Coming Out

Advice on Coming Out to Your Kids From Gay Dads Who've Been There

We surveyed gay dads who have come out to their kids later in life to share their top lessons and advice.

“Take it back!"

You'll often hear those three words come from the mouth of a child. Usually they're in response to a playground tease, the common kind of slander — four eyes! metal mouth! — that kids get over fast. But when California dad Steve sat his three sons on the living room couch, the news he had to share was of much greater consequence. So when his 11-year old middle son burst into tears and shrieked those three words, the reaction pierced his dad's already-anxious heart.


Steve had just told them he was gay. And there was no taking this back.

Tales about coming out often focus on the experience of a child telling his or her parent. Those stories are important. But every day, disclosures move in the other direction: dads will have to tell their children that their father is gay. For those men, many of who became parents during marriages or long-term relationships with women, the process is just as difficult. Age doesn't always do much to quell the nerves of coming out, and when parents reveal themselves to their children, they are often fraught with all the fears of a trembling adolescent: of losing love, of being forsaken, of being deemed a disappointment. For at least a fleeting moment, the parent is as scared as a child.

There is no right or wrong way to come out to your kids — and in fact, the approaches are as varied as the men that employ them. To help shed some light on this difficult process, Gays With Kids disseminated a survey to compile information on when, how and why dads came out to their kids. After amassing dozens of diverse responses, it was clear how different every experience is.

Some respondents were as young as 24 when they came out to their children, others as old as 48. (And we all know plenty of dads who came out well after that too.) Some came out to their kids as toddlers, while others broke the news to sons and daughters in their twenties. And there's no doubt that there are a multitude of post-coming out struggles. For some dads, it's figuring out how to date as a single parent. For others, it's learning how to maintain a civil relationship with an ex-wife.

But regardless of the circumstances, the end results wind up pretty consistent. In essentially every case, dads were glad that they made the choice to come out, and the reactions were almost uniformly “positive or mostly positive." Were there hiccups? Sure. Did it take time for some relationship rifts to heal? Occasionally. But dads generally have no regrets about taking that big step — even though it's one you can't take back.

What should you think about as you're planning your own coming-out to the kids? We spoke to a number of survey participants to get more specific details on their stories, and though no two journeys are the same, each revealed a unique lesson to take away.

Lesson #1: If you can't love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?

Steve with his three sons

It's an oft-articulated key to parenting: "Lead by example." That extends to coming out. Kids will follow your cues, and it will be much more difficult for them to accept that their father is gay if he hasn't truly come to terms with it himself.

"You really have to lead by example, and you can't do that until you're fully comfortable with yourself," says Steve from California. His three children were aged 10, 11 and 13 when he came out to them, a full six years after he divorced their mother. She found out first, but it was important to Steve that he be the one to tell the kids; it was important that he showed his trust in them. "It was important for them to hear it from me," says Steve. "They needed to know that I wasn't hiding anything."

His middle son may have initially begged the dad to "take it back," but Steve's comfort with his sexuality helped his kids come to terms. "I don't make it a big deal, but I also don't hide any part of my life from them," says Steve, who was comfortable bringing around gay friends and, eventually, a long-term boyfriend. Today he even runs his own blog, gayfathersblog.com, to share his experiences. "For me to be able to speak about these things showed them that I was comfortable with it."

And now, so are his kids. "When they got to high school and started dating, they had no problems telling their girlfriends that their dad was gay," says Steve. "And that showed me that they were comfortable with it too."

Lesson #2: Test the Waters

Frank with his children

The question "what will they think of me?" is one that is sure to race through the mind of any dad on the verge of coming out to his kids. Here's one way to anticipate the answer (and, thus, prepare a response): Find out what they think of others.

"We were on an overnight trip to San Francisco, and as we drove up I started asking them little questions," says Frank from Pomona, California. The divorced dad of two was ready to come out to his kids, but he wanted to get a sense of how his kids perceive gay people. "First I asked them, 'Do you have any friends who are gay?'" Sure they do, answered his then-10 year-old son and 8 year-old daughter. "I asked them, 'How do you feel about it?' And they'd tell me. Then I asked, 'How would you feel if one of your parents was gay?' They didn't even blink. They thought nothing of it." And then he dropped the non-bomb.

