Gay Dad Life

Busy-ness: The Start-Up CEO, the L.A. Entertainment Lawyer and Their Child

Chad Billmyer, 36, is the founder and CEO of Panjo, a marketplace for rare and high-quality items. Jason Hendler, 47, works as an entertainment lawyer, representing actors, writers, directors, and producers. These are the types of jobs where logging 12-hour days is more the norm than the exception. But on top of their jobs, Chad and Jason are also fathers to a 6-year-old boy named Colin. In other words, Chad and Jason are very, very busy.


In fact they are so busy, I couldn’t find a time to conduct an interview for this article (which is about busy gay dads, if you hadn’t caught on yet) that worked with all three of our schedules. (Hey, I’m kind of busy, too.) So instead, I caught up with Chad and Jason separately to talk about just how busy they are, and how they managed to pull off fatherhood and busy jobs all at once.

*** 

Chad and Jason are both ambitious men, which is perhaps what originally attracted them to one another when they met in a bar, in Philadelphia, 15 years ago. Chad was living in Philadelphia working on his first tech start-up at the time, and Jason, who was living in Los Angeles, was in town visiting his family for Thanksgiving.

Chad (l) and Jason in 2003

The two hit it off immediately, and began dating long distance. “Jason’s parents were thrilled with me at first since their son was suddenly in town much more often,” Chad said, laughing. Jason’s parents were probably less thrilled when, two years later, Chad decided to join Jason in California, making his Philly trips less frequent. Today, the two are permanently situated in Santa Monica.

For Chad, that he would one day be a father was more or less a given. Growing up, he was the oldest kid in his neighborhood, and was everyone’s first babysitter call. “I enjoyed taking care of kids in the neighborhood,” Chad said, “and it sort of inspired me to be a parent.”

Jason’s path to parenthood, however, was less preordained. “I was somewhat ambivalent at first,” Jason admitted. “But Chad was so interested in it, and I was open to it. So he convinced me.”  

“He didn’t take any convincing,” Chad said, perhaps anticipating this characterization of events from Jason. (Though I spoke to Chad and Jason separately, it often felt like they were listening in on each other’s interviews and responding accordingly.) And interestingly, Chad attributes Jason’s ambivalence to parenthood, compared to his own more active interest, to their generational divide.

“Being 10 years apart in age, we had different experiences being gay,” Chad explained. “Being a parent was not very much, if at all, on Jason’s radar.” But Chad felt that he was part of a generation where parenthood for LGBT people was starting to become more of a forgone conclusion, as it is for many heterosexual couples. “You grow up, get a job and have a kid,” Chad said. “That’s how it works.”

So was the concept of fatherhood just slightly more foreign to Jason than it was to Chad? “No, it just wasn’t a shared vision at first, and I definitely seeded and drove the parenthood conversation,” Chad clarified. “And over time, it became a shared vision.”

“And I couldn’t be happier about it,” Jason said.

Maybe Baby?

Once Chad and Jason decided to turn their shared vision into a reality, they started doing their research. First, they attended an event hosted by the Gay and Lesbian Center in Los Angeles called “Maybe Baby” geared towards (you guessed it!) LGBT people who were interested in having a baby, maybe.

“It’s a day-long event,” Chad said. “They have speakers on foster-to-adopt, open adoption, international adopt, surrogacy. We explored all our options, and debated the merits of each, …” he trailed off, pausing a second.

“So…” I asked. “What route did you choose?”

“You know what’s super interesting about that question?” Chad asked me, as an aside, before answering. “People aren’t sure if they’re allowed to ask it. I’m totally fine with it, but I’m not sure if all gay dads feel that way. There are other gay dads in my life who I haven’t asked and I don’t know.” Fortunately for us, however, Chad and Jason are of the mindset that being public about routes to parenthood can be helpful to other gay dads.

“We decided adoption was right for us,” Chad said.

The adoption process took the couple two years start to finish. To help them through the process, they hired a private lawyer. “He’s kind of like the ‘go-to’ lawyer for gay dads in the entertainment industry,” Chad explained. “He did all the home study work, and had a particular way of doing things.”

