Gay Dad Life

Bobby and Fred: Adopting Ten Kids from Foster Care

Many stories of gay men creating their families follow a predictable path: two men fall in love, move in together and start a family. This is not one of those stories.


Bobby became a first-time dad when he was just 19 years old; he was married to a woman at the time. When Fred's firstborn arrived, he was 24 and married to a woman as well.

Fred (left) and Bobby, their first summer together June 1997

Bobby would eventually have four children, two of whom were technically stepchildren; Fred would have two children of his own. As time went on, they each discovered they were gay and ended their marriages, but both became the primary caregivers of their kids. As single gay dads they met on December 28, 1996. At the time, Bobby and two of his children were living in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Fred was living with his two kids in nearby Muskogee, also in Oklahoma.

When Bobby and Fred met, the four children were all close in age. Only a month later, Bobby's family moved into Fred's home, and just like that, two families merged into one.

Fred and Bobby's older kids from their first relationships

Years later, the summer after their youngest two moved out, one of Bobby's stepdaughters asked the men if they could help care for her 3-year-old son, Shayne, for a couple of months. He never left, and in fact he recently turned 18 years old.

Over the years his stepdaughter had four more children, all of whom would eventually move in with their step-grandfathers, too. Haeli, now 16, was 3 when she moved in; Kamirah, now 13, was 4; Bobby II, now 10, was a newborn; as was Patti, now 8. Today the older kids refer to the men as Grandpa and Uncle Fred, but the two youngest call them both Daddy.

Bobby and Fred's wedding: August 5, 2014 in Albuquerque, New Mexico

The family celebrating on Bobby and Fred's wedding day

The men gave these kids a stable, loving home. In 2011 they finalized the adoption of all five of these kids.

The family was still not done expanding. One of Bobby's sons had three children living in foster care. (One of these children is technically Bobby's granddaughter.) For years there was legal wrangling between the men and the state of Texas, where the birth mother was living. The kids stayed with Bobby and Fred for about a year, then were reunited with their mom for a while until Child Protective Services stepped in again. When the birth mother's rights were terminated, Ashton, now 10, Katelyn, now 7, and Trenton, now 3, became a permanent part of the family in 2014. They were officially adopted in January of 2016.

The final two children whom Bobby and Fred took in are still babies. The men welcomed Emma Rose and Alexander Jackson, Bobby's biological grandchildren, into their home in August 2015 following their birth. Their adoption was finalized November 18, 2016 -- today!

2015: Bobby holding Emma Rose and Alexander Jackson

When asked if his children have any other children, Bobby answered with what seemed to be a heartfelt “God, I hope not!"

How about Fred's biological children? Fred's daughter, a lesbian, is living with her partner and children. His son is gay, too.

Bobby and Fred feel that all their kids can be whoever they want to be without fear of judgment.

Both men have been parenting little ones for decades now. To illustrate: the age difference between their oldest and their youngest kids is a whopping 31. Unsurprisingly, they do feel they're getting older. (“You better take your vitamins and you better take care of yourself!" says Bobby.) But there are quite a few things related to growing older that work to their advantage: They're more stable as a couple and they are financially a lot better off now than they were in the nineties. And their older kids, teenagers now, really help out a lot. In Bobby's words, “Everybody takes care of the ones younger than themselves."

How do the men make this enormous household work? First, they have a big house, with eight bedrooms. And they do a lot of housework on the weekends. But the real reason for their success is how they managed to make everyone feel part of the family: They treat all children the same, whether they are biologically related or not; there is no difference between any of them.

The family's adoption of Emma Rose and Alexander Jackson, November 18, 2016

Fred is especially clear on this point: “These children didn't have anything until you adopted them and all they have is you and us. There is no difference to me."

And as if to drive their point home: they made sure all their kids have the same last name.

This brings the guys to their last point: There are so, so many kids out there that need loving, caring homes. Says Fred, “We have this thing called Wednesday's Child. Some of those kids have been in foster care their whole life. You probably have something similar on the news when they show kids that are needing to be adopted. Once a week. It's all I can do not to pick up the phone. But I think we've got enough already." Bobby adds, “It's heartbreaking to see them. If someone is thinking about being a parent, please look into the foster-care system of your state."

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Gay Dad Life

Broadway Performer's Surrogacy Journey Briefly Sidetracked — for One Very 'Wicked' Reason

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In the latest video of the Broadway Husbands sharing their path to fatherhood, Stephen and Bret explain their hiatus for the past 4 months. The couple have big news to share including a relocation, a job announcement, and the fact that they're getting ready to restart their journey (which they had to take a brief pause from since September).

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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.



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Just weeks after his arrival, he'd get a whole lot more than another pin in his map of visited countries when he attended a social event at Freeport Rugby. "My object was to ogle the local male talent but several women had other ideas," he said. One woman was particularly insistent, he said, but after a couple of drinks she got the hint that he batted for the other rugby team. "She promptly told me there was someone I should meet."

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Gay Dads Told One Must Identify as 'Mother' to Enroll in Daycare

The Israeli gay dads told one must identify as mother — like a "normal couple" — in order to receive financial assistance for daycare.

Israeli dads Guy Sadak Shoham and Chai Aviv Shoham were trying to enroll their two-year-old twins in daycare when they were told by a government official that one would need to identify as the "mother" in order to be cleared.

