Change the World

“The Commitment": A Film About Love, Loss, and Same-Sex Adoption

Guest post written by Albert M. Chan, the creator and star of "The Commitment," a film about the journey of a gay adoptive parent.

As an actor and filmmaker, I was inspired to make the fictionalized short film “The Commitment" by my own roller coaster journey to become a gay adoptive parent. At the time, I didn't know of any film that tackled the subject of domestic adoption, especially same-sex adoption, in an authentic way. So I made “The Commitment" to educate, entertain and move audiences with a depiction of both the most heartbreaking and the most joyous aspects of adoption, from the perspective not just of a married gay couple, but of birthparents and adoption professionals as well.

My husband and I started the domestic adoption process back in 2010. After deciding on an agency, we began to tackle the long checklist of requirements: registration forms, application forms, criminal background checks, FBI fingerprinting checks, child abuse checks, employment verifications, written references, online and in-person seminars, book studies, and homestudy meetings with an adoption social worker.

Once requirements are completed, couples usually wait about a year before being selected by a birthmother. But we had barely joined the pool of adoptive waiting parents, when we received the surprising news that a young pregnant woman had chosen us to parent her baby.

Film still: Robert (Albert M. Chan, left) and Ethan (Jason Lane Fenton, right)

We had less than three weeks to prepare for the arrival of our baby boy. We selected a pediatrician, made arrangements to take time off work, borrowed a variety of baby items, chose a daycare, and maxed out the minutes on our calling plan. But on that important day when we were to meet the birthmother of our baby for the first time, the agency canceled our meeting. The birthmother had changed her mind and chosen to place her baby with family friends.

The loss was more emotional than we would have expected. I recall how unusually hard it was to talk to people, even when they were simply saying how sorry they were that it didn't work out. Those familiar with domestic adoption had told us before we began that the adoption process is truly a roller coaster ride, and now we finally understood what they meant.

Film Still: Robert (Albert M. Chan, left) and Ethan (Jason Lane Fenton, right)

I dealt with the feelings of loss and disappointment the only way I knew how — I wrote “The Commitment." As my character tells his husband at the end of the film, “There is a baby out there somewhere, and it's making its way to us." This realization helped me get through the remainder of the adoption process. Four unsuccessful birthparent matches and one year later, “The Commitment" went into production. Two weeks after the film wrapped, our beautiful son Andrew was born, the result of our fifth match. Andrew brings us incredible joy, and I can't possibly imagine it any other way: We were meant to be together.

Richard, Albert's husband, (left) and Albert with newborn Andrew

Fast-forward to summer 2016, when Andrew was almost five years old. My husband and I had been waiting to adopt a second baby for over a year, and in that time period, we had several potential matches fall through. Then one morning, while we were in the midst of mourning yet another unsuccessful match, I received an email out of the blue from the adoption agency that facilitated Andrew's adoption. They explained that a baby was born earlier that day and asked if we were interested. We said yes, making sure to keep our optimism in check. The next day, on our way to celebrate Father's Day with our family, we received a phone call that confirmed the birthmother wanted us to parent her baby. We learned that the birthmother, who is Chinese (specifically Cantonese), was looking for a gay couple and preferred a Chinese home. I am Cantonese as well. Just as in Andrew's case, I felt that Justin was meant to join our family.

“The Commitment" has definitely struck a chord with people of all races and nationalities. The film is still going strong on the film festival circuit, having been shown at over 30 film festivals on four continents. It has been shown in countries where publicly showing gay films is a political act in itself. I've even had straight people tell me they identified with the film because they had suffered a miscarriage.

Richard (left) and Albert (right, holding Justin) with their sons Andrew and Justin

Love and loss are universal experiences, and I'm glad to see that as a society, we are generally moving in the direction where gender doesn't matter anymore. As an actor and filmmaker, I've stayed on this theme with my latest project “Welcome to the World," a first-person, confessional-style film about a man having trouble getting over the death of his boyfriend. The film presents, in real time, the journey of his awakening from isolation back to humanity.

