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

Gays WITHOUT Kids (If Just For a Day...)

Andrew Kohn explains why he decided to leave his kids at home this Pride

I'm not a monster. Yes, I saw the wagons carrying lovely toddler children waiving their flags and eating their graham crackers. The children were plentiful wearing their Pride family shirts, bejeweled in rainbow. The weather was perfect and the crowds were as prideful as ever. But my husband and I had a day where we didn't have to worry about someone else, not on the constant lookout for the next available bathroom or calming emotions because we could buy one unicorn costume and not every unicorn costume. We had a day without kids.

Yes, Pride has become commercialized. Some companies want my gay money, but others march and have a presence because one gay voice spoke up and asked why the company hasn't marched. I marched in the parade with my employer – who marched for the first time this year – because I started the conversation about why we hadn't marched before. My husband and I were present. We honored Stonewall. And praised Nina West. And we did it without carrying a bag with extra panties and a couple sippy cups.

Believe me, I get sharing the day with your children. With your family. But in my house, we live Pride every day. Two white dads caring for two black kids makes us walking billboards for equality, love, and acceptance. I don't need a day to celebrate my family with my children. We do it in the grocery store. We do it at preschool. We recognize our uniqueness and celebrate it. My children don't need a meltdown and a long walk to tell them about their history and their fathers' connection to the past.

Instead of worrying about where we would find lunch and, again, where the closest bathroom was, I saw beauty that took me by surprise – and I was able to be in the moment with it. Trans men waking boldly and bravely around only wearing only their bindings. Watching high school kids sitting in the grass, wearing crop tops and eating french fries, literally carefree looking up at the clouds. We experienced a community that was free and uninhibited, if just for one afternoon, where who you are isn't odd or something to be hidden. But rather something that is a definition of you and should be your reality 365 days a year.

I know that being gay and having kids can be overwhelming at times. We ask ourselves if we're representing our community adequately (or have we become too heteronormative?). If we have children of a different race, are we giving them the experiences they need to know who they are, as well as navigate that world with gay parents? Are we so embraced at school functions because of our contributions to community or are we a token family? And yes, I'll ask it, are we good enough for acceptance by all gay families, who as if we're single again, judge each other on wealth, looks, and status? No family is better than any other, and gay parents certainly have opportunities to be better towards one another.

Our Pride ended in a small fight while walking to the car, like all good Pride's should. But it wasn't about kids bickering, or kids getting upset they didn't get the right treat. It was about us centering ourselves in a community that isn't exactly welcoming in certain spaces to gay families other times of the year. It was about us catching up with our past while also seeing our collective future.

And the kids didn't seem to mind. They had fun with a babysitter and lived their Pride out loud when they shopped for daddy and papa gifts for Father's Day. That's our Pride. Maybe when the kids are older, and really get the meaning of Pride, we'll start marching together in solidarity. But for right now, daddies needed a little time alone to reconnect with their LGBT family. And while there may be too many beer ads and not enough voter registration tables, we celebrate visibility and love. And my husband and I had time together, reminding us of who we are, who our original family was, and how we will connect who we are now, and our children, with that family as it grows.

At the end of the day, we're all in it together. And my children will be enriched by the experience. Just not this year. This year, we fertilized our roots so that our branches can grow.

Gay Dad Life

Gays With Kids Turns Five!

Wow! Time certainly flies when you're busy becoming the world's biggest online resource and magazine for gay, bi and trans dads!

As if we don't have enough going on this June (Stonewall's 50th anniversary! Father's Day! Taylor Swift rounding up all the gays in West Hollywood for her latest music video!) we're also celebrating another milestone here at Gays With Kids: we're officially turning five this month. (And we don't look a day over two, right?!)

To celebrate, we took a look back at some of our most popular essays, photos, news stories and more. What do you want to see us cover in the NEXT five years? Let us know at dads@gayswithkids.com


#10. The Hardest Part of Foster Care? The Wait, Say These Dads-to-Be

Several years ago, we brought you this article: The Hardest Part of Foster Care? The Wait, Say These Dads-to-Be. The article included a video of Antwon and Nate, who were in the midst of their process to become foster dads, which quickly became one of our most popular posts of all time. In this video, they shared how difficult it was waiting for "the" call from the agency letting them know their lives would be forever changed once a child came to live with them.

