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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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.

"For some that may be a sustainable life, but denying a core value of myself began to take its toll on me, and I had to own up to my own truth to salvage my life and my relationships with the people I love." Despite the difficulties in doing so, he eventually, he came out. Today, he's co-parenting with his ex-wife and they're still best friends. This November, he's getting married to the man of his dreams. But most importantly, he's proud to be a positive example to his 7-year-old daughter.

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I often joke that the best thing about co-parenting is that we can have both kids and a life. It's certainly easier to maintain a non-child-centric social life with scheduled child-free days, but that is the least of the benefits of sharing parenting responsibilities.

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This Gay Couple Was Inspired to Become Foster Dads Thanks to the Show "The Fosters"

Matthew and Brian say they used to feel like "unicorns" as gay foster dads. They're happy to see more LGBTQ couples take the plunge into the foster system.

Matthew Hamparian and his husband Brian Lawrence have been together for over 18 years and live in Columbus, Ohio. "We had talked about children for a long time," shared Matthew. They were inspired by the show "The Fosters," and watched it regularly as one of the staffers of the show was a friend of Brian's. In one of the episodes, Matthew remembers a conversation between a foster child and the biological child of his foster parents. The foster child asks if he was okay with the fact that he had to share his home with foster siblings. He responds that he is okay with it, because he and his family have enough of everything.

"It was very meaningful to us as we were both raised that when you got up the ladder, you threw the ladder back," explained Matthew.

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Terrell and Jarius need your help. Earlier this week they were made aware of an act of discrimination against a male transgender student at Johnson High School in Gainesville, Georgia

"Dex Frier was elected by the student body to run for prom king but is now facing backlash from the school's administration," shared the dads via their Instagram. "The school's Superintendent is forcing Dex to either run as prom queen or not run at all. This is very unjust and does NOT reflect the opinion of the parents nor the students."

Watch their video below:

Dex, 17, who came out identifying as male in his sophomore year, spoke with Gainsville Times about being nominated by the student body. "Frier said he kept his emotions in check while at school, but 'the moment I got home, I immediately started crying. I've never been shown so much support before,' Frier added."

He was later informed by school officials that his name had been withdrawn and he could only run in the prom queen ballot.

Sadly, there have been rival petitions started in support of Dex's nomination being withdrawn, and he's received backlash from those who believe he shouldn't be able to run.

Although Terrell and Jarius do not know Dex personally, they were made aware of what was happening through Jarius co-worker who is a parent at the school. "He's such a brave kid and is standing firm in his beliefs, and we should support him," said Jarius.

These dads are asking all of us to take a minute and sign this petition and share with friends and family, or anyone you think could help.

Surrogacy for Gay Men

Learn How These Dads Used Social Media to Find Their Surrogate

In the latest "Broadway Husbands" vlog, Bret and Stephen discuss the rather unconventional way in which they found their surrogate: through a Facebook group.

In this, the Broadway Husbands' sixth video, Bret Shuford and Stephen Hanna discuss the rather unprecedented process they went through to find their surrogate. The lucky couple also chat about winning an "Intended Parents" competition, which granted them the free services of a surrogacy agency who is now helping guide them (and their new surrogate!) on their journey.

In the first video below, get caught up to speed with the dads-to-be. Plus: there's bonus footage! Ever wondered about the financial side of their journey? In the second video, Bret and Stephen talk candidly about how they're managing to afford their dream of fatherhood.

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Gay Single Dads Defend Andy Cohen's Right to Be on Grindr

After the Internet rushed to judge Andy Cohen for signing onto Grindr a couple of weeks after welcoming his newborn son home, fellow single gay dads rushed to his defense.

Last week, we wrote a post about reports that "What What Happens Live" host Andy Cohen had been "spotted" on gay dating app Grindr several weeks after welcoming a newborn into his home. This has some of his followers on social media all worked up"

"Get off Grindr and start being a dad," said one follower who appeared to think single parents must take a vow of celibacy the minute they start changing diapers. "You're sad, that kid has no chance," said another.

Well, suffice it to say that this judgment from people who are presumably not single gay dads of Andy Cohen certainly struck a nerve with our gay dad audience! We received well over 100 comments on this post on Facebook, the vast majority of them coming to Cohen's defense. We caught up with two fellow single gay dads to find out why the story struck a nerve.

"We don't have to live like monks!"

One of the most liked comments on our piece came from Owen Lonzar, who wrote the following:

"I have always been a good single father to my biological son who came to live with me when he was 7 years old. He is now 25 years old and we are very close. I used Grindr and dated while he lived with me. I never had anyone sleep over and he certainly never saw some man he didn't know hanging around my home. Single parents have to date responsibly and with sensitivity to their child but that doesn't mean they have to live like monks!"

We asked Cohen to elaborate a bit more on why the backlash against Cohen bothered him. He had the sense, he said, that much of the criticism against LGBTQ parents comes from gay men without children. "Gay men without kids have a lot to say," he said. "And all of it is ignorant, because they have no idea what it means to actually be a father." He said he was particularly disappointed in gay critics, given our shared history of discrimination. "You would think with all the prejudice we have faced that gay men would be less judgmental themselves," he said.

"Are we supposed to be celibate?"

Another commenter, Josue Sebastian Dones-Figueroa, who is a divorced father of five, questioned what Cohen's critics would prefer him do. "So what, parents are supposed to become celibate because they have kids?" he asked.

We followed up with Josue to ask him to elaborate a bit more: "The idea that just because he is a dad that he would need to stop being a man," he said, questioning why Cohen should have to put his life hold and stop dating, or having sex, just because he's now a father. "If the child is cared for loved and not neglected what is the problem? Life goes on right?"


Fatherhood, the gay way

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