Personal Essays by Gay Dads

"You May Wish You Had Started Today" Became the Rallying Cry for These Dads

This couple found their motivation to start the lengthy path towards parenthood from this inspiring quote

Guest post written by Christopher & Jonathan Arteza-Acosta

When my husband and I started dating in 2006, we shared several dreams in common. One of our most significant dreams was to start a family. This goal seemed so far off from where we were in our lives at the time. Both in our twenties, we were living in Florida and working jobs that did not seem to align with our ideas of our future together. A few years later, and feeling like we needed to move on to the next phase of our lives, we took our queue from a quote we had previously seen: "A year from now, you may wish you had started today."

So in 2012, we were inspired to finally make some changes and take action towards our goals. The first step was relocating to another part of the country with more opportunity, then finding better careers, getting married, owning a beautiful home, and lastly starting a loving family. This was not going to be easy, but being by each other's side and supporting our common dreams together, hopefully we would soon make them a reality.


We packed up everything (including our two puppies) and moved to Colorado. Before long, we both found ideal careers in the healthcare industry with schedules allowing time to continue to pursue our goals. The first two parts of our plan were complete and now it was on to legally make our relationship official. We got married in 2013 with all of our friends and family by our side in a lovely ceremony surrounded by the Rocky Mountains off in the distance. Everything was coming together and we were more than half way towards our biggest dream of having children.

With our next goal of owning our perfect home in mind, we needed to make some financial changes. We downsized to a very small one bedroom studio apartment, and cut back on our spending in order to save. It did not take us long and in two short years we were able to move into our picture-perfect home. We were so thankful to have everything falling into place towards making our dreams come true and there was only one goal left – to start a wonderful family and fill our home with little feet and lots of love and laughter.

We initially thought this process was going to be easy. We've come this far right? In 2015, we signed a two-year nonrefundable contract with an adoption facilitator and was promised the match rate was 99% successful, fast, and more affordable than going through a licensed adoption agency. We were told that some couples were even matched within months! "Wow!" we said to ourselves. The thought of us being parents in a few short months made us so excited and we went to work putting together our baby's new room and collecting little things here and there to prepare. It is said that you're never completely ready to be parents, but we were determined to be as ready as we could be.

Unfortunately, we found out that our biggest dream wasn't as easy as we were told. We were matched a few times within the two years, with each time our matches falling through for different reasons followed by semi-encouraging responses from the facilitator that our time was coming and to just be patient. We did everything we could think of from hiring a videographer to visually tell our story so that prospective birth parents could connect with us, to asking friends and family to share our story wherever they could. We even had our story posted on online podcasts and publications including the Debt Free Guys, Forbes, and Huffington Post —all in hopes of making a connection somewhere to start our family. Two years had passed by so fast. Two years of staying positive, two years of making plans, and two years of thinking maybe today will be the day we will get the call!

Pretty soon however, our contract ended and we opted not to renew. Our hopefulness turned to disappointment. We were so upset and filled with grief. Did we make the right decision? Was this ever going to happen for us? Were we ever going to be dads? Was this dream just not in the cards? We hesitantly continued to move forward. We came this far and we were going to see our dreams through. After all, we were aware that some families had waited several years longer than us. We had worked separately with a local adoption agency called Adoption Choices of Colorado for our home studies and clearances and had formed a relationship with our social worker and thought we would try going through exclusively with them. We set up a call with the agency and completed all the necessary paperwork. Fortunately, they already had all of our home study information so moving forward with them was easier than anticipated. Everyone at the agency was very supportive and it was extremely refreshing considering the situation we had been in previously.

Within one month we finally received the call we had been waiting for over two years and really since we began our lives together. This was the moment all our previous efforts were for! A voice from the other end of the phone said "Congratulations, You are now Dads to a beautiful, healthy baby girl." Filled with emotion, we quickly prepared to bring our beautiful baby home. The next day, we met our sweet baby at the hospital along with the birthmother and the birthfather who were so kind and remarkable for what they had been through and the decision they were making. We held our daughter in our arms and she was so gorgeous and perfect and ours. Everyone said, when it's the right time and when it's our baby then it will happen and you don't really think too much about that statement until it actually does happen. Once we met our daughter, we couldn't imagine it any other way. She was meant to be our baby girl. All of our waiting was over and the timing was impeccable.

Then, seventeen months later, on a Wednesday while we were working away at home, we received another one of those remarkable calls, this time from our birth mother's social worker. "Are you boys ready for your daughter to be a big sister?" We could hardly believe what we were hearing. We took no time at all answering "YES!" and proceeded to get ready to bring our new little addition home to meet her older sister. It seemed our family was finally complete and all our dreams had come true. We were patient and determined and we made it happen.

Today, we are Daddy and Papa to two beautiful perfect little girls who make our lives whole. It definitely wasn't an easy road, but we managed to get to the finish line and wouldn't change our path for anything at all. Sometimes, when you feel like you have a setback, the unfortunate things in life put us on the route to the greatest things that will ever happen to us.