"Because I'm gay." In response, his kids had only one request: That if he met someone special, they could meet him. That's a far cry from the kind of reaction many gay dads anticipate to their coming-out. Feeling out your kids' comfort with gay issues allows you to tailor the way you tell them — and, assuming they're comfortable with gay people in general, a dad can logistically connect those dots to his own disclosure. (It'll also help quell any cold feet syndrome you might be experiencing.)

"Today I've never been happier," says Frank. And in fact, he says, coming out has only brought him closer to his kids: They share a stronger level of trust and knowledge of non-judgment. "More than with their mother, they feel comfortable coming to me and telling me everything that's going on in their lives. They don't hide anything. They know that sometimes they might be lectured or scolded, but they know they'll never be judged."

Lesson #3: Seize an Opportunity

For some gay dads, it never feels like it's the right time to come out. So when the universe opens a door, you have to take note — and walk right through.

Of course, occasionally the openings are very, very obvious. That's how it was for Judd, a gay dad from Las Vegas. Raised in a strict Mormon household, Judd knew he was gay since an early age. When he was around 19, his suspicious mother asked him if he was gay. "I lied," says Judd. "And she said, 'Oh good. Because I'd rather that you killed someone than be gay. At least God could forgive that."

Compare that conversation to the one that Judd had with his own teenage son decades later. Judd's son expressed to his dad that he thought he might be pansexual; in a "show of solidarity," dad then came out to son. "I told him that while I wasn't seeing anyone right now, I've started to date again and when I do meet someone it very well might be a man. And that I hope that would be okay." And, although Judd says his son never wound up further exploring his own sexual fluidity, a mutual understanding was reached: For either of them, any sexual identity would be A-OK.

It's a stark contrast to the kind of conversation that Judd was able to have with his mom — although in her later years of ailing health, during which Judd was her primary caregiver, it seemed that parent-child relationship had reached a new understanding, too.

"My mom told me that if I was to meet somebody that I wanted to have a relationship with, she would support me," says Judd. He was able to hear those words from her before she passed. It seems that she too realized how important it is to seize the moment while you still can.

Lesson #4: Come Out Strong

Don, out and proud

When coming out, some gay dads try to dance around the issue. But Don didn't have a choice.

He was outed by his Netflix account.

Ah, parenting in the 21st century. The divorced California dad recalls the day that eyebrows were raised when, during family movie night, his Netflix viewing history popped up on the TV screen. "Under 'Recently Watched' there were a couple of LGBT-themed romances. The kids were like, 'Um, dad?'" laughs Don now. Well, that was one way to get the conversation going with his four children, then aged 12, 14, 17 and 18.

Don came out swinging.

"I said, 'I like guys too,'" he recalls.

After all, the kids had been asking when he was going to start dating again. "I said, I'm ready to start dating, and it's going to be guys." Their reaction was totally nonplussed. "They were just like, 'okay, that's great.'" The only stipulation: Don's 17-year old son requested that he not be introduced to dates — until, that is, things were getting serious.

It had nothing to do with sexuality. "His mom had already dated several guys, and introduced each of them to the kids," explains Don. "Then they were gone. He just didn't want people in and out of his life."

How did his kids adjust so easily? "I think the reason that I had such a good experience is that when I decided to come out, I was immediately open with everyone in my life," says Don. His kids were the first to know, but within a two-week span he had filled in the rest of the extended family and his coworkers. "It was like ripping the Band-Aid off," chuckles Don.

Maybe more importantly, it sent a healthy message to his kids. While it may sound appealing to come out in stages, requiring your kids to conspire in a secret suddenly shifts the burden to them. And it certainly sends mixed messages if you assure your kids that being gay is okay — even while continuing to hide it from the rest of the world. Storming out of the closet isn't such a bad idea.

In fact, your kids may prefer it that way too.

