Family Spotlight: Bob & Steve
Bob (46) is a technology consultant, and Steve (41) is a university professor. They live in New York City with their twin daughters Micah and Hannah, who are 18 months old; however, they are living in Tel Aviv currently, for the duration of Steve’s sabbatical.
Q: How long have you guys been together? Are you married?
B: We’ve been together for ten years.
S: We got married two years ago in New York, about 8 months after marriage equality became law in New York State. We had previously considered getting married in another state, but I’m glad we waited. I think we were both surprised how different it felt to be legally married.
Q: Can you describe your life before children?
S: It used to be a lot of fun. We traveled a lot, went to dinners a lot, enjoyed the city. We led a pretty active life.
B: We especially took advantage of the years while we were trying to have kids, we thought each holiday would be our last without kids so we planned some pretty amazing trips – Australia, safari in Africa – the idea was to go places we would probably not be able to go to for at least the next decade.
Q: Tell us how you guys came to decide you wanted kids.
S: We each knew, when we were much younger, that we wanted kids. When we got together, that created a bond, and from the very early stages we knew we’d have kids together. We waited until we had more stability in our lives, financially. I wanted to wait until I had tenure.
B: I wouldn’t say that there was ever a decision to have kids, but the conversation was more around when and how. We knew very early on that it was something we both wanted so it was a given that eventually we would have a family.
Q: How did your family come to be?
S: We did gestational surrogacy. We were matched with several surrogates, but some medical problems arose. It wasn’t until our third surrogate and several IVF transfers that we finally got pregnant. It was a really long process.
B: We signed up with the surrogacy agency around May of 2009 and Micah and Hannah were born just over three years later. It was a very trying time for us both personally and of course it also tested our relationship. Once we finally got pregnant we were very fortunate that everything went extremely smoothly.
Q: Are you planning any more children?
B: We are seriously thinking about it. We both come from larger families so I think our concept of family is at least three kids.
S: We’re talking about it.
Q: What’s your life like now?
S: Life is intense. Fulfilling and really enriching, but intense.
B: Busy. The economies of scale of having twins seem to disappear once they start walking and exploring. Seldom do they walk in the same direction. Sometimes it isn’t until they go to sleep at night that you realize that you haven’t had a second to yourself all day. And then I usually fall asleep about 10 minutes after that.
S: I don’t think I could have imagined how exciting it would be to see Hannah and Micah growing and developing. For instance, Micah is currently learning a batch of new words every day.
B: It is insanely fulfilling. Watching children learn and grow and develop is magical and watching the relationship and the bond between them grow is also amazing.
Q: Who is responsible for what in your family?
B: In terms of responsibility for the kids, we’re pretty equal. But we have our own jobs. I’m more responsible for the day-to-day operations, like cooking, keeping up with baby supplies and the like.
S: I take care of other things, like researching preschools, planning trips, and getting their college savings accounts in order. But it also varies over time what we each are in charge of. And we split taking care of and playing with the girls 50/50, we each spend about the same amount of time with the girls, which is important to us.
B: It really drives us crazy when we are asked “Who is more of the mom?” From our perspective each of us are both mom and dad.
Q: Any advice for others?
S: We didn’t know the process was going to take so long and had so many opportunities for mishaps. It became especially disappointing since we didn’t anticipate those issues; we thought things would go much smoother. But you have to keep going, even when you don’t think it’s ever going to work out. Because it eventually will, and when it does it’s amazing.
B: Hold on tight.
Q: Notable differences between New York and Tel Aviv, for your girls?
S: The attitude in Tel Aviv is more relaxed. It’s a safer environment, much friendlier and more communal. Everyone is watching out for each other’s kids. Plus there are way more playgrounds, and the weather is better, so the girls play outside all the time. And the city itself is much more kid-friendly, you never get any looks when you bring kids to restaurants, cafes, or anywhere. It’s a great place for kids.
B: Tel Aviv is in the middle of a gayby boom. We have met more gay dads here than we even know in New York. So it’s something that everyone here is familiar with. I can’t think of any off-the-mark questions or disapproving looks since we got here. It has been a surprisingly easy transition. As for the girls, they are still pretty young to understand what is happening, but I can see that they know that they are someplace new with different foods, different smells, different sounds.
Q: How do you guys deal with your religious backgrounds?
S: I’m Jewish, Bob is Christian. Our girls will be raised Jewish, but we will also have some family traditions for Christmas and Easter.
B: While I was raised Lutheran, it isn’t something that I particularly identify with. I would like the girls to be exposed to a faith and Steve’s Jewish identity is much more important to him than my Christian identity is to me. That said, there are some Christian traditions that I remember fondly from my childhood that I would like to experience with my family.
Q: How has having kids changed your relationship?
S: Kids become the focus, the common goal. I think it’s good. It’s a bonding thing.
B: For me it has brought our relationship to an entirely new level. Before having kids we were really just each managing our own lives and our own schedules. After the kids arrived we were suddenly project co-managers. For two dads the roles aren’t clearly defined. While cooperation has become an essential element of our relationship, it is not without negotiation and compromise.