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#DearFutureDads: Advice From New Gay Dads

Dove Men+Care recently shared their "New Dad Care Package" with a few new gay dad families, demonstrating their commitment to dads from the very start of the fatherhood journey

As any dad knows, the first few weeks of fatherhood are a blur. Our lives are turned upside down as we settle into new routines that revolve around our new child. No more visits to the gym, nights out with friends, or shopping for anything other than the most basic of needs. That's why we're grateful that Dove Men+Care recently shared their "New Dad Care Package" with a few new gay dad families, demonstrating their commitment to dads from the very start of the fatherhood journey. Complete with a few Dove Men+Care and Baby Dove products and available in hospitals across the U.S., the program equips dads with the basic personal care tools needed to care of themselves and their new families during this busy and exciting time.

We're also grateful to the new dads below, each of whom shares advice with expectant dads on what to expect during the early days of fatherhood.


“Wouldn’t trade it for anything.” – Dads Chris and Zac with baby Jett

Chris and Zac originally planned to become dads through surrogacy, but after following another couple's adoption journey, they reconsidered their path. "It was so moving and humbling," explains Chris, "that after a year, we decided to move forward with adoption. Seven months later we became dads to our son, Jett."

The dads are thankful that they didn't encounter many obstacles during their journey, nor have they afterwards –– even as a two-dad family living in Salt Lake City, Utah. Rather, they've felt nothing but love and support. When Jett's adoption was finalized on May 2, 2018, the dads shared that there wasn't a dry eye in the courtroom.

Prior to becoming dads, both men were determined to take time off from work for Jett's first year. While their employers have allowed the time off, it is unpaid leave. So the dads had to spend considerable time saving and accumulating days off. (Dove Men+Care is a huge proponent of paid paternity leave; read more here.) But they share that the time spent caring for and bonding with Jett has been extremely rewarding, so they encourage dads-to-be to to consider taking extended leaves as well.

Being a full-time dad can be overwhelming, especially at first. So Chris and Zac want to stress the importance of open and honest communication between the dads. While they’re focusing their energy on being the best they can be for Jett, they also realize that trying to be a super dad is impossible. Says Chris, "We're learning to take a moment, breathe, and then readjust our expectations."

The dads heartily agree that they definitely wouldn't trade this for anything!

“The corny stuff parents always say like, "I never knew I could love someone so much," are actually true!” – Dad Michael and his baby girl

Earlier this year, Michael became a first-time dad to his daughter via surrogacy.

How his life has changed! Michael shares that he's found a level of patience he never knew existed. He spends a sizable chunk of his time planning their days, and he's learned to reset expectations as to what he can realistically accomplish in any given day, week or month.

Michael's top priority is his family, and being Daddy to his little girl is everything. "I didn't go through all I did just to have a child and then not spend time with her!" After her birth, Michael received one week paid family leave and took another eight weeks of unpaid leave.

Although his company was very supportive and tried to help, Michael believes that there needs to be mandatory leave in the US, regardless of gender. "I fully understand that as a dad (or dads) there isn't the need to physically recover from having a baby, but that doesn't mean the baby needs any less time or attention."

With his daughter at daycare during the week, and Michael working, he can happily report that he doesn’t feel that he's doing it alone. "I've got an amazing set of friends, coworkers and family that have been incredibly supportive and helpful; I'm grateful for them everyday."

And Michael's message to future gay dads? "If you decide it's what you really want, then don't let anything stop you. Keep going. Pick yourself up and keep trying. Take one next step at a time. It's unbelievably worth it."

“Savor every moment; the crying, the diaper changes, the spit up and everything in between. It goes by so quickly.” – Joselito and Anthony with baby Alyana

For Joselito and Anthony, who met through mutual friends at a Lady Gaga concert, the decision to adopt was an easy one.

“We both come from biologically separated families," said Joselito, "but we were so welcomed by our adopted and guardian parents, that we always had a strong desire to make things right with our child."

Two years after they began the adoption process, and after a number of connections with birth mothers fell through, their dream came true. Daughter Alyana was born January 4.

"To hold her in our arms was priceless." Joselito was very shaky and nervous the first time he held her, and Anthony was in shock and disbelief. "We couldn't believe we were holding our daughter."

Because it took two years for Joselito and Anthony to become dads, in many ways they had lots of time to prepare. They both took time off to take care of Alyana, which was incredibly precious to the dads. They wanted to be able to connect with her during her early stages. "It meant that we got to witness important milestones, such as crawling, learning to walk and even the babbling," says Anthony. "It means we get to know who she is from day one," adds Joselito.

Despite the initial challenges to become dads, Joselito and Anthony are besotted with their family of three, and have a few words to share with future dads: "Be strong and never give up; and remember the biggest weapon in the entire process is to be patient and to always remain positive."

