make memories and keep them forever in the form of a digital print of your beautiful family. Click here for more details.

We're working in partnership with Ivory Tree Portraits to bring you the stories of some of their gay dad clients. The dads had this to say about their experiences in the studio: "At Ivory Tree photos, Marcy worked until she got the shot that she knew would make us happy and beyond," said Greg Yorgey-Girdy. "Marcy had the kids pose certain ways, but also let them be themselves. It was a wonderful experience. Even though we didn't have the pleasure of meeting Lara in person, she reached out via email to ensure our photo session was a positive and fun experience. We absolutely recommend Ivory Tree to anyone looking for a great photo studio who has a talented photographer, responsive, friendly, and extremely professional."

***

Paul and Greg Yorgey-Girdy have been together for over 12 years and married since March 19, 2014. Paul, a Philly local, was born and raised in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, and Greg came to Philadelphia to attend law school. They met in a bar rather serendipitously. "Paul happened to have on a Texas t-shirt, and I'm a big Longhorn fan," said Greg. "So I approached him and asked him did he go to University of Texas, and he said "no" … didn't even know he had a Texas t-shirt on; he said it just matched his shoes."

Paul and Greg are dads to three kids through the foster care system – Bella, Xander and Trevor. They also recently became guardians to eldest son, Raymond, who joined the family in 2018.

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Gay Dad Family Stories

These Gay Dads Chose to Make the Philly Suburbs Home

Check out this profile of one of Ivory Tree Portraits many gay dad clients!

Are you a Philadelphia gay dad family? Ivory Tree Portraits is hosting a special Gay Dad Family Day and offering all the attendees a complimentary photoshoot and digital print! Put May 4th in your diary, meet other local gay dads and their kids; make memories and keep them forever in the form of a digital print of your beautiful family. Click here for more details.

We're working in partnership with Ivory Tree Portraits to bring you the stories of some of their gay dad clients. The dads had this to say about their experiences in the studio. "Ivory Tree is amazing!" said Matthew Wright-Conti. "It is a total curated experience that made us feel relaxed, comfortable and confident in who we are. They have a ton of experience with children, and it shows. Maddie tends to be a bit shy and she warmed up right away! Highly recommend them for ALL families."

***

Growing up in the 90's and realizing he was gay, Matthew Wright-Conti wasn't sure if fatherhood would be part of his future. "After all, it wasn't until I was in my late 20's that gay marriage was even nationally legalized," said Matthew. When he was 19, Matthew came out to his family.

Matthew remembers being on the beach for a family vacation before he'd met his husband, watching his nephew run and play in the sand; his dad turned to him and started a sentence with, "One day when you have kids of your own…" (Matthew had been out to his family for 7 years by this point.) "He didn't realize how much those words meant to me," explained Matthew. "It was that type of support that really helped me believe becoming a father was possible."

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Gay Dad Family Stories

Fatherhood Came Without Warning for These Two Young Gay Dads

Johnny and Adam were in their early 20s and had just started dating when a family friend asked if they could take a four-year-old boy into their home

When Johnny Guzman Tarango and Adam Tarango met in 2012, introduced by a mutual friend, they were both seeing other people at the time. What began as friendship quickly became passionate after breaking with their respective boyfriends to be with each other. Johnny was 20 years old and Adam was 21. The couple called Phoenix, Arizona home. Both were young, carefree, and very much in love.

Although Adam wanted to be a dad someday, Johnny was undecided. In January 2014, the couple were confronted with one of the biggest decisions of their lives: fatherhood.

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Gay Dad Life

Inside the Weird World of Expectations for Gay Dads

At social gatherings with other parents, Grant Minkhorst finds he's often the only father in the room

In my two months as a parent, I've had the pleasure of meeting a lot of new parents. As a gay dad, I am the one signing up for little activity groups and social gatherings with other new parents. I am often the only father in the room. I find myself trying to "fit in" by discussing all of the things that new moms talk about: nap schedules, feeding, baby gear and "that the sidewalks are too narrow!" But there are some topics of conversation to which I cannot contribute (e.g., breast feeding). As a social person, this can leave me feeling a little isolated, almost as if I exist just outside the real parenting bubble. Because being a mom is different.

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Change the World

Three Eagles, Two Male one Female, Form Nontraditional Family

Three bald eagles in the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge are sharing a nest and incubating eggs together

According to the Advocate, three bald eagles — two male and one female — are sharing a nest and incubating eggs together.

"Families come in all shapes and sizes, and that's true for wildlife too!" wrote the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services on Facebook. "Meet Valor I, Valor II and Starr, a breeding trio of bald eagles that live along the Mississippi River in Illinois. For several years, fans from all over the world have been watching this nontraditional family through a webcam as the eagles deal with the trials and tribulations of parenting."

