In recent weeks, with reports like this one in eWire.News, and famous gay dads gracing the cover of Parents Magazine for the first time, a perception is growing that it's now "easy" for gay men to be dads now. To examine this idea, Washington Post recently interviewed four gay men who have become fathers at some point in the past 10 years to examine their experiences. What they found is that, yes, it's easier than ever before for gay men to become dads. But we still face many more barriers than our straight counterparts.
None of these barriers will be news to any gay man who has become a father. But it's helpful that major publications like the Washington Post are now starting to recognize and give voice to them.
The first "finding" from their conversations is that gay men need more "money in the bank" that straight people. With the exception of adoption through foster care, "the financial costs are often tantamount to buying a car or even a house outright," the author notes.
The article also notes that gay men--and fathers in general--are given less paternity leave in the United States on average than many other countries. One of the dads interviewed for the piece, who adopted his sone through foster care, said he could only afford to take two weeks of paternity leave, which was " too short," he said. His son "struggled to see me as the paternal figure — I was just the guy who went to work and came home from work later. That's a struggle for most dads whether gay or straight — but I wish I had gotten more time just to bond with him."
Gay dads also must do more "emotional heavy lifting," the author notes, noting that many attend therapy for many months before taking the plunge. "We don't come to parenting by accident," another dad interviewed in the piece said. "We come to it by way of a lot of money, and with great intentionality. That is the commonality among gay dads with children."
A final common experience to many of the gay dads interviewed in the piece were annoyances dealing with strangers. "The thing that has been the most difficult are strangers who don't understand," one of the dads said. "They see us out with our son and we don't fit into their little box of what a family looks like. I've been asked whether Jeffrey and I mixed our sperm together in a cup. And that's rude, but as our son gets older, he is being shaped by a certain narrative about who he is."
Read the whole article here.