Gay Dad Life

Choices, Choices

This is the fourth article in Anthony Romeo's series about his adoption journey. Read the first article in the series.

I realize now that the thing I appreciate most about my marriage is the ability for one of us to stay on the ground while the other one is way up in the air, flying high on nerves and what-ifs. Thank god for my husband Dominic (left in photo above), because on the 30-minute drive to A Loving Choice adoption agency last night, there were times when I thought I was going to throw up. I’ve traveled the country speaking to young people about the coming-out process, I’ve taken a lawsuit for GLBT equality to the State Supreme Court; hell, I’ve gotten married. And none of that made me more nervous than sitting in the car for ten minutes outside the agency building before the 7 o'clock interest session last night.

Remember how I told you you’d be coming along for the ride, warts and all? Well, lucky for you, I didn’t throw up on myself, so, consider that bullet dodged for now.

We walked into A Loving Choice at 6:55 p.m., into a building which is essentially just a house. It felt odd at first, but by the end of the meeting, I understood exactly why the space is what it is. This was a general interest meeting; we were just there for information, and to hear from someone within the agency about the processes and their specific philosophies and policies. We joined four other couples, each on their own road to parenthood. They were all heterosexual, which made me feel comfortable, because like teenagers at a dance, we all had our own awkward stories, fears, and tensions. We never shared names with one another, but for two and a half hours last night, we were all on the same path, ten birds of a very common feather, flying side by side. Different origins, same destination.

A Loving Choice Adoption Associates, Shrewsbury, New Jersey












The meeting was led by the supervisor of casework services, Christine. She's an adoptive mother herself, a co-founder of A Loving Choice 11 years ago, and we were immediately comfortable with her. I guess if you’ve worked with people in intense situations for as long as Christine has, you get to dispense with any façade and just focus on connecting immediately. She nailed it. She opened by suggesting we all go to multiple agencies for information meetings, because being comfortable with the agency we select is of utmost importance. Like Santa telling a customer to shop somewhere other than Macy’s, I really appreciated the candor up front. Dom and I are no-BS people and so was Christine. We’ll go to meetings with other agencies, absolutely. But I’m kind of in love with Christine and her personality, so to have someone with whom we felt immediately comfortable, in a situation as intensely personal and with the propensity for so much heartache, doesn’t go unnoticed. I know I would trust her with our family. And when weighing options on whom to select to represent our ability to parent a child, and to fight for us, trust feels like it’s crucial.

Of course we were curious about the money, absolutely. But to get to the answers on money, it’s important that we understood exactly what options would be in front of us.

The “passport to adoption,” as Christine called it, is in completing our home study. It is absolutely necessary, as is the first step. This process takes about six weeks to complete, and is as invasive and difficult as we’d envisioned it. We can't say we were surprised. A caseworker will give us a huge questionnaire, ask us to write about ourselves, and provide lots of documents. We’ll submit to a Criminal History Record Information fingerprint background check. We’ll go through a Child Abuse Record Information background check. We’ll have meetings in our home, we’ll be interviewed together, we’ll be interviewed separately. And all of this is valid for one year. If we do not adopt within a year, we’ll need to update our home study. If you’re interested in keeping a tally at home, a home study is $950.

Once the home study process is completed, we can choose to "go into profile" with A Loving Choice. There is a $250 fee for a Profile Consultation, where we’re guided through the process of establishing our profile with the agency. After that, we pay $750 to file our profile with the agency, and an additional $250 if we’d like it listed on their website. When these steps are concluded, we’ll be off to the races. A Loving Choice will start showing our profiles to birth mothers who meet the criteria we select in our home study. If we are only interested in a Caucasian, healthy baby whose birth parents are both college-educated and have never had a glass of wine, the wait will be, shall we say, extensive. We learned that the more open we are to different situations, the shorter our wait will be, generally. Now, there are two options for how we can move forward.

If a birth mother is shown our profile by A Loving Choice, and they select us, it will be directly because of the work of the agency. The fee for an adoption via Profile Selection is $15,000, with an additional $2,500 provided for birth mother expenses. This is the highest that the birth mother expenses can get, any additional is covered by the agency. If the birth mother changes her mind about adoption, we would be refunded that money.

If, in the course of our own advertising and publicizing our adoption profile, a birth mother reaches out to us directly and indicates her interest in selecting us, we would pay $6,000 to the agency, for what’s called an Identified Adoption. However, we would be directly responsible for any and all birth mother expenses, with no ceiling on how high that can climb, and with no protection to recover that money if the birth mother changes her mind at the end of this process and chooses to parent that child herself.

On either of these roads, a baby will ultimately be born that is placed with us. There are then four visits from the adoption agency, billed at $200 each, for Post Placement Reports. And then court reports.

What’s that line in Les Misérables? Oh yes, it’s, “How it all increases, all them bits and pieces. Jesus! It’s amazing how it grows!” Yes, this.

