Gay Dad Life

Family Spotlight: Ed & Al

AT A GLANCE


Names and ages: Ed and Al

Professions: Disability and long-term care specialist (Ed), social worker turned stay-at-home dad (Al)

Relationship status: Together six years, domestic partners since 2011, married in 2013.

Children: Zelphia (2 years)

Location: Sacramento, CA

Always wanted children: No. As an older gay couple they were content just enjoying each other’s company. It wasn’t until the opportunity presented itself that they rediscovered their desire for children.

Process to becoming parents: Received message from family friend who became pregnant while living with the Occupy movement. A few months later they adopted her child through open adoption.

Advice or insight for other parents: “Don’t underestimate your ability to be a foster, or [be] a parent.”

Favorite playtime activity: Playing in the yard, singing the ABCs, and all things iPad

Children call them: Pappa (Ed), Daddy (Al)

For Ed and Al, a couple in their forties, changing diapers was never part of the plan. That is, until a young woman from Ed’s past came to them with an offer that would change their lives forever. Within a  few short years, they had adopted daughter, become experts in wheelchair-accessible caregiving, and built a family -- one capable of withstanding life's challenges, including a battle with cancer.

Ed and Al met in 2008 through Ed’s work as a disability and long-term care specialist. The couple fell quickly into infatuation. Al would drive five hours from Pennsylvania each week to visit Ed in New York, even knowing Ed had plans to move to California. When Ed was ready to go, he did not make the trip alone. The two of them shipped off to the West Coast together.

They spent their first two years in Los Angeles. “We largely lived the party lifestyle,” explains Ed. Gay cruises, leather bars, and late nights on the town were a staple for couple, even after Ed got a work offer from the state and they relocated to Sacramento.

There, between nightly happy hour specials and Mr. Leather contests, they filed for domestic partnership. Before long, they began planning their wedding. The date was set for July 2012 in New York. Invitations were mailed and the venue set when, in early April, Ed received a Facebook message from his previous partner’s daughter.

She had lived with them at age 14, a tumultuous period in her life. “I acted like a mother to her in a number of ways – we developed a very strong relationship.” They were close enough that despite Ed and her father’s breakup, the two remained in contact.

Now she was 18 and participating in the Occupy movement.

Her message read: “Oh, are you getting married?”

“Yea. Are you going to come?” Ed replied.

“Well, I don’t know, because I’m kind of pregnant.”

“Oh, you are?”

“How about a wedding present? Do you want a baby?”

Ed’s mind was racing, debating the seriousness of her offer and his own desire for such an outcome.

A day later, hung-over from a night out, Ed turned to Al and asked, “Honey, what do you want to do for the next 20 years?”

“I knew what you were asking, because I knew she was pregnant,” Al says. “My first thought was, well, we have to change our lives, if we want that.”

“It didn’t take us long to make the decision,” Ed says about the moment the two took the leap into potential parenthood.

“We had never looked for kids, we had never wanted kids – we were kind of like newlyweds. Frankly I didn’t think it would come to pass,” Ed says.

At first they thought that they would go and get married, and then pick up the baby in Ohio. But the baby was due in just three months, very close to their wedding date. So, Ed and Al made the difficult decision to call off their wedding.

Ed’s parents were the first to hear the news of the wedding cancellation and possible new family addition. “It felt like the best news we could have given them,” says Ed happily.

In order to be ready when the baby arrived, Ed and Al each borrowed money from their parents, and then began meeting with adoption professionals.

Meanwhile, the birth parents were following the Occupy movement from Ohio to Chicago, hopping illegally from cargo train to cargo train. “We knew from the beginning we were going to have to [accept] the baby on her terms.” Ed says. All parties did agree, however, that the birth parents would somehow have to make their way to California, where adoption laws and practices were relatively favorable for same-sex couples. Because they had no IDs, Ed and Al couldn’t send them any type of transportation tickets.

Instead, Al offered to rent a car and bring them to Sacramento. He left on a Wednesday at noon and returned that Saturday morning – a 3,000-mile trip. Once in Sacramento, the birth parents decided to join the Occupy camp down the road from Ed and Al. The dads-to-be tried to connect the birth mother with pre-natal care services, but she would go when she felt ready. The young couple did come by to shower occasionally and accepted food that Ed and Al took to them at the camp.

“What could you do? She’s a smart and savvy kid. She never jeopardized herself,” says Ed. “While we had a certain amount of frustration that we couldn’t control the situation, we knew from the beginning we weren’t going to be able to control it. Furthermore, we knew she was being protected by the birth father.”

One week before the baby was due, the expecting mother had an appointment with the doctor. She stayed overnight before her appointment, and the next morning when Al woke her, they discovered that her water had broken.

They rushed with her to the hospital. Ed and Al worried that their ability to be present for the birth would be rife with complications. As Ed explains, the opposite occurred. “We were worried that the hospital was not going to treat us well, but everything went great! We were in the birthing suite; I cut the cord. [Al] did the skin-to-skin time.”

What began as a Facebook message just three months ago resulted in Ed and Al in a hospital, holding their newborn daughter, Zelphia, for the first time. In that moment, bar-hopping became so passé.

By that time, the couple’s adoption professional had conducted a home study and initial assessment with the birth parents. Because of both parents’ willingness to sign papers relinquishing their rights – including the birth father, who was firm in his stance of wanting what was best for the baby – the adoption professional was confident that Ed and Al would not even require a lawyer to complete the process.

It wasn’t long before Ed, Al, and Zelphia were at the courthouse. “The judge who finalized our adoption usually handles divorce cases and could not have been anymore overjoyed,” Ed recalls.

Almost two years later, Ed says Zelphia’s birth parents see photos of her on Facebook and are pleased with how well she is doing. “They wanted something good for her,” Al adds.