Want to see how the dads are getting on several years later? Check out this updated video here!

#9. Famous Gay Dads and Their Kids!

Our article, Famous Gay Dads and Their Kids, featuring well-known gay dads from Neil Patrick Harris to Ryan Murphy, quickly became one of our most popular. In the years since, as the ranks of gay dads has continued to grow, we've brought you MANY more stories of gay men in the limelight who are venturing into fatherhood. Check them all out here!

#8. The Story Behind America's Youngest Gay Dad

The Story Behind America's Youngest Gay Dad, which ran back in 2015, is also one of our most popular posts of all time! The post explores the story of Brian Mariano, who became a father with an ex-girlfriend while still in high school. "Everybody in my life is really supportive of me," he said. "If it's someone new and a friend mentions I'm a dad, they will stop. 'Wait, what? How are you a dad? You're gay.' It's like that 'Mean Girls' quote sometimes. You know – 'if you're from Africa, why are you white?'"

#7. When His Son Got a Tattoo, He Freaked Out. Then He Saw What it Was

This article, When His Son Got a Tattoo, He Freaked Out, definitely plucked the heartstrings of our readers! Which is why it's one of the most popular articles on our site of all time.

"Guess what dad I'm getting a tattoo," Richard's son, Jonathan, texted him. "Don't you dare," was Richard's response. But Jonathan went ahead with it anyway. At first, his dad "fumed." But then he found out what the tattoo was.

"So I got my first tattoo!!" Jonathan wrote on Facebook, of his roman numeral tattoo on his side. "This date is the day that my life changed. This is the day my dads adopted me. The greatest day in my life knowing that for the rest of my life I would finally have a loving family that loved me for me!" (Another one of our most popular posts is this photo essay of gay dads who explain the meaning behind their tattoos.)

#6. 8 Black Dads Share What Black History Month Means to Their Families

Last year, during February's Black History Month, we ran an article titled 8 Black Dads Share What Black History Month Means to Their Families. To create the post, we asked our community a simple question: as a Black gay dad, what does this month mean to you, your family, and your community? The answers we got back were reflective, poignant and deeply moving, which is why this article became one of our most-viewed ever.

Check out the story here.

#5. 19 Photos of Matt Dallas & Blue Hamilton That Will Make You Green with Parenting Envy

Ok the popularity of this article, 19 Photos of Matt Dallas & Blue Hamilton That Will Make You Green with Parenting Envy, doesn't need that much explanation. Gorgeous, talented, successful and good dads? What's not to love! Also check out this more recent post, Things Husbands (and Gay Dads) Do According to Matt Dallas and Blue Hamilton, which is also quickly climbing the ranks of our most popular!

#4. A Gay Dad's Message From His Heart to his Facebook Friends

This article, A Gay Dad's Message From the Heart to his Facebook Friends, by gay dad Michael Anderson, ran in the troubling aftermath of the 2016 Presidential election, when so many LGBTQ people, our allies, and other vulnerable communities looked (and continue to look) towards an uncertain future.

"Suddenly I don't feel secure anymore," Michael wrote. "Vice president-elect Pence has an extensive anti-gay record from supporting gay conversion therapy on kids that literally includes trying to (but failing to) electro-shock the gay out, to signing legislation in his state in 2013 to jail any same-sex couple who attempted to get a marriage certificate. All of the progress that we have made that gives my family a sense of belonging and security is very likely to be erased."

For more of our ongoing political coverage, including the 2020 race, check out these articles as well.

#3. Helping Gay Men Afford Adoption Through Sizable Grants

Our third most popular article, Helping Gay Men Afford Adoption Through Sizable Grants, features our good friends Help Us Adopt, an amazing non-profit organization that helps adoptive parents offset the substantial costs associated with the process. They are also dedicated to inclusivity, and are one of the few financial resources available for gay adoptive parents. Check out this great profile of their work!

