Gay Dad Family Stories

David and Ben Met on the Dance Floor — and Are Now Grooving Their Way Through Fatherhood

David and Ben, who became fathers with the help of Northwest Surrogacy Center, live in Melbourne with their daughter, Maia.

Image: NWSC Clients

In 2003, while both studying at Reading University in the UK, Ben Suter and David Cocks met after locking eyes on the dance floor and then being introduced by a mutual friend. Ben, a meteorologist and Operations Manager, and David, an Assistant Principal, have been together ever since. They moved to Australia together in 2010, seeking a different life, and an overall better work-life balance. They chose Cairns in Queensland as their new home, between the Great Barrier Reef and the tropical rainforest, "taking life a bit easier," said David. The couple were also married in June 2016, back home in England.

While David always wanted kids, Ben took a little convincing. So they started their parenting journey with a dog, Titan, who quickly became like their first born. From there, Ben came around rather quickly.


But becoming a gay dad in Australia is complicated by legalities. In Queensland, where the couple lived, adoption was not an option for them, and neither was surrogacy. However, surrogacy in the US did give the couple the best legal protections and meant the timeframe was far more reasonable. They'd heard about the possibility of surrogacy in the states from a British couple who had children via surrogacy in California.

And it wasn't just the legal issues that were difficult to overcome for David and Ben; like most couples, the other major hurdle was financial. The dads-to-be had to sell their house in the UK to go towards financing their journey to fatherhood.

A door opened when an exciting job opportunity came up for Ben which would take the family to the Northern Territory. Due to the state not having any surrogacy laws on the book, so to speak, they were allowed to start putting wheels in motion for their surrogacy journey. "Surrogacy wasn't the only reason for our move but it was a major factor in our decision to leave Queensland," explained David. "We found it very easy to settle in to life in Darwin, we found good friends very quickly. With our dog Titan and an outdoor lifestyle it suited us very well."

As they began researching for their surrogacy journey in the states, they were given some information by the Gay Dads Australia group that was based in Melbourne. Locally, they didn't find any resources or other gay dads in the territory, but during their online research they found out about Men Having Babies. David and Ben utilized their reviews of US clinics to find an LGBTQ-friendly agency that had seen many successes with gay intended parents. They both wanted to find a smaller agency that was highly rated: they decided upon Northwest Surrogacy Center.

"After a few conversations with Sandy and John the founders, as well as Tabitha Koh, one of their legal partners, we decided to go with them," said David. "Our experience was great; although our first transfer was unsuccessful, their matching us with our surrogate seemed very personalized and they were very responsive."

With their first transfer unsuccessful, they moved onto their second and this time, their surrogate Veronica became pregnant.

The dads-to-be planned to travel to the states two weeks before their baby was due, but their daughter Maia had other plans, arriving 5 weeks prematurely. "We had aimed to be there two weeks before her birth and then stay for a month afterwards, but instead I arrived a day after she was born and Ben arrived about five days after that. It was a scary start to her life but she was very strong and left hospital shortly after I arrived," said David.

Due to Maia's early appearance, the Airbnb that the dads were meant to stay in wasn't ready so they ended up staying with their surrogate Veronica and her family. This allowed for the families to really get to know each other and bond over their shared experience. "After Maia was born we stayed about 6 weeks in the US before leaving," said David. "We are very close to our surrogate, Veronica, and we will stay in touch forever. She and her husband have been to visit us in Bali and Darwin, plus we have met up in the UK while she was visiting her other surrobabies in France. We will continue to take holidays together and we Skype and text every month; she is very much part of our family now."

Today dads David and Ben live in Melbourne with Maia who is now three years old. The dads are loving fatherhood! "Life is amazing!" shared David. "I waited my whole life to be a father and spending time with Maia and watching her grow and develop has been a truly special time." Both dads attest that they've learned tolerance, patience, and especially managing expectations. "We have also learnt so much about human learning processes and how babies go from a helpless infant to an independent and fear-free young child."

And their advice to others considering a similar path? "Go for it, it is a path that can be tricky, expensive and highly emotional, but the bonds formed with our surrogate and her family, as well as with our beautiful daughter, made every moment worthwhile," said David.

They have just begun their second surrogacy journey, this time with another surrogate, and again with Northwest Surrogacy Center. "Our surrogate, Veronica, was a truly special person who connected deeply with us and our family. We are excited to be starting the next journey with a new surrogate and hope to have as much of an adventure this next time around!" We can't wait to watch this space!

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Gay Dad Photo Essays

Interested in Foster Care? These Amazing Dads Have Some Advice

As National Foster Care Month comes to a close, we rounded up some amazing examples of gay men serving as foster care dads, helping provide kids with a bright future.

Every May in the United States, we celebrate National Foster Care Month. With over 437,000 children and youth in foster care, it's our honor to take a look at some of the awesome dads in our community who are opening their hearts and their homes, and providing these kids with a bright future.

Thinking about becoming a foster parent? Check out these resources here, and visit AdoptUSKids.

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Our second feature in our transracial family series. Read the first one here.

Ferdinand Ortiz, 39, and his husband Manuel Gonzalez, 38, have been together for 7 years. In 2017, they became foster dads when they brought their daughter, Mia Valentina, home from the hospital. She was just three days old at the time. On December 13, 2018, her adoption was finalized.

Mia is of Jamaican and African American heritage, and her dads are both Puerto Rican. When Manuel and Ferdinand began their parenting journey through the foster care system, they received specific training on how to be the parents of a child whose race and culture was different from their own. "We learned that it's important to celebrate our child's culture and surround ourselves with people who can help her be proud of her culture." However, as helpful as this training was, the dads agreed that it would've been beneficial to hear from other transracial families and the type of challenges that they faced.