"So can we just go ahead and tell everybody you're gay now?" asked Don's daughter during his disclosure. Go ahead, honey. Or just show them his Netflix.

Lesson #5: Don't Underestimate Your Kids

"The biggest thing I learned from coming out is that I should never underestimate my kids' compassion."

Iowa dad Dennis was terrified of coming out. "It scared the shit out of me," he admits. And like so many gay fathers faced with the daunting prospect, he hemmed and hawed over how to make it happen — but he knew he had to now that, several years out of the divorce, he was dating again. "I mulled it over for several months, trying to think of how to have this big, important conversation."

Many dads psych themselves out. But then came the moment of truth: "Dad's dating," said Dennis to his 11- and 14-year old daughters. He got no response. Gulp. "There's more. Dad is dating a man."

One daughter looked shocked. The other looked away.

"That's weird," she muttered.

For a moment, Dennis was sure his worst fears had come true. The girls retired to their room to process the news. But while they "started off cool, they came around very quickly," says Dennis. And now his daughters are his biggest allies: He recalls his daughter explaining a debate over gay marriage with her Christian schoolmate, and the ways she unhesitatingly invoked that her own dad was a gay man. Or the reaction he received more recently, when he broke another big piece of news: He was engaged to his partner of several years.

"They said, 'Well, it's about time!' laughs Dennis. Trademark adolescent snark, sure — but a long way from "that's weird."

"They're still teenage girls, and they can be a pain in the butt at times," chuckles the dad. "But when it comes down to the important moments in life, children offer unconditional love."

Lesson #6: Make Sure Your Kids Are Surrounded by Support

Chet with his daughter, Reba, and son, Kellar

Kids are impressionable. They soak up messages like sponges — which can make for quite a challenge in a world where gay people continue to encounter resistance and discrimination. Sure, you can raise your child in a household that promotes love and acceptance. But they can't live in a bubble, and lest good work be undone, it may require monitoring to ensure that outside influences are in line with the values you want to teach.

Chet, a gay dad from Texas, had a relatively easy time coming out — at first. He still has a good friendship with his ex-wife, and he came out to his son and daughter — then 8 and 9, respectively — by emphasizing that it was best for their mother: He didn't want to live a lie and deny them both true happiness. "What's for supper?" asked his son. Chet's daughter had more questions: "She was concerned what people might think." Family counseling helped.

The extended family, on the other hand, hurt. Chet grew up in the church — but his brother, the pastor, had him removed from the rolls. Chet wanted his kids to have a relationship with their grandparents and uncle, so for a while he would let them spend the holidays with them. "But it created a lot of trouble," says Chet. "My son would come home and say, 'Uncle says you're going to hell and I shouldn't live here.'"

This was the same son who glossed over his dad's coming-out with a dinner request. But the sway of indoctrination threatened to crush that acceptance. "My son would go away for a weekend, and it would take a month to convince him everything was okay again," says Chet. "He would lay in bed at night and cry, saying 'I don't want you to go to hell.'"

"It tortured him. It was a cruel thing to do to a kid."

So regrettably, Chet put the kibosh on keeping a relationship between his kids and their extended family. He hasn't spoken to his father in about nine years — but Chet knows it's a necessary distance if it keeps his kids from damaging influence.

Now that they're teenagers, though, it's doubtful it would matter. Chet's son is a member of his high school's GSA. And his once self-conscious daughter is now "a raging feminist," chuckles Chet. "She's hilariously outspoken, living with her mom in a rural school district where she's probably the only person driving around with a Bernie Sanders bumper sticker and an equality sign on the car."

Now that's a family that functions as an A-plus support system.

Lesson #7: Have Patience

Face it: You didn't accept your sexuality overnight. How can you expect your kids to do so?

Plenty of children — including those in many of the aforementioned families — will barely break stride while processing a parent's sexuality. But it's true that some will hit a hiccup. And if that happens, time might be the most important thing you have on your side.

Take the story of Brent, a gay dad from Tennessee. He was married for 20 years — growing up in a Southern Baptist family had repressed his ability to recognize his sexuality. In fact, he once rejected his own brother for being gay: Brent forbade him from visiting his kids, and when Christmas cards arrived "from uncle and uncle," Brent would be quick to clarify. "I'd tell the kids, that other guy's not your uncle," he says.

