Co-parenting

A Known Sperm Donor Deals with the D-Word

A known sperm donor wrestles with his name. What should he call himself? Who would be be to this child?

For us Known Donors, Father's Day can be a little complicated — less a celebration and more of a soul searching, where we think once again about who we really are to the child we helped create.

I donated sperm to my friends, a lesbian couple. After a challenging few months trying to make it work, one of them was finally pregnant. Then came the next challenge. What would I call myself? Who would I be to this child?


Nearing the due date, I went to meet up with a lawyer to sign away my rights so that both my friends could claim full parenthood and the non-bio mom could adopt without complications.

“You guys need to have a discussion about what you will be called," said the lawyer. “But I have to say the word 'dad' is a little loaded in this situation. It's legally binding, And if you call yourself dad and you aren't a constant presence, the child may feel abandoned." The last thing I want to do is have this future child feel abandoned just because of one word.

That stuck with me. And since our child was born, I have been very careful to not call myself a “dad," even casually, to my friends and family.

The problem is — there doesn't seem to be a good replacement word. If "dad" is inappropriate, then "donor" sounds clinical. "Uncle Mike" just makes me sound like the host of a children's show. This person I have become isn't just an uncle, but I am also not really a dad with a capital D.

For us Known Donors (if we are not co-parenting) the D-word — or even the word “father" — is hard for us to own.

In my case, the momz (that's what I call them) live a couple hours away, upstate with our Little Being (LB for short).

Here's my issue: I am a freelance writer and performer (I know: what lucrative career choices!) I am not swimming in money, and I seem to be constantly working to afford my scruffy artistic life. I knew from the beginning I wouldn't be that constant presence this child needs.

“I guess I have an um, sperm daughter?" I said to people at first, awkwardly.

“Mike," said David, one of my closest friends. “Please stop using that expression? Sperm daughter just sounds gross."

I have spent the last year performing a solo show called Spermhood: Diary of a Donor, which is about my crazy adventures as a gay man donating sperm for my friends (the tests! The clinics! The 25 year old twinks you meet on Grindr who call you “Daddy!"). After performances I have met a number of people who represent a spectrum of donation: from straight men who are married and have their own families and expect no relationship, to gay men who are single and don't know what they want to call themselves because they never thought they would have to define this kind of relationship (that's me, obvi). And all of us, I have noticed, have had to contend with the D-word.

One thing I have learned— there are no rules. Sometimes “Dad" fits comfortably into the situation, even if the donor isn't a clear co-parent. One lesbian couple give over their children to the donor every Saturday. They call it “Dadurdays." And one friend of mine, a gay man who lives in New York City, was a donor for a lesbian couple who live in Chicago. They had two daughters, and he tries to see them when he can. One summer, he afforded a trip out to see them when the daughters were around 5 and 7. The older one came up to him. “Are you my dad?" she asked.

My friend was nervous but told the truth, “Um. Yea?"

“OK!" she said, and went off to play.

But then there is the other side. Recently I was at a bar sitting next to three women. They were talking about their nostalgia for the early days of the internet. “Oh man I miss that crunchy uploading sound!" one woman said. She went on to talk about how much she misses AOL chat rooms and the ad hoc community it provided. She described a friend who grew up with an alcoholic father that abandoned her family. The mom, she said, was checked-out. The friend had no where to turn, and went on AOL to ask if she should contact her dad. “Five moms created a private chat room," said the woman sitting next to me, “and gave my friend a ton of advice. One of the moms said 'Okay, first of all, he is not your dad, he is your father. Don't give him the power of that word.'"

Dad. That day, looking down at the contract, I realized the power of that word. But it still felt weird to forsake it. A 25 year old twink can call me “daddy" but my own child can't? The irony.

After signing the contract, I walked back home from the lawyers office. I remember passing by a dad who was carefully walking behind his young son learning how to ride a bike. The dad gave him space but remained a few feet behind, protectively. “Turn right, Caleb. Turn right, turn right. That's it!"

I thought of my dad, and how much I took for granted his constant presence in my life. My dad came home from work every night, dumped his change and Chapstick on the counter and, no matter how exhausting his work day may have been, always found the energy to talk to me. I always knew he would come home, and not for a second did I doubt that. He was always there for me. He was, and still is, definitely my Dad with a capital D.