#2. 9 Times Gay Dads Crushed Their Pregnancy Announcement Pics

Gay dads love a good photo opportunity. So obviously this photo essay of gay dad pregnancy announcement pics is high up on our list as well. This photo essay, 9 Times Gay Men Crushed Their Pregnancy Announcement Pics, is our second most popular. Check out this most recent roundup of pregnancy announcement pics, which is also climbing the

And Our MOST Viewed Article of All Time Is... 

Gay dads do Halloween right! So it's no surprise that this article, 13 Dads Giving You Major Family Halloween Costume Goals, is our most viewed of all time! And though Halloween may still be months away, why not prepare early with a look at some of our other most popular Halloween articles!

Gay Dads Snap Pics at the Pumpkin Patch
Nobody Does Halloween Like Neil Patrick Harris and Fam
31 Gay Dads Serving Major Halloween Costume Inspo (and Where to Get The Looks!)
Get Your DIY Skills On for Halloween, Dads!







THANK YOU!

Lastly, a big thank you to all of our readers! It's thanks to you that we now can claim the biggest online community of gay, bi, and trans dads in the world (not to mention two GLAAD award nominations ;) We can't wait to see what the next five years bring!

Gay Dad Life

Most Fathers Experience "Dad Shaming," Says Study

52% of dads with kids ages 0-13 say they experience some form of criticism from their partners, family, friends and even complete strangers

Just in time for Father's Day, The T.C. Mott Children's Hospital in Michigan released a new national poll of 713 fathers that found a majority experience some form of criticisms as new parents. While we have long known new mothers are subjected to criticism, less studies have focused on the experiences of dads.

About half of fathers (52%) say they have been criticized about their parenting style or choices. The common source of criticism is the child's other parent (44%), though the report didn't explore if this finding was equally true for LGBTQ couples. Grandparents (24%) and the father's own friends (9%) were also common sources of criticism. Dads even reported receiving criticism about their parenting from strangers in public places or online (10%), as well as professionals like teachers or health care providers (5%).

Among some of the findings:

  • 67% of dads say they were criticized for how they discipline their child
  • 43% are criticized for their children's diet and nutrition
  • 32% are criticized for not paying attention to their children
  • 32% are criticized for being too rough with their kids

"Over one quarter of fathers in this Mott Poll noted that criticism made them feel less confident in their parenting, and 1 in 5 fathers said that criticism made them want to be less involved as a parent," the report says. "In short, too much disparagement can cause fathers to be demoralized about their parental role. This is unfortunate for both father and child, and those tempted to criticize fathers should be wary of this potential consequence."

Read the whole report here.

Adults

Why This Adopted Gay Man Will Never Have Children

Do we have a biological right to parenthood? Kevin Saunders, a childless 52-year-old gay man, says no.

Guest post written by Kevin Saunders.

Two dear friends of mine, each partnered, capable gay men of relatively sound mind and body, have recently decided to become fathers, and I could not be more unnerved. The expense, the risk, the potential for disappointment, the logistical complexity that they must navigate leave me baffled and at times enraged with the lingering question that I have, out of respect, refrained from asking, "WHY, WHY, WHY do you want to do this?!" These feelings toward what most would consider a happy occasion beg a reciprocal enquiry: "Why do you care?" The answer is rooted in a disposition and a history that has left me skeptical of the innate right to biological parenthood that many, gay or straight, seem to feel entitled to.

Keep reading... Show less

Antwon and Nate became dads through the foster care system. Nine months after becoming licensed, they received a call on a Tuesday, and two days later, their daughter moved in. "It was very quick," said Nate. "Honestly, it was more just shock and nervousness for me."

As new parents, Nate took unpaid leave for two weeks, before going back to work part-time. Antwon didn't receive any leave.

"It's definitely important to have time off to bond, but it's also important to be financially stable when you do it," said Antwon. "I don't think you should have to choose between staying financially afloat or showing your kid love... and I don't think anyone should have to make that choice."

Only 15% of dads in the U.S. have access to paid paternity leave. We want to change this.