The lawyer, for instance, asks the birth mothers a series of questions about her preferences in order to find the best match for his clients. Does religion matter? Geographic location? Do they mind adoptive parents who are LGBT? But then, each birth mother is given a set of several adoptive parents to choose from. “The onus is on her to pick who she wants to adopt her child,” Chad explained.

Eventually, Chad and Jason were matched with a woman in Florida. Knowing they were up against other adoptive parents, Chad asked his lawyer to arrange a phone call with the birth mom so he could make his case. “In retrospect, it was a pretty terrible experience,” Chad said. “It must be horrible to get this disruptive call in the middle of the day, and have this guy pitch himself to you.”

As an entrepreneur, Chad was of course used to cold-calling people to pitch himself to investors. But it was one thing to be pitching an idea, he continued, and quite another to be selling yourself and your relationship for the right to adopt a child.

“This felt like the ultimate sales call,” Chad said. “The emotional investment, the stakes, everything was just so high.” After that call, there was nothing left to do but wait. But as the weeks passed on, Chad and Jason didn’t hear a definitive answer from the birth mom. Maybe she had selected another family? She could have still been deciding, but they didn’t keep their hopes up.

But then, out of the blue, Chad received a text message from Colin’s birth grandmother wishing Chad and Jason a happy Thanksgiving. “It was just a little random,” Chad said, noting that they hadn’t corresponded at all in several weeks. “So I said, ‘Thank you, but has [the birth mom] chosen who she wants to adopt the baby?’”

In all caps, the response came back: “IT’S YOU!”

Make it Work

Chad and Jason were thrilled they had been chosen to be Colin’s adoptive parents, but there was a problem: Colin’s birth mother was living in Florida in 2009, which still prohibited adoption by same-sex couples. In order to get around this law, they had to fly Colin’s birth mother to California. Though Colin’s birth mom left the Sunshine State for the Golden State well before she was due to give birth, Colin seemed ready to meet his new dads as soon as he arrived in his new home; Colin was born just three days after his birth mother’s arrival in California, and nearly a month before his due date.

They had nothing. No baby clothes, no crib, no childcare plans. But they made it work. They borrowed a bassinet from a neighbor, went to Babies “R” Us the day after Colin’s birth, and hired a nanny to help the dads out during the day.  “Speaking from experience,” Chad said of their rushed path to fatherhood, “you don’t need to do that much to prepare. We’re living proof!” He laughed. “You just make it work. You’ll be fine.”

“It’s funny, before Colin arrived, people would ask us, ‘What are your childcare plans?’” Chad said. “But we had no idea! We didn’t know what it was like to work and have a kid. We had no idea the type of help we would need.”

“I felt like we could figure it out,” Jason said of the challenge. “I knew enough people with good careers and kids. I knew we had the ability to make it work.”

And so they did, though not without some sacrifices along the way.  One of the first shifts, for example, was a career change for Chad. “I was working for Nelnet at the time,” Chad said, “which is a diversified education holding company.” Chad’s position with Nelnet required a lot of travel between Los Angeles and Princeton, New Jersey, where the company is headquartered. “With Colin, I just had to change the amount of travel in my life,” Chad said, “so it prompted me to leave Nelnet a number of months later.”

“Lucky you!” I said before I could stop myself. (Nelnet, I told Chad, is the company in charge of my own tuition payment plan for graduate school. If only I could break my association with the company that easily!)

The move would be a good one for Chad, who used the opportunity to begin work on his second tech start-up, Panjo. (“We’re a peer-to-peer market place,” Chad explained. “So the world’s most hardened mountain bikers will turn to Panjo to buy and sell high-end used gear.”) Though Chad was still logging plenty of hours at his new start-up, he didn’t have to travel as much and had more flexibility as the company’s founder.

The other big “make it work” development for the couple was childcare. With Chad and Jason both working 12-hour days, they knew they’d need some outside help. “We don’t have any family nearby,” Jason explained. “Se we got a nanny for the daytime hours.”