So what am I to this child. The question plagued me, until one day I spoke with Peter, a friend of mine who donated to two women. They now have a beautiful, sweet kid named Winter. Peter is also not a primary parent, but he found a way to relax himself from the pressure of definition. “Winter doesn't belong to me," he said. “I belong to Winter."
Illustration by Ben Tousley

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Gay Dad Family Stories

Ever Consider Having Kids With a Female Friend? This Single Gay Dad Says It Was His "Greatest Decision"

Jeffrey Walker had two children with a female friend in what he calls a "leap of faith." He doesn't regret a thing.

Meet Jeffrey Walker, a 56-year-old Communications Director for a large nonprofit based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Over a decade ago, he made the "greatest decision ever" and became a proud single dad to two incredible daughters through an intentional co-parenting arrangement. Here's his story.

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So far in our podcast, we mostly interviewed dads who had their kids either through surrogacy or adoption. But there are other ways in which you can become dads. In this week's episode we look at two ways that are often overlooked: Known Sperm Donor, and Co-Parenting.

David Dodge, managing editor at GaysWithKids.com is a father of two children, who he had together with a lesbian couple. Though he has no legal rights with his daughter and son, they still call him 'papa,' and his parents go to visit their grand children even when he's not around. In our interview, David sheds light on being a Known Sperm Donor.

In our second interview we had Bill Delaney and husband J.R. Parish on a Skype call from San Francisco. They are co-parents of two girls together with a lesbian couple. In the call they discuss this carefully planned (and amazing!) arrangement.



During the episode, we count the ways* in which gay men can currently become dads:
1. Adoption
2. Surrogacy
3. Men who come out of straight partnerships and marriages
4. Sperm Donation (known or unknown donor)
5. Co-parenting




*If you would like to add to or comment on this list please write to us at hello@daddysqr.com

Our Family Coalition

Our Family Coalition (OFC) is based in the Bay Area but is the largest state-wide advocacy organization for LGBT families. They've contributed to varying degrees to everything from marriage equality court cases, to getting LGBT inclusive curriculum added to CA's public school system, to achieving the multi-parent legal recognition that was mentioned on our interview with Bill and J.R.

Episode Credits:

Co-Hosts: Yan Dekel, Alex Maghen

Guests: David Dodge GaysWithKids.com, Bill Delaney & J.R. Parish
Music: Hercules & Love Affair, "Leonora" buy here
Articles referred to in this episode:
Putting the 'Known' in Known Sperm Donor (David Dodge, The New York Times)
The Known Sperm Donor (GaysWithKids.com)
Top Three Benefits of 'Intentional Co-Parenting' for Gay Men & Couples (Bill Delaney, GaysWithKids.com)
11 Steps Gay Men Should Take Before Co-Parenting With a Female Friend (Bill Delaney, GaysWithKids.com)





For any questions, comments or advise, please do not hesitate to contact us at hello@daddysqr.com or on Twitter @yanirdekel

J.R. and Bill with their daughters

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The Best Part of Coming Out, Says This Gay Dad, Is Being an Out and Proud Role Model for His Daughter

"I couldn't face myself in the mirror and think that I could be a good dad and role model for my child when I was lying to myself every moment of every day," said Nate Wormington of his decision to come out.

Photo credit: https://eliseabigail.com/

Nate Wormington had lived much of his life not being true to himself. He had a beautiful baby girl, was married to his best friend and soul mate, but there was still no doubt in his mind that he was gay. Still, he chose to stay in a heterosexual relationship lifestyle, and it was making him incredibly depressed.

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The Appellate court's decision, written by Justice Alan D. Scheinkmanm called Hunt's decision "clearly erroneous," and held that a new Family Court judge should re-hear the case.

Judge Hunt's decision is all the more confusing since Joseph had actually already become a father via surrogacy in New York—three times over. In each instance, he used donor eggs and a friend serving, voluntarily, as the gestational surrogate. He had his first child in 2012, and then twins the following year. In all three instances, a Family Court judge granted Joseph's adoption petition, given that each child was conceived via "compassionate surrogacy," meaning no money changes hands in the course of a surrogacy journey between carrier an intended parent. This type of surrogacy arrangement is not illegal under to New York law. The social worker in Joseph's latest attempt to adopt, Gay City News noted, also gave him a favorable review, calling him "a mature, stable, and caring person who intentionally created a family of himself, the twins, and John."

