Gay Dad Family Stories

Couple That Met at the Gym Now Spotting Each Other Through Fatherhood

How two real New-Yorkers became two soft-hearted dads

This article is part of our family feature series with Circle Surrogacy, a surrogacy agency that has been helping LGBTQ+ singles and couples realize their dream of parenthood for the past 20 years.

Byron and Matthew Slosar, both 41, met ten years ago at one of New York City's Equinox gyms. "I asked him for a spot on the bench press," smiled Byron. The couple were married September 22, 2012.

Surrogacy was always the way Byron and Matthew wanted to become parents. They chose to wait and become dads later in life, until they had established careers and the financial means to pursue their chosen path.

They signed with Circle Surrogacy after interviewing a few agencies. "We immediately connected with their entire staff, particularly Anne Watson who lovingly dealt with my healthy neuroses on the daily for 1.5 years," said Byron. "They definitely personalized the service and helped us understand all 2,000 moving parts." The dads-to-be were also very impressed with how much emotional support they received from Circle.


Photo credit: Julie O'Kelly

When the husbands started their journey, they didn't know what to expect. From talking to friends, they learned that the general perception of the relationships between Intended Parents and surrogate was purely transactional; but they knew they wanted more. They searched for someone who would be open to having a relationship with their family, beyond just helping them to build it. "The end result was phenomenal," said Byron. "Not only did we grow our immediate family with a beautiful baby boy – but we also grew our extended family through Misty, Blake and their kids."

Misty had already been a surrogate for another family but she knew from the beginning that Matthew and Byron were different. "When I went up to see them in New York, the minute they opened the door it was amazing. They felt like family. I knew I could trust them and lean on them."

Misty's husband Blake also embraced the husbands, and their own kids refer to them as their "guncles." (You can read more about the families journey together here.)

Photo credit: Michael Jurick

However, the dads-to-be did experience some setbacks. After the first round of fertilization with their first egg donor, the dads-to-be found out they could not work with her. Byron and Matthew had to find a new egg donor and go through another egg retrieval and fertilization process. "And then we had an unsuccessful first transfer with Misty," shared Matthew. "All of these took more of a toll on us emotionally than we expected."

But from their second transfer Misty became pregnant. Blake phoned to congratulate them for "knocking up" his wife. "Blake has been the comedic relief during our journey!" said Byron'

On April 30, 2018, the dads welcomed little Byron.

Since that day, Byron and Matthew have loved being a modern family. "We have learned that all of the comments we rolled our eyes at before, like 'you'll never know how it feels to see your son recognize you,' or that 'you never knew how much you can love something so much'" is beyond perfect and accurate when you're in the moment," Byron shared.

Photo credit: Michael Jurick

Their priorities have changed and they enjoy spending more time at home, or at the park, and they do it because they want to, not because they have to. "We have both learned a much better work / life balance," explained Matthew. "While many of our friends have commented about such a dramatic change in lifestyle - we were very social and busy before - we remind them that this has been planned for 5+ years. We front-loaded a lot of travel and activity coming into this knowing we wouldn't want to be doing as much once our son arrived."

"We like to say that 99% of the shits we have to give are now reserved for our son," added Byron, "so, we are very selective with the remaining 1%."

The dads have also learned to whisper fight with each other in the bathroom since all of their family and many friends have access to Byron's crib camera which picks up sound more impressively than they thought it would.

Photo credit: Michael Jurick

The dads will be forever grateful beyond words for their surrogate Misty and her family. "Just when you think you're increasing your family by one, get ready as we thought that too but our family has grown by 8," said Byron. This includes their nanny NanaRose and her son who help the dads with Byron while they work full time. "Wouldn't have it any other way but definitely not what we expected."

And their advice to gay men considering fatherhood? "Everyone has their own journey. Put your blinders on and do it whatever way is best for you. Regardless of how you do it, you'll be exhausted from the moment it starts until, well, forever. In an amazing way. Because you have a child and every minute for the rest of your life that little nugget is in every thought, action, breath and word you speak. You'll be living for two people now - so get some rest. And definitely don't take parenting advice from people without kids. Seriously. You laugh now but remember this comment when it happens 1000 times over."

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

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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."


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."


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