"Caring for a child is the most selfless act you can do. It gives us purpose and we only wish we could spend more time with her." – Mauricio and Stephen with baby Isabella

Both Mauricio and Stephen come from large and close-knit families. Shortly after they met, they discussed wanting children and becoming fathers. Mauricio's parents are going on 45 years of marriage; Stephen's family all reside next door to each other in West Virginia. So for them, fatherhood was never a matter of "if," it was "when." They began their journey in the summer of 2015 and this April, Mauricio and Stephen became dads through open adoption to baby Isabella.

Now that they're dads, Mauricio and Stephen agree that everything has changed. “You relinquish all your control in order to dedicate your life to this little creature," said Mauricio. "However, the outcome is rewarding beyond words."

The new dads are experiencing sleepless nights and exhaustion beyond belief, but Isabella makes the toll worthwhile. And the shares sense of purpose is unlike anything they've ever known, helping to make their bond with each other even stronger. "The choices you make are no longer impacting the two of you," says Stephen, "but now there is this little third person who depends 100% on you."



Part of parenthood is figuring out how to care for your new child, and the dads are fast learners. "It's the most selfless act you can do," says Mauricio about taking the time to care for Isabella. "It's unconditional love and devotion for someone you have barely known."

"We enjoy every second we spent with Isabella," adds Stephen. "It gives us purpose and we only wish we could spend more time with her."

The dads definitely see more kids in their future. And they have some thoughts for new dads to consider, like preparing for the upheaval of a new routine, and surrounding yourself with loved ones who can help out. "Be realistic about the time off needed, it is hard work!" said Mauricio. Yet, despite the hard work and literally everything changing in their lives, new dads Mauricio and Stephen are rocking fatherhood and are besotted with their daughter Isabella.

“As hard as it is, we love every moment of it.” – Johnny and Sebastian with son Vaughn

Together 11 years, baby fever began to sprout for Johnny and Sebastian halfway through their relationship. After embarking on their surrogacy journey over three years ago, they welcomed their son Vaughn the day before Valentine's Day this year.

"So much about our lives has changed," says Johnny. "From the moment we wake up, our attention goes directly to our son. We plan our day around him, and we talk about our future plans in a very different way."

Bonding with their son during his first days of life was incredibly important to the new dads. "Having a child through surrogacy, as wonderful as it is," shares Johnny, "one can also feel a bit distant and disconnected since the process was done remotely with our surrogate who lives in a different state."

Like most new parents, they were nervous about the long sleepless nights that were to come but they both felt it was critical to be available and present to really bond and understand their new son.

The new dads admit it's certainly been a challenge at times – juggling a newborn, jobs, and their own expectations – but they're loving every minute of it.

"Life has been amazing," adds Sebastian. "We appreciate each day and each moment. Watching our son grow and develop is a gift; our capacity to love has definitely grown."

The new dads are making sure that they find time for themselves as both the journey to fatherhood, and actually being new fathers, is very emotional. "Be prepared to be drained and tired," is their message to future dads. "Being a father is an amazing gift," adds Johnny. "Whether you try surrogacy or adoption, there is no 'right way'... in the end, it will all be worth it."

Happy Father's Day to all dads, new, old and aspiring!

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A 'Men Having Babies' Conference Started These Happy New Dads on Their Path to Parenthood

In the Bay Area? Sign up now for the next Men Having Babies Conference taking place this January 12-13!

Last year, after 12 years together, Jimmy Nguyen and Michael Duque were finally ready to become dads. And so in 2017 they began their journey to fatherhood. Little did they know how quickly that would become a reality. What began with a serendipitous sighting of an ad for an upcoming Men Having Babies conference resulted in the joyous birth of their son in October 2018. Here's their story.

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Why A Single Gay Guy from Norway Pursued Surrogacy in the U.S. to Become the Dad He Always Wanted to Be

Bent-Einar, single gay dad living in Norway, became a dad to his little girl with the help of Circle Surrogacy.

Bent-Einar, who lives in Norway, had always wanted to be a father. He admits that as a single guy, the thought of starting a family alone was difficult, because what you'd always hear is that a child needs both a mother and a father.

But his desire to be a dad far outweighed the preconceived notions of what was considered "family", so he began his research on surrogacy. Thanks to Circle Surrogacy, he is the proud Dad to a beautiful daughter, who makes his life complete.

Here, Bent-Einar tells his story.

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'Broadway Husbands' Bret and Stephen Learn Some New Surrogacy Lingo In Their Latest Vlog

Enjoy our fourth video in our series that follows Broadway husbands Stephen and Bret on their path to parenthood via surrogacy

In our next vlog with "Broadway Husbands" Stephen and Bret, the dads-to-be talk about the process of choosing an egg donor and creating embryos.

After learning they'd have to wait for their donor to "cycle twice" before beginning, the guys offered a word of wisdom to future gay men who are interested in surrogacy:

"Just so you know they call it 'bleeds,'" Bret said.

"Yeah they said they're waiting for her 'second bleed,'" Stephen added.

"So if they tell you that, don't be shocked," Bret cautioned. "I guess that's just a phrase that they use medically?"

