Gay Adoption

The Three Books That Helped This Gay Dad Have "The Talks" With His Adopted Daughter

Well before the "Birds and the Bees" talk, gay adoptive dads have a couple others they have to get through with their children. Here's several books that helped Erik Alexander and his husband have these talks with their daughter Alli Mae

It's hard to believe that we are already embarking on the appropriate time to have the "talks" with our oldest child, Alli Mae. It seems like yesterday that I was writing about our tiny little preemie. That itty bitty, 3.5 lb baby has quickly blossomed into a beautiful little girl. I am sure every household has a different opinion of when the "talks" should happen. In a heterosexual home, the "talk" usually means the birds and the bees, and takes place much later in life. However, for homosexual parents there are multiple talks. Sure, the birds and the bees are one of them and quite frankly probably the easiest of them all to have. The "talks" I am referring to are about adoption and having two dads.


It's not like I have been dreading these conversations. It's more like finding the right words. I want to be able to answer her questions. I want her to be able to understand. But most importantly, I want her to be happy and to feel secure in our love for her. I want her to be proud of her home and of her daddies.

I am a fear based person. I always have been. The glass is half empty and I am always braced for the worst. And, if by chance I am wrong and the glass turns out to be half full, then that makes my day! Douglas, however, just glides along gently like a balloon on a string. He lets things just roll off his shoulders like a bead of water on a windshield. It's not that he is fearless, he's just not concentrating on it. And when things do happen, he hits it head on and then turns the corner. Me? I face it head on, and the face it for the next 2 miles because that's all I can think about.

I am always the one to overthink things. I replay events in my head that haven't even happened yet and a lot of times, I freak my own self out! What if she resents us? What if she wants a mommy? It's almost humorous how deeply I go into things until my husband snaps me out of it. I know we are great parents! I know that we are resilient and we can navigate through anything that comes our way. In a lot of ways Douglas helps me become a better person. Sometimes he doesn't even know it. I watch him, and try to apply his confidence into my own life.

Alli Mae with her Papa and her Daddy


The "talk" conversation came about last week when Alli Mae was talking about a mommy at school. Douglas asked her if she had a mommy. She smiled and laughed and said, "No daddy. I have a daddy and a papa." Can I just say how adorable that is?!? She is two! Actually, she's two and a half. We figured if she can say that, then maybe it is time to break the ice and talk to her about how all families are different. Some families have a mommy and a daddy. Some families have two mommies and others have two daddies. Some families just have one mommy or one daddy. Our family has one daddy and one papa. There may be lots of different kinds of families but they still love their babies all the same.

We feel like the 'talks' should happen multiple times as she grows rather than just one time. We want her to feel natural about it and understand as she gradually gets older instead of her turning 6 and dropping a huge bombshell of information on her. Also, 'talks' don't have to be formal sit-downs where we make a big deal about it, rather, they can be as simple as reading a bedtime story. In fact, the books we read to her really help to open the door to these deep discussions. We were given the book And Tango Makes Three by some dear friends that also happen to be a gay family.

We have found that this book is unique because it really helps to initiate the conversation of having same sex parents while also tackling the subject of adoption as experienced by a penguin family. We literally cried the first time we read this book. It is also a true story!

A few more books that we have found to be helpful in triggering conversations about adoption are:

Red in the Flower Bed: An Illustrated Children's Story about Interracial Adoption

This book is nice because rather than using actual families as examples, this story uses flowers and seeds to convey a beautiful message. This book is the most abstract out of the ones we have.

Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born

Written by Jamie Lee Curtis, this book is very cute, however it is geared around a mom and a dad adopting a baby. Some same-sex parents may feel uneasy reading this because of the family being about a mother and father. With that said, we feel like in our home that censoring this would be doing an injustice to the growth of our children. Sure, at first it seems a bit awkward as we read stories about the traditional mom and dad, but over time, it helps create dialogue and introduce opportunities to have deep conversations with our little ones that may help them understand a little more about the differences that make each and every family. As its title implies, this book directly addresses the concept of adoption.

Alli Mae with papa and daddy

Even though the number of 'talks' we will have with our children might be more than some, the love we have for each other and all the support we have from our incredible families will enlighten our children and help them to become more accepting and well rounded adults. Instead of being fearful of these conversations, I am actually excited to have them now because I know that we have the compassion, patience, and love to help them understand that no matter what kind of family we have- they are loved with all of our hearts.

