Gay Dad Life

#GWKThenAndNow Adopted At Last: Kendra and her dads Melton and Timmy

They met in 1998 in Miami Beach. In 2005 they started caring for a neglected and very sick baby girl. When they were finally able to adopt her in 2016 after more than 10 years of legal wrangling, it was such big news there was an article in the Miami Herald. Meet Melton and Timmy, this week’s #GWKThenAndNow.


On Labor Day weekend in 1998, Thomas Mamrosh, known to everyone as Timmy, traveled from Jersey City where he was living to Miami to visit friends. In search of a fun night out, he and his friends went to a new and happening gay nightclub called Score. It was at that club where Timmy first saw Melton Goodwin, who was originally from Little Rock, Arkansas.  After a few exchanged glances, Timmy approached Melton and asked him to dance. That was nearly 18 years ago.

Circa 1998: Timmy (left) and Melton

The men felt there was potential in this relationship; they wanted to be together. Timmy, a nurse, arranged a traveling nurse assignment that took him to Miami for 13 weeks during which he lived with Melton. Their trial run was a resounding success and Timmy never left. In November 1998, they moved in together.

2006: Melton with Kendra.

In June 2004, a family relative of Melton’s, who had been battling drug and alcohol addiction, gave birth prematurely to a baby girl in a hospital parking lot. That baby girl, Kendra, would spend the first 18 months of her life in medical foster family care while she required treatment for fetal alcohol syndrome and several other medical problems. When Kendra's biological mother signed her parental rights over to Melton in 2005, he and Timmy became Kendra’s de facto parents.

2006: Timmy with Kendra.

Legally speaking, Melton was a single man, because at the time adoption by gay or lesbian couples was illegal in Florida, a result of Anita Bryant’s crusading in the seventies. Kendra called Melton “Dada” at first, then “Daddy" as she grew older, and Timmy was "Papa."

December, 2011: Family portrait

When same-sex adoption was legalized in Florida in 2010, Melton and Timmy decided to wait to adopt Kendra officially until both their names could be on the adoption papers. And when same-sex marriage finally became legal in Florida on January 6, 2015, Melton and Timmy again chose not to rush to get married in order for them both to be able to adopt Kendra. They wanted the same rights and privileges awarded to their straight counterparts, and they wanted to make a stand. They wanted to adopt her together as parents.

 

Because Melton was the legal guardian of Kendra and there was never any contest from other family members, Melton and Timmy knew they could wait without any challenge or worry of Kendra being taken away from them. Both Melton's and Timmy's families have been very supportive and both dads can attest that, as a family, they have never experienced any form of hatred or homophobia in their daily life in Florida.

Christmas 2013: Customized pink tree

When the final barrier to their forever family came down last year with the Supreme Court ruling, Melton and Timmy began the legal process to adopt Kendra.

Father's Day 2014

Melton and Timmy are forever grateful to their attorney Elizabeth Schwartz. Schwartz is well-known in Florida as a great advocate for the LGBT community. (She successfully co-represented six same-sex couples who successfully sued for the right to marry in Florida in 2015.) During their court hearing, there was a moment of concern when the judge who was unfamiliar with their case couldn’t understand why they weren't married if they both wanted to adopt Kendra. But Melton and Timmy held their ground. Regardless of their family type, they wanted to be able to adopt Kendra as co-parents. And on March 1, 2016, Schwartz helped make that dream a reality: Timmy and Melton officially adopted Kendra.

July 2015

Melton and Timmy are incredibly proud of their beautiful daughter Kendra. She is reading above her age and although she struggles a little with math, Kendra is an impressive 11-year-old. Her traumatic entrance into the world has barely left a mark, and her two dads who have provided a safe, loving and nurturing environment are to thank for her happiness. And, clearly, she is to thank for theirs.

March 1, 2016: Kendra is officially adopted by both Melton (left) and Timmy. Standing between the two dads is attorney Elizabeth Schwartz.

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Gay Dad Life

The Suburban Gay Dad

Are you intimidated by the suburbs? This gay dad was — but then he moved there.

In a recent article for Yahoo! Lifestyle, Steve Jacobs says the thought of living in the suburbs as a gay dad "intimidated" him. But when he started fantasizing about garages, he began to question that notion. Any apprehension he had soon evaporated, he said, one winter morning while trying to navigate the snowy streets of New York City with a stroller.

While "pushing the stroller through snow banks and pools of slush with snowflakes stinging our faces," he wrote, "a vision came to me: I pictured us walking into a garage, hopping into a car, and arriving at a diner with 10 times less drama. This image planted the seed of moving to the 'burbs that I couldn't shake."

Soon, the family of four found a house in a town a half hour outside the city. "It had grass and a beautiful yard for our spirited kiddos. The schools were good. There were even good restaurants. The only red flag: Census data estimated only 0.1 percent of the population was gay male."

There were some "growing pains" while trying to make friends in this environment. "When we attended our first dinner party, within minutes the hostess went to the kitchen and the other wives followed her, while the husbands settled into the living room. Ira and I froze, looking at each other. In the city, our straight friends hadn't separated out like this for the evening. Should we stay with the dudes, exert our masculinity, and blow off the mom we liked? Or does one of us go with the wives and accept the personal branding that comes with that? We did a quick rock paper scissors in the foyer. Ira went with the wives."

But ultimately, "being a parent defined me more than I ever imagined it would," he wrote, and he settled in nicely to his new suburban life.

Have you had a similar adjustment, from city life to the suburbs? Tell us about it at dads@gayswithkids.com for an upcoming piece!