Gay City News notes: "Justice Scheinkman provided a careful description of the laws governing surrogacy in New York. The Legislature provided that surrogacy contracts are unenforceable and treated as void. However, the only surrogacy contracts actually outlawed are those where the surrogate is compensated. It was clear to the Appellate Division that the Legislature did not mean to outlaw voluntary surrogacy arrangements, merely to make them unenforceable in the courts. Those who enter into a compensated surrogacy agreement face a small monetary fine and people who act as brokers to arrange such agreements are liable for a larger penalty. There is no penalty for voluntary, uncompensated surrogacy arrangements."

Read the full article here.

Entertainment

How Fatherhood Has Impacted Tom Daley's Diving Career for the Better

British diver Tom Daley, and new-ish gay dad, is looking to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in South Korea.

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But he also has another concern that most young gay men his age couldn't fathom—fatherhood. He and his husband, filmmaker Dustin Lance Black, recently welcomed Robbie Ray via surrogacy in June 2018.

In an interview with the Independent, Daley explained how fatherhood has changed his routine and training, which he says is often for the better.

"It has changed my life completely in all of the best ways possible," Daley said. "It has changed my perspective, the way I think about things. [My son] is the most important thing in my life, everything I do is for him, everything I think about he is at the forefront of everything."

With respect to his diving career, Daley continued, "if you have a bad day at training, or a good day, you are grounded immediately when you get home through the door because you are having cuddles or you are having to change a dirty nappy. It is the first time that I have been able to leave diving at the diving board and not think about what I need to the next day in the pool."

Whatever the challenges he faces while training, he said, "I can leave it there because you don't have time to think about diving when you are looking after a kid under one."

The strategy seems to be working in Daley's favor. He recently enjoyed his most successful FINA Diving World Series ever this past Spring in Canada, winning 12 medals across five events. And barring any major catastrophe, he is overwhelmingly expected to qualify for South Korea 2020.

And we can't wait to cheer the young dad on!

Change the World

One Gay Dad's Fight Against Hate in Superior, Nebraska

Brian Splater is refusing to let homophobic and transphobic elected officials in his town go unchecked

Millie B. Photography

Guest post written by Brian Splater

No one ever should feel they will have a very lonely and secluded life as a child. But that is something me and many other gay kids believe as they are growing up.

The truth of the matter is there are people who will try everything in their power to have our rights go back in time instead of forward. It is very disheartening when these people are elected officials, or they are people who use their place of employment to spread their disgust and hate.

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Last Friday, American's first gay dad Governor, Jared Polis, became the first elected Democrat to speak at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver, where he urged the Republican crowd to help him build a "Colorado for all."

"While we should never gloss over the things that divide us, there is a lot more that unites us," Polis said. "When we close ourselves off from discussion or debate, and we reject the possibility of hearing and understanding other perspectives, it threatens the fabric of our democracy."

If he was hoping for a Kumbaya moment, he didn't exactly get it. As he was called to the stage, he was greeted with a smattering of applause—while others booed and shouted for a "recall" of the Governor.

"It was almost unbearable for me to sit there to listen to his talk," Abby Johnson, one of the event's attendees, told the Denver Post. "And I'm going to tell you why. He kept talking about equality for all persons, yet we live in a society where 60 million innocent human beings have been slaughtered in the name of choice. Where is their justice? Where is their equal rights?"

Polis was also criticized from his left flank for attending the same event that refuses to let the Log Cabin Republicans, a group of gay GOP members, participate—and that featured Donald Trump Jr. as a speaker the same day. "To me it feels like vanity," Katie Farnan, a staffer with progressive group Indivisible, told the Denver Post. "He can go and be a hip Democratic governor who isn't afraid to go into GOP sanctuary. Or maybe it's recall insurance. But unless he was there to hold them accountable for their support for fascist and racist policies, what's the point?"

In response to the criticism from both sides of the political aisle, Polis told the Colorado Sun: "I think it's very important that Coloradans of different ideologies, different races, different geographies, different orientations and gender identities all really celebrate that we're all part of what makes Colorado great."

The event is hosted each year by Colorado Christian University to bring together conservatives from around the state, and the larger West.

What do you think, dads? Was Polis's decision to speak at the event a savvy political move or mere pandering?

Fatherhood, the gay way

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