I would love for you to follow our family's journey!

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Change the World

This LGBTQ Children's Book Is About "Everyday Adventures"

"Little Panda's First Picnic," is a children's book that's about an adventure — where the parents just happen to be LGBTQ.

Guest post written by Denise Sensiba

When was the last time you read a book to your child that didn't make a big deal about the parents being LGBT and instead just followed the family on their everyday adventures? Or when was the last time you read a children's picture book that was explaining in detail what a heterosexual couple is? Probably never.

As a parent, prior nanny, early childhood music educator, and current psychotherapist, I have read my fair share of children's books and have always found it to be an enjoyable part of my life. Unfortunately, LGBT families have an incredibly small fraction of the children's books market. The few books that I encountered about same-sex parents did not follow the family as a normal family but focused on nothing more than the same-sex parents. They don't take you on adventures, or teach everyday educational lessons that our children need. Some of these books even deliver a weird message in between the lines saying, "see, same-sex couples can be loving parents." I wondered how that is teaching our kids that there is nothing unusual about LGBT families?

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A Gift Guide for LGBTQ Inclusive Children's Books

Need some ideas for good LGBTQ-inclusive children's books? Look no further than our gift guide!

Every year we see more books released that feature our families, and we're here for it! We're especially excited for the day when diverse and LGBTQ+ inclusive books are less of "the odd one out" and rather considered part of every kids' everyday literacy.

To help us reach that day, we need to keep supporting our community and allies who write these stories. So here's a list of some of the great books that need to be in your library, and gifts to the other kids in your lives.

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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.

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

A Gay Dad Gains Clarity After a Health Scare

A recent health scare helped give Erik Alexander clarity.

Sometimes fear can cripple the mind and hinder ones judgement. Having children of my own, I have come to grips with accepting the things I cannot change and learned to take action when there is no other choice. When it comes to my own personal health, the future and well being of my family gives me all the clarity I need to make the right decision about any kind of health scare.

This episode is dedicated to all the parents out there that are going through or have gone through similar situations.

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This European Couple Became Dads Through a U.K.-Based Surrogacy Program

Janno, from Estonia, and Matthias, from Belgium, were accepted into the "Childlessness Overcome Through Surrogacy" Program.

Janno Talu, an accountant, and Matthias Nijs, an art gallery director, were born in different parts of Europe. Janno, 39, is from Estonia, and Matthias, 28, is from Belgium. Their paths crossed when the two moved to London, each from their different corners of the European Union.

Janno relocated to London earlier than Matthias, when he was 24, and his main reason for the move was his sexuality. "Although Estonia is considered one of the more progressive countries in Eastern Europe, when it comes to gay rights, it is still decades behind Western society in terms of tolerance," said Janno. "And things are not moving in the right direction." In 2016, same-sex civil union became legal, but the junior party in the current coalition government is seeking to repeal the same-sex partnership bill. "In addition," Janno continued, "they wish to include the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman in the country's constitution. Even today, there are people in Estonia who liken homosexuality to pedophilia, which is why I decided to start a new life in the UK, where I could finally be myself."

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If you're in San Francisco or the surrounding area, clear your calendar this weekend. Two events are happening simultaneously that are significant for dads-to-be AND surrogacy advocates: the Men Having Babies San Francisco Conference, and the SF Advocacy and Research Forum for Surrogacy and LGBT Parenting (ARF). For an outlines of both events, check out below.

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Gay Dads Show Up at Boston Event to Drown Out Anti-Trans Protesters

When Trystan Reese found out protesters were planning to show up to an event in Boston he was presenting at, he put out a call to his community for help — and gay dads showed up.

A couple months ago, Trystan Reese, a gay, trans dad based in Portland, Oregon, took to Instagram to share a moving, if incredibly concerning, experience. Reese, who works with Family Equality Council, was speaking at an event in Boston, and learned before his appearance that a group of protesters were planning to attend.

"As a trans person, I was terrified to be targeted by anti-LGBTQ people and experienced genuine fear for my own safety," Trystan wrote. In response, he did what many LGBTQ people would do in a similar situation — reach out to his community in Boston, and ask for their support. "And they came," he wrote. But it wasn't just anyone within the LGBTQ community that came to his defense, he emphasized — "you know who came? Gay men. Gay dads, to be exact. They came, ready to block people from coming in, ready to call building security, ready to protect me so I could lead my event. They did it without question and without reward. They did it because it was the right thing to do."

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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