The thruple came to be in unique way. "The nest was originally inhabited by Valor I and another female eagle named Hope," wrote the Advocate. "Initially, Valor I had poor parenting skills — he didn't hunt or guard the nest while Hope was away. Valor II entered the nest in 2013 to pick up the slack — and taught Valor I some parenting skills in the process. Hope left the nest in March 2017 after she was injured by other birds. But instead of going off to find new mates, the male eagles decided to stick together until Starr joined their nest in September 2017."

Though rare, this isn't the first time that a trio of eagles have come to share nests in this way. According to USA Today, other trruples were have been spotted in Alaska in 1977, in Minnesota in 1983 and in California in 1992.

Check out this family below!


Trio Eagle Cam Stewards of the Upper Mississippi River Refuge Live Stream www.youtube.com

Gay Dad Life

In the U.K.? Join These Dads at Events Supporting LGBTQ Parents!

The dads behind the blog TwoDads.U.K are ramping up their support of other LGBTQ parents. Check out these events they're a part of!

What a couple of years it's been for us! When our daughter Talulah was born via UK surrogacy back in October 2016, we decided to take to Instagram and Facebook to document the parental highs and lows. Little did we expect for it to be where it is now. We always had the ambition to help other intended fathers understand more about surrogacy, and we also had the added driver to do our best to influence others – help open some of the closed minds with regards to same-sex parenting.

Here we are now, pregnant again with our son which we revealed Live on Facebook! We're due in August, we're now writing several blogs, social media influencers and launching a new business focusing on our main mission to support others and being advocates for UK surrogacy. It's no wonder we're shattered!

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Change the World

These Guys Are Proof: Bisexual Dads Exist!

Far more LGBTQ parents fall into the "B" category than any other. Here are three of their inspiring stories.

A couple months ago, Gays With Kids received the following message via one of our social media channels:

"Hey guys, love what you do. But where are your stories about bi men who are dads? Do they not exist? I get the sense from your page that most queer dads identify as gay. I identify as bi (or pansexual) and want to become a dad one day, but just never see my story represented. Are they just not out there?"We can say with resounding certainly that YES bisexual dads absolutely exist. In fact, of all the letters in our acronym, far more LGBTQ parents fall into the "b" category than any other.

But our reader is certainly right in one respect--we don't hear the stories of bisexual/pansexual dads told nearly often enough. While we occasionally find stories to tell about bi dads, like this great one from earlier this year from a dad who just came out, we otherwise aren't often finding stories of bi dads nearly as easy as we do gay dads. We're sure this is due to any number of reasons--societal pressure to stay closeted from both the straight and LGBTQ communities along with erasure of bisexuality both come to mind.

But it's also because we haven't done the best job reaching out specifically to the bi dad community! We hope to start changing that, starting by bringing you the stories of three bid dads in our community.

(Are you a bi dad? Click here so we can help tell your story and increase exposure for the bi dad community, or drop us a line at dads@gayswithkids.com!)

James Shoemaker, bisexual dad of three, in Alton Illinois

James Shoemaker, who is 65-years-old and lives in Alton, Illinois, says he's known he was bisexual since the age of five. Still he lived what he called a "happily socially heterosexual" life throughout his adolescence, until he had his first same-sex experience in college at the age of 18-years-old.

In his 20s, he began his first same-sex relationship with a man, which lasted about five years. But soon the conversation turned towards children. James wanted his own biological children, something that would have been difficult, particularly at the time, to achieve. He and his boyfriends split, and soon after James met the woman who would become his wife. Since he had previously been in a relationship with a man, and his friends and family were aware of his sexuality, there was no hiding his bisexuality from his wife. There was no hiding my bisexuality from her

"We were both in our 30's, and both wanted kids," James said. "Wo were both kind of desperate to find a partner and she expressed that."

He and his wife proceeded to have three daughters together and lived what he called a fairly "conventional" life. "There was so much societal support [for raising a family] within conventional marriage," he said. "This was new to me, since I came out at age 17, and was used to being "different".

Being in a relationship with a woman, James said, alienated him from much of the LGBTQ activism that began to take hold in the 1980s and 1990s. "I felt I could not act as a representative for gay rights while married to a woman and raising kids with her," he said.

When his youngest daughter turned 18, he and his wife split and, and James began, once again, to date other men. Eventually, he met Paul Mutphy, who he has been dating for four years. Since reentering the world dating another man, he's had to confront, at times, people's misconceptions about his bisexuality. "It's not just gay guys looking for more social acceptance," James said, noting that "Bi rights" has not really caught the public's attention in the same way as "gay rights".

Maxwell Hosford, bi trans dad of one, in Yakima Washington


Maxwell Hosford, who lives in Yakima, Washington, came out as bisexual when he was 13-years-old. "I was still questioning myself," he said "and the term bisexual seemed to fit me."

A year later, when he was 14, Maxwell also came out as trans. "I had heard about Chaz Bono on the radio one morning before school and it got me thinking," he said. "I realized that I wasn't the only one who felt that way and that there was a term for how I've felt."

