Gay Dad Life

Family Spotlight: Alex & David


Names: Alex and David

Profession(s): Literary Manager/Producer (Alex), Associate Creative Director, Copywriter (David)

Relationship Status: Together since December 2005, Married in Los Angeles August 2013

Child’s name: 

Location: Studio City, CA

We never imagined a world without children.

Favorite family activity: 
Swimming and/or weekend getaways.

What does your son call each of you: Alex is Papa. David is Dada.

Alex and I met at the end of 2005 through a mutual friend (and by mutual friend I mean Friendster — Google it.) After some flirtatious emails, we met in person shortly after the New Year. During our first date, we both brought up our desires to have children. It was the ultimate litmus test. If either of us showed reluctance, we would have been ejected from our seats and the date would have ended there. Well, something like that.

Two years later, close friends of ours adopted a baby and we got to watch them go through the emotional journey of growing their family. It lit a fire within us. We realized we too were ready for this. We became domestic partners and began our process. We decided an open adoption would be best for us. First — and we’re being totally transparent when we say this — we were concerned that if we conceived through surrogacy, we might harbor some resentment later in life when coming to learn “whose biological baby” it was. That, along with the costs and possible complications, ruled out surrogacy.

We liked the idea of an open adoption. Because while we were open to the sex and nationality, we weren’t open to babies that were exposed to drugs and alcohol. What appealed to us most about open adoption was the ability to get to know the birth parents, their families, and have access to their health records.

Once we decided on open adoption, we wanted to get a few things in order before beginning the actual process. At the top of our list was purchasing a family-friendly home where our child would have room to grow and play. We settled on a home in Studio City, a suburb just outside of Los Angeles. It was the perfect home for us, and we instantly began to envision how a little boy or girl would bring all these empty rooms to life.

Soon after, we chose a lawyer based in Los Angeles and a local adoption agency that many families referred us to. Our lawyer was different than the others. Her approach was less of a business transaction and more about making organic connections. She was more likely to match people through word of mouth than through advertising, which we came to learn was a very common practice.

We attended some pre-adoption workshops that explored the ins and outs of adoption, and which gave insight into adopting a child of a race or ethnicity different from our own. We were amazed at all the preparations we had to make during the process of “home studies,” which are a series of requirements that qualify a family for adoption. In addition to several interviews with a social worker, we had to get background checks, give references and answer lots and lots of financial and health-related questions.

Home studies typically take adopting families up to six months to complete, but we completed ours in record time (just six weeks). Once we got certified in CPR and other child safety courses, we were excited to move on to the fun part—creating our adoption profile (a letter and collection of photos that birthparents review). We created little books that were passed around by our lawyer and adoption agency to prospective birthparents looking to find the right family. Then we waited. And waited.

Months had passed without a single inquiry. Just when we started to lose hope, we got a call from our adoption agency. A young couple, who were five months pregnant, saw our profile and were interested in meeting us. Birth mom was a 16-year old high school student and her boyfriend, the birth father, had just graduated and was headed off to college. They lived a couple hours away from us. Our first meeting will forever be etched in our memories. It was at The Cheesecake Factory. I remember bringing her flowers. I remember the birth father ordering a glass of milk with his pizza. I remember kicking Alex under the table every time I wanted him to answer a question. The first few minutes were admittedly awkward, but as soon as we settled into conversation, we soon realized how mature and courageous they were.

They specifically wanted their baby to go to a family who couldn’t physically have a child on their own. They admitted that their parents would likely not approve of placing their baby with a gay family, and that was the reason they were doing it. They were clearly rebelling. As nervous as we were, Alex and I were committed to making them feel as comfortable as possible. Alex with his warm, approachable presence, and me with my awkward, self-depreciating humor. I thought, if I can keep them laughing, they’ll like us. It must have worked, because a couple of weeks later we had a second meeting.