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Just Like Dad: Ways My Kids and I Are Alike

Joseph Sadusky recounts the ways he and his adopted sons are cut from the same cloth.

Editor's Note: This is the third in a series of excerpts from Joseph Sadusky's new book, Magic Lessons: Celebratory and Cautionary Tales about Life as a (Single, Gay, Transracially Adoptive) Dad. The book contains many stories about my life as a dad, as well as lessons learned, and we're excited to share several excerpts from the the book over the course of the next few months. Read previous installments here!

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Gay Dad Family Stories

The Inuit Custom Adoption Program Helped These Dads Form Their Family

After learning about the Inuit Custom Adoption Program from family, Keith and Kevin knew it was the way they wanted to become dads.

Keith Willey, 49, and his husband Kevin Kablutsiak, 42, who live in Ottawa, Canada, first met online in 2010. The couple had their first date soon afterwards in a coffee house and, "haven't looked back since," said Keith. They married on May 22nd, 2016.

Keith, who works as a Policy Advisor with the Canadian Federal Government, and Kevin, who works as the Director of Communications with the Canadian National Inuit Organization (ITK), always knew they wanted kids together, and talked about it early on in their relationship. Still, as gay men, they weren't sure that option would ever be available to them.

"I grew up in the UK in the 1970s so I assumed it would be impossible to have children," said Keith. "I always assumed that I would have to lead a life sort of in the shadows and in secret. Attitudes were so different in the 70s to how they are now that I simply believe that we thought it would be impossible to have a child."

The option materialized for the couple, however, when Kevin's sister, pregnant at the time, approached the two men about adopting her baby through the Inuit adoption process. They knew they couldn't pass up the opportunity.

"Kevin is Inuk and adoption, particularly inter-family adoption, is common in Inuit culture," said Keith.

The Inuit Custom Adoption Process was originally used in the small Inuit societies in the arctic, Kevin explained. It's primarily (though not exclusively) intended as a path for adoption within families. The process is legally recognized by the Canadian legal system.

As Kevin went on to explain, Inuit custom adoption was traditional used to support survival within, what were until quite recently, people living a nomadic lifestyle. It is, in essence, a deeply loving and selfless tradition of giving the gift of life to a carefully selected couple, most often with the guidance of elders (usually the matriarch within a family). If a couple couldn't conceive, for instance, others would sometimes offer their help. Similarly, if a couple lost a child, the grieving parents might be given a baby to help ease the ache of their loss. While most Inuit parents have zero intention of custom adopting their children to other families, adoption continues to be an established method in Inuit regions.

Through this process, and with everyone's agreement, the two men legally adopted Kevin's sister and her husband's child from birth. They named her Abbie. "Kevin's sister and her husband came to stay with us in Ottawa prior to the birth so Abbie was in our care from the moment she was born," said Keith. "She got to come home with us the day after the birth with the legal process taking around 11 months to complete from start to finish."


As far as their parenting styles, the couple say they've drawn on each of their pasts. "Both Kevin and I had somewhat difficult childhoods and have spent a lot of time working through and dealing with childhood trauma," Keith said. "As a result, we are better parents and we continue to look after ourselves and each other as we continue to grow in parenthood."

Though the couple come from different cultures, they said they've had no difficulty developing a parenting approach that works for them both. "I don't think either of us raise Abbie in the same parenting style that we experienced," Keith said, "We both talked and agreed on our approach before Abbie was born and we work well together as a parenting couple."

The result is a parenting style that incorporates some elements of both of their backgrounds, Keith said. "Inuit culture tends to shower children in love and we certainly do that," said Kevin. From English-style parenting, the couple have also borrowed the tendency of English parents to be "pretty obsessive," Keith said, about routines, such as scheduling meals, naps and bedtimes.

Though life was good before Abbie joined the family, "now it's fantastic!" Keith said. "I feel like being a parent was what I was put on this earth to be." Because neither man ever expected to become fathers, moreover, both say they look at parenthood as a privilege rather than a right — a helpful perspective they suggest to other gay men considering fatherhood. "Parenthood is an amazing gift," Keith said, "But remember it's about them, not you — and they deserve the best start in life we can give them."

Though fatherhood came to them somewhat unexpectedly, Keith and Kevin say they couldn't be happier with the way things turned out. "When I reflect on our life together, and where we both came from, it is incredible to me that we are now married, content, and parents to our wonderful panik," Keith said, using the Inuktitut word for daughter. "We are totally blessed."


Gay Dad Family Stories

How One Failed Adoption Turned Into Two Successes for These Dads

Joe and Roberto were heartbroken after a birth mother decided against working with them. But fate (and perseverance!) would soon change their luck — twice over!