Even with the help, though, it was difficult. For a number of years, after working a full day, Chad and Jason would get home around 5 p.m., and then immediately slip into the dinner, bath, and bedroom routine. Once Colin was asleep, however, they’d both still have a number of hours of work left before bed.

“That was breaking me,” Chad admitted. “I was super mentally and physically exhausted.”

As Colin has gotten older, however, it gradually became easier. “Now, we basically just need an hour in the evening to help with dinnertime and bath-time before we get home for the bedtime routine,” Chad said.

Given their lighter childcare needs, the couple decided to hire an au pair just six months ago. They had heard good things from friends, and thought the cultural exchange experience could be a beneficial one for all of them. By this time, Colin was 6 years old and was often in after school programs until the early evening, so the family only needed a couple of hours of help each day anyway.

“It’s wonderful that someone brings a different perspective on childcare and children, language, and the world into the house,” Chad said. “It’s been an incredible experience.”

The only real problem? Their au pair was a bit uncomfortable behind the wheel – within the first two months, she got into two minor traffic accidents. “Everyone was fine, thank God,” Jason said. “But she doesn’t drive now.”

Now I’ve never lived in Los Angeles, but I’d always thought driving a car, like downing gallon-sized iced-coffee drinks and discussing your yoga practice with strangers, was an essential part of Los Angeles living. How did they make it work without a car?

“Thank God for Uber,” Chad said, wryly.

Besides that minor mishap, the au pair experience has been a positive one for the family, and also came with one other major benefit. Since au pairs live with their host families full time, the couple was finally able to reclaim date night for the first time in 6 years. “We have no family in LA, no grandparents here to help,” Chad reminded me. “So until recently, since we brought Colin home, we’ve been terrible about having any semblance of a regular night to ourselves.”

First date night with your husband in six years? Seems worth the Uber surcharge to me.

Work Life Balance or Bust

Since Colin joined their family, the quest to find the perfect work-life balance has been a perpetual one for both Chad and Jason. And it’s a challenge they both take very seriously.

“It took us years to find a daily routine that allows us to maximize everything – work, spending time with Colin, personal time, and then time as a couple,” Chad said. “And still, no matter what I do, it feels like I’m either cheating my spouse, my child or my start-up,” Chad says. “Nobody gets the amount of time I’d like them to get.”

Though they both recognize the challenges of being dads while simultaneously working demanding jobs, neither Chad nor Jason have any regrets about the path they chose. “Colin doesn’t know a world with stay-at-home parents,” Chad said. “This is the world he knows.”

“It hasn’t seemed to negatively impact him at all,” Jason agreed. “Regardless of all the difficulties we’ve had – schedules, lack of grandparents – I don’t feel like Colin has lacked love and support. He’s extremely happy, independent and social.”

That said, both Chad and Jason feel strongly that they didn’t bring Colin into their home just to turn around and hire a staff to raise their child. So even though they are logging late hours at work, time with Colin is still the priority.

“Its important to me that I get him ready in the morning and that I get home in time to be part of story time at night,” Chad said. “And then, of course, that I spend almost the entire weekend with him.” This set-up works for Chad most days, though he admits that it can be draining. “It’s difficult when you have a stressful day at work and then come home to a toddler who has no way of comprehending that you’re stressed,” Chad said. “It can require you to pull from a well of patience that you didn’t know had, and that you better have.”

For Jason, time is really the issue. “We have demands on our time in our professional lives, but every minute you’re spending on your work, you’re not able to spend with child.” When Jason is with Colin, he told me, he tries to be very mindful, and careful not to be distracted by work. “I feel that I’m getting good at that,” he said. “But that also means I’m probably ignoring work sometimes when I shouldn’t be.”

But Jason feels much more conflicted when he’s not getting enough time in with his son. “It is really tough if you’re working and don’t get home until 30 minutes before he goes to bed,” Jason said. “I’d like to spend more time with him than that.” And Jason has plans to do just that: he’s actively attempting to lessen the amount of time he spends working so he can spend more time with Colin.