Of course, all that resentment was symptomatic of his repression. Brent eventually came to understand his true sexuality slowly and in stages, at first through the safe and unintimidating world of cyberspace. Beyond restrictive confines of religion was a limitless space where he could connect with other gay men through message boards and online virtual worlds like Second Life. He came out to his wife and they tried to work things through via counseling, but divorce wound up inevitable.

And so did the need to tell Brent's son, 18, and daughter, 15. It happened in the office of a family counselor, at the counselor's suggestion. In case it was upsetting, the kids "wouldn't attach the memories" to their home — and in this case, that may have been a smart move.

"Things got a lot worse before they got better," says Brent. His son took it particularly hard. "There were times when I'd take him out for dinner, and it was like I was sitting there by myself. My daughter did the same thing, though her swings weren't as violent as my son's."

To get through it, Brent used the two oldest tricks in the parenting book: unconditional love and patience.

"Whenever I saw them, I always made sure to say 'I love you,'" says Brent. And that's paid off with progress. Today his son is a workingman and their relationship is "a million miles better." He's truly come around. His daughter has come to terms, if perhaps not quite as far along. She's still religious, studying at a Baptist seminary, and maintains some reticence.

"I'm still not sure about the marriage thing," she responded when Brent mentioned that the option may soon be on the table for him and his partner. Maybe she's not sure yet — but there's reason to believe that time could change that.

Whatever the future holds, one thing will always remain the same.

"Remember," he advises others. "No matter what, you're still Dad."

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Change the World

A Gay Fertility Doctor Opens Up About His Own Path to Parenthood

Parenthood is the "one and only job" held by the majority of the population, wrote gay fertility doctor Mark Leondires in a recent op-ed for The Advocate

Dr. Mark Leondires, founder of the fertility clinic RMA of Connecticut, has helped thousands of LGBTQ people become parents over the years. But in a recent op-ed for The Advocate, he discussed his own path to parenthood as a gay man, and some of the lessons he's learned along the way.

"Similar to most gay men I struggled with the coming out process," Dr. Leondires wrote. "I strongly desired to be a parent. And as a fertility doctor I knew this was possible. What was enlightening was after we had our first child is that in the eyes of my community, I went from being a gay man or gay professional to being a parent just like most of my straight friends."

Dr. Leondires goes on to say his reasons for opening up about his parenting journey is to offer some perspective LGBTQ people who are considering parenthood. "Once you have a family you will have this common bond with the vast majority of our population and something they can relate to — having children," he wrote. "You are no longer someone living this "special" lifestyle, you are a parent on a shared journey."

Being a parent is the "one and only job" held by the majority of the population, he continued. "It is also the only job you can't be fired from."

Understanding this commonality helped Dr. Leondires in his coming out process, he said. "I had to be proud of my family because I want them to be proud of our family," he wrote. "It wasn't about me anymore. The reality is that 5-7% of patients identify as LGBTQ+, and there may be a greater likelihood that your child might be LGBTQ+ because you are. Therefore, you need to be proud of who you are and who your family is, establish and maintain this foundation unconditionally."

Read Dr. Leondires entire essay here.

Change the World

10 Inspiring Coming Out Stories From Gay Dads

Happy National Coming Out Day! To celebrate, we've rounded up some of our recent stories about gay men with kids coming out to live their most authentic lives.

Happy National Coming Out Day! To celebrate, we've rounded up some of our best articles of gay dads coming out to live their authentic lives.

#1. Former NFL Player Jeff Rohrer, and Father of Two, Comes Out as Gay and Marries Longterm Partner


Jeff Rohrer, a father of two teenage boys via a previous relationship with a woman, is the first NFL player to marry another man. Read the article here.

#2. Coming Out to His Wife Was Painful, Says This Salt Lake-Based Dad of Four. But it Started Him on a Path of Authenticity

After Kyle came out to his wife, with whom he has four children, "she listened, she mourned and she loved," he said. Read the article here.

