Gay Dad Life

Daddy, Daddy & Baby…and Mother Make Four?

The most exciting moment in my life was when I got a call from our son’s birth mom to tell us that she had chosen my husband, Jon, and me to adopt her child.


Like many gay fathers before us, our journey to becoming parents has been a wild rollercoaster ride. It has cost thousands of dollars, caused a few tears, and led to sleepless nights. But, like so many people told us as we progressed through the adoption process, it’s all worth it!

To help prepare us for what lay ahead we talked to friends, read books and searched the Internet for information. On the day of “the call” we felt prepared to be dads (we weren’t!) and we hung up happily terrified.

As we’ve come to realize, the one thing we weren’t prepared for was the ensuing relationship with our son’s birthmother.

Andrea* was just 20 years old when she got pregnant. A child of the foster system, she was adopted after living in multiple homes and we are very sympathetic to the fact that she lived through some traumatic experiences. When she learned of her pregnancy, she knew the best decision she could make was to offer her child up for adoption, hoping she could find him a loving home.

Andrea was connected with us for a private adoption through a family member. The first time I met her, I brought her to a routine doctor’s appointment and we both found out that she was having a boy.

Going to that doctor’s visit was an experience! As a near 40-year-old man accompanying a 20 year old girl into the back for an ultrasound, I got a lot of looks from others in the waiting room! However, this was also a wonderful experience. Many adoptive parents never get to have the experience of being there when they find out the gender of their child or to take part in these important pre-natal visits. While I was very nervous about the whole experience, Andrea was a pro! She did not mind me being there and was very open to sharing this intensely private experience. Our adoption counselor had advised us to remember that this experience was about the mother, not the baby. With this in mind, I went with the mindset of being appreciative that we were allowed to share in this experience with Andrea.

From that initial meeting, Andrea became part of our lives. As the adoption planning progressed, we communicated through text, phone and Facebook. We met her mother, nieces and other members of her family. We visited her home, took her out to eat and learned more about her life. To be honest, it was not easy. My husband and I are in our 30s, have had lots of formal school and came from middle class backgrounds. It was hard to find common ground with Andrea, but we managed by bonding over pop culture, comic books and horror movies. We learned more about her every time we visited or talked.

Andrea had a tendency to exaggerate or lie for attention, which I am sure is a direct result of her own precarious childhood. We had to consider carefully what she said. It was clear that she cared for our baby, and she talked about how to have a healthy pregnancy and birth. She smoked, but was trying to cut back for the baby’s well-being. All of these things helped us to see her as a person, not just the mother of the baby we hoped to have in our homes.

The months leading up to the birth of our child proved to be a difficult time. With the baby due in September, we were told in July that the paternal birth grandmother was stepping in to take the baby and raise him until Andrea and the birthfather were ready to be parents. This was devastating. The only thing that gave us hope during this time was the fact that there was a small chance that there was a different birthfather than the one assumed. A DNA test at birth would help to confirm the actual father and, if it was the person everyone assumed, we wouldn't be parents. If it was the other guy, we would still be parents. This in-between state was incredibly emotional. We decided to hold out for that slim hope that things would work in our favor.

Then, a week before the baby was due, we found out that things had changed again. The potential birth father had told his mother that he wasn't going to parent and wanted the baby to be adopted. Things were looking up at this point!

As we got closer to the time of delivery, Andrea wanted to know if we would be there when she was in the hospital giving birth. We were stunned that we would even be asked this question. As wonderful as it would be to attend the birth, it was a distinct possibility that we would leave the hospital that day not knowing if we were going to be dads. After much thought and reflection, we decided that we would try to be there.  Again, we were holding out to that hope that things would work in our favor.

The due date arrived and went and we didn’t receive any word.  In fact, we did not find out that he was born until he was a few days old. Evidently, Andrea had changed her mind about adopting and didn’t want us to know that she had given birth. Suddenly, no one was talking to us.

