Gay Dad Family Stories

After Three Failed Adoptions, This Couple Almost Gave Up; Now They're Dads to Twins

It took surviving three failed adoptions and two scams, but Danny and Justin are finally dads

"Our adoption journey was not easy by any means," began Danny. "We waited 16 months before being successfully placed with our children." Husbands Danny Maffia and Justin DeMartin, together a total of eight years and married for two, endured a roller coaster ride to become dads, experiencing three failed adoptions. Today, they're the proud dads to twins born November 2017. Here's their story.


Danny, a professor of American Sign Language and an English interpreter, met Justin, a Director of Special Education, when they were both organizing a fitness fundraiser for breast cancer research. "[Justin] and I are also both certified group exercise instructors," said Danny. "Our love of fitness is what brought us together." Six year after meeting, they were married on May 29, 2016.

Danny (left) and Justin at their wedding, May 2016

The two definitely saw kids in their future, so they began considering their preferred paths to fatherhood. They mutually decided to adopt. "[We] decided adoption for numerous reasons," elaborated Justin. "We have several friends, both gay and straight, who have successfully adopted. And although we did consider surrogacy, the costs surrounding it, in addition to the laws in New York state prevented us from pursuing that option."

In July 2016, they signed with an adoption agency. During the next 16 months, they experienced three failed adoptions, two of which were scams. "We thought working with an agency that the chances of being scammed would be reduced, but this was not true for us," said Danny. Their first expectant mom pursued two couples at the same time to double the amount of birth mother expenses she received, and the third expectant mother went silent two weeks before her due date. Justin and Danny later found out she had given birth two weeks prior and during that time had continued to cash checks given to her by the agency on behalf of the dads-to-be. When the dads found out, they were crushed.

"That day (October 28th) was such a hard day," recalls Justin. "We were filled with grief and were ready to give up."

"It was daunting to think we had to start the process all over again; it was becoming too much," added Danny. During these hard times, the husbands leaned on each other for support.

Danny holding Emma, Justin holding Parker

On October 31st, just three days after learning of their third failed adoption match, their birth family, having seen Danny and Justin's video on YouTube, got in touch. The expectant mom was having twins and had a scheduled c-section in less than a week. Those next few days were intense for the waiting dads, but on Monday November 6, 2017, Justin and Danny were in the hospital holding their twin babies.

"Throughout the process everyone kept telling us that everything happens for a reason, and although we always truly believed that, it was hard to see it in the moment," said Danny. "Looking back, if it was not for those failed adoptions we never would have had our twins … This was perfect."

Photo credit: Marie Bohn Photography

Twins Emma and Parker have slotted into their dads' lives so completely that both Danny and Justin agree that it feels as though nothing has changed except their lives now have a new sense of purpose.

"My favorite part of being a parent is I can re-live experiences that are brand new to my children through their eyes," shared Danny. "It is like I get to be a kid again and can experience the excitement and joy once again."

Currently the dads live in a small town between two larger cities in upstate New York, but not for too much longer. They're looking to move as Justin recently accepted a job offer that requires a relocation. A short while ago, the dads experienced prejudice on account of their sexual orientation from neighbors who commented that two dads should not be parents. Danny and Justin had always envisioned moving to a larger, more diverse, community, one with more embracing views on families, so the opportunity to relocate couldn't have come at a better time.

The dads have some advice for others considering adoption: Be active during the adoption process. "Don't be passive; be vocal, be persistent, be vigil," said Danny. "Self-care during the process is key; be supportive of one another," added Justin. "The reward is truly worth the effort but you absolutely need to be persistent."

After three failed adoptions, the dads did consider giving up. But it was only for a split second. Now Justin and Danny are the proud dads to almost 8-month old twins, and are thankful every day that they continued their journey to fatherhood.

