Gay Dad Life

This Couple is Serving Us Some Major Dad Goals

North Carolina dads Dustin and Burton have known each other since 2004, but it was only 4 years ago that they began dating and fell in love. They were married January 2015, and shortly afterwards started the process to become fathers through surrogacy. Today, Burton is "Daddy" and Dustin is "Papa" to their 1-year-old twins, Stone and Holland. We caught up with the two men to find out how they're balancing fatherhood, their family roles, and even politics down south.

Gays With Kids: On your Instagram accounts (@dustin_patrick_smith and @bbbuffloe), you guys make fatherhood look easy. Is it? Can you give us an honest description of a day in the life?

Dustin and Burton: Well, fatherhood has a range of easy and not so easy moments. It looks easy on social media because no matter how stressed or tired we are, we're being fulfilled in a way that joy carries through our photos. The difference is, before we may have cared about the pile of clothes in the background of a photo or the stain on our shirt, but now that's just real life. Honestly, the twins' goal right now is to eat, play and nap; Our goal is to keep them on a schedule together. But just as soon as you think the stars have aligned and a routine has been established, they throw a curve ball. At this point in the journey, the twins are starting to become more mobile ... something tells us the fun has just begun.

Burton (above, left) holding Holland, Dustin (above, right) holding Stone

GWK: How long was your surrogacy journey? Please give us a timeline from when you first started discussing surrogacy as a way to begin your family, to when your beautiful twins were born.

D + B: It's pretty amazing how quickly things happened as soon as we opened the door to the possibility. One of the hardest parts of the journey was finding someone to carry our precious cargo. As cliche as it may sound, the minute we met our surrogate, we knew she was the one. Shortly after meeting her and finalizing the legalities, we moved forward with IVF. A couple weeks later, the blood test were looking promising, and we found out a month later that there were two little heart beats. Needless to say, we were over the moon! The whole process took about 14 months from start to finish - pretty quick considering it took a village.

GWK: Who does what in the chores and baby department? How did you come to that "division of labor"?

D + B: Well, we could have gone into this journey with an "every man for himself" mindset, but we learned quickly to divide and conquer. While one of us loves shopping and cooking the other loves paying bills and doing laundry - rarely do we cross "boundaries." So when it comes to the kids we both lean on our strengths; We truly work great as a team. Honestly, when you are spending time with your kids, nothing feels like a chore. We love being together as a family (dinner time, play time, bath time, story time and bed time) -- It's truly a slice of heaven.

GWK: What has been the hardest thing about being dads so far?

D + B: I think the hardest thing we have faced as dads is the realization that the choices we make now impact these helpless little people who count on us. Never has listening to our gut mattered more as we try to weigh what is best for our children. Second to that is finding the time to nurture friendships. Being a parent is all consuming, so beyond the responsibilities of career, its such a challenge to find time to see friends and invest time socially.

GWK: And what has been the easiest?

D + B: Being home -- As much as we miss our friends and traveling, nothing is better than coming home each day to your kids - seeing their smiling faces, kissing their little bellies and hearing the deepest most joyful laughter. We couldn't image a place we'd rather be.

GWK: What have you both learned since becoming a dad?

D + B: One thing we've learned is how intuitive we are when it comes to fatherhood. For two guys that have never had any experience with babies, we were surprised by how natural this process has been. Also, we both have learned to recognize what really matters in life. Who knows, maybe it's the sleep deprivation or maybe the little free time you have to worry about the petty stuff. Regardless, we no longer let the stress or drama seep into our family unit.

GWK: Looking back, is there anything you would do differently in terms of your path to fatherhood?

D + B: Not a single thing - the path we took led us to our children.

GWK: Your kids are beautiful! Are there plans to expand your family in the future?

D + B: As much as we've loved this journey, at this point, we aren't planing on having more. We've already been blessed with a beautiful boy and girl -- But honestly, we couldn't imagine being out numbered! Not to mention it's an expensive process and we want to make sure we can afford to give our kids a secure future.

GWK: How did you guys experience the "culture wars" in North Carolina during and after the election

D + B: The election was hard for us because locally we were dealing with discrimination against the LGBT+ community with the notorious HB2 "Bathroom Bill." Despite boycotts on a national and global level - Even after major corporations, sporting events and musicians pulled out of North Carolina, we had a governor who stubbornly pressed forward. It was embarrassing and disheartening to say the least, especially since both of us have built businesses here in North Carolina. And as parents we want to make sure we surround our family with love and inclusion. Ironically, in North Carolina we're hard pressed to find a baby changing table in the men's restroom; they're only found in the women's -- Now imagine how this plays into the whole "bathroom bill" concept.

Watch the video of this awesome family below:

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Richard and Kevin married on March 30, 2019 back at the scene of the crime — in Palm Springs, at the Frederick Loewe Estate. Jonathan was Richard's best man, and also walked him down the aisle (awwww.....). Kevin's brother Bobby served as his best man.

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