This time we’d meet for dinner at Islands Restaurant. There were a lot of questions. And a lot more laughs. Before we left they told us it was between us and another gay couple named Adam and Steve (no joke). We started to become confident. What could Adam and Steve possibly have on us? One month later, we got together for some frozen yogurt. She was now due in four or five weeks and still no decision had been made. We needed an answer. And we got one. And it was the best answer in the world. They chose us (sorry, Adam and Steve).

While this was the news we had hoped for, things began to get complicated. Just as we were officially matched, the adoption agency worker we had been dealing with was suddenly fired and we were forced to work with someone new who wasn’t very organized. She somehow forgot to tell us that the birth mom had indicated that she was possibly part Native American. This was a big deal. The ICWA (Indian Child Welfare Act) is a Federal law that takes precedence over the local adoption laws of every state and gives Native American Indian Nations and Tribes the right to control adoptions that involve their tribal members. That means these tribes could legally obtain custody of the baby at any time, and the child would be taken away from their adoptive parents, despite the birthparents handpicking us.

Then came word that both birth parents’ families wanted to meet us in person. Typically we’d be fine with this, however, the birthparents told us how much their parents hated gay people. We put on a brave face and first met with the birth father’s parents. Again, it started off a little awkward, but by the end of our talk, we felt comfortable that they felt comfortable. It was a success.

Our meeting with the birth mother’s parents was not as eventful. We felt like we were about to be judged by Simon Cowell, minus the super white teeth. The meeting took place at the adoption agency. When Alex and I were parking, we saw the family walking in ahead of us. Lets just say we were… um… intimidated. I said to Alex, “whatever you do, don’t leave me alone with them.” We walked into the waiting area, the birth mother’s father was staring at us and Alex says, “I gotta hit the John” and left me there… alone. Husband fail! As uncomfortable as they were with the fact that we were gay, they seemed more uncomfortable that their daughter had chosen to give their grandchild up for adoption against their wishes. The meeting turned into a therapy session of sorts… and didn’t have much to do with us at all.

The joy of preparing the nursery was undercut with the anxiety of waiting for the very long list of Native American tribes to sign away their rights. It was this dichotomy of excitement and fear that followed us through the next few turbulent weeks. Until every single tribe had relinquished its rights, the future for us was unknown. And the waiting was killing us. With the due date just days away, we finally heard back from the last tribe. The news wasn’t good. This last tribe claimed control over the baby, and therefore, if we adopted this child, we could be facing a custody battle that could last several months, even years, with the final outcome out of our hands. This was too much for us to handle. As difficult as it was, we decided to pull out. Originally, in our adoption plan, we made it very clear we weren’t open to birth mothers who had Native American descent for this very reason. Our adoption agency sprung this on us too late in the game and it created a lot of hurt feelings.

Our hearts were broken. We worried about the young birthparents, and how confused and hurt they must be with us for having pulled out just three days prior to giving birth. We wrestled with our guilt. Did we make the wrong decision? Is this the child that was meant to be ours? We thought to ourselves, maybe it’ll be worth it. Maybe we should fight the tribes. Maybe we should reconsider. In the midst of these maybe we shoulds we received a phone call the day before the scheduled birth. It would be the phone call that would change our lives forever.

Our ever-so-reliable adoption agency had informed us of a clerical error and that the Native American tribe that claimed control had gotten the name wrong and they signed away their rights. This means no tribe would ever claim custody. But was it too late for us? Remember when I said how mature and courageous the birthparents were? Well, they proved this once again by welcoming us back with open arms. They understood our concerns, but more importantly, they felt they had originally made the right decision in choosing us.

The baby boy was born on Thursday, November 18, at a very civilized 8:24 am (which would turn out to be the only morning he slept past 8am). He clocked in at 7 lbs 14 oz. We arrived at the hospital the day after the birth (the birthparents asked for 24 hours alone with the baby). On the way to the hospital it started raining. Right over the hospital we saw the most vivid and beautiful rainbow appear. We both noticed it and quickly snapped a photo. We got word that the birthparents were signed-in under an alias because certain family members had threatened to steal the child from the hospital prior to us taking him home (another example of that excitement and fear I spoke about earlier). Once we made it into the room and first set eyes on the little guy who would become our son, all the obstacles served their purpose. They were there to make this moment all the more special and unforgettable. The birthparents graciously let us hold, feed and change the baby. It was surreal and very sad, as we imagined how hard it must be for these teenagers.

