Gay Dad Life

Birth Plan

It is Sunday, October 4. With the smell of pumpkin spice lattes and warm apple cider in the air, my husband Dom and I have found ourselves in a coffee shop, awaiting a couple of very important ladies. We are nervous, we are anxious, we are excited. And then, with a whisper of autumn wind at her back, in walks the birth mother of our daughter. And inside that swollen tummy of hers, the baby. We are, for the first time, in the same room as our daughter.

This meeting has happened at the request of the birth mother, who we will refer to moving forward as Bio Mom, because who doesn't love a nickname? Bio Mom felt comfortable with us after weeks of texting and phone calls, to request a casual in-person meeting with us. The conversation is light, comfortable. We are feeling each other out, learning how we'll speak to one another. I am too polite, laughing too hard, feeling too much, nodding my head with the furious shakings of a teenager at his first rave.

But it goes well. She is feeling good. There is heartburn, there is near-constant peeing, but the pregnancy is moving comfortably towards its conclusion in the coming weeks. We all have our eyes on a calendar in our heads, awaiting both the beginning and end of an incredible story. And so we discuss her hospital birth plan.

As I mentioned in a previous piece, when a woman is going to deliver a child, she fills out a hospital plan, making her wishes about the process very clear to the hospital. It's an incredibly well thought-out document, covering nearly every imaginable scenario in advance. This is done so that there is no duress or decision-making that a birth mother needs to do while in the throes of labor.

I'd like to walk you through the document, to help paint a clearer picture of what the process is like for a birth mother in an adoption, because hers is, in some ways, the biggest piece of the puzzle. I'll work through the questions on the form, and where it makes sense, give you the answers our own birth mother has provided.

There is the essential form information, name, address, insurance provider, and the like. The first choice the birth mother is given is how she'd like to communicate once the birthing process has begun. The question is:

When will you text/call the agency counselor?

  • When I am in labor.
  • When I have delivered.
  • I will telephone/text the adopting parent(s) regarding labor and delivery.
  • I prefer that the agency contact the adoptive parents.
  • The next question is important. It asks the birth mother her preferences regarding the presence of the adopting parents during the birthing process. Her options include:

  • The adopting parents will wait at home until I call to have them come to the hospital.
  • Wait in the waiting room while the child is being born.
  • Be at the birth as an observer only.
  • Be at the birth of the child as a birth coach or in a similar close relationship.
  • Okay, the baby is being delivered via c-section, and neither Dom nor I need to be anywhere near that nightmare. To better understand the process our birth mother is experiencing, one day I decided to research the actual caesarian section process. I made it as far as “The physician will then physically use his hands to separate her abdominal muscles" before I thought I was going to vomit on my keyboard. Sorry Bio Mom, we'll let there be some magic in the process.

    Back to the plan. Bio Mom has requested that we be in the waiting room while the child is being born. FINE with us, absolutely. It's important to me and Dom that Bio Mom have a support system in the room with her, who can make her feel comfortable and safe while she's delivering. If I were in the room, I'd be hopping from foot to foot like Yosemite Sam just yelling “The BABY! Is it the BABY now? Where's the BABY?" And when they pull the baby out, I know for a fact that I'd be throwing both hands into the air and chanting “YES! YES! YES!" like WWE's Daniel Bryan.

    Bio Mom then gets to make some choices about which support people she would like in the room with her during labor and then delivery, whether it's the birth father or someone else.

    After the actual birth takes place, the next question is important. It is phrased this way:

    Immediately following the birth, my wishes for contact with the baby and the adopting parent(s) are:

  • I would like to be the first to hold the baby.
  • I will allow someone else to be first to hold the baby.
  • I would like to spend time together with the baby and the adopting parents.
  • I prefer no immediate contact with the baby.
  • I prefer no immediate contact with the adopting parents.
  • Other.
  • Bio Mom has made the generous decision to allow me and Dom to be the first to hold the baby. In our conversations with her on the phone and in person, she has reiterated that she wants us to be the first person the baby sees when she opens her eyes. That is incredibly generous and kind. However, the hospital will only be giving out one additional band, so it will either have to be Dom or myself in the nursery. We each can only find compelling reasons why it should be the other person, and not ourselves. We're too smart for our own good, sometimes.

