Gay Dad Life

Family Spotlight: Todd, Steven and Fen

Todd Riddle and Steven Lebow are living an incredible life with their 4-year-old son Fenmore. The family lives in Malaysia (for context, that’s next to Indonesia and Thailand), where the dads own Foot Efx, an international franchise for arch supports and shoes.

“We know we are blessed,” said Todd, 50. “We know we give Fen a life that might not have even been a dream if even thought of at all. Little man has an opportunity to be or do anything he wants with his life now.”

Todd with Fen

The family’s story starts with Todd, on his own, working as a director of marketing for a home improvement company in Indiana. He was in his 40s and badly wanted to become a father. But after a potential adoption fell through, Todd had given up on the dream.

“It's too late for me. I was resolved to the fact,” he said in an interview conducted via email from Malaysia. But then a co-worker who was also a volunteer court-appointed special advocate for children, told Todd that a family had reached out about finding an adoptive family. The only catch: The mother was due in two weeks. Todd went into high gear, pulling together attorneys, an adoption agency, background checks and a nursery.

Todd and Fen

Todd received the call six days after finding out he was going to be a father and headed to the hospital (but not the delivery room itself) for the birth of his son, Fen.

“Everything went according to plan, and I brought Fenmore Riddle home at 2 days old as his legal guardian,” Todd said. “Then, on day 31 we filed adoption papers. I was nervous because I was only the third single gay male in adopt in a state that in known to be conservative, but the adoption went flawlessly and little man is my son.”

So how do Malaysia and Steven figure into this?

The two are closely related, it turns out. Todd met Steve at a conference in Las Vegas when Fen was 8 months old. Todd had encountered some surprising negativity from the gay community after adopting his son, but for Steve it was a non-issue.

Todd (l), Fen and Steve

“He met me and I opened my phone to check for any calls and Steve saw a picture of Fen. He asked, ‘Who's that?’ I said, ‘Well, if you like me, I come with child!’ He said, ‘Okay.’ Never thought twice.”

Steve, now 53, had founded Foot Efx 14 years ago. After he and Todd cemented their relationship, he brought on Todd as a vice president for sales and marketing. After selling a franchise in Malaysia, the family decided to move there to “help to assist in developing the brand.”

The family lives in Penang, a resort island sometimes called “The Pearl of the Orient.” As far as they know, they’re the only gay family in their expatriate community. Todd and Steve are also lucky to employ a full-time Filipino nanny, to care for Fen when they are at work.

Todd (l), Fen and Steve

“Several times a month we have to travel for business, so having the consistency of Jhoanna makes us feel better,” Todd said.

“As far as family time,” Todd says, “we make sure Fen has lots of quality time with us, and silly playtime in the pool, or the beach, or playing puzzles, or super heroes.”

The majority of Malaysians are Muslim, which means that Todd and Steven aren’t as open about their relationship in public as they might be in some American cities. They are out, Todd says, but “I wouldn't hold hands with Steve in public as a matter of respect. But we go to the same restaurants, and everyone knows us. They see us as a family who loves their son.”


And their son builds bridges, too. Anyone who has raised small children knows that they make friends without regard to culture or social status. “Fen has playdates with children who are from strict Muslim families, no problem. Actually, they’ve even had us over for dinner at their home.”

And Fen is exposed to the rich background of his current home country through his preschool. “There is always an art project or music class or some activity recognizing the many cultures that make up Malaysia,” Todd says.

Fen with his friends at school

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.

Today is National Coming Out Day, and as we celebrate, we're sharing six coming out stories from dads in our community. Their personal stories are heartwarming, relatable, and empowering. Happy Coming Out Day, and remember, live your truth!

Keep reading... Show less
Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Growing a Thicker Skin

Experiencing hateful and hurtful comments, Erik Alexander had to learn an important lesson: how to ignore the trolls.