Photo credit: Marie Bohn Photography

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News

New York Will Fight 'Repugnant' Trump Rule on Adoption, Says Cuomo

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York promises legal action of the Trump administration moves ahead with plans to allow discrimination against LGBTQ adoptive and foster parents

Last week, the Trump administration announced plans to allow adoption and foster care agencies to discriminate against prospective LGBTQ parents — but he may face a legal fight from (former) hometown. In a tweet, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York said the proposed move "isn't just discriminatory and repugnant to our values,— it's also heartless and dumb as it would deny countless children a loving family and a safe place to call home." If the proposal moves forward, he continued. "we'll take legal action to stop it.

Governor Cuomo's office followed up the tweet with a lengthier statement posted to their website:

Once again the Trump administration is attacking the hard-earned rights and protections of the LGBTQ community, this time proposing a new measure that would give foster care and adoption agencies license to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Trump's proposal isn't just discriminatory and repugnant to our values — it's also heartless and dumb as it would deny countless children a loving family and a safe place to call home. If he moves forward with this rule, we'll take legal action to stop it.

No matter what happens in Washington, New York State is and will continue to be a beacon of equality in this country. Our Human Rights Law and adoption regulations expressly prohibit discrimination against the LGBTQ community, including when it comes to adoption. I encourage any LGBTQ New Yorker who feels they are a victim of this discrimination to contact the State Division of Human Rights for assistance.

Our message to the Trump administration is simple: there is no place for hate in New York or in our nation, and we will not allow this noxious proposal to stop LGBTQ New Yorkers from becoming parents or providing care to children in need.

News

Trump Administration to Allow Discrimination Against LGBTQ Foster and Adoptive Parents

In its latest move against the LGBTQ community, the Trump administration has proposed a rule that will give adoption and foster care agencies license to discriminate on the basis of religion

On Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services proposed a new rule to reverse an Obama-era policy prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity — allowing foster and adoption agencies to legally refuse to work with prospective adoptive and foster parents who identify as LGBTQ on the grounds of religious belief.

Denise Brogan-Kator, speaking to the New York Times, said the proposal would have an "enormous" impact on the LGBTQ community, noting that all organizations that get funding from the department will be "free to discriminate."

The White House, for its part, proclaimed the proposed rule was promoting "religious freedom," saying in a statement that "the federal government should not be in the business of forcing child welfare providers to choose between helping children and their faith."

As the New York Times pointed out, LGBTQ couples with children are far likely than different-sex couples to be raising adopted children. This move in support of so-called "religious freedom," then, will merely negatively impact the more than 400,000 children currently in the foster care system by denying them loving homes with LGBTQ individuals and couples.

Read more about this rule here. We'll be sure to keep readers up to speed as this issue develops.

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Adoption Is a Rollercoaster, but it's Worth the Ride

Erik Alexander (aka Nola Papa) opens up about his whirlwind 3.5-week adoption process.

Adoption is an emotional journey for anyone. Depending on how long you have to wait, that anxiety can be amplified dramatically. In the beginning, we were told our wait could be anywhere from 5-7 years. Just imagine our excitement when we found it could be shrunken down to less than a month!

However, it didn't come without heartbreak. It is crucially important to know that each journey is completely different. Sure, there are happy and excited emotions. But there is also fear, tears and heartbreak. Some adoptions end in failure, without any explanation. But at the end of this journey, when you are holding your new baby, there isn't an emotion I can articulate to convey how complete you feel.

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Gay Dad Family Stories

David and Ben Met on the Dance Floor — and Are Now Grooving Their Way Through Fatherhood

David and Ben, who became fathers with the help of Northwest Surrogacy Center, live in Melbourne with their daughter, Maia.

In 2003, while both studying at Reading University in the UK, Ben Suter and David Cocks met after locking eyes on the dance floor and then being introduced by a mutual friend. Ben, a meteorologist and Operations Manager, and David, an Assistant Principal, have been together ever since. They moved to Australia together in 2010, seeking a different life, and an overall better work-life balance. The chose Cairns in Queensland as their new home, between the Great Barrier Reef and the tropical rainforest, "taking life a bit easier," said David. The couple were also married in June 2016, back home in England.