But at last, we have an accurate picture of what a full marathon with an adoption agency will cost us. From the $2,200 home study process to the more expensive Profile Selection adoption (including birth mother expenses) at $17,500, we’re looking at a $20,000 run. It’s like that moment when you’ve been staring at one of those Magic Eye pictures, and you can finally see a dolphin coming out of the background. Yes, you can see the dolphin, but damn it if you don’t feel a little nauseous.

Knowing the money side of things now, the road ahead appears more emerald-tinted than yellow-bricked. But there’s a discernible road there. It all starts with our home study. When we file our home study paperwork, we include a check for that process, and then the agency could present us with possible matches at any point. The expected wait, we were told, is between 9 and 24 months. I get irritated when Cablevision tells me they’ll be at my house between 9 and 2, so I’m going to learn about this thing my husband tells me is called patience. An educating process, indeed. When a baby is placed with us, all of the other money is due. There are no payment plans, no financing. It’s all or it’s nothing.

I’m so grateful to A Loving Choice for making last night as comfortable and educational as it was. I really do feel that this could be the right place for us, for our family to take root.

We’ve had so many family and friends reach out since last night, offering words of encouragement, asking how things went, friends with crying babies and jobs and lives of their own. Thank you for asking us how it went, we love you all very much.

And for those of you whom we don’t know, who are cheering us on as we walk hand in hand together towards a tinier set of hands, I told you I’d keep you in this loop. Last night was easy, hard, exhilarating, terrifying, and emotional. And now last night is over, and it’s on to the next thing. And after that, the next thing, and the next and the next. Stay with us?

Birds of a feather, you know? Keep flapping with us, we’ll find our way together.

Read the next article in Anthony Romeo's series about his adoption journey.

Show Comments ()
Gay Dad Family Stories

This Couple is Using 'Wheel of Fortune' Winnings to Help Fund Their Adoption

Need to raise money for your adoption fund? Why not try your luck on Wheel of Fortune like these guys!

Doug and Nick Roberts connected three and a half years ago via a dating app, and on their first date, the two immediately felt a connection. Doug, a psychologist, and Nick, a neuroscientist, were married 18 months later. Today the couple live in the suburbs of Philadelphia, and they're ready to start their next exciting adventure together: fatherhood.

The husbands would like to have children, and Nick has always wanted to adopt. "We considered surrogacy, and may consider it in the future as we expand our family," said Doug, "but right now, it is cost-prohibitive. Adoption was easily the right choice for us as we begin to grow our family.

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Life

"Daddy, Which Belly Did I Come From?"

How do gay dads talk to their kids about the women that helped bring them into the world?

When you tell your kids the story of how they came to be, is the woman who delivered them identified by a face and a name? That's a decision that every gay dad has to make when it comes to having kids through surrogacy or adoption. In this episode we explored two ways of keeping in touch with the birthmother (for adoptive kids) or the gestational surrogate (for IVF and surrogacy) as part of gay dads' children's birth story.Some adoptive parents choose to have an 'open adoption,' where the child gets to meet the birthmother. Parents who go through surrogacy sometimes keep in touch with the surrogate and have their kids meet her when they are old enough.

Keep reading... Show less
Change the World

One Gay Dad's Fight Against Hate in Superior, Nebraska

Brian Splater is refusing to let homophobic and transphobic elected officials in his town go unchecked

Millie B. Photography

Guest post written by Brian Splater

No one ever should feel they will have a very lonely and secluded life as a child. But that is something me and many other gay kids believe as they are growing up.

The truth of the matter is there are people who will try everything in their power to have our rights go back in time instead of forward. It is very disheartening when these people are elected officials, or they are people who use their place of employment to spread their disgust and hate.

Keep reading... Show less

Utah Court Rules Gay Couples Can't Be Excluded From Surrogacy Contracts

The Utah Supreme Court found in favor of a gay couple attempting to enter into a surrogacy contract.


Earlier this month, the Utah Supreme Court ruled that a same-sex couples can't be excluded from entering into enforceable surrogacy contracts, and sent a case concerning a gay male couple back to trial court to approve their petition for a surrogacy arrangement.

As reported in Gay City News, the case concerns Utah's 2005 law on surrogacy, which was enacted prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage in the state. As a result, the content of the law is gendered, saying that surrogacy contracts should only be enforceable if the "intended mother" is unable to bear a child. When a gay couple approached District Judge Jeffrey C. Wilcox to enter into a surrogacy arrangement, he denied them, arguing that the state's law only concerned opposite sex couples.

"This opinion is an important contribution to the growing body of cases adopting a broad construction of the precedent created by Obergefell v. Hodges and the Supreme Court's subsequent decision in Pavan v. Smith," according to GCN. "It's also worth noting that same-sex couples in Utah now enjoy a right denied them here in New York, where compensated gestational surrogacy contracts remain illegal for all couples."

Read the full article here.