Because the baby was a little jaundiced, it was decided he would stay at the hospital for one more night. After spending a few hours with him, Alex and I went to the hotel with the plan of taking him home in the morning. We arrived back at the hospital the next day, only to find one of the nurses trying to change the birthmother’s mind: “You don’t have to do this — you can change your mind!” as she gave us disparaging looks. At this point we really wanted to rush out of there, but we also wanted to be as sensitive as possible to what would surely be the hardest thing the birthparents will ever have to face — saying goodbye to their son. We gave them as much time as they needed and then we left through the back door (again, for security measures).

The birth parents chose not to sign their consent forms (relinquishing their parental rights to the state) prior to leaving the hospital, so we had to wait it out. The birth parents had, I believe, 14 days to revoke their consent for the adoption. We didn’t hear anything until the 15th day (Thanksgiving holiday had caused the delay). We met the birthparents back at the adoption agency and they signed the official paperwork. Maxwell was officially ours. Actually that’s not true. He belonged to the state for about nine more months, until we had our official day in court. We were joined by our extended families while we met with a judge who finally granted us legal guardianship, and had us sign the now permanent birth certificate to prove it.

It’s been over three and half years and we thank God every single day for bringing Maxwell into our lives. Being his Dada and Papa is the most rewarding — and admittedly difficult — job we’ll ever have. For us fatherhood can best be described as a transcendent experience. The second he arrived, every single aspect of our lives instantly changed. And even though we read every book and watched every video we could find ahead of time, nothing and no one could have prepared us for what it would be like.

Just the other day somebody asked what has been our proudest moment with Max. The thing we’re most proud of is the love and support we get from those around us. We’re not ashamed to say we need help sometimes. And we’re very lucky that Max has an incredibly loving nanny, wonderful pre-school teachers, three sets of grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles and friends who love and adore him as much as we do. Well, almost as much.

In a lot of ways having a child made us realize how selfish we used to be. It used to be all about us, and now it’s all about Max. All Max all the time. It’s a Max world… we’re just funding it.

Here’s some unsolicited advice for those planning to grow their families:

  • Before the child arrives, go on vacation, see movies, read books, eat dinner out, get to second base. Everyone told us to, and we were like “I get it, parenting is all-consuming, blah blah blah…” — man, if only we knew.
  • If you’re nervous that birth parents aren’t reaching out to you, relax and remember, it only takes one. We got one call. And it turned out to be our match.
  • If you can afford a night nurse, do it for the first couple weeks. We didn’t. We should have. Now it’s all a blur.
  • At times it can feel like the adoptive parents have no control and they’re easily taken advantaged of and that everyone’s out to protect the birthparents — but stop and remember what the birthparents are giving up. Think about what they’re going through.
  • Show Comments ()
    Gay Dad Life

    There's No Bunny Like You: Gay Dads Do Easter and Celebrate Passover

    Easter and spring time are here with their pastel palettes, giant bunnies, and eggs for days. And yesterday was Passover, so happy Pesach!

    Here's some of our favorites photos from Easter and Passover - thanks for sharing them with us. We hope you had an egg-tra special Easter and Passover, folks!

    Keep reading... Show less
    Gay Dad Life

    Inside the Weird World of Expectations for Gay Dads

    At social gatherings with other parents, Grant Minkhorst finds he's often the only father in the room

    In my two months as a parent, I've had the pleasure of meeting a lot of new parents. As a gay dad, I am the one signing up for little activity groups and social gatherings with other new parents. I am often the only father in the room. I find myself trying to "fit in" by discussing all of the things that new moms talk about: nap schedules, feeding, baby gear and "that the sidewalks are too narrow!" But there are some topics of conversation to which I cannot contribute (e.g., breast feeding). As a social person, this can leave me feeling a little isolated, almost as if I exist just outside the real parenting bubble. Because being a mom is different.