#3. Gay Dads Share Their Coming Out Stories for National Coming Out Day

We asked several gay dads to share their coming out stories in honor of National Coming Out Day, whose stories are heartwarming, instructive, and everything in between. Read the article here.

#4. Gay Muslim Single Dad Writes Op Ed on His Path to Self Acceptance

Maivon Wahid writes about the challenges of reconciling three separate, but equally important, identities in an opinion piece for Gay Star News. Read the article here.

#5. One Gay Dad's Path Towards Realizing Being Gay and Christian are Not Mutually Exclusive

Gay dads Matt and David Clark-Sally talk about coming out, parenting as gay men, and reconciling faith and sexuality. Read the article here.

#6. Republican Utah Lawmaker, and Dad of Two, Comes Out as Gay in Moving Video

Nathan Ivie has many important identities he's proud of: Mormon, Republican, Utahn, father of two... and gay. Read the article here.

#7. How Coming Out Helped This Gay Man Find the Strength to Be a Dad

Steven Kerr shares the moment he came out to his ex-girlfriend. "From that moment on," he writes, "my strength and purpose have grown." Read the article here.

#8. Ed Smart, Father of Kidnapping Victim Elizabeth Smart, Comes Out as Gay

In coming his coming out letter, Ed Smart, a Mormon, condemned the church for their "ridicule, shunning, rejection and outright humiliation" of LGBTQ individuals. Read the article here.

#9. 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. Read the article here.

#10. These Gay Dads Via Previous Marriages Have Adopted a Motto Since Coming Out and Finding Each Other: "United We Stand"

Vincent and Richard both had children in previous marriages with women; together, with their ex-wives, they are helping raise seven beautiful kids. Read the article here.

News

Ed Smart, Father of Kidnapping Victim Elizabeth Smart, Comes Out as Gay

In coming his coming out letter, Ed Smart, a Mormon, condemned the church for their "ridicule, shunning, rejection and outright humiliation" of LGBTQ individuals.

In a post on Facebook, Ed Smart, father of kidnapping survivor Elizabeth Smart, came out as gay. He also discussed his strained relationship with his Mormon faith, claiming he felt he didn't feel comfortable living as an openly gay man in a church with a difficult history with respect to its LGBTQ members. He and his wife, Lois, have filed for divorce.

"This is one of the hardest letters I have ever written," he began the letter. "Hard because I am finally acknowledging a part of me that I have struggled with most of my life and never wanted to accept, but I must be true and honest with myself." He went on to acknowledged a new set of challenges facing he and his family as they navigate a divorce and his coming out — in the public eye, no less — but concluded, ultimately, that it's a "huge relief" to be "honest and truthful about my orientation."

He went on to condemn The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for their "ridicule, shunning, rejection and outright humiliation" of LGBTQ individuals. "I didn't want to face the feelings I fought so hard to suppress, and didn't want to reach out and tell those being ostracized that I too am numbered among them. But I cannot do that any longer."

In an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune, Ed Smart further discussed his reasons for coming out now, as a 64-year-old man.

"I mean, I knew that it would probably come out at some point, just because people can't leave things alone. I did anticipate that it would happen at some time, but my intention in writing it was to try to let my friends and family know, you know my extended family ... know where things were. So, you know, I was really concerned about how the rumor mill starts," he told the paper. "I knew that at some point in time, that would come out," he elaborated. "I didn't know when it would come out, and so I would rather have it come out the way that it did versus having some rumors going around, and you know the crazy way things can get twisted."

In 2002, Ed Smart's daughter Elizabeth was abducted at knife point by a married couple from her bedroom in Salt Lake City, Utah. She suffered physical and sexual abuse at the couple's hands, for nine months, until she was finally rescued by police. During the ordeal, papers — including the Salt Lake Tribute — speculated about Ed Smart's sexual orientation based on some fabricated information sold to the paper by tabloids like the National Enquirer. (The Enquirer retracted the story, and the reporters at the Tribute were ultimately fired.)