Gay Dad Life

"Fridays with Fitz": A New Kid's Book Based Upon the Son of These Two Dads

Tracey Wimperly, author of the new children's book, said she hopes to give a more honest portrayal of the role grandparents play in the lives of children.

Guest post Tracey Wimperly

I've recently written a children's picture book (aimed at 2-4 year olds) called "Fridays with Fitz: Fitz Goes to the Pool." Every Friday - when his two dads go to work - Fitz and his grandparents (my husband, Steve and I) head off on an adventure. Through the eyes of a curious and energetic 3 year old, even ordinary adventures, like riding the bus or foraging for fungus in the forest can be fun and magical.

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Gay Dad Life

8 Ways for Dads to Find Work/Life Balance

Finding work/life balance is hard enough... but can be even harder for gay dads.

Having kids is an amazing part of life, and it should be fun. Life does tend to get in the way sometimes, and one huge aspect of that is work. Striking that balance between work and home life is tough. If you both work it's even harder.

And if you're a gay couple, it can have it's own set of problems above and beyond the standard work-life issues that people face. Recently, the Harvard Business Review conducted a study that focused specifically on the experiences of same-sex couples who wanted to make moves towards a work/life balance.

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David and Ben Met on the Dance Floor — and Are Now Grooving Their Way Through Fatherhood

David and Ben, who became fathers with the help of Northwest Surrogacy Center, live in Melbourne with their daughter, Maia.

In 2003, while both studying at Reading University in the UK, Ben Suter and David Cocks met after locking eyes on the dance floor and then being introduced by a mutual friend. Ben, a meteorologist and Operations Manager, and David, an Assistant Principal, have been together ever since. They moved to Australia together in 2010, seeking a different life, and an overall better work-life balance. The chose Cairns in Queensland as their new home, between the Great Barrier Reef and the tropical rainforest, "taking life a bit easier," said David. The couple were also married in June 2016, back home in England.

While David always wanted kids, Ben took a little convincing. So they started their parenting journey with a dog, Titan, who quickly became like their first born. From there, Ben came around rather quickly.

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Single Gay Dad and the City

When Kyle decided to take his four kids, ages 6-11, to New York City on vacation, his friends thought he was crazy.

"You're crazy, Kyle."

"You can't be serious? A single dad taking four kids to the Big Apple? Think again."

"That's bold. There's no way I'd do that."

Those were a few of the responses I heard from my friends as I told them I was thinking of booking a trip to New York City with four kids, ages 11-6. My children's fall vacation from school was approaching and I wanted to get out of the house and explore. Was the Big Apple too much of an adventure?

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News

National's Pitcher Cites Wife's Two Moms as Reason for Declining White House Invite

"I think that's an important part of allyship," Doolittle said of his wife's two moms.

Sean Doolittle, pitcher for the Washington Nationals, declined an invitation to the White House after his team won the World Series this year. In an interview with the Washington Post, he listed his numerous reasons for staying home — and a main consideration, he revealed, was his wife's two moms.

"I want to show support for them. I think that's an important part of allyship, and I don't want to turn my back on them," Doolittle said during the interview.

Trump's treatment of a minority groups, generally, factored into his decision as well. "I have a brother-in-law who has autism, and [Trump] is a guy that mocked a disabled reporter. How would I explain that to him that I hung out with somebody who mocked the way that he talked or the way that he moves his hands? I can't get past that stuff."

Doolitttle clarified that his decision had little to do with policy disagreements with the White House. "There's a lot of things, policies that I disagree with, but at the end of the day, it has more to do with the divisive rhetoric and the enabling of conspiracy theories and widening the divide in this country. My wife and I stand for inclusion and acceptance, and we've done work with refugees, people that come from, you know, the 'shithole countries.'"

He concluded by saying he respected his teammates decision to attend the White house ceremony. "I want people to know that I put thought into this, and at the end of the day, I just can't go."

Read more of the Washington Post interview here.

News

New York Will Fight 'Repugnant' Trump Rule on Adoption, Says Cuomo

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York promises legal action of the Trump administration moves ahead with plans to allow discrimination against LGBTQ adoptive and foster parents

Last week, the Trump administration announced plans to allow adoption and foster care agencies to discriminate against prospective LGBTQ parents — but he may face a legal fight from (former) hometown. In a tweet, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York said the proposed move "isn't just discriminatory and repugnant to our values,— it's also heartless and dumb as it would deny countless children a loving family and a safe place to call home." If the proposal moves forward, he continued. "we'll take legal action to stop it.

Governor Cuomo's office followed up the tweet with a lengthier statement posted to their website:

Once again the Trump administration is attacking the hard-earned rights and protections of the LGBTQ community, this time proposing a new measure that would give foster care and adoption agencies license to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Trump's proposal isn't just discriminatory and repugnant to our values — it's also heartless and dumb as it would deny countless children a loving family and a safe place to call home. If he moves forward with this rule, we'll take legal action to stop it.

No matter what happens in Washington, New York State is and will continue to be a beacon of equality in this country. Our Human Rights Law and adoption regulations expressly prohibit discrimination against the LGBTQ community, including when it comes to adoption. I encourage any LGBTQ New Yorker who feels they are a victim of this discrimination to contact the State Division of Human Rights for assistance.

Our message to the Trump administration is simple: there is no place for hate in New York or in our nation, and we will not allow this noxious proposal to stop LGBTQ New Yorkers from becoming parents or providing care to children in need.

Fatherhood, the gay way

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