    Keep reading... Show less
    Gay Dad Life

    In the U.K.? Join These Dads at Events Supporting LGBTQ Parents!

    The dads behind the blog TwoDads.U.K are ramping up their support of other LGBTQ parents. Check out these events they're a part of!

    What a couple of years it's been for us! When our daughter Talulah was born via UK surrogacy back in October 2016, we decided to take to Instagram and Facebook to document the parental highs and lows. Little did we expect for it to be where it is now. We always had the ambition to help other intended fathers understand more about surrogacy, and we also had the added driver to do our best to influence others – help open some of the closed minds with regards to same-sex parenting.

    Here we are now, pregnant again with our son which we revealed Live on Facebook! We're due in August, we're now writing several blogs, social media influencers and launching a new business focusing on our main mission to support others and being advocates for UK surrogacy. It's no wonder we're shattered!

    Keep reading... Show less
    Change the World

    Three Eagles, Two Male one Female, Form Nontraditional Family

    Three bald eagles in the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge are sharing a nest and incubating eggs together

    According to the Advocate, three bald eagles — two male and one female — are sharing a nest and incubating eggs together.

    "Families come in all shapes and sizes, and that's true for wildlife too!" wrote the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services on Facebook. "Meet Valor I, Valor II and Starr, a breeding trio of bald eagles that live along the Mississippi River in Illinois. For several years, fans from all over the world have been watching this nontraditional family through a webcam as the eagles deal with the trials and tribulations of parenting."

    The thruple came to be in unique way. "The nest was originally inhabited by Valor I and another female eagle named Hope," wrote the Advocate. "Initially, Valor I had poor parenting skills — he didn't hunt or guard the nest while Hope was away. Valor II entered the nest in 2013 to pick up the slack — and taught Valor I some parenting skills in the process. Hope left the nest in March 2017 after she was injured by other birds. But instead of going off to find new mates, the male eagles decided to stick together until Starr joined their nest in September 2017."

    Though rare, this isn't the first time that a trio of eagles have come to share nests in this way. According to USA Today, other trruples were have been spotted in Alaska in 1977, in Minnesota in 1983 and in California in 1992.

    Check out this family below!

    Trio Eagle Cam Stewards of the Upper Mississippi River Refuge Live Stream

    Change the World

    These Guys Are Proof: Bisexual Dads Exist!

    Far more LGBTQ parents fall into the "B" category than any other. Here are three of their inspiring stories.

    A couple months ago, 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 start changing that, starting by bringing you the stories of three bid dads in our community.

    (Are you a bi dad? Click here so we can help tell your story and increase exposure for the bi dad community, or drop us a line at!)

    James Shoemaker, bisexual dad of three, in Alton Illinois

    James Shoemaker, who is 65-years-old and lives in Alton, Illinois, says he's known he was bisexual since the age of five. Still he lived what he called a "happily socially heterosexual" life throughout his adolescence, until he had his first same-sex experience in college at the age of 18-years-old.

    In his 20s, he began his first same-sex relationship with a man, which lasted about five years. But soon the conversation turned towards children. James wanted his own biological children, something that would have been difficult, particularly at the time, to achieve. He and his boyfriends split, and soon after James met the woman who would become his wife. Since he had previously been in a relationship with a man, and his friends and family were aware of his sexuality, there was no hiding his bisexuality from his wife. There was no hiding my bisexuality from her

    "We were both in our 30's, and both wanted kids," James said. "Wo were both kind of desperate to find a partner and she expressed that."

    He and his wife proceeded to have three daughters together and lived what he called a fairly "conventional" life. "There was so much societal support [for raising a family] within conventional marriage," he said. "This was new to me, since I came out at age 17, and was used to being "different".

