Paternity Leave Pledge

Dads Trystan and Biff Adopted Their Niece and Nephew. Should They Have Received Paid Time Off?

Eight years ago, Biff and Trystan's fatherhood journey began when they received a somewhat unexpected call. Biff's sister was no longer able to take care of her two kids, and they wanted to know if Biff and Trystan could look after them. Overnight, the one-time uncles quickly transitioned into the role of dads to Biff's niece and nephew. Six years later, they expanded their family when they welcomed their son Leo, carried by trans dad Trystan.

Trystan and Biff had two different paternity leave situations when they grew their family, and those experiences shaped how they feel about paid paternity leave today.

"I had no parental leave that I could take when we became parents overnight," said Trystan. "I basically ended up depleting basically every single day I had ever accrued... just to take care of them." Biff, for his part, was given no time off, except for a half day here and there for court days.

When it came to Leo, the son Trystan carried, Trystan was initially given six weeks off. "It was really paltry," Trystan said. "I sat down with the board and said ... the parental leave policy you have is not in line with the values of this organization." The board fortunately listened, and doubled Trystan's parental leave to three months to give him time to care for and bond with Leo.

"Parental leave is really important, because when you have a new baby or when you adopt kids, especially when you adopt kids, there's an adjustment period," Biff said, which goes beyond just the need for the gestational parent to recover, physically.

"Those first few months are building a foundation for the rest of your life as a family," Trystan added. "If we want dads to be equally involved in raising kids, contributing to a household, being part of family, we have to give them the opportunity to do that in the very beginning.

If you believe *ALL* dads should receive paid paternity leave, sign the Paternity Leave Pledge.

Watch their story:

Sign the pledge: www.dovemencare.com/pledge

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Paternity Leave Pledge

Follow Along as "Dadvocates" Fight for Paid Paternity Leave on Capitol Hill

On October 22, a group of "Dadvocates," including gay dad-to-be Rudy, will join Dove Men+Care and PL+US on Capitol Hill to advocate for paid paternity leave for *ALL* dads

When Rudy and Andy were first together, gay marriage wasn't legal. Now they've been happily married for five years and are expectant dads! But the fight for equality isn't over, and advocating for paid family leave continues.

On Tuesday, October 22, Rudy will join Dove Men+Care, Paid Leave for United States (PL+US), and a group of "Dadvocates" including Alexis Ohanian (co-founder of Reddit; Serena Williams' husband), for a "Dads' Day of Action" on Capitol Hill. This group of fathers, which includes two same-sex couples, will share their unique and urgent stories with key members of Congress to press the importance of federally-provided paid paternity leave.

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When Seattle husbands Rich and Brian found out they were going to be dads, their initial reaction was panic. "It was so early in the adoption process, we weren't really ready for anything," remembered Brian. "We hadn't read any books, we didn't have a crib, we had nothing... we were going to be dads and the baby was going to be here in a week!"

"I didn't really think about being a parent," added Rich, "and more what do we needed to do logistically, and how we were going to make it all work."

The dads adopted Emerson from birth and raising a girl has taught the dads a lot; they are her biggest advocates. The dads are making sure that they're "raising a girl who feels empowered and able to speak up, play sports, just as anyone else does."

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"Patience!" Terrell and Jarius both said, without hesitation, when asked what they've learned after becoming dads to twins via traditional surrogacy. "You learn a new level of patience when you have kids," added Terrell. "But also a new level of love."

The Atlanta-based dads said they were "super scared" to learn they were going to become dads — even though they'd prepared for it. "You can never prepare for that moment," said Terrell. "Reading that pregnancy test, was life changing."

As far as the couple's experience with paid paternity leave, they couldn't have been more different. At Jarius's job, he was offered a full year off — six months for each child — at 80% of his total salary. "It's not like that for everyone," he said. "I was very lucky."

"I was not," Jarius said, who was offered two weeks off — though he was lucky to get even that. "They had just implemented the policy like a couple month before," he said.

Sign the Paternity Leave Pledge.

"It's important for all dads to receive paternity leave," said Jarius. "They're part of the child's life, too. Just a few weeks is not adequate enough for such a big life change."

Terrell agreed, saying the time is "important to bond with your child," and also to make sure "your house isn't going to suffer from a financial standpoint."

