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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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How Northwest Surrogacy Center Became a Top Choice for Gay Parents

Learn how John Chally and Sandra Hodgson turned Northwest Surrogacy Center into a leading choice for gay men pursuing surrogacy!

In 2001, Tabitha Koh was mid-interview for an office manager and bookkeeper position at Northwest Surrogacy Center (NWSC) when the agency's co-founders, John Chally and Sandra Hodgson, took a moment to get serious with her.

"They informed me that the agency works with a lot of diverse families, including a lot of gay ones," Tabitha recalled. So it would be extremely important, John and Sandra stressed, that Tabitha display a high level of comfort with and acceptance of LGBTQ families."I assured them it wouldn't be an issue," Tabitha laughed, who lives with her wife and two kids in Portland, and now works as the agency's Director of Legal Services.

It's a funny anecdote the trio now fondly laughs about today — but it also underscores how carefully NWSC has sought to earn its reputation as one of the most LGBTQ-friendly surrogacy agencies in the country.

"From the beginning, we've believed that it doesn't matter who you are, gay, straight or whatever, you should be able to build the family that you want," John said.

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The Most Important Woman a Gay Man Will Ever Date

Kristin Marsoli of Circle Surrogacy gives some tips and tricks for getting to know your surrogate once matched

It's time to fine tune your dating skills because you're about to enter into the most important courtship you'll encounter. And it all starts with the biggest first date of your life.

And it's with a woman.

This woman is your gestational carrier; the woman who will carry and care for your baby until she delivers this little bundle of joy right into your arms.

Matching with a gestational carrier – or surrogate – is one of the most exciting milestones in your journey to parenthood through surrogacy. However, it can also be the most nerve wracking. Chances are you've seen a profile about your potential surrogate match so you know a little bit about her and her family. But before you commit to this woman, you'll need to meet her first – either in person or via video. And this is one first meeting you've probably never prepared for!

Circle Surrogacy has been matching surrogates and gay dads for almost 25 years. Here are tried and true tips and tricks to getting to know your surrogate...and keeping the relationship alive during pregnancy and after birth!

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Antwon and Nate became dads through the foster care system. Nine months after becoming licensed, they received a call on a Tuesday, and two days later, their daughter moved in. "It was very quick," said Nate. "Honestly, it was more just shock and nervousness for me."

As new parents, Nate took unpaid leave for two weeks, before going back to work part-time. Antwon didn't receive any leave.

"It's definitely important to have time off to bond, but it's also important to be financially stable when you do it," said Antwon. "I don't think you should have to choose between staying financially afloat or showing your kid love... and I don't think anyone should have to make that choice."

Only 15% of dads in the U.S. have access to paid paternity leave. We want to change this.

Watch Nate and Antwon's video to find out how:

Sign the pledge: www.dovemencare.com/pledge

Like Antwon and Nate, we're helping Dove Men+Care advocate for paid paternity leave for *ALL* dads! Over the next three months, we will be sharing stories of gay dad families and their paternity leave experience. Our goal is to get 100,000 folks to sign the Paternity Leave Pledge.

Dove Men+Care has collected over 30,000 signatures on the Pledge for Paternity Leave in three short months, in a mission to champion and support new legislation for federally mandated paid leave laws in the U.S. With the conversation growing on Capitol Hill, Dove Men+Care will target key legislators to drive urgency behind paid paternity leave policy and provide a social proof in the form of real dad testimonials, expert research and signature support from families across the country.

Our goal is to help Dove Men+Care bring 100,000 signatures to key policymakers in Washington, D.C. for their Day of Action on the Hill, and drive urgency behind this issue.

If you believe *ALL* dads should receive paid paternity leave, sign the Paternity Leave Pledge.

Today is National Coming Out Day, and as we celebrate, we're sharing six coming out stories from dads in our community. Their personal stories are heartwarming, relatable, and empowering. Happy Coming Out Day, and remember, live your truth!

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Growing a Thicker Skin

Experiencing hateful and hurtful comments, Erik Alexander had to learn an important lesson: how to ignore the trolls.