Since Ed uses a wheelchair, the family has gotten creative in making caregiving as wheelchair-accessible as possible. But in reality, it is just a natural extension of Ed’s everyday adaptation to living with a disability.

A year after Zelphia was born, the family faced a serious challenge: Ed was diagnosed with stage three cancer. He lost 60 pounds through his radiation and chemo treatments. Though he continued to work during his treatment, Ed says remaining optimistic was difficult: “I have to say, I only made it through because we had her.”

Now, back to full health, Ed has added adoption to his list of causes he champions. “Don’t underestimate your ability to foster, or [be] a parent,” he encourages. “Don’t ever underestimate it. There are so many kids out there who need love, and there is so much love in gay couples. Go for it. Do it, do it, do it, and never look back.”

As starkly as their lives have changed, it’s easy to see that both Ed and Al remain themselves. Sure, their focus has shifted but, as Ed says, “It’s so wonderful to have something that you never thought you wanted.”

Show Comments ()
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.

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Life

'NolaPapa' Launches YouTube Channel: Story of a Gay Dad

Check out Erik Alexander's new YouTune Channel: Story of a Gay Dad

When we first found out that our second daughter was African American I froze. Not because of her race, but because I knew NOTHING about African American hair. So I frantically tried to learn as much as I could while she was a newborn so I was ready to style it when she was a little older.

I decided to launch our YouTube channel Nolapapa: Story of a Gay Dad to focus on this very topic! Episodes 1-5 will solely be dedicated to learning how to wash, care for and styling African American hair. Afterwards, the content will shift towards personal & family situations, adoption, gay parenting questions and other great content! I'd love your support and become part of our little village as we launch this new project!

Sending Nola love to each of ya!

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Life

Encouraged by His Son, Single Dad Richard Started Dating Again — and Just Got Married!

After his 14 year relationship ended, Richard got a gentle push into the dating pool from an unexpected source — his son!

In 2014, Richard Rothman's relationship of 15 years ended, leaving him understandably reluctant to jump back into the world of dating as a single gay dad. But after spending one too many Friday nights at home, he got a gentle nudge from somebody unexpected —his teenaged son, Jonathan.

"Dad," Jonathan said. "Would you just get out of the house and go on a date already?" (You may remember wise-beyond-his-years Jonathan from this post that went viral of a tattoo he got commemorating his adoption day.)

On his son's encouragement, Richard started dipping a tentative toe back into the dating pool. In 2015, he met Kevin thanks to mutual friends that introduced them via social media. It took four months before Richard introduced Kevin to his son, who was a Sophomore in high school at the time.

On New Year's Eve in 2017, Kevin proposed while the couple was vacationing in Palm Springs. The city has an outdoor festival every year, he explained, which the couple attended. The band Plain White T's happened to be performing their hit "Hey There Delilah" as Kevin got down on one knee and proposed. "Now whenever I hear that song it brings back memories of that night," Richard said.

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.

"As so many wonderful moments continue to happen for us in Palm Springs, we now own a home there in addition to our primary residence in Bentonville, Arkansas," said Richard.

Check out video from the couple's special day below!


And Jonathan is now an E4 Master-at-Arms in the US Navy.

Surrogacy for Gay Men

A Dream Becomes Reality, After a Men Having Babies Conference

New Yorkers David and Brian said their dreams of fatherhood crystalized only after receiving a "ton of information" at a Men Having Babies conference.

New Yorkers David F.M. Vaughn 39, and Brian Becker, 37, are new dads. Over the past three months, the two most important things they've learned as fathers is "patience, and how to swaddle LIKE A CHAMP!" David and Brian chose surrogacy as their path to fatherhood, but making that decision was one of the more difficult parts of their journey. Brian's siblings are adopted, and while they still want to make adoption part of their family journey, certain opportunities arose that made their surrogacy decision easier. Brian's sister enthusiastically offered to be their gestational surrogate, and they discovered more about the process with the help of Men Having Babies (MHB).

But let's jump back to the beginning of their story.

Keep reading... Show less
Foster/Foster-Adopt

Your Foster Adopt Questions Answered by a Foster Adopt Dad

We asked our Instagram community to send us their questions about being a foster dad — and an experienced foster dad responded.

Dad Joseph Bostick (read his story here) recently shared his experience as a foster and adoptive dad with our Instagram community via a question and answer session - did you feel nervous at the beginning? How did you start the process? Did you always know that you wanted to foster older kids?

Read Joseph's responses below.

Keep reading... Show less

Gay Surrogacy in the U.S. for International Dads

Kristin Marsoli of Circle Surrogacy breaks down the process of surrogacy for gay men outside of the United States

Written by Circle Surrogacy & Egg Donation, who has been helping international gay men become dads for over two decades.

Becoming a gay dad through a surrogacy agency in the U.S. – when you live outside of the United States – can feel overwhelming. You may have questions such as: Why should I come all the way to the US for surrogacy? What do I need to know as an international intended parent? How do I get my baby home?

We spoke with Circle Surrogacy & Egg Donation who has been working with international gay parents for over two decades. Circle Surrogacy was founded by a gay dad and lawyer, and is the most successful surrogacy agency with a full legal team on staff who are experts working with international parents.

Keep reading... Show less
Coming Out

My Gay Shame Is Officially Cancelled

After years of feeling ashamed of being gay, David Blacker has finally overcome it. And his son had a lot to do with it.

Scrolling through my social media feeds, reading all the posts about National Coming Out Day reminds me just how valuable it is for us to share our stories and be as open, vulnerable and authentic as possible. Warning: this article is about to get real AF, so now might be a good time to switch back to the Face-Aging app that gives Russia all your personal data.

Oh good, you stayed. Don't say I didn't warn you.

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