Photo credit: BSA Photography

Twenty years ago when I came out, it was unbearably hard. As I have written before, I am from the Deep South. Anyone who dared to deviate from social norms was sure to be ostracized. It's not that these people were born hateful or mean; rather, it probably had more to do with them not being subjected to other lifestyles. Anything different from their own experiences sparked fear and confusion. Homosexuality, interracial relationships, religious differences – these were all unfamiliar territories to the average person I grew up around. Thus, growing up was particularly difficult.

I remember lying in bed at night when I was a little boy. I would pray and beg God to not let me be gay. Every single night I would end my prayers with "... and God, please don't let me have nightmares and please don't let me be gay." I remember crying myself to sleep many nights. I was embarrassed and ashamed. And I wanted God to cure me.

Keep reading... Show less
Change the World

10 Inspiring Coming Out Stories From Gay Dads

Happy National Coming Out Day! To celebrate, we've rounded up some of our recent stories about gay men with kids coming out to live their most authentic lives.

Happy National Coming Out Day! To celebrate, we've rounded up some of our best articles of gay dads coming out to live their authentic lives.

#1. Former NFL Player Jeff Rohrer, and Father of Two, Comes Out as Gay and Marries Longterm Partner

Jeff Rohrer, a father of two teenage boys via a previous relationship with a woman, is the first NFL player to marry another man. Read the article here.

#2. Coming Out to His Wife Was Painful, Says This Salt Lake-Based Dad of Four. But it Started Him on a Path of Authenticity

After Kyle came out to his wife, with whom he has four children, "she listened, she mourned and she loved," he said. Read the article here.

#3. Gay Dads Share Their Coming Out Stories for National Coming Out Day

We asked several gay dads to share their coming out stories in honor of National Coming Out Day, whose stories are heartwarming, instructive, and everything in between. Read the article here.

#4. Gay Muslim Single Dad Writes Op Ed on His Path to Self Acceptance

Maivon Wahid writes about the challenges of reconciling three separate, but equally important, identities in an opinion piece for Gay Star News. Read the article here.

#5. One Gay Dad's Path Towards Realizing Being Gay and Christian are Not Mutually Exclusive

Gay dads Matt and David Clark-Sally talk about coming out, parenting as gay men, and reconciling faith and sexuality. Read the article here.

#6. Republican Utah Lawmaker, and Dad of Two, Comes Out as Gay in Moving Video

Nathan Ivie has many important identities he's proud of: Mormon, Republican, Utahn, father of two... and gay. Read the article here.

#7. How Coming Out Helped This Gay Man Find the Strength to Be a Dad

Steven Kerr shares the moment he came out to his ex-girlfriend. "From that moment on," he writes, "my strength and purpose have grown." Read the article here.

#8. Ed Smart, Father of Kidnapping Victim Elizabeth Smart, Comes Out as Gay

In coming his coming out letter, Ed Smart, a Mormon, condemned the church for their "ridicule, shunning, rejection and outright humiliation" of LGBTQ individuals. Read the article here.

#9. The Best Part of Coming Out, Says This Gay Dad, Is Being an Out and Proud Role Model for His Daughter

"I couldn't face myself in the mirror and think that I could be a good dad and role model for my child when I was lying to myself every moment of every day," said Nate Wormington of his decision to come out. Read the article here.

#10. These Gay Dads Via Previous Marriages Have Adopted a Motto Since Coming Out and Finding Each Other: "United We Stand"

Vincent and Richard both had children in previous marriages with women; together, with their ex-wives, they are helping raise seven beautiful kids. Read the article here.

Gay Dad Family Stories

These Adoptive Dads Gained an Extended Family Through Foster Care

Adoptive dads Edward and Andrew have maintained a close relationship with their twins' biological family.

Celebrating gay, bi and trans fatherhood is what we do on Gays With Kids. We rejoice in whatever paths our community took to become parents. But many of those journeys come with heartbreak, sometimes for the intended parents, and sometimes for the biological family from whom the adoption or foster placement occurs. With an open adoption, the adoptive and biological families come to an arrangement which best benefits the child, and that's when something truly beautiful can occur. This isn't always possible in every scenario, but when it does, we're exceedingly thankful. Can a child ever have too many family members loving them? Not likely. This was husbands of five years Edward and Andrew Senn's experience.

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