Photo credit: BSA Photography

Twenty years ago when I came out, it was unbearably hard. As I have written before, I am from the Deep South. Anyone who dared to deviate from social norms was sure to be ostracized. It's not that these people were born hateful or mean; rather, it probably had more to do with them not being subjected to other lifestyles. Anything different from their own experiences sparked fear and confusion. Homosexuality, interracial relationships, religious differences – these were all unfamiliar territories to the average person I grew up around. Thus, growing up was particularly difficult.

I remember lying in bed at night when I was a little boy. I would pray and beg God to not let me be gay. Every single night I would end my prayers with "... and God, please don't let me have nightmares and please don't let me be gay." I remember crying myself to sleep many nights. I was embarrassed and ashamed. And I wanted God to cure me.

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10 Inspiring Coming Out Stories From Gay Dads

Happy National Coming Out Day! To celebrate, we've rounded up some of our recent stories about gay men with kids coming out to live their most authentic lives.

Happy National Coming Out Day! To celebrate, we've rounded up some of our best articles of gay dads coming out to live their authentic lives.

#1. Former NFL Player Jeff Rohrer, and Father of Two, Comes Out as Gay and Marries Longterm Partner


Jeff Rohrer, a father of two teenage boys via a previous relationship with a woman, is the first NFL player to marry another man. Read the article here.

#2. Coming Out to His Wife Was Painful, Says This Salt Lake-Based Dad of Four. But it Started Him on a Path of Authenticity

After Kyle came out to his wife, with whom he has four children, "she listened, she mourned and she loved," he said. Read the article here.

#3. Gay Dads Share Their Coming Out Stories for National Coming Out Day

We asked several gay dads to share their coming out stories in honor of National Coming Out Day, whose stories are heartwarming, instructive, and everything in between. Read the article here.

#4. Gay Muslim Single Dad Writes Op Ed on His Path to Self Acceptance

Maivon Wahid writes about the challenges of reconciling three separate, but equally important, identities in an opinion piece for Gay Star News. Read the article here.

#5. One Gay Dad's Path Towards Realizing Being Gay and Christian are Not Mutually Exclusive

Gay dads Matt and David Clark-Sally talk about coming out, parenting as gay men, and reconciling faith and sexuality. Read the article here.

#6. Republican Utah Lawmaker, and Dad of Two, Comes Out as Gay in Moving Video

Nathan Ivie has many important identities he's proud of: Mormon, Republican, Utahn, father of two... and gay. Read the article here.

#7. How Coming Out Helped This Gay Man Find the Strength to Be a Dad

Steven Kerr shares the moment he came out to his ex-girlfriend. "From that moment on," he writes, "my strength and purpose have grown." Read the article here.

#8. Ed Smart, Father of Kidnapping Victim Elizabeth Smart, Comes Out as Gay

In coming his coming out letter, Ed Smart, a Mormon, condemned the church for their "ridicule, shunning, rejection and outright humiliation" of LGBTQ individuals. Read the article here.

#9. The Best Part of Coming Out, Says This Gay Dad, Is Being an Out and Proud Role Model for His Daughter

"I couldn't face myself in the mirror and think that I could be a good dad and role model for my child when I was lying to myself every moment of every day," said Nate Wormington of his decision to come out. Read the article here.

#10. These Gay Dads Via Previous Marriages Have Adopted a Motto Since Coming Out and Finding Each Other: "United We Stand"

Vincent and Richard both had children in previous marriages with women; together, with their ex-wives, they are helping raise seven beautiful kids. Read the article here.

Gay Dad Life

8 Ways for Dads to Find Work/Life Balance

Finding work/life balance is hard enough... but can be even harder for gay dads.

Having kids is an amazing part of life, and it should be fun. Life does tend to get in the way sometimes, and one huge aspect of that is work. Striking that balance between work and home life is tough. If you both work it's even harder.

And if you're a gay couple, it can have it's own set of problems above and beyond the standard work-life issues that people face. Recently, the Harvard Business Review conducted a study that focused specifically on the experiences of same-sex couples who wanted to make moves towards a work/life balance.

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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