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"Stop and smell the roses." It was the thing my dad always said to me when I was growing up. But like many know-it-all kids, I didn't listen. I was determined to keep my eye on the prize. Whether it was getting good grades in school, getting my work published, scoring the next big promotion, buying a house or starting a family. For me, there was no such thing as resting on my laurels. It has always been about what's next and mapping out the exact course of action to get me there.

Then Covid.

Ten weeks ago, I — along with the rest of the world — was ordered to shelter-in-place... to stop thinking about what's next, and instead, focus on the here and the now. In many ways, the shut down made me shut off everything I thought I knew about being content and living a productive life. And so, for the first time in my 41 years, I have literally been forced to stop and smell the roses. The question is, would I like the way they smell?

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Kevin and David know they can never understand what it's like growing up as a young black girl — but they strive to create a 'safe space' for their daughters to talk about the experience

Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of ongoing posts exploring issues related to transracial families headed by gay, bi and trans men. Interested in being featured as part of the series? Email us at dads@gayswithkids.com

Is adopting a child whose race and culture is different from your own something that us queer dads need to talk about? Share our experiences? Learn from others? We've been hearing from our community, and the answer has been a resounding, "yes."

With over one-fifth (21.4%) of same-sex couples raising adopted children in the United States today (compared to 3% of different-sex couples), it's highly likely, at the very least, that those families are transcultural. According to April Dinwoodie, Chief Executive of The Donaldson Adoption Institute, Inc., all adoptive families are transcultural. "All, in my opinion, adoptions are transcultural because there are no two families' culture that is exactly the same, even if you went as far as to get very specific about the family of origin and the family of experience and almost make it cookie-cutter … no two families operate the same."

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As his sons have gotten older, the movies have morphed away from cartoons and towards things blowing up — but movie night remains his favorite family tradition.

Editor's Note: This is the next 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 his 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!

Of all of our traditions and rituals, probably the most consistent and longest-lasting one was movie night. Sure, we read the heck out of Harry Potter. But our capacity for watching Harry Potter? We're talking Quidditch World Cup here, folks.

In its early version, movie night looked like this: During the week, I would order a movie and a cartoon from Netflix—back when "Netflix" meant "mail." On Saturday night—and I mean, faithfully, every Saturday night—we would order a pepperoni pizza (which Mark faithfully took the meat off of—I'll get to food later) for delivery and then sit and watch our cartoon and movies while eating. The kids had a say in the movie, but I got to pick the cartoon. They watched enough of their own cartoons on the regular, and besides, this gave me a great opportunity to introduce them to the wonders of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Josie and the Pussycats.


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Mother's Day can be complicated holiday for many gay, bi and trans dads and their kids. Choosing how, when — or even if — to celebrate the day is a uniquely personal decision. But no matter how we've become dads, women have helped us achieve our dreams of fatherhood. And for that reason, we've loved celebrating all of the women who have supported our journeys to fatherhood, in ways big and small, over the years. Check out some of our favorite photos, essays, articles and more below!


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Become a Gay Dad

Webinar Series: Becoming a Dad During a Pandemic

Gays With Kids launches a webinar series with surrogacy, adoption and foster care experts — to explore family planning options for gay, bi and trans men in the age of the coronavirus.

Gay, bi or trans and considering building or growing your family? Gays With Kids is offering FREE webinars led by industry experts in surrogacy, adoption and foster care to give you up-to-date insight on how the coronavirus affects family building. There will be lots of time for audience Q&A, so come prepared for this webinar with your specific questions on starting or continuing your surrogacy journey.

Register via the links below!

SURROGACY

Thinking About Becoming A Dad? Explore Your Options in our Surrogacy Webinar Series.

Come discuss: surrogates, egg Donation, IVF, and embryo creation with leading surrogacy and fertility experts.

Please register for just one of the following 3 surrogacy webinars

Monday, May 4, 2020
4:00-5:00pm PT / 7:00-8:00pm ET

  • Dr. Guy Ringler, California Fertility Partners
  • Victoria Ferrara, Worldwide Surrogacy
Register here (pre-registration required)
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Wednesday, May 6, 2020
4:00-5:00pm PT / 7:00-8:00pm ET
  • Dr. Jerald S. Goldstein, Fertility Specialists of Texas
  • Sam Hyde, Circle Surrogacy
Register here (pre-registration required)
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Friday, May 8, 2020
12:00-1:00pm PT / 3:00-4:00pm ET
  • Dr. Mark Leondires, Reproductive Medical Associates of CT
  • Kristin Hanson, Simple Surrogacy

Register here (pre-registration required)

ADOPTION & FOSTER CARE

Thinking About Becoming A Dad? Explore Your Options in our Adoption Webinar Series.

Come discuss: matching, placements, home studies and finalizations with leading experts in adoption and foster care.

Please register for just one of the following 2 adoption / foster webinars
Tuesday, May 12, 2020
3:00-4:00pm PT / 6:00-7:00pm ET

  • Monica Baker, Spence-Chapin Services to Families & Children
  • Rita Soronen, Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption
  • Molly Rampe Thomas, Choice Network
Register here (pre-registration required)

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Friday, May 15, 2020
10:00-11:00am PT / 1:00-2:00pm ET

  • Monica Baker, Spence-Chapin Services to Families & Children
  • Rita Soronen, Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption
  • Molly Rampe Thomas, Choice Network
Register here (pre-registration required)

Fatherhood, the gay way

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