"I think that in April I started feeling like I needed to prepare something," Smart told the Tribute. "Because during Elizabeth's ordeal, there were things said, and it wasn't what I wanted to say, and I was not going to allow that to happen again."

As to how his family has taken the news, Smart said they've been "very kind" to him. "I think it was very difficult to have this kind of come out of the blue. I don't think any of them knew I was struggling with this, so it was something they were, if you want to call it, blindsided by. I totally get that. They've really been very wonderful."

Congrats to Ed Smart on making the difficult decision to live his truth. Read his full letter here and his interview with the Tribute here.

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Raising Grounded Kids in Crazy Manhattan

When it comes to raising kids in Manhattan, Dr. Evan Goldstein lives by this lesson — less is more.

There are several lessons that we all learn as we continue to age on this wacky place called earth. But I learned one of life's most important nuggets my first year of medical school, and it has never left me. I remember this one night in particular—it was late, and I had been studying when I realized I forgot an important book in the stacks of the library. Thankfully, a janitor opened the locked door and allowed me to retrieve my belongings. I remember it took him a while to open the locked section that I needed to enter, as he had so many dangling keys on his keychain. He responded to me gazing at the lock by saying, "Son, I may only be a janitor without any education beyond high school, but I have seen medical student after student enter this school for the past 25 years. Can I give you some advice?" "Of course," I said. "Do you see all these keys on this keychain?" he said. "Every single one holds a new responsibility. Less keys, less responsibility. Less is more! Remember that my friend." And with that, he was gone.

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Change the World

11 Family Stories That Show the Depth of the Adoption Experience for Gay Men

November is National Adoption Awareness Month! To celebrate, we've curated some adoption stories that show the true depth and breath of the adoption experience for gay men.

November is National Adoption Awareness Month! And few people are more aware of the importance of lifting up and celebrating adoption in this country than the LGBTQ community. According to the Williams Institute, 21% of same-sex couples are raising adopted children compared to just 3% of different-sex couples. Despite the fact that we are a crucial part of the support system for children needing loving homes, we are currently facing an administration that is trying to make it legal for foster care and adoption agencies to discriminate against us on the basis of religion.

To help celebrate National Adoption Awareness Month, and demonstrate that religious beliefs should in never trump the ability for a loving LGBTQ family to welcome children into their home, we've rounded up several family stories that show the true depth and breath of the adoption experience — men who never planned to become dads, and woke up one day to find themselves responsible for little ones. Men who always wanted to become dads, and suffered through years of failed placements before finally making their dreams come true. Single men, who realized they were strong enough to adopt on their own. And men who adopted older children through the foster care system.

These are just a few of the inspiring stories of gay, bi and trans adoptive dads — we are literally sitting on a treasure trove of them. And, no doubt, there are countless more headed your way in the months to come.

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Popular

"We're Dads, the Greatest Thing We've Ever Been": Congrats to Gay Men Whose Families Recently Grew!

Wishing all of these gay dads whose families expanded a lifetime of happiness! Congrats to everyone in our community on their recent births and adoptions!

Gay men go through a lot of ups and downs on the path to parenthood. It can be one of the most emotionally draining times in our lives. But as each of these families who are celebrating births and adoptions this month agree: it's worth every hardship.

Congrats to the dads whose families grew this month!

Congratulations to dads Ryan and Sebastian on the birth of their son, Máximo!!

Ryan and Sebastian's path to fatherhood was through surrogacy and their journey took nearly five years from start to finish. "There were many ups and downs and we almost gave up — but are so glad we didn't!"

"Holding Máximo for the first time was something we will never forget," shared Ryan. "He was looking up at us and we were just overcome with love and joy."

This new family of three live in Long Island City, New York.

Congratulations to dads Andy and Mike on their birth of their son Bennett!

In July this year, Andy and Mike became first time dads through surrogacy when they welcomed their son Bennett.

"We are absolutely in love with our baby Bennett! He's doing awesome and his Daddy and Papa have been rewarded with a lot of big smiles! He sleeps a lot and is generally relaxed as he learns about the world around him. He's made us happier than we knew possible and we feel incredibly blessed that he is the culmination of our wonderful surrogacy journey."