According to Out Magazine, the couple was attempting to apply for financial aid to help pay for the costs of preschool when a government bureaucrat called them to discuss their eligibility.

"I understand that you are both fathers and understand that you both run a shared household, but there is always the one who is more dominant, who is more the mother," the government said, according to an interview on the Israel site Ynet (translated by Out Magazine). "I am just asking for a written statement in your hand which of you is the mother. From the point of view of the work, which works less than the father. Like a normal couple."

The official, apparently, said she was beholden to rules set for in the Ministry of Economy.

"It is mostly sad and a little disturbing," one of the dads told Ynet. "These are concepts that we consider the past. We do not necessarily come up with allegations against this representative, she is ultimately subject to the guidelines and as she said, they are the state. It is also sad that the state's definition of a mother is someone who works less and is at home with the children, and that we must choose which of us meets that definition."

The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, fortunately, issued an apology following the incident, and promised to update its protocols. "We will emphasize that the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs practices explicitly treat all types of families and grant equal rights to all," the ministry wrote in a statement, an apology that was called "insufficient" by Ohad Hizki, the director-general of the National LGBT Task Force.

"The Ministry of Labor and Welfare must sharpen its procedures immediately to prevent recurrence of cases of this kind, as other public organizations have been able to do," he said.

Read more about this story on Out Magazine.

News

World's First Sperm Bank Opens for HIV Positive Donors

Sperm Positive, started by three non-profits in New Zealand, hopes to end stigma surrounding HIV and parenthood

"Our donors have so much to give," say the promotional materials of a new sperm bank. "But they can't give you HIV."

The new sperm bank, Sperm Positive, launched on World Aids Day this year by three non-profits as a way to fight stigma surrounding HIV and parenthood. For years, scientists have known that those living with an undetectable level of HIV in their blood thanks to antiretroviral treatments can't transmit the virus through sex or childbirth. Yet discrimination and stigma persists.

The sperm bank exists online only, but will connect donors and those seeking donations with fertility banks once a connection is made on their site. Sperm Positive was started by three New Zealand non-profits — Body Positive, the New Zealand Aids Foundation and Positive Women Inc. — who hope the project will help disseminate science-backed education and information about HIV and parenthood.

Already, three HIV positive men have signed up to serve as donors, including Damien Rule-Neal who spoke to the NZ Herald about his reasons for getting involved in the project. "I want people to know life doesn't stop after being diagnosed with HIV and that it is safe to have children if you're on treatment," he told the Herald. "I've experienced a lot of stigma living with HIV, both at work and in my personal life that has come from people being misinformed about the virus."

We applaud the effort all around! To read more about our own efforts to end the stigma surround HIV and parenthood, check out our recent round-up of family profiles, resources, and expert advice that celebrate the experience of gay dads living with HIV here.

Change the World

'Homosexuality is Wrong' Utah Teacher Tells Boy Who Gave Thanks for His Two Adoptive Dads

The substitute teacher went on to say two men living together is "sinful." She was fired shortly after.

To anyone with a heart, the moment should have done nothing more than bring a tear to the eye. Last week, just before the Thanksgiving break, a substitute teacher in a fifth grade class in Cedar Hills, Utah — just south of Salt Lake City — asked her students to name something they were thankful for this holiday season.

"I'm thankful for finally being adopted by my two dads," said Daniel, one of the boys, when it was his turn.

Rather than grab a tissue to dab her eyes, or ask the classroom to join her in a hearty round of applause to celebrate Daniel finding his forever family, the teacher took it upon herself to impart her personal religious beliefs onto the young boy. "Homosexuality is wrong," the teacher said in front of the class, adding that it was "sinful" for two men to live together.

The teacher, fortunately, was fired from Kelly Services, the substitute staffing company that employed her, quickly after the incident, but the moment is nonetheless receiving widespread attention in the press — no doubt in part because one of the boy's dads, Louis van Amstel of "Dancing With the Stars," posted a video clip to his 76,000 Twitter followers with the title: "Our child was bullied."

"It shouldn't matter if you're gay, straight, bisexual, black and white," he said to the New York Times in a follow up interview. "If you're adopting a child and if that child goes to a public school, that teacher should not share her opinion about what she thinks we do in our private life."

Louis also revealed that the moment may not have come to light were it not for three of his son's classmates, who told the principal about the teacher's bigoted comments. His son, Daniel, didn't want to report the incident for fear of getting the teacher into trouble.

Louis expressed thanks that the staffing company responded as quickly as it did following the incident — and also stressed that his neighbors and community have rallied behind he and his family in the days afterward, offering support. He wanted to dispel stereotypes that Utah, because of its social conservatism and religiosity, was somehow inherently prejudiced.

"It doesn't mean that all of Utah is now bad," he told the Times. "This is one person."

It's also true that this type of prejudice is in no way limited to so-called red states, and incidents like these happen daily. LGBTQ parents and our children are subjected to homophobic and transphobic comments in schools, hospitals, stores, airlines and elsewhere as we simply go about living our lives. These moments so often fly under the radar — many classmates don't have the courage, as they fortunately did in this case, to report wrongdoing. Some administrators are far less responsive than they were here — and most of us don't have 76,000 Twitter followers to help make these moments of homophobia a national story.

All that aside, let's also get back to what should have been nothing more than a heartwarming moment — Daniel, a fifth grade boy, giving thanks to finally being legally adopted into a loving family.

Fatherhood, the gay way

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