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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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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.

Popular

Couple That Met at the Gym Now Spotting Each Other Through Fatherhood

How two real New-Yorkers became two soft-hearted dads

This article is part of our family feature series with Circle Surrogacy, a surrogacy agency that has been helping LGBTQ+ singles and couples realize their dream of parenthood for the past 20 years.

Byron and Matthew Slosar, both 41, met ten years ago at one of New York City's Equinox gyms. "I asked him for a spot on the bench press," smiled Byron. The couple were married September 22, 2012.

Surrogacy was always the way Byron and Matthew wanted to become parents. They chose to wait and become dads later in life, until they had established careers and the financial means to pursue their chosen path.

They signed with Circle Surrogacy after interviewing a few agencies. "We immediately connected with their entire staff, particularly Anne Watson who lovingly dealt with my healthy neuroses on the daily for 1.5 years," said Byron. "They definitely personalized the service and helped us understand all 2,000 moving parts." The dads-to-be were also very impressed with how much emotional support they received from Circle.

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Change the World

Hungarian Company Raising Money for LGBTQ+ Organization with a LEGO® Heart

Startup WE LOVE WHAT YOU BUILD is helping combat misinformation and prejudice in Central and Eastern Europe

Guest Post from WE LOVE WHAT YOU BUILD

WE LOVE WHAT YOU BUILD is an innovative startup venture that sells LEGO® parts and unique creations. The core values of our company include social equality regardless of gender identity or origin. As LEGO® is a variety of colors and shapes, so are the people.

We all know that LEGO® is a brand that nearly everyone knows and likes between the age of 3 and 99 so this gives a great opportunity to connect unique LEGO® creations and Pride. We started a fundraising campaign for a Hungarian LGBTQ+ organization who's aim is to bring people closer to the LGBTQ+ community, they help to combat misinformation and prejudice regarding LGBTQ+ issues in Central- Eastern Europe since 2000.

You might know that gender equality and the circumstances of LGBTQ+ people is not the easiest in the former communist Eastern European countries like Hungary so this program is in a real need for help. For example a couple of month ago a member of the government said that homosexual people are not equal part of our society.

The essence of the campaign is when one buys a Pride Heart, a custom creation made of brand new and genuine LEGO® bricks the organization gets $10.00 donation so they can continue their important work. This Pride Heart is a nice necklace, a decoration in your home, and a cool gift to the one you love.

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Entertainment

Single Gay Dad Featured on Season Three of GLOW

Actor Kevin Cahoon joins the Gorgeous Ladies of Wresting in Vegas as a single gay dad — and drag queen — on Season Three of the hit Netflix show

For a couple of years now, Hollywood has been obsessed with gay dad characters (and who can blame them?) But the latest show to get hip to a story line featuring gay man raising kids is Netflix's GLOW, which explores a female wresting troop in the late 1980s.

But GLOW is helping represent a gay character that rarely gets time in the limelight:the single gay dad. In Season three of the hit comedy — which stars Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin, and Marc Maron — actor Kevin Cahoon joins the case as Bobby Barnes, a single gay father who plays a female impersonator. (80s divas only, of course — Joan Collins and Babs among them)


"I've never done female impersonation," the openly gay actor told OutSmart Magazine, "so I tried to learn really quick. You will know them all; I was very familiar with all of them. There were plenty of talk shows and performances on YouTube to study. I learned that their breathing was very informative."

A single gay dad AND drag queen on television? It's about damn time if you ask us.

Read the full interview with Cahoon here.

Politics

Utah Court Rules Gay Couples Can't Be Excluded From Surrogacy Contracts

The Utah Supreme Court found in favor of a gay couple attempting to enter into a surrogacy contract.

DRAKE BUSATH/ UTCOURTS.GOV

Earlier this month, the Utah Supreme Court ruled that a same-sex couples can't be excluded from entering into enforceable surrogacy contracts, and sent a case concerning a gay male couple back to trial court to approve their petition for a surrogacy arrangement.

As reported in Gay City News, the case concerns Utah's 2005 law on surrogacy, which was enacted prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage in the state. As a result, the content of the law is gendered, saying that surrogacy contracts should only be enforceable if the "intended mother" is unable to bear a child. When a gay couple approached District Judge Jeffrey C. Wilcox to enter into a surrogacy arrangement, he denied them, arguing that the state's law only concerned opposite sex couples.

"This opinion is an important contribution to the growing body of cases adopting a broad construction of the precedent created by Obergefell v. Hodges and the Supreme Court's subsequent decision in Pavan v. Smith," according to GCN. "It's also worth noting that same-sex couples in Utah now enjoy a right denied them here in New York, where compensated gestational surrogacy contracts remain illegal for all couples."

Read the full article here.

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Thoughts and Prayers Aren't Working:​ One Father's Plea for Gun Reform

One gay dad's plea to our leaders to enact sensible gun control

My articles on GaysWithKids aspire to be lighthearted, helpful and humorous. This one won't be any of those things. Because I'm feeling heavyhearted, helpless and sad. Last week I woke up to news of yet another mass shooting. This time at a family-friendly Garlic Festival in northern California. I don't know if it's because this one hit so close to home, or if it's because the headline included a picture of the innocent 6-year old who was among those killed, but I am overcome with emotion. But mostly I am angry. And I don't know what to do with my anger.

Then, just a few days later came two additional horrific mass shootings that stole the lives of at least 32 more innocent people, many of them children. And then there's the "everyday" gun violence that plagues American cities like Chicago, where guns injured another 46 people this past weekend alone… creating so much turmoil, a hospital had to briefly stop taking patients.

How does one verbalize the collective sadness felt around the world? One can't. And that's why I am asking everyone reading this article to commit to getting involved in some way, to help end this epidemic once and for all. Even though the solution is so obvious, we can't allow ourselves to become numb to mass shootings. Because becoming numb isn't going to save anyone.

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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