Adoption was always the first choice for Joe Motowidlak and husband Roberto Martinez when it came to starting a family. They went the private adoption route, ended up with two different attorneys and had two very different adoption journeys, that lead to two daughters born within a couple of months to one another. Although Joe and Roberto wouldn't change a thing, they consider themselves incredibly fortunate to have the family that they have and are the proud dads with full hearts to their two infant daughters.

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Gay Dad Family Stories

These Dads Had 'Twins' — Just Four Months Apart

Angel and Dan's wanted twins, without the complications of a twin pregnancy — so they worked with two separate surrogates at once.

If you have ever been out late on a Saturday night, you may have high hopes of meeting a handsome stranger, but you probably wouldn't expect to meet your future husband. Angel Mario Martinez Garcia, 45, surely didn't when, five years ago on a very early Saturday morning in Barcelona, he casually approached Dan's Mouquet, 40, and asked him, over many gin and tonics, what he wanted out of life. The nightlife setting notwithstanding, Dan's told Angel he ultimately wanted a quiet life, with a partner and children.

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Politics

Gestational Surrogacy Legalized in New York State

The Child-Parent Security Act, which legalizes commercial surrogacy in New York State, was included in the 2020 New York State Budget signed by Governor Cuomo

Yesterday, a years-long battle about the state of compensated gestational surrogacy came to an end in New York when the Governor signed into a law the Child-Parent Security Act in the 2020 as part of the state budget.

The effort stalled last year after opponents, including several Democrats, successfully argued that the bill didn't go far enough to protect women who serve as surrogates — even though it included a surrogate "bill of rights," the first of its kind in the country, aimed at ensuring protections.

"Millions of New Yorkers need assistance building their families — people struggling with infertility, cancer survivors impacted by treatment, and members of the LGBTQ+ community," the Family Equality Council said in a statement about the victory. "For many, surrogacy is a critically important option. For others, it is the only option. Passage of the Child-Parent Security Act is a massive step forward in providing paths to parenthood for New Yorkers who use reproductive technology, and creates a 'surrogate's bill of rights' that will set a new standard for protecting surrogates nationwide."

Opponents, led by Senator Liz Krueger, had once again attempted to torpedo legalization efforts this year by introducing a second bill that would legalize surrogacy in New York, but also make it the most restrictive state in the country to do so. "A bill that complicates the legal proceedings for the parents and potentially allows them to lose their genetic child is truly unfortunate," said Sam Hyde, President of Circle Surrogacy, referencing to the bill's 8-day waiting period. He also took issue with the bills underlying assumptions about why women decide to serve as a surrogate. The added restrictions imply that "they're entering into these arrangements without full forethought and consideration of the intended parents that they're partnering with," he said.

The bill was sponsored by State Senator Brad Hoylman, an out gay man who became a father via surrogacy, and Assemblymember Amy Paulin, who has been public with her experiences with infertility.

"My husband and I had our two daughters through surrogacy," Holyman told Gay City News. "But we had to travel 3,000 miles away to California in order to do it. As a gay dad, I'm thrilled parents like us and people struggling with infertility will finally have the chance to create their own families through surrogacy here in New York."

"This law will [give intended parents] the opportunity to have a family in New York and not travel around the country, incurring exorbitant costs simply because they want to be parents," Paulin said for her part. It will "bring New York law in line with the needs of modern families."


Expert Advice

4 Tips for Single Gay Dads Raising Daughters

Here are some ways to create a safe space for your daughter to discover who she is, with you by her side.

There's nothing quite like father-daughter relationships, and when it comes to single dads, your little girl likely holds a very special place in your heart. From the moment she's born, it's as if you can see every moment of her life in front of you, from her first steps to walking her down the aisle at her wedding. You'll be the first man she'll know and talk to, and you'll be her biggest example of what a loving man looks like. She'll come to you for advice on how to navigate challenges, be independent, treat others and grow into herself.

Your relationship with your daughter may be shaped by your personal history, whether you've been through a difficult divorce or breakup, you've transitioned out of a straight relationship, or you made the courageous decision to pursue surrogacy on your own. Whatever your situation is, studies have shown that children with involved fathers excel more in school and have fewer behavioral issues in adolescence.

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Change the World

After Suffering a Violent Homophobic Attack, This Gay Dad Turned to Advocacy

After Rene suffered a brutal homophobic attack that left him hospitalized, he and his family have turned to advocacy to heal

Guest post written by Rene and Nejc

We are Rene (35) and Nejc (29) and we come from Slovenia, Europe. I was an avid athlete, a Judoist, but now I am an LGBT activist and Nejc is a writer, who published a gay autobiography called Prepovedano. He was also a participant in a reality show in Slovenia (Bar) and he is an LGBT activist too. Nejc and I met by a mere coincidence on Facebook, and already after the first phone call we realized that we are made for each other. Nejc and I have been together as couple almost one year. We think we have been joined by some energy, as we have both experienced a lot of bad things with previous relationships and now we wish to create and shape our common path.

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