    Next question.

    During the hospital stay, I would like:

  • To room on the obstetrics unit and to have “rooming in" with the baby in my room whenever possible.
  • To room on the obstetrics unit and to have the baby brought to my room upon my request.
  • To room on the obstetrics unit, but to go to the nursery when or if contact is desired.
  • To room in a non-maternity unit if possible. (This does not rule out visits to the nursery.)
  • That's got to be difficult, to be a mother placing your child for adoption, but to be on a maternity floor where you are constantly hearing people “oooo" and “ahhhh" about newborn children, and to hear those babies crying. I can't imagine the mixed bag of emotions a birth mother might feel, our Bio Mom included, when considering this question. But this is a really crucial question, because once she is physically recovering, the emotional wellbeing of the woman should be of paramount importance. It's something we had not considered during the process, where Bio Mom would be recovering post-delivery.

    A birth mother then gets to choose her interest in the level of care-taking, in this way:

    In terms of taking care of the baby during the hospital stay (feeding, changing, etc.):

  • I will initiate caretaking and will seek out the adopting parent(s) when/if I am ready to share or pass on the caretaking.
  • The adoptive parent(s) will be the primary caretakers immediately from birth.
  • Perhaps not surprisingly, Bio Mom has indicated that she feels it is important for us to bond with the baby right away, and she would like Dom and me to be the first ones to interact with the baby; this includes those very first feedings and holdings.

    If the baby is male:

  • Circumcise.
  • Do not circumcise.
  • Consult adopting parent(s).
  • I'm not wading into those waters, readers. Look somewhere else for that opinion; people get super worked up over circumcision conversations. We're having a girl, so luckily we dodged that cultural bullet.

    Photography: I grant permission for the adopting parent(s) to take:

  • Still photography of myself (including labor and delivery).
  • Video footage of myself (including labor and delivery).
  • Still photography of the newborn infant.
  • Video footage of the newborn infant.
  • None of the above.
  • Have you seen pictures or video of a woman delivering a child? Her hair and makeup game are non-existent; it's a major medical procedure. Bio Mom has asked that she maybe not use those moments for her close-up on camera. We are more than welcome to take pictures and video of the baby, but not of her. Makes sense. Look your best, girl; the cameras can wait.

    Bio Mom gets to put together a list of personal visitors she would allow, or not allow, into the hospital to visit her after the procedure, while she's recovering.

    She then gets to make some requests regarding the birth certificate. Bio Mom has suggested a first name, which we've added to our list of contenders. Our short list usually tops out around four or five names. Because of the flexibility and openness of the birth mother to allow us to be there so early, our plan is to wait until we hold our daughter for the first time before deciding what name fits her the best. In some situations it's better to go in with a name picked out, but in others it might be better to make up your mind when you see the baby for the first time, because otherwise your favorite couple wouldn't be Dominic and Anthony, they'd be Nunzio and Andrew. True story.

    Bio Mom gets to state preferences for discharge.

    I prefer to:

  • Provide an outfit myself and dress the baby upon discharge.
  • Have the adoptive parent(s) provide an outfit.
  • We're gay. We should have the go-home outfit covered. Think the pageantry of The Lion King with the sensibility of Phantom of the Opera. Then discard both, buy 9 different outfits from Babies “R" Us in advance, and pray she fits into one of them.

    Also regarding discharge, Bio Mom gets to select her preferences for timing of release.