Even though their son is only 3 months old, they're already starting to think about and plan for his sibling! Congrats dads!

Congratulations to dads Bryan and Zachary on the birth of your son Spencer!

Three years ago, husbands Bryan and Zachary moved from New York City to Dallas, Texas to start a family.

"Like for most, our journey had many uncertainties with ups and downs along the way," said Bryan. "When you stop and really think about everything that goes into the process and has to take place, it's a true miracle and we feel blessed."

On August 26 this year, their son Spencer was born through surrogacy. "Patience, hope, support and remembering what's eventually to come helped my husband and I during the most stressful times. Now that Gates is here, it's hard to even look back."

"Holding Gates for the first was a true miracle - my husband and I finally took a breath. At that moment, the three of us created our new family and everything was exactly how it was supposed to be."

Congratulations to dads John and Ryan on finalizing the adoption of their son Connor!

When John and Ryan in 2004, they both knew they wanted to be parents. They were married in 2005 and started their journey as foster parents in 2009. They first became dads when their son Cody, then an infant, came to live with them. His adoption was finalized in 2013.

"After Cody's adoption, we 'closed' our home and actually moved a few times before joining the foster parent community again in 2018. When we decided to look to foster and adopt again, Cody was fully on board and that was a big part of our discussions about timing."

Their son Conner was placed with them as an infant in May 2018. Connor's adoption was finalized on October 16, and he was 19 months old at the time.

"Adoption day was a whirlwind," shared John. "We were first on the docket for the judge and he made quick work of finalizing his placement and formally making Connor a member of the family!"

The forever family of four live in San Antonio, Texas and would love to connect with other families like theirs.

Congratulations to dads Matt and Ian on the birth of their son Rocco!

Denver couple Matt and Ian had been dreaming of the day when they'd become dads. The husbands have been together going on 8 years, married for 5, and had picked out their son's name even before they were married.

"The journey to fatherhood has been a long and emotional one," shared Matt. "After our first fertility clinic placed roadblocks in front of us for almost two years, we changed to a new once and suddenly found ourselves on a pace far quicker towards fatherhood. We engaged a surrogacy agency to find our gestational carrier after two attempts to do it ourselves, and ended up with someone who was so far and beyond what we ever could have imagined, we cannot imagine the journey without her. We call her our angel not just because of her selfless act but for her guidance along the way as a mother herself."

From their first 13 embryos, one little one tried to hang on but didn't quite make it to the end. After several years of trying up, they decided to give it one more go and were able to produce 6 eggs, one of which resulted very quickly into a multiplying, healthy and genetically viable embryo - the last of 19 attempts. "The day we found out that our little bundle of cells had matured, we unexpectedly lost my Grandfather on the same day – a stark reminder of the cycle that is life. We gave our son the middle name of Keen as it was one of my late grandfather's signature words to use. 'Oh, that's so keen...' is a phrase I can still hear him saying to me as a child."

On July 26, the dads welcomed their son Rocco! "We are blessed now with a sleeping, funny, expressive and engaged little spirit in our lives. The process was tough, emotional and downright exhausting. The moment he showed up though, let out a scream then looked at his with his funny little furled brow, every single appointment, lost night's sleep, worry and tear was collectively worth it. We are Dads … and that is simply the greatest thing we have ever been."

Congratulations to Travis and Jay on finalizing the adoption of their son Kathan!

Travis and his husband Jay began their path to fatherhood a little over three years ago when they began the certification process to adoption through the foster care system. "After a little over a year and a half in the making we got the call on June 3rd 2018 at 11:30am. That day changed our lives in so many beautiful ways," said Travis.

At just 4 days old, the dads brought their son Kathan home, and 16 months later, they celebrated his adoption being finalized. "It felt like we had been set free as a family for the first time."

Kathan's adoption day was incredibly personal for the dads so they spent it with close family and took Kathan out for celebratory brunch.

Congrats to this Orange County forever family of three.