Though people often conflate sexual orientation and gender identity, Maxwell stressed that he sees his identity as trans and bisexual as perfectly natural. "I see them interacting in a way of fluidity," he said. "Not straight but not gay. Just a feeling of love."

Maxwell described his path to parenthood as a bit of an accident. "I was on testosterone for two years but had a four-week break because i was switching doctors," he said. During that break, Maxwell ended up getting pregnant, and wasn't aware of the pregnancy for several months after. "I just thought my body was just being weird from starting T again," he said. Once he took the test and saw the two pink lines, though he knew his life was about to change forever. He went to Planned Parenthood the very next day.

Being pregnant while trans, Maxwell said, was an incredible experience. "I was comfortable enough with my gender identity that I didn't have very much dysphoria," he said, though he noted he did face a lot of misgendering from strangers. "But I understood that because I did have a big ole pregnant belly," he said. He was grateful for his medical team who all referred to him according to the correct pronouns.

Soon after, his son Harrison was born. As soon as he held him in his arms, Maxwell said the entire process was worth it. "All the misgendering, all the questions and people misunderstanding doesn't matter once you have that baby in your arms nothing matters but that little bundle of joy."

Three years ago, Maxwell met his current fiancé, Chase Heiserman, via a gay dating app, and the three now live together as a family. He says he couldn't be happier, but he does face some difficulty as a bi trans man within his broader community. "In some peoples eyes my fiancé and I are a straight couple because I'm trans and he's cisgender," he said. Some of the difficulty has even stemmed from other trans men. "I've had some bad comments from other transmen regarding my pregnancy and how it doesn't make me trans," he said, noting he continues to fight the perception that he is not "trans enough" because he chose to carry his own baby.

Through it all, though, Maxwell says becoming a father has been the biggest blessing in his life. "Being able to carry my baby and bond through those nine months was amazing," he said. "I'm breastfeeding, which is hard as I'm trans, and so I'm self conscious of my large breasts now but it's such a bonding experience that it doesn't matter when I see the look of love and the comfort he gets from it."

For other gay, bi and trans men considering fatherhood, Maxwell has this simple piece of advice: "Go for it."

Michael MacDonald, bi dad of two, in Monterery California 

Michael MacDonald, who is 28-years-old and living in Monterey California, says he came out as bisexual over two years ago. He has two daughters, who are four and two-and-a-half years old, that were born while he was married to his ex-wife. "My children are amazing," he said. "They have been so incredibly strong and brave having mom in one house and dad in another."

Both children were fairly young when Michael and his ex separated, so "they didn't really break a deeply ingrained idea of what a family unit is like. They have always just sort of known that mom and dad don't live together."

Co-parenting isn't always easy, Michael said, noting it's "one of the hardest things in the world." He and his ex overcome any potential difficulty, though, by always putting the children first. "As long as they are happy, healthy and loved, that is all that matters," he said. "I'm so fortunate to have such an incredible/pain in the butt partner to help me raise these amazing little girls."

Though the separation was hard on all of them, Michael said it's also been an amazing experience watching his children's resiliency. "I am so proud of the beautiful little people they are," he said. "Their adaptability, courage and love is something really spectacular."

Since the separation, Michael hasn't been in a serious relationship, but he has dated both men and women, something he says has been "absolutely challenging. Not only does he need to overcome all the typical challenges of a newly divorced parent ("Do they like kids? Would they be a good stepparent?") but also the added stresses of being bisexual. "It can sometimes just be a bit too much for some women to handle," he said.

He has been intentional about making sure his children have known, from a young age, that "daddy likes girls and boys," he said. "They have grown up seeing me interact with people I've dated in a romantic way, like hand holding, abd expressing affection, so I think as they get older it's not something that will ever really seem foreign or different to them to see me with a man or woman," he said.

In his dates with other men, Michael says most guys tend to be surprised to learn that he has biological children. "But once I explain that I am bisexual, it's usually much more easily understood," he said. He is more irritated, though, when people question or outright refuse to recognize his bisexuality. "While I understand and have witnessed many guys who use bisexuality as a "stepping stone" of sorts when coming out," he said, it does not mean that "bisexuality is not real or valid."

As a bisexual dad, he also says he can feel isolated at times within the broader parenting community. "It can be a little intimidating feeling like you don't really belong to one side or another," he said. "There's this huge network of gay parents, and, of course straight parents. Being sort of in the middle can sometimes create a feeling of isolation"

The biggest misconception about bisexual dads who have split with their wives, he said, is that sexual orientation isn't always the reason for the separation. "When my ex wife and I separated, while my bisexuality did play a small part in it, it was not the reason we separated," he said. He added that while life might not be perfect, it's good. "My children are happy, healthy, and loved," he said. "That's really what matters the most."

Fatherhood, the gay way

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