Watch Nate and Antwon's video to find out how:

Sign the pledge: www.dovemencare.com/pledge

Like Antwon and Nate, we're helping Dove Men+Care advocate for paid paternity leave for *ALL* dads! Over the next three months, we will be sharing stories of gay dad families and their paternity leave experience. Our goal is to get 100,000 folks to sign the Paternity Leave Pledge.

Dove Men+Care has collected over 30,000 signatures on the Pledge for Paternity Leave in three short months, in a mission to champion and support new legislation for federally mandated paid leave laws in the U.S. With the conversation growing on Capitol Hill, Dove Men+Care will target key legislators to drive urgency behind paid paternity leave policy and provide a social proof in the form of real dad testimonials, expert research and signature support from families across the country.

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.

Surrogacy for Gay Men

What Professionals Will I Work With on a Surrogacy Journey?

There will be LOTS of people involved in your surrogacy journey. Kristin Marsoli of Circle Surrogacy breaks down the team of people you can expect to work with.

A surrogacy journey, while monumental, is also a complex process with multiple milestones, many of which are new territory for intended parents. You will likely form the strongest relationships with your egg donor and surrogate, however there are many other professionals who you'll encounter on your journey who will educate and support you on your way to parenthood.

Here are the types of professionals you can expect to work with on your surrogacy journey working with an agency such as Circle Surrogacy & Egg Donation:

Parent Outreach Team

When you start your research on surrogacy and surrogacy agencies, if you contact Circle Surrogacy, your first point of contact will be a member of our Parent Outreach Team. This person solely supports intended parents at the very beginning stages of their journeys, before they've signed on with an agency. The Parent Outreach Team is a wonderful resource to answer questions about the surrogacy process, surrogacy costs, how to choose an agency and more. At Circle, many of our Parent Outreach Associates are also parents through surrogacy, so they can share their experiences and understand exactly what it's like to be in your shoes. When you have your surrogacy consultation, you'll meet with a Parent Outreach Associate and a Lawyer to discuss your personal surrogacy needs and journey. Your Parent Outreach Team will support you through signing on with the agency.

Circle's Parent Outreach Team

Egg Donation Matching Coordinator

It's time to match with the first of two women who will be very important in your journey to parenthood: your egg donor! Selecting an egg donor may come easy to some, but others may take more time determining their perfect match. Our egg donor coordination team will help you find the right egg donor to meet your needs. They will help you navigate the egg donor database and coordinate your egg donor match.

IVF Doctor and Clinic Coordinators

You'll work closely with your IVF clinic professionals, including coordinators and, especially, your doctor. Your IVF doctor will advise you on your IVF journey and embryos, evaluate your egg donor and surrogate to determine they are ready for the process medically, and perform the egg retrieval and embryo transfer. Some intended parents come to surrogacy having already identified a clinic, others look for guidance in choosing a clinic that will best suit their needs.

Program Manager and Coordinator

Perhaps the professionals you will work the closest with will be your Program Manager (PM) and Program Coordinator (PC). As your journey support team, your PC and/or PM will be your day-to-day contact during your entire journey, from the moment you sign on with the agency, until the birth of your baby and beyond. Your PC and your PM ensure that you are meeting every milestone, having a smooth journey, and preparing for the arrival of your baby(ies).

Social Workers

Early on in your journey, you'll have an intended parent support call with one of the agency's social workers. During this call, you'll speak with the social worker about your upcoming journey, setting up expectations, talk about matching preferences and more. Social workers are also available to intended parents throughout their journey should they have a bump in the road, or if they need help navigating and talking through a situation.

L-R Alicia Abdella, Manager of Intended Parent Support and Social Worker, Jessica McCaffrey, Intended Parent Attorney and Scott Buckley, VP of Client Services

Lawyers (both at Circle and local attorneys)

During the surrogacy process you will work with a lawyer for the following milestones:

  • Drafting, negotiating and finalizing your surrogacy contracts
  • Establishing your parental rights
  • Safely returning home

Intended parents will be assigned a Circle attorney who will be part of the Coordination team. Parents can also expect to work with local counsel – lawyers who work out of the state from which their gestational carrier resides. Local counsel will help with establishing parental rights.