“Will it be easy for you to scale back?” I asked Jason, naively.

He laughed. “No, it’s kind of unheard of,” he said. “It won’t be easy to scale back, but it’s going to happen anyway,” he continued. “It’s the kind of thing that most people in my work wouldn’t try to do, and I’m going to do it for a variety of reasons. You got to be willing to face the repercussions in the workplace. To say, hey, this isn’t going to be my top priority 24/7.”

Jason is looking forward to shifting more of his time at home. “I enjoy the work I do,” he told me “But I think I’ll enjoy it more doing it less. I’ll be more in control. I’m willing to take a financial hit, at least in the short term, to have more control over work schedule and life.”

Having it All?

“Let me choose my words very carefully,” Chad laughed, when I asked if he had any words of wisdom for other busy gay guys contemplating having a baby, maybe. “It is clearly possible to maintain intensive careers and be amazing dads,” Chad said. “You just need to give serious thought to the kind of work-life balance that will work best for you. But the truth is, there really isn’t an answer to that question until you’re parents, and living it full time.”

“You have to both really want it,” Jason said for his part. “It’s really important both of you are committed to this because it will be challenging. You need to know that if you’re both pursing dual careers, you’ll need help. You’ll need family nearby or be prepared to have some sort of full-time support.”

Any last pieces of advice?

“Be prepared to let your priorities shift,” Chad said. Though six years ago, Chad and Jason were more willing to allow their lives to be fully consumed by work, that is less true of them both today.  “If all I had was my tech start-up and work, that would be a very narrow existence,” Chad said. “Now, when I get home at 5 or whatever to relieve our childcare provider, I get to come home and use a different part of my brain to read Winnie the Pooh.”

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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.



Gay Dad Life

The Suburban Gay Dad

Are you intimidated by the suburbs? This gay dad was — but then he moved there.

In a recent article for Yahoo! Lifestyle, Steve Jacobs says the thought of living in the suburbs as a gay dad "intimidated" him. But when he started fantasizing about garages, he began to question that notion. Any apprehension he had soon evaporated, he said, one winter morning while trying to navigate the snowy streets of New York City with a stroller.

While "pushing the stroller through snow banks and pools of slush with snowflakes stinging our faces," he wrote, "a vision came to me: I pictured us walking into a garage, hopping into a car, and arriving at a diner with 10 times less drama. This image planted the seed of moving to the 'burbs that I couldn't shake."

Soon, the family of four found a house in a town a half hour outside the city. "It had grass and a beautiful yard for our spirited kiddos. The schools were good. There were even good restaurants. The only red flag: Census data estimated only 0.1 percent of the population was gay male."

There were some "growing pains" while trying to make friends in this environment. "When we attended our first dinner party, within minutes the hostess went to the kitchen and the other wives followed her, while the husbands settled into the living room. Ira and I froze, looking at each other. In the city, our straight friends hadn't separated out like this for the evening. Should we stay with the dudes, exert our masculinity, and blow off the mom we liked? Or does one of us go with the wives and accept the personal branding that comes with that? We did a quick rock paper scissors in the foyer. Ira went with the wives."

But ultimately, "being a parent defined me more than I ever imagined it would," he wrote, and he settled in nicely to his new suburban life.

Have you had a similar adjustment, from city life to the suburbs? Tell us about it at dads@gayswithkids.com for an upcoming piece!

Gay Dad Life

"Fridays with Fitz": A New Kid's Book Based Upon the Son of These Two Dads

Tracey Wimperly, author of the new children's book, said she hopes to give a more honest portrayal of the role grandparents play in the lives of children.

Guest post Tracey Wimperly

I've recently written a children's picture book (aimed at 2-4 year olds) called "Fridays with Fitz: Fitz Goes to the Pool." Every Friday - when his two dads go to work - Fitz and his grandparents (my husband, Steve and I) head off on an adventure. Through the eyes of a curious and energetic 3 year old, even ordinary adventures, like riding the bus or foraging for fungus in the forest can be fun and magical.

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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.

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."

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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