Congratulations to dad Derek and Zack on the birth of their daughter Georgia!

On October 18, 2019, dads Derek and Zack, and big brother Hank, welcomed Georgia to the family. The family is over the moon!

"Zack and I were lucky to be able to work with the same surrogate that helped us with our son Hank," said Derek. Their family journey experienced a significant setback when one of their fertility clinic's embryo storage tanks malfunctioned, and they lost all their genetic material - 11 fertilized embryos - that Derek's sister and Zack had donated to create their family. Luckily, Derek's sister was incredible and happily flew out to donate her beautiful genes again.

"Our family is truly the living embodiment of the love of our extended family and our carrier Raelene (and her family) have for us and our dream to meet our children. Meeting Georgia, for me, was the realization of all those feelings of love and hope we felt throughout our journey."

Congrats to this San Francisco family of four!

Congratulations to dads Rob and Scott on the birth of their daughter Sierra!

Rob and Scotty's journey to fatherhood started in December 2014, and they became first time dads eighteen months later when their son Ryder was born through surrogacy. In early October this year, they welcomed their daughter, Sierra, also through surrogacy.

"Holding her for the first time was amazing and warmed our hearts completely," shared Scotty. "Our son loves his baby sister and is very protective of her!!"

Huge congrats to this Sacramento family!

Congratulations to dads Brian and John on the birth of their son Weston!

Brian Wall and his fiancé John Agricola live in Toronto, Canada, and they recently welcomed their son Weston into the world on November 13.

"Our path to fatherhood was made a little simpler because my first cousin offered to be our surrogate," said Brian. "It took about a year total from picking an egg donor and our first successful embryo transfer on March 13."

When the dads first held their son they both agreed it was the most emotional experience they've ever had. "So grateful to our surrogate and he is a healthy boy!!"

Congrats to this new family of three, and can't wait to see wedding photos from your upcoming nuptials!

Congratulations to Ricky and Jeff on finalizing the adoption of their daughter Kylie!

Ricky and Jeff finalized the adoption of their youngest on November 8, the biological sister to their son Kadyn.

"Her birth mom knew that she couldn't take care of her and wanted us to have her," shared Ricky. "We went through the county again and we were able to adopt Kylie 6 months after her birth. The extra cool experience this time around was the fact that we were invited to be there to be part of the birth."

To be finalize Kylie's adoption was "amazing" said the dads. "It means that nothing and no one can do or say anything that would effect her being with us, which almost happened about a month before the adoption day."

Congratulations to this Californian forever family of four!

News

United Nations Calls on Cambodia to End Criminalization of Surrogates

Cambodia's 2016 law criminalizes surrogacy — and requires women who work as surrogate to raise the children they conceived for intended parents as their own.

Last Friday, the United Nations Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) reiterated its support to end the harassment and criminalization of surrogates in Cambodia, according to Voice of America.

The report issued by CEDAW recognized growing international criticism of the unregulated practice of surrogacy around the world, which often leads to the exploitation of women who work as surrogates. However, since surrogacy became illegal in Cambodia, over 60 women working as surrogates — the very people put in danger of exploitation — have been arrested and subjected to criminal proceedings. The women were only released according to VOA, under the condition of raising the surrogate children until they are 18.

"The Committee is particularly concerned that such an obligation creates an additional financial and emotional burden on women who are in precarious situations, which led them to act as surrogates in the first place," the report reads, "and that they face discrimination and stigma from their families and communities for having acted as surrogates."

CEDAW called on the Cambodian government to repeal the October 2016 law — particularly the requirement of raising the children they conceived for other intended parents as their own. This punishment is particularly onerous given that many of these women entered surrogacy arrangement against their will, said Chak Sopheap, Executive Director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, speaking to VOA.

"Surrogate women in Cambodia are likely to be at the sharp end of various economic and political hardships that caused them to make the decision to become a surrogate," she told VOA in an email. "We have seen, over the past year, women surrogates raided, charged with human trafficking, and detained, with no transparency from the authorities as to their wellbeing or that of the children they have given birth to."

Read more about this story here.

Fatherhood, the gay way

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