    I prefer to:

  • Be released from and leave the hospital prior to the release of the baby who will be discharged to the “A Loving Choice" representative and placed with the adopting parent(s).
  • The baby to be discharged from the hospital prior to my discharge.
  • I would like to be discharged and participate in the discharge of the baby.
  • This must be difficult to consider, really. The agency said that, like everything listed above, this is subject to change. Some birth mothers imagine that they'll be able to hand the baby to the adoptive parents and then get into their cars and leave. When faced with that reality, it sometimes proves to be too overwhelming for the birth moms to physically take part in the discharge. Bio Mom, lovingly, has asked that we take the baby home directly from the hospital before she is discharged. With a c-section, that makes some sense as well, as Bio Mom's recovery period will be a little bit lengthier than the average delivery.

    Birth mothers, Bio Mom included, reserve their right to change their minds about any or all parts of that birth plan at any time.

    We are now in the final few weeks before delivery, before all the decisions on paper become decisions in real life. When imagined cries and laughter become voiced and heard, and when the words you are reading become words we are living.

    But for today, this day in October, there are pumpkin spice lattes. And there are apple ciders. And there are nerves. And there is a mother. And two fathers. And a tiny baby girl. And for today, that is enough.

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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.

    Keep reading... Show less

    "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!


    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.


    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.

    Gay Dad Family Stories

    One Single Gay Dad's Trailblazing Path to Parenthood Via Surrogacy

    20 years ago, Gene became the first single gay man to work with Circle Surrogacy in order to become a dad — trailblazing a path for many others since.

    This article is part of our family feature series with Circle Surrogacy, a surrogacy agency that has been helping LGBTQ+ singles and couples realize their dream of parenthood for the past 20 years.

    "I think I was pretty naïve, I guess," chuckled Gene, one of the first single gay dads to work with Circle Surrogacy over 19 years ago. "I just had made a decision and went out and did it, and wasn't really thinking about how difficult it might be or what other people thought, being first at doing something."

    So how did Gene hear about surrogacy as an option for single gay men? Well, it began with Gene flipping through a bar magazine. He recalls seeing an ad about a woman providing a service to connect gay men with lesbians in platonic co-parenting relationships. While he started down that path, working with the founder, Jennifer, he remembers thinking, "What if I meet someone? What if I want to move? It would create all these complications."

    Keep reading... Show less
    Gay Dad Life

    Karamo Brown Co-Writes Children's Book with Son, Jason

    The 'Queer Eye' star and his son named the story on a family mantra: You are Perfectly Designed

    When his sons, Jason and Chris, were young, "Queer Eye" Star Karamo Brown repeated the same saying to them: "You are perfectly designed."

    That mantra is now a Children's Book, cowritten by Karamo and his 22-year-old son, Jason, who used to come how and "say things like, 'I don't want to be me, I wish I was someone else, I wish I had a different life." As a parent, that "broke my heart," Karamo told Yahoo! Lifestyle. "I would say to him, 'You are blessed and you are perfect just the way you are,' as a reminder that you have been given so much and you should be appreciative and know that you're enough — I know that the world will try to tear you down, but if you can say to yourself, 'I am perfectly designed,' maybe it can quiet out some of those negative messages."

    The illustrations, by Anoosha Syed, also make a point of displaying families of a variety of races and sexual orientations throughout the book.

    Read more about Karamo's fascinating path to becoming a gay dad here, and then check out the video below that delves deeper into the inspiration behind "You Are Perfectly Designed," available on Amazon.

    Change the World

    "Dadvocates" Gather in D.C. to Demand Paid Family Leave for ALL Parents

    "Dadvocate" and new gay dad Rudy Segovia joined others in D.C. recently to educate lawmakers on the need for paid family leave for ALL parents

    On Tuesday October 22, Dove Men+Care and PL+US (Paid Leave for the United States) led the Dads' Day of Action on Capitol Hill. A group of over 40 dads and "dadvocates" from across the states lobbied key member of Congress on the issue of paid paternity leave for *ALL* dads. They shared stories of their struggles to take time off when welcoming new family members and the challenges dads face with no paid paternity leave.

    Keep reading... Show less

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