    Being in a relationship with a woman, James said, alienated him from much of the LGBTQ activism that began to take hold in the 1980s and 1990s. "I felt I could not act as a representative for gay rights while married to a woman and raising kids with her," he said.

    When his youngest daughter turned 18, he and his wife split and, and James began, once again, to date other men. Eventually, he met Paul Mutphy, who he has been dating for four years. Since reentering the world dating another man, he's had to confront, at times, people's misconceptions about his bisexuality. "It's not just gay guys looking for more social acceptance," James said, noting that "Bi rights" has not really caught the public's attention in the same way as "gay rights".

    Maxwell Hosford, bi trans dad of one, in Yakima Washington

    Maxwell Hosford, who lives in Yakima, Washington, came out as bisexual when he was 13-years-old. "I was still questioning myself," he said "and the term bisexual seemed to fit me."

    A year later, when he was 14, Maxwell also came out as trans. "I had heard about Chaz Bono on the radio one morning before school and it got me thinking," he said. "I realized that I wasn't the only one who felt that way and that there was a term for how I've felt."

    Though people often conflate sexual orientation and gender identity, Maxwell stressed that he sees his identity as trans and bisexual as perfectly natural. "I see them interacting in a way of fluidity," he said. "Not straight but not gay. Just a feeling of love."

    Maxwell described his path to parenthood as a bit of an accident. "I was on testosterone for two years but had a four-week break because i was switching doctors," he said. During that break, Maxwell ended up getting pregnant, and wasn't aware of the pregnancy for several months after. "I just thought my body was just being weird from starting T again," he said. Once he took the test and saw the two pink lines, though he knew his life was about to change forever. He went to Planned Parenthood the very next day.

    Being pregnant while trans, Maxwell said, was an incredible experience. "I was comfortable enough with my gender identity that I didn't have very much dysphoria," he said, though he noted he did face a lot of misgendering from strangers. "But I understood that because I did have a big ole pregnant belly," he said. He was grateful for his medical team who all referred to him according to the correct pronouns.

    Soon after, his son Harrison was born. As soon as he held him in his arms, Maxwell said the entire process was worth it. "All the misgendering, all the questions and people misunderstanding doesn't matter once you have that baby in your arms nothing matters but that little bundle of joy."

    Three years ago, Maxwell met his current fiancé, Chase Heiserman, via a gay dating app, and the three now live together as a family. He says he couldn't be happier, but he does face some difficulty as a bi trans man within his broader community. "In some peoples eyes my fiancé and I are a straight couple because I'm trans and he's cisgender," he said. Some of the difficulty has even stemmed from other trans men. "I've had some bad comments from other transmen regarding my pregnancy and how it doesn't make me trans," he said, noting he continues to fight the perception that he is not "trans enough" because he chose to carry his own baby.

    Through it all, though, Maxwell says becoming a father has been the biggest blessing in his life. "Being able to carry my baby and bond through those nine months was amazing," he said. "I'm breastfeeding, which is hard as I'm trans, and so I'm self conscious of my large breasts now but it's such a bonding experience that it doesn't matter when I see the look of love and the comfort he gets from it."

    For other gay, bi and trans men considering fatherhood, Maxwell has this simple piece of advice: "Go for it."

    Michael MacDonald, bi dad of two, in Monterery California 

    Michael MacDonald, who is 28-years-old and living in Monterey California, says he came out as bisexual over two years ago. He has two daughters, who are four and two-and-a-half years old, that were born while he was married to his ex-wife. "My children are amazing," he said. "They have been so incredibly strong and brave having mom in one house and dad in another."

    Both children were fairly young when Michael and his ex separated, so "they didn't really break a deeply ingrained idea of what a family unit is like. They have always just sort of known that mom and dad don't live together."

    Co-parenting isn't always easy, Michael said, noting it's "one of the hardest things in the world." He and his ex overcome any potential difficulty, though, by always putting the children first. "As long as they are happy, healthy and loved, that is all that matters," he said. "I'm so fortunate to have such an incredible/pain in the butt partner to help me raise these amazing little girls."