While David always wanted kids, Ben took a little convincing. So they started their parenting journey with a dog, Titan, who quickly became like their first born. From there, Ben came around rather quickly.

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Single Gay Dad and the City

When Kyle decided to take his four kids, ages 6-11, to New York City on vacation, his friends thought he was crazy.

"You're crazy, Kyle."

"You can't be serious? A single dad taking four kids to the Big Apple? Think again."

"That's bold. There's no way I'd do that."

Those were a few of the responses I heard from my friends as I told them I was thinking of booking a trip to New York City with four kids, ages 11-6. My children's fall vacation from school was approaching and I wanted to get out of the house and explore. Was the Big Apple too much of an adventure?

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News

National's Pitcher Cites Wife's Two Moms as Reason for Declining White House Invite

"I think that's an important part of allyship," Doolittle said of his wife's two moms.

Sean Doolittle, pitcher for the Washington Nationals, declined an invitation to the White House after his team won the World Series this year. In an interview with the Washington Post, he listed his numerous reasons for staying home — and a main consideration, he revealed, was his wife's two moms.

"I want to show support for them. I think that's an important part of allyship, and I don't want to turn my back on them," Doolittle said during the interview.

Trump's treatment of a minority groups, generally, factored into his decision as well. "I have a brother-in-law who has autism, and [Trump] is a guy that mocked a disabled reporter. How would I explain that to him that I hung out with somebody who mocked the way that he talked or the way that he moves his hands? I can't get past that stuff."

Doolitttle clarified that his decision had little to do with policy disagreements with the White House. "There's a lot of things, policies that I disagree with, but at the end of the day, it has more to do with the divisive rhetoric and the enabling of conspiracy theories and widening the divide in this country. My wife and I stand for inclusion and acceptance, and we've done work with refugees, people that come from, you know, the 'shithole countries.'"

He concluded by saying he respected his teammates decision to attend the White house ceremony. "I want people to know that I put thought into this, and at the end of the day, I just can't go."

Read more of the Washington Post interview here.

Change the World

A Gay Fertility Doctor Opens Up About His Own Path to Parenthood

Parenthood is the "one and only job" held by the majority of the population, wrote gay fertility doctor Mark Leondires in a recent op-ed for The Advocate

Dr. Mark Leondires, founder of the fertility clinic RMA of Connecticut, has helped thousands of LGBTQ people become parents over the years. But in a recent op-ed for The Advocate, he discussed his own path to parenthood as a gay man, and some of the lessons he's learned along the way.

"Similar to most gay men I struggled with the coming out process," Dr. Leondires wrote. "I strongly desired to be a parent. And as a fertility doctor I knew this was possible. What was enlightening was after we had our first child is that in the eyes of my community, I went from being a gay man or gay professional to being a parent just like most of my straight friends."

Dr. Leondires goes on to say his reasons for opening up about his parenting journey is to offer some perspective LGBTQ people who are considering parenthood. "Once you have a family you will have this common bond with the vast majority of our population and something they can relate to — having children," he wrote. "You are no longer someone living this "special" lifestyle, you are a parent on a shared journey."

Being a parent is the "one and only job" held by the majority of the population, he continued. "It is also the only job you can't be fired from."

Understanding this commonality helped Dr. Leondires in his coming out process, he said. "I had to be proud of my family because I want them to be proud of our family," he wrote. "It wasn't about me anymore. The reality is that 5-7% of patients identify as LGBTQ+, and there may be a greater likelihood that your child might be LGBTQ+ because you are. Therefore, you need to be proud of who you are and who your family is, establish and maintain this foundation unconditionally."

Read Dr. Leondires entire essay here.

Fatherhood, the gay way

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