Gay Dad Life

"Don't Try to Be Perfect," Say These Adoptive Gay Dads

These adoptive gay dads were originally afraid they weren't "parenting material."

Tremaine Maebry and Roland Locher met several years before they began their relationship. Their paths crossed initially while Tremaine was in a relationship, and they didn't meet again till Tremaine moved to the north side of Chicago and discovered Roland was his neighbor. They've been together 9 years and were married in 2015.

It took awhile for Roland and Tremaine to go through the adoption process for both personal reasons and those out of their control. And even when their home study was approved in 2015, they waited a further 14 months before they were matched with their sons. In 2016, they adopted two biological brothers, Jaelon and Jason, who were, at the time, 7 and 9 years of age.

In Tremaine's own words, here's his family's story.


Tell us about your path to fatherhood. We created our family through adoption. We both came from big families. Initially Roland was skeptical about starting a family; even dating. As our relationship grew so did our desire to be parents.

Tell us about any obstacles you faced on your path to fatherhood. The biggest obstacle was each other. We didn't know if we were "parent material." Roland is 14 years older than me and I went where the job took me. So we had to make some life changes in order to mentally and physically prepare ourselves. For example, Roland works from home and manages his real estate holdings himself. I was laid off for about a year and didn't know if my next job would require extensive travel or long hours but we managed to get through that (with the help of some therapy and a real look at our relationship).

How has your life changed since you became a father? We were care-free; traveled when we wanted. Went out to bars and late-night dinners; slept late on the weekends, stayed in bed, etc. After the boys arrived, it was so different. Homework, sibling bickering, bed-time stories, school shopping, clothes shopping, school visits, etc. It took us by storm. Overnight it changed and it took a tremendous amount of adjusting. The hardest part was the emotional component. I was now emotionally tied to their well-being and overly cautious. What if someone tried to harm my kids, or they talked to strangers and something happened. I was scared. Still am...but I am a bit more relaxed but amazed how much these boys have changed me/us for the better.

What have you learned from your child since you became a dad? Patience and communication. When the boys arrived I spoke to them as adults - not on their level. It took some time for me to realize that I needed to develop a different style of communication and be patient with them when things go wrong (as they always do).

Was there ever a moment that you or Roland experienced any serious doubts about your path to fatherhood or fatherhood itself. Never - I can honestly say that once we set on that path we remain focused to making that happen.

Is your family treated differently than others on account of your sexual orientation? I haven't seen that actually. At one time boarding a flight my partner was stopped as he tried to enter family boarding. We had to tell the airline representative that we were together (the boys parents). My partner is white, I am black and my kids are bi-racial (Black/Mexican).

What words of advice do you have for other gay men considering the same path to parenthood? Don't short change yourself...Don't be perfect (or try to be). Follow your instincts...and once you have kids (especially with children who are are adopted) don't try to be their friend. First, be a parent. Set the expectations, ensure they can meet them (the expectations), let them know the consequences and reinforce them when they are broken. It's difficult and it's agonizing at times but in order to gain their trust and respect, you have to be a parent first (rather than just a caretaker).

Where do you see your family 5-10 years in the future? We are moving to Costa Rica in two years (summer of 2019). We want to show the boys a different lifestyle- not one inundated with video games, tv and other distractions. So we decided to make the move and start over together as a family.


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Gay Dad Family Stories

The Inuit Custom Adoption Program Helped These Dads Form Their Family

After learning about the Inuit Custom Adoption Program from family, Keith and Kevin knew it was the way they wanted to become dads.

Keith Willey, 49, and his husband Kevin Kablutsiak, 42, who live in Ottawa, Canada, first met online in 2010. The couple had their first date soon afterwards in a coffee house and, "haven't looked back since," said Keith. They married on May 22nd, 2016.

Keith, who works as a Policy Advisor with the Canadian Federal Government, and Kevin, who works as the Director of Communications with the Canadian National Inuit Organization (ITK), always knew they wanted kids together, and talked about it early on in their relationship. Still, as gay men, they weren't sure that option would ever be available to them.

"I grew up in the UK in the 1970s so I assumed it would be impossible to have children," said Keith. "I always assumed that I would have to lead a life sort of in the shadows and in secret. Attitudes were so different in the 70s to how they are now that I simply believe that we thought it would be impossible to have a child."

The option materialized for the couple, however, when Kevin's sister, pregnant at the time, approached the two men about adopting her baby through the Inuit adoption process. They knew they couldn't pass up the opportunity.

"Kevin is Inuk and adoption, particularly inter-family adoption, is common in Inuit culture," said Keith.