Watch their video:


Our goal is to help Dove Men+Care bring 100,000 signatures to key policymakers in Washington, D.C. for their Day of Action on the Hill, and drive urgency behind this issue.

If you believe *ALL* dads should receive paid paternity leave, sign the Paternity Leave Pledge.

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

A Gay Dad's Adoption Journey Amid a Global Crisis

Erik Alexander writes about a personal moment of happiness — the birth of his son — amid a world gripped by the COVID-19 crisis.

COVID-19 has shaken the whole world to its core. From one part of the globe to the other, it has all but stopped life as we know it. This scenario seems all too reminiscent of something that the American South will never forget. Living in New Orleans, Louisiana we are accustomed to dealing with evacuations and disasters because of hurricane season each year. From June to November, we are on alert. As you can imagine, Hurricane Katrina's lasting effects really taught us how to deal with disaster prep along with recovering from the aftermath.

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These Dads Had 'Twins' — Just Four Months Apart

Angel and Dan's wanted twins, without the complications of a twin pregnancy — so they worked with two separate surrogates at once.

If you have ever been out late on a Saturday night, you may have high hopes of meeting a handsome stranger, but you probably wouldn't expect to meet your future husband. Angel Mario Martinez Garcia, 45, surely didn't when, five years ago on a very early Saturday morning in Barcelona, he casually approached Dan's Mouquet, 40, and asked him, over many gin and tonics, what he wanted out of life. The nightlife setting notwithstanding, Dan's told Angel he ultimately wanted a quiet life, with a partner and children.

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Politics

Gestational Surrogacy Legalized in New York State

The Child-Parent Security Act, which legalizes commercial surrogacy in New York State, was included in the 2020 New York State Budget signed by Governor Cuomo

Yesterday, a years-long battle about the state of compensated gestational surrogacy came to an end in New York when the Governor signed into a law the Child-Parent Security Act in the 2020 as part of the state budget.

The effort stalled last year after opponents, including several Democrats, successfully argued that the bill didn't go far enough to protect women who serve as surrogates — even though it included a surrogate "bill of rights," the first of its kind in the country, aimed at ensuring protections.

"Millions of New Yorkers need assistance building their families — people struggling with infertility, cancer survivors impacted by treatment, and members of the LGBTQ+ community," the Family Equality Council said in a statement about the victory. "For many, surrogacy is a critically important option. For others, it is the only option. Passage of the Child-Parent Security Act is a massive step forward in providing paths to parenthood for New Yorkers who use reproductive technology, and creates a 'surrogate's bill of rights' that will set a new standard for protecting surrogates nationwide."

Opponents, led by Senator Liz Krueger, had once again attempted to torpedo legalization efforts this year by introducing a second bill that would legalize surrogacy in New York, but also make it the most restrictive state in the country to do so. "A bill that complicates the legal proceedings for the parents and potentially allows them to lose their genetic child is truly unfortunate," said Sam Hyde, President of Circle Surrogacy, referencing to the bill's 8-day waiting period. He also took issue with the bills underlying assumptions about why women decide to serve as a surrogate. The added restrictions imply that "they're entering into these arrangements without full forethought and consideration of the intended parents that they're partnering with," he said.

The bill was sponsored by State Senator Brad Hoylman, an out gay man who became a father via surrogacy, and Assemblymember Amy Paulin, who has been public with her experiences with infertility.

"My husband and I had our two daughters through surrogacy," Holyman told Gay City News. "But we had to travel 3,000 miles away to California in order to do it. As a gay dad, I'm thrilled parents like us and people struggling with infertility will finally have the chance to create their own families through surrogacy here in New York."

"This law will [give intended parents] the opportunity to have a family in New York and not travel around the country, incurring exorbitant costs simply because they want to be parents," Paulin said for her part. It will "bring New York law in line with the needs of modern families."


Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Just Like Dad: Ways My Kids and I Are Alike

Joseph Sadusky recounts the ways he and his adopted sons are cut from the same cloth.

Editor's Note: This is the third in a series of excerpts from Joseph Sadusky's new book, Magic Lessons: Celebratory and Cautionary Tales about Life as a (Single, Gay, Transracially Adoptive) Dad. The book contains many stories about my life as a dad, as well as lessons learned, and we're excited to share several excerpts from the the book over the course of the next few months. Read previous installments here!

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