    Though the separation was hard on all of them, Michael said it's also been an amazing experience watching his children's resiliency. "I am so proud of the beautiful little people they are," he said. "Their adaptability, courage and love is something really spectacular."

    Since the separation, Michael hasn't been in a serious relationship, but he has dated both men and women, something he says has been "absolutely challenging. Not only does he need to overcome all the typical challenges of a newly divorced parent ("Do they like kids? Would they be a good stepparent?") but also the added stresses of being bisexual. "It can sometimes just be a bit too much for some women to handle," he said.

    He has been intentional about making sure his children have known, from a young age, that "daddy likes girls and boys," he said. "They have grown up seeing me interact with people I've dated in a romantic way, like hand holding, abd expressing affection, so I think as they get older it's not something that will ever really seem foreign or different to them to see me with a man or woman," he said.

    In his dates with other men, Michael says most guys tend to be surprised to learn that he has biological children. "But once I explain that I am bisexual, it's usually much more easily understood," he said. He is more irritated, though, when people question or outright refuse to recognize his bisexuality. "While I understand and have witnessed many guys who use bisexuality as a "stepping stone" of sorts when coming out," he said, it does not mean that "bisexuality is not real or valid."

    As a bisexual dad, he also says he can feel isolated at times within the broader parenting community. "It can be a little intimidating feeling like you don't really belong to one side or another," he said. "There's this huge network of gay parents, and, of course straight parents. Being sort of in the middle can sometimes create a feeling of isolation"

    The biggest misconception about bisexual dads who have split with their wives, he said, is that sexual orientation isn't always the reason for the separation. "When my ex wife and I separated, while my bisexuality did play a small part in it, it was not the reason we separated," he said. He added that while life might not be perfect, it's good. "My children are happy, healthy, and loved," he said. "That's really what matters the most."

    Change the World

    Mayor Pete Hopes His (Future) Kids Are "Puzzled" That Coming Out Was Ever Newsworthy

    Mayor Pete and husband Chasten don't have any kids yet, but have talked openly and often about their hopes to be dads one day

    Pete Buttigieg, who is making waves in the political world by competing to be the first openly gay and (at 37 years old) first Millennial President of the United States, currently doesn't have any children with husband Chasten. But it's clear from his public comments and writings that he and Chasten hope to become dads one day.

    And when that day comes, Buttigieg says he hopes his kids will find it puzzling that coming out as gay was ever a newsworthy event. Back in 2015, well before he began his campaign for president, Buttigieg wrote an essay in the South Bend Tribune that said the following:

    "Like most people, I would like to get married one day and eventually raise a family. I hope that when my children are old enough to understand politics, they will be puzzled that someone like me revealing he is gay was ever considered to be newsworthy. By then, all the relevant laws and court decisions will be seen as steps along the path to equality. But the true compass that will have guided us there will be the basic regard and concern that we have for one another as fellow human beings — based not on categories of politics, orientation, background, status or creed, but on our shared knowledge that the greatest thing any of us has to offer is love."

    In the meantime, Pete and Chasten are kept plenty busy with their two fur babies, Truman and Buddy.

    Personal Essays by Gay Dads

    An All-Boys School: One Gay Dad's  Short-Lived Experience in the Traditional Environment

    "The most dangerous phrase in the language is 'we have always done it this way.'" —Rear Admiral Grace Hopper

    The process of entrance to Manhattan's elite private schools can be similar or even more rigorous than college admissions. And you can take that and multiply it tenfold when you're dealing with an all-boys environment. I know this from experience, as my partner Andy and I have spent the last year and a half dealing with one such establishment, that has been in existence for "136 years," and touts the cliché slogan of "educating boys to become scholars and gentlemen."

    Keep reading... Show less

    Fatherhood, the gay way

    Get the latest from Gays With Kids delivered to your inbox!

    Follow Gays With Kids

    Powered by RebelMouse