Surrogate Matching Team

A key milestone during your surrogacy journey is matching with your gestational carrier. At Circle, the Matching Manager – who is also a lawyer – presents intended parents with the profile of a gestational carrier whom she believes will be a great match. The match is based on a few criteria: legal fit, personality fit, geographic location and views on surrogacy. The Matching Team will help coordinate your first call with your potential surrogate, and work with you to find the most suitable match.

Trust Accountant Team

Each surrogacy operates a little differently; however if you work with a full-service agency such as Circle Surrogacy, a Trust Accountant will manage any outgoing payments to surrogates, egg donors and third parties. Upon matching, trust accountants keep intended parents informed of the monies needed to fund all expected expenses up until 6 months post delivery. They can also answer any financial questions intended parents may have.

Medical Billing Team

Intended parents will interact with the Medical Billing Team when they are matched with their gestational carrier. The team determines what intended parents can expect to pay for medical expenses from local monitoring, pregnancy and delivery, based on their specific case. The Medical Billing Team also reviews each medical bill from monitoring, physicians and the hospital prior to payment to ensure accuracy, and advocate for intended parents should medical facilities need to be called for any discrepancies.

Gestational Carrier's OBGYN

Around the 10th week of pregnancy, the IVF clinic will discharge your surrogate from their care and she will start seeing her OBGYN. Your surrogate will select her OBGYN that is local to her, and usually the same doctor she saw for her own pregnancies. Many intended parents attend the 20-week ultrasound with their surrogate, at which time they meet the OBGYN in person (in some cases, IPs have been "attended" ultrasound appointments via video on their surrogate's phone!).

The entire team at Circle

Hospital Staff

Your baby will be delivered at a hospital in your gestational carrier's home state; many times, it's the hospital where she delivered her own children. Circle recommends touring the Labor & Delivery section of your surrogate's hospital to help familiarize yourself with its staff and layout in advance. Many intended parents combine their visit for the 20-week ultrasound and the hospital tour. Touring the hospital with your surrogate enables you both to ask questions of the hospital staff and prepare for baby's delivery.

Embassy personnel (international intended parents)

International parents will work with their agency's legal team as well as local counsel to ensure they can return home safely. Some intended parents will need to travel to the embassy to secure travel documents for their baby(ies).

There are so many experienced professionals involved in a surrogacy and egg donation journey. It's important to understand with whom you'll be working throughout each milestone. While every agency operates differently – and an independent surrogacy journey will involve fewer agency professionals – these are the professionals intended parents can expect to work with on a journey with Circle Surrogacy. And because Circle is a full-service agency, many of the professionals mentioned above – outside of IVF clinics, local attorneys, hospital and embassy personnel – are all under one roof, making the management of your journey smooth and secure.

Change the World

How to Deal with "Dad Shaming"

In the latest episode of Daddy Squared, we take a deep dive into the issue of "dad shaming" with guest Jeremy Hooper of GLAAD

Almost every dad has suffered some unwanted criticism either on social media or in real life, from people who 'know better' about parenting. Dad shaming is a thing, parents tend to judge other parents, and it manifests itself both on social media and in real life, making dads just feel awful about themselves. As a follow-up to our Pride episode, we talk about the opposite of pride – shame. We brought on Jeremy Hooper, a writer and consultant for GLAAD, who has been dad-shamed before he even left the hospital with his newborn, to discuss dealing with dad shaming, 'momsplaining,' and other forms of criticism.

On the eve of publishing this episode we received an email from a person who chose to remain anonymous but made sure he let us know that he had heard one of us asking our kids not to touch every single item on the Starbucks counter and the way we talked to them made him 'concerned that we are beating our children.' Less than a year ago we confronted a mom who literally told us we're bad fathers because we didn't handle a parenting situation like she would. Dad shaming is everywhere, and it happens to almost all of us, and it hurts. Even if we pretend that it doesn't.

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