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Thoughts and Prayers Aren't Working:​ One Father's Plea for Gun Reform

One gay dad's plea to our leaders to enact sensible gun control

My articles on GaysWithKids aspire to be lighthearted, helpful and humorous. This one won't be any of those things. Because I'm feeling heavyhearted, helpless and sad. Last week I woke up to news of yet another mass shooting. This time at a family-friendly Garlic Festival in northern California. I don't know if it's because this one hit so close to home, or if it's because the headline included a picture of the innocent 6-year old who was among those killed, but I am overcome with emotion. But mostly I am angry. And I don't know what to do with my anger.

Then, just a few days later came two additional horrific mass shootings that stole the lives of at least 32 more innocent people, many of them children. And then there's the "everyday" gun violence that plagues American cities like Chicago, where guns injured another 46 people this past weekend alone… creating so much turmoil, a hospital had to briefly stop taking patients.

How does one verbalize the collective sadness felt around the world? One can't. And that's why I am asking everyone reading this article to commit to getting involved in some way, to help end this epidemic once and for all. Even though the solution is so obvious, we can't allow ourselves to become numb to mass shootings. Because becoming numb isn't going to save anyone.

Keep reading... Show less

Gay Russian Dads Forced to Flee Moscow

Fearing the Russian government might take their adopted kids into custody because of their sexual orientation, Andrei Vaganov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev fled Moscow

A married couple in Russia, with two adopted children, were just forced the flee their home in Moscow for fear that the authorities would take their children away, according to German news site Deutsche Welle.

Trouble started last month after investigators in Russia opened a criminal inquiry into the proceedings that had allowed the gay couple, Andrei Vaganov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev, to legally adopt the two boys —adoption by LGBTQ people in Russia has typically not been recognized. The government became aware of the adoption proceedings after the gay couple brought their 12-year-old son to the hospital, who was complaining of a stomachache. The boy was fine, but after he mentioned offhand that he was adopted and lived with two fathers, the doctor called the police.

Andrei and Yevgeny granted an interview with Deutsche Welle after escaping Moscow, but on the advice of their lawyers have yet to disclose where they are currently located. Here is a quick recap of that conversation:

"In connection with the 'propaganda of non-traditional values,' the state representatives are accused of having neglected their duty of supervision," Andrei said, when asked to explain on what basis the Russian government might take his children into custody. "This means that lesbian couples could even have their biological children taken away because, through their lifestyle choices, they propagate "certain values."

Yevgeny also explained the events that led to the couple's harrowing escape "I was alone in Moscow at that time. A week after Andrei and the children had left the country, there was a knock on my door, but nobody called 'police, open up.' After half an hour the violent knocking stopped. My parents' home was searched. They were looking for the children and our Danish marriage certificate because we got married in Denmark in 2016. My friends then got me out of the country."

Read the full interview here.

Change the World

4 Tips for Using Instagram to Connect with Gay Dads Offline

We asked gay dads who have successfully met up with other LGBTQ families offline for some of their tips

Last week, we ran a story about several gay dads who did the unthinkable: meet other gay dads IRL after connecting on Instagram! We get MANY questions from gay dads wondering how they can meet up with others in their area, so we decided to dig a bit deeper this week to get their advice. What can gay dads do to meet others off the 'gram?

1. Be kind — share others' excitement in parenting!

From @twinlifedads Ben and Andy:

"Be kind. That is absolutely it. Be kind to each other and don't be afraid to reach out. Respond to each other when you can. Share in excitement for each other. There is no reason to bring someone else down who might be excited about how they are parenting."

2. Drop a couple comments and likes before reaching out!

From @brisvegasdad Tim and Nic:

"I think drop comments now and then on their posts and instastories and see where things land. Chances are, if you're commenting on a post and it is a heartfelt response, they'll click through to your account, look at your photos and connect with you. And that's when the magic happens - you can introduce yourself, talk about your lives and how things are being a parent... and after a while, if you're in the same neighbourhood, you meet up and grow your friendship organically. That being said, I'm obsessed with Bobby Berk from Queer Eye and his husband Dewey Do - if they ever had kids, I'd probably be completely unsubtle and leave strange awkward comments on their instaposts saying, 'GAY DADS MEET UPSSSSS'."

3. Go in with no expectations

From @stevecsmith Steve and Ben:

"I always try to reach out without any expectations – mostly just to provide a positive comment. I like to leave it up to the other parents to comment or message back before suggesting meeting up or a playdate. Every family is different, so how each person is going to respond is different too."

4. Keep trying!

From @theconways13 Ricky and Jeff:

"Reach out to other families, start a light friendly conversation. Get to know each other and let conversations happen organically. If they lead to a play date great! Our first experience in meeting another lgbt family (not through ig/gwk) was very awkward cause there wasn't a whole lot of conversation happening before hand. The conversations leading up to the play date will help make the first play date with the family go a lot smoother and fun. Don't be afraid of not connecting with the other families. If it isn't successful the first time, continue reaching out to to other families- don't let it deter you from reaching out to others."

Fatherhood, the gay way

Get the latest from Gays With Kids delivered to your inbox!

Follow Gays With Kids

Powered by RebelMouse