The Inuit Custom Adoption Process was originally used in the small Inuit societies in the arctic, Kevin explained. It's primarily (though not exclusively) intended as a path for adoption within families. The process is legally recognized by the Canadian legal system.

As Kevin went on to explain, Inuit custom adoption was traditional used to support survival within, what were until quite recently, people living a nomadic lifestyle. It is, in essence, a deeply loving and selfless tradition of giving the gift of life to a carefully selected couple, most often with the guidance of elders (usually the matriarch within a family). If a couple couldn't conceive, for instance, others would sometimes offer their help. Similarly, if a couple lost a child, the grieving parents might be given a baby to help ease the ache of their loss. While most Inuit parents have zero intention of custom adopting their children to other families, adoption continues to be an established method in Inuit regions.

Through this process, and with everyone's agreement, the two men legally adopted Kevin's sister and her husband's child from birth. They named her Abbie. "Kevin's sister and her husband came to stay with us in Ottawa prior to the birth so Abbie was in our care from the moment she was born," said Keith. "She got to come home with us the day after the birth with the legal process taking around 11 months to complete from start to finish."


As far as their parenting styles, the couple say they've drawn on each of their pasts. "Both Kevin and I had somewhat difficult childhoods and have spent a lot of time working through and dealing with childhood trauma," Keith said. "As a result, we are better parents and we continue to look after ourselves and each other as we continue to grow in parenthood."

Though the couple come from different cultures, they said they've had no difficulty developing a parenting approach that works for them both. "I don't think either of us raise Abbie in the same parenting style that we experienced," Keith said, "We both talked and agreed on our approach before Abbie was born and we work well together as a parenting couple."

The result is a parenting style that incorporates some elements of both of their backgrounds, Keith said. "Inuit culture tends to shower children in love and we certainly do that," said Kevin. From English-style parenting, the couple have also borrowed the tendency of English parents to be "pretty obsessive," Keith said, about routines, such as scheduling meals, naps and bedtimes.

Though life was good before Abbie joined the family, "now it's fantastic!" Keith said. "I feel like being a parent was what I was put on this earth to be." Because neither man ever expected to become fathers, moreover, both say they look at parenthood as a privilege rather than a right — a helpful perspective they suggest to other gay men considering fatherhood. "Parenthood is an amazing gift," Keith said, "But remember it's about them, not you — and they deserve the best start in life we can give them."

Though fatherhood came to them somewhat unexpectedly, Keith and Kevin say they couldn't be happier with the way things turned out. "When I reflect on our life together, and where we both came from, it is incredible to me that we are now married, content, and parents to our wonderful panik," Keith said, using the Inuktitut word for daughter. "We are totally blessed."


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How One Failed Adoption Turned Into Two Successes for These Dads

Joe and Roberto were heartbroken after a birth mother decided against working with them. But fate (and perseverance!) would soon change their luck — twice over!

Adoption was always the first choice for Joe Motowidlak and husband Roberto Martinez when it came to starting a family. They went the private adoption route, ended up with two different attorneys and had two very different adoption journeys, that lead to two daughters born within a couple of months to one another. Although Joe and Roberto wouldn't change a thing, they consider themselves incredibly fortunate to have the family that they have and are the proud dads with full hearts to their two infant daughters.

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Adopting Dogs Improves Gay Couples' Relationships, Says Adorable Study

In what may be a "pre-curser to parenthood," 56% of gay and bi couples reported spending more time with their partners after adopting a dog.

As part of what may be the most adorable study you never knew you needed, pet-sitting website Rover.com found that gay and bi couples who adopt dogs reportedly boast stronger relationships as a result — 56% of gay and bi couples said they spent more time with their partners after adopting a dog. More than half of participants also said that owning a dog can help prepare couples for children.

Interestingly, gay and bi couples were also more likely to prepare for potential difficulties in their arrangements — 21% of gay and bi couples reported setting up a "pet-nup" agreement to determine custody of their new pup in case their relationship didn't last. Only 12% of straight couples, in contrast, did the same.

"You can outline the practicalities of what would happen in the event you split from your partner whether you have joint or sole custody," Rover.com dog behaviorist Louise Glazebrook told Australia's QN News. "It's a real tragedy to see breakups results in dogs needing to be re-homed.

There was, however, one clear downside to pet ownership mentioned in the study — 17% of respondents said they have less sex now that they're sharing a bed with their pup.

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There's nothing quite like father-daughter relationships, and when it comes to single dads, your little girl likely holds a very special place in your heart. From the moment she's born, it's as if you can see every moment of her life in front of you, from her first steps to walking her down the aisle at her wedding. You'll be the first man she'll know and talk to, and you'll be her biggest example of what a loving man looks like. She'll come to you for advice on how to navigate challenges, be independent, treat others and grow into herself.

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