“The Commitment" is available on Amazon as part of the gay shorts collection Green Briefs, available on DVD and via streaming. “Welcome to the World" will hit the film festival circuit in the latter half of 2017. For film trailers and the latest news, visit The Commitment Movie and Welcome to the World Movie.

Show Comments ()
Change the World

Your Marriage Should Be Gayer, Says the New York Times

In an op-ed for the New York Times, Stephanie Coontz, author of "Marriage: a History," lists the many insights LGBTQ marriages can offer straight ones.

According to a fascinating op-ed in the New York Times this week by Stephanie Coontz, author of "Marriage: a History," turns out the people convinced marriage equality — legal across the United States for five years now — would usher in the complete breakdown of civil society should be more worried about the health of their own marriages.

In the article, Coontz details the results of research that followed 756 "midlife" straight marriages, and 378 gay marriages, and found same-sex couples reporting the lowest levels of physiological distress — with male gay couples reporting the lowest. The reason for this, the author said, is pretty simple — misogyny. The idea that men and women should strive for parity in a relationship is still a fairly new idea, Coontz said, and traditional gender roles are still pervasive. Gay couples, meanwhile, are free from such presumptions, which often results in happier, healthier relationships.

The most interesting findings in the research relate to parenting. While gender norms tend to be even more emphasized among straight people once they have children, with the bulk of the childrearing falling to mothers, same-sex couples — once again freed from the stereotypes of the male/female divide — parent more equitably. As the author notes, "A 2015 survey found that almost half of dual-earner, same-sex couples shared laundry duties, compared with just under a third of different-sex couples. And a whopping 74 percent of same-sex couples shared routine child care, compared with only 38 percent of straight couples."

When it comes to time spent with children, men in straight marriages spent the least amount of time and the lowest proportion of "nonwork" time, with their children — while men in same-sex marriages spent just as much time with their children as women in a straight relationship. "The result?" Coontz writes, "Children living with same-sex parents experienced, on average, three and a half hours of parenting time per day, compared with two and a half for children living with a heterosexual couple."

Straight fathers devote the least amount of time — about 55 minutes a day — on their children, which includes things like physical needs, reading, playing, and homework. Gay mothers spent an additional 18 minutes each and straight mothers an additional 23 minutes. Gay fathers spent the most time with their children, the study found, an average of an additional 28 minutes a day.

Taken together, straight couples spend an average of 2 hours and 14 minutes on their children. Lesbian moms spend an additional 13 minutes, while gay men spend 33 more minutes than straight couples.

One factor, the author notes, that can help explain this difference is this: gay parents rarely end up with an unintended or unwanted child, whereas a full 45% percent of pregnancies in straight relationships in 2011 (the last year data is available) were unintended, and 18% were unwanted.

But right. Gay people shouldn't be parents.

Change the World

Uber Driver Accuses Gay Dads of Child Trafficking

An Uber driver in San Diego reportedly accused two gay dads of child trafficking because their child "didn't have a mother."

[An update on this story as of February 17, 2020: Uber Support has still yet to respond to James Moed and his multiple requests from further comment. The driver who falsely accused the gay dads of kidnaping their own child, in fact, continues to "drive around with a "Pro Diamond" status with a 4.93 rating," James said in a recent Tweet.]

On January 29 of this year, James Moed took an Uber with his husband, and their newborn son, to the Marriott Marina hotel in the San Diego area. As their newborn son cried in the backseat of the car, the family's driver offered this piece of helpful advice:

The baby just needs his mother.

Any queer dad has been through this scenario a million times — the dreaded "Where's the Mommy?" question. But even when the dads explained that their son had two fathers, not a mother, the driver "didn't back down," Moed said via Twitter.

Little did the couple realize just how perplexed the driver actually was. At 1:30am in the morning, the couple was greeted by a loud knock on their hotel door. Officers from the Port of San Diego Harbor Police Department were on the other side, demanding to see the couple's identification — and their son's.