Our adoption counselor went to the hospital and tracked down Andrea and her mother to get more information. Andrea wanted to try being a parent to see if she would be successful. Andrea's mother was still in favor of the adoption, but wanted to give her daughter the change to parent. We thought it all had fallen apart. We were devastated. However, after few weeks of parenting, and with the support of her family and friends, she decided to go through with the adoption.

Now, four months later, we are planning to see Andrea in a couple of weeks for what will be our third visit. I will admit that these visits are hard for me to take right now as we are still in the adoption finalization process and this in-between state scares me.

When we see her, Andrea talks about her baby and how his personality comes from her. While it makes me happy to see her excitement as she bonds with the baby we all love so much, her reaction also makes me a little angry. I want to say that “he’s our baby” and his personality is developing because of how we interact with and care for him. But I can’t have it both ways. I can either chose to accept her in our lives or push her away from us.

For me, it would be easier to cut the ties. If Andrea disappeared into her own life, it wouldn’t hurt me. But it would hurt our son. When I think about his future, I want him to know his mother and her life. Good or bad. I don’t want him wondering if his mother graduated nursing school, if she ran off and got married, is down on her luck or if he has brothers and sisters, or the thousands of other scenarios he may contemplate. Having a child through adoption has never been about what’s easy….it’s about making the decision that felt right. For me, having Andrea in our lives, as difficult as it may be, is the right decision for us.

There is no how-to guide on developing a relationship with your birthmother. Every family is going to be different. However it evolves, remember that what you are creating is not for you and your partner, but for your child. Andrea’s not perfect. But then again, neither are we. We are just in a better place in our lives where we can parent a child. She made the hardest decision of her life, and gave us the greatest gift we could ever ask for – our son! We are happy to have Andrea as part of our family and to be part of hers. It’s what’s best for our child.

*pseudonym

Show Comments ()
Gay Dad Life

Dads Tell Us Their 'Gayest Moment Ever' as Parents

We may be dads — but we're still gay, dammit! And these "gayest moments ever," sent to us from our Instagram community, prove it.

Did your child know all the lyrics to Madonna songs by age 3? Do your kids critique all the red carpet lewks from the Tony Awards? Do you often have baby food, diapers, sparkling white wine, gourmet appetizer, and fresh cut flowers in your shopping cart — all in one trip? If you answered 'yes' to any of the above, you just might be... a gay dad.

We asked the dads in our Instagram community to share their gayest moments as a dad, ever, and their responses were just as hilarious as they were relatable.

Here's a great way to start the week...

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...
Gay Dad Family Stories

Gay Dads Forced to Flee Russia Find Refuge in Seattle

After fleeing Moscow last spring, this family of four has started new lives for themselves in Seattle.

For almost ten years, Andrei Yaganov, 45, and his husband Evgeny Erofeev, 32, managed to live a fairly ordinary life in Moscow, Russia. The two men both held down respectable office jobs. And their two sons — Denis and Yuri, now 14 and 12 respectively — went to daycare and school without issue. Despite being headed by a same-sex couple in a country with notoriously aggressive laws and attitudes towards the LGBTQ community, the foursome went about their lives just like any other family.

Adoption by LGBTQ couples, like same-sex marriage, is illegal in Russia. But the couple managed to circumvent the ban by having Andrei adopt as a single parent. Andrei became only the third single man in Moscow, he was told during his placement process, to do so.

Keep reading...
Personal Essays by Gay Dads

'A Gay Man's Wife': One Couple's Co-Parenting Journey

The podcast 'A Gay Man's Wife,' explores how one woman makes her marriage to a gay man work for her — and their family.

Guest post written by Michael and Tawyne, hosts of A Gay Man's Wife

Michael: Growing up, I always knew I was different. I knew that what my family perceived as normal wasn't who I was. Only when I hit a certain maturity in my teenage years did I understand that I was gay. Still, I didn't know what that meant for me at the time. When I was 16 I met Tawyne (15) and immediately felt something that I didn't quite understand. She was wild like a tornado and captivated me. Throughout the first year of our friendship we fell in love.