Bret, a New York actor, and Stephen, a Broadway dancer, make up the dynamic duo behind @BroadwayHusbands. Gays With Kids is extremely excited to have front row seats, as this theater duo vlog about the highs, lows, complications and revelations of their surrogacy journey.

Watch this latest installment of their journey and follow along as we learn about their hopes and their worries, gain insight on their mindset about starting a family, and the factors that helped them choose surrogacy and, ultimately, their fertility clinic, Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMACT).

Watch the video:

In this video you'll hear Bret and Stephen discuss:

The process of choosing their egg donor (0:15)

Filling out the egg donor questionnaire (0:29)

Exploring RMACT's egg donor profile database (0:47)

Bret and Stephen discuss the egg donor they selected and what they learned and loved about her (1:00)

The next steps for their egg donor; she has to cycle twice before they can do an egg retrieval (2:10)

Overall thoughts and excitement on the egg donor process (2:45)

Expert Advice

How to Get Your Little Ones to Eat (and Enjoy!) Their Vegetables

Meet David and Danny fathers and founders of Kekoa Foods sharing some tips on how to keep your little ones eating their healthy vegetables during the hecticness of the holidays.


Watch:

Tip Number 1 – Try to prepare your own meals with fresh ingredients. Doing so gives you better control over the amount of sugar, sodium and cholesterol you and your family consume.

Tip Number 2 – Experiment in your kitchen with herbs and spices you haven't used before. Some items we've added in recent years include cumin, tarragon, curry, turmeric and ginger. Start slowly, though, you can always add more next time.

Tip Number 3 – Use veggies instead of pasta to get more veggies in your diet. We like spaghetti squash, zucchini and beets for this purpose and toss them with our favorite sauce.

Tip Number 4 – Instead of adding cream to veggie dishes to get your kids to eat them, sprinkle them with just a touch of parmesan cheese and add fresh lemon juice. It enhances flavor without adding a significant amount of cholesterol or fat.

Surrogacy for Gay Men

Understanding the Legal Process of Gay Surrogacy

Next up on the Daddy Squared podcast! Yan and Alex talk with a fertility lawyer, Richard Vaughn, about the legal elements of the IVF process

When thinking about having kids via surrogacy, the legal part is just as important as the IVF process itself. Making sure that the agreements with the surrogate and the egg donor are set up properly is a solid base for the whole process itself. And then there are issues like legal guardianship and birth certificates that are also crucial for finishing the process with babies that are completely, legally yours. We turned to Fertility Lawyer and gay dad Richard Vaughn of International Fertility Law Group, to set the record straight about the legal steps that must be taken when having babies through IVF.

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Rebel Dad: 1st Gay Canadian to Adopt Internationally Writes New Memoir

David McKinstry set a legal precedent in 1997. A few years later, with his second husband, Michael, he did so again when they became the first gay Canadian couple to co-adopt children.

Excerpt #1 – From Chapter 1: The Search (1793 Words)

As the first openly gay Canadian man approved to adopt internationally, David McKinstry set a legal precedent in 1997. A few years later, with his second husband, Michael, he did so again when they became the first gay Canadian couple to co-adopt children.

The following is an excerpt from the first chapter of his new book Rebel Dad: Triumphing Over Bureaucracy to Adopt to Orphans Born Worlds Apart. Here, it's 1998 and David finds himself in India. While in India, David visits several orphanages with his guide, Vinod, on his quest to adopt. With Indian adoption officials being extremely homophobic at the time, David could not reveal that he was a gay man.

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Are You a Bisexual Dad? Gays With Kids Wants to Tell Your Story!

After a recent reader pointed out our lack of stories featuring bi men, we're reaching out to try to increase exposure for the bi dad community!

Recently, Gays With Kids received the following message via one of our social media channels:

"Hey guys, love what you do. But where are your stories about bi men who are dads? Do they not exist? I get the sense from your page that most queer dads identify as gay. I identify as bi (or pansexual) and want to become a dad one day, but just never see my story represented. Are they just not out there?"

We can say with resounding certainly that YES bisexual dads absolutely exist. In fact, of all the letters in our acronym, far more LGBTQ parents fall into the "b" category than any other.

But our reader is certainly right in one respect--we don't hear the stories of bisexual/pansexual dads told nearly often enough. While we occasionally find stories to tell about bi dads, like this great one from earlier this year from a dad who just came out, we otherwise aren't often finding stories of bi dads nearly as easy as we do gay dads. We're sure this is due to any number of reasons--societal pressure to stay closeted from both the straight and LGBTQ communities along with erasure of bisexuality both come to mind.

But it's also because we haven't done the best job reaching out specifically to the bi dad community! We hope to change that. So if you are a bi man who is a father (or wants to become a father) and in a relationship with a man OR woman (or are single!) we want to hear from you! Click here so we can help tell your story and increase exposure for the bi dad community, or drop us a line at dads@gayswithkids.com!

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