"It turns out the Uber driver who had taken us to the hotel had called the cops – accusing us of child trafficking? Endangerment?" Moed wrote on Twitter. Though the situation was quickly resolved, the couple was nonetheless — and understandably — "freaked out."

"What if we hadn't had his passport?" Moed wrote. "Where can my queer family travel safely?"

The couple took their complaints to Uber. In response — they were refunded $10. "Keep your $10," Moed wrote. "We want proof you keep your LGBTQ riders safe."

After Pink News requested further comment from Uber, the company gave the following canned response:

"As soon as we learned of this incident we launched an investigation. Our Community Guidelines make clear that we do not tolerate discrimination."

The dads, however, are keeping up the fights, demanding evidence of some sort of LGBTQ sensitivity training their drivers must undergo. We'll keep you posted as we learn more.

Politics

New Report Finds Paid Family Leave Rising Among Top Employers

PL+US report has found paid family and medical leave policies more popular than ever among nation's top employers

PL+US, an organization that advocates for paid family leave policies for all families, released a report that showed paid family and medical leave policies gaining steam among the nation's top employers. In a first, the non-profit expanded its research this year to examine the largest employment sectors in the country to help show what policies look like for workers in different sectors.

Among the report's main findings:

Keep reading...
Surrogacy for Gay Men

Dads Talk About Surrogacy Process in New Video for Northwest Surrogacy Center

The Northwest Surrogacy Center interviewed some of their gay dad clients for a video to celebrate their 25th anniversary of creating families through surrogacy!

Last year, Northwest Surrogacy Center celebrated 25 years of helping parents realize their dreams. And they celebrated in style by inviting the families they've worked with over the past two and a half decades to join them!

At the party, they took the opportunity to film queer dads and dads-to-be, asking them a couple of questions: how did it feel holding your baby for the first time, and tell us about your relationship with your surrogate.

Watch the video below and get ready for the water works!

Keep reading...
Surrogacy for Gay Men

Campaign to Legalize Surrogacy in New York Heats Up with Competing Bills

Two competing bills — one backed by Governor Andrew Cuomo and another by Senator Liz Krueger with stricter provisions — are aiming to legalize surrogacy in New York.

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York is once again attempting to legalize commercial surrogacy in the state, which is still just one of three states in the country to forbid the practice.

"This antiquated law is repugnant to our values and we must repeal it once and for all and enact the nation's strongest protections for surrogates and parents choosing to take part in the surrogacy process," Governor Cuomo said in a statement in announcing a broader effort called Love Makes a Family. "This year we must pass gestational surrogacy and expedite the second parent adoption process to complete marriage and family equality."

Keep reading...
Gay Dad Photo Essays

How Single Dads Are Celebrating Valentine's Day This Year

Valentine's Day is not just for lovers! We caught up with 8 single gay dads to see how they plan to celebrate Valentine's Day with this year.

Valentine's Day is not just for lovers; it's also a day to celebrate our loved ones. And that's exactly what these single dads are doing.

Within our community, GWK has a large group of admirable, active, and awesome (!) single dads and we want to honor them! On Valentine's Day, they and their kids celebrate their family unit in the sweetest possible ways. We asked the dads to share these moments with us, and, where possible, one of the most heartwarming things they've experienced with their kids on Valentine's Day to date.

Hear their stories below.

Keep reading...
Gay Dad Photo Essays

11 Gay Couples Share Secrets to Their Long-Term Relationships This Valentine's Day

This Valentine's Day, we spoke with 11 gay dad couples who've been together for almost a decade or longer to learn what's made their relationships last

You're the peanut butter to my jelly, the gin to my tonic, the strawberries to my cream, the Mr. to my Mr.!

Happy Valentine's Day folks! We're excited to celebrate this day of lurrrrvvve by featuring a few dads in our community who've been together for almost a decade or more! And they're ready to share their secrets to a successful relationship and parenting partnership.

Keep reading...

Fatherhood, the gay way

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

Follow Gays With Kids

Powered by RebelMouse