Keep reading...
Politics

Supreme Court to Hear Major Case Concerning LGBTQ Foster Care Parents

The Supreme Court agreed to decide whether cities are allowed to exclude tax-funded adoption agencies from foster care systems if they refuse to work with gay couples.

In 2018, city officials in Philadelphia decided to exclude Catholic Social Services, which refuses to work with LGBTQ couples, from participating in its foster-care system. The agency sued, claiming religious discrimination, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit unanimously ruled against the agency, citing the need to comply with nondiscrimination policies.

The case, Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, follows a 2018 Supreme Court decision regarding a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. In that case, the court narrowly ruled that the baker bad been discriminated against, on religious grounds, by the state's civil rights commission. It did not decide the broader issue: whether an entity can be exempt from local non-discrimination ordinances on the basis of religious freedom.

The court — whose ideological center has shifted to the right since the addition of Justice Brett Kavanaugh in fall 2018 — may choose to do so now. Advocates quickly called on the court to consider the potential impact on the more than 400,000 children currently in the foster care system:

"We already have a severe shortage of foster families willing and able to open their hearts and homes to these children," said Leslie Cooper, deputy director of the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project. "Allowing foster care agencies to exclude qualified families based on religious requirements that have nothing to do with the ability to care for a child such as their sexual orientation or faith would make it even worse. We can't afford to have loving families turned away or deterred by the risk of discrimination."

"It is unconscionable to turn away prospective foster and adoptive families because they are LGBTQ, religious minorities, or for any other reason unrelated to their capacity to love and care for children," said HRC President Alphonso David. "We reject the suggestion that taxpayer-funded child welfare services should be allowed to put discrimination over a child's best interest. This case could also have implications for religious refusals that go far beyond child welfare. The Supreme Court must make it clear that freedom of religion does not include using taxpayer funds to further marginalize vulnerable communities."

The court may choose to override a 1990 decision, Employment Division v. Smith, which created the current standard for carving out religious exemptions. In that case, the court ruled that laws that target a specific faith, or express hostility towards certain beliefs, are unconstitutional — but this standard has long been abhorred by religious conservatives, who think it doesn't offer enough protections for religions. If the court does overrule Smith, it could have far-ranging consequences. " As noted on Slate, "it would allow anyone to demand a carve-out from laws that go against their religion, unless those laws are 'narrowly tailored' to serve a 'compelling government interest.'"

The four members of the court's conservative wing — Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh —have all signaled an openness to reconsider Smith. The ruling's fate, then, likely rests in the hands of the court's new swing vote, Chief Justice Roberts.

For more, read the full article on Slate.

News

What's it Like to Be a Child of the 'Gayby Boom'?

Tosca Langbert, who grew up with two dads, writes a piece for the Harvard Business Review about what it's like being among the first children of the "Gayby Boom" to come of age.

We've previously written about the pressure on LGBTQ parents to appear perfect, given that so many in the United States still feel out families shouldn't exist in the first place. And we know this pressure trickles down to our kids. But In an article for the Harvard Business Review titled 'The Gayby Boom Is Here to Stay," author Tosca Langbert eloquently writes, from her perspective, about the experience of beingone of the first children to come of age during an era when LGBTQ parenthood is far more commonplace. She and her two siblings, she notes, "were raised in a family that was an impossibility only decades ago."

In the article, Langbert said she knew from a young age that her family was different from those of most of her peers, who had one a father and a mother. But otherwise, she writes, she didn't feel like her family differed much. "Like any other parents, Dad sat in the carpool lane after school and taught us how to ride our bikes," she writes, "while Papa took us to the movies on the weekends and separated the whites from the colors."

Keep reading...

Fatherhood, the gay way

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

Follow Gays With Kids

Powered by RebelMouse