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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Gay Dad Family Stories

The Inuit Custom Adoption Program Helped These Dads Form Their Family

After learning about the Inuit Custom Adoption Program from family, Keith and Kevin knew it was the way they wanted to become dads.

Keith Willey, 49, and his husband Kevin Kablutsiak, 42, who live in Ottawa, Canada, first met online in 2010. The couple had their first date soon afterwards in a coffee house and, "haven't looked back since," said Keith. They married on May 22nd, 2016.

Keith, who works as a Policy Advisor with the Canadian Federal Government, and Kevin, who works as the Director of Communications with the Canadian National Inuit Organization (ITK), always knew they wanted kids together, and talked about it early on in their relationship. Still, as gay men, they weren't sure that option would ever be available to them.

"I grew up in the UK in the 1970s so I assumed it would be impossible to have children," said Keith. "I always assumed that I would have to lead a life sort of in the shadows and in secret. Attitudes were so different in the 70s to how they are now that I simply believe that we thought it would be impossible to have a child."

The option materialized for the couple, however, when Kevin's sister, pregnant at the time, approached the two men about adopting her baby through the Inuit adoption process. They knew they couldn't pass up the opportunity.

"Kevin is Inuk and adoption, particularly inter-family adoption, is common in Inuit culture," said Keith.

The Inuit Custom Adoption Process was originally used in the small Inuit societies in the arctic, Kevin explained. It's primarily (though not exclusively) intended as a path for adoption within families. The process is legally recognized by the Canadian legal system.

As Kevin went on to explain, Inuit custom adoption was traditional used to support survival within, what were until quite recently, people living a nomadic lifestyle. It is, in essence, a deeply loving and selfless tradition of giving the gift of life to a carefully selected couple, most often with the guidance of elders (usually the matriarch within a family). If a couple couldn't conceive, for instance, others would sometimes offer their help. Similarly, if a couple lost a child, the grieving parents might be given a baby to help ease the ache of their loss. While most Inuit parents have zero intention of custom adopting their children to other families, adoption continues to be an established method in Inuit regions.

Through this process, and with everyone's agreement, the two men legally adopted Kevin's sister and her husband's child from birth. They named her Abbie. "Kevin's sister and her husband came to stay with us in Ottawa prior to the birth so Abbie was in our care from the moment she was born," said Keith. "She got to come home with us the day after the birth with the legal process taking around 11 months to complete from start to finish."


As far as their parenting styles, the couple say they've drawn on each of their pasts. "Both Kevin and I had somewhat difficult childhoods and have spent a lot of time working through and dealing with childhood trauma," Keith said. "As a result, we are better parents and we continue to look after ourselves and each other as we continue to grow in parenthood."

Though the couple come from different cultures, they said they've had no difficulty developing a parenting approach that works for them both. "I don't think either of us raise Abbie in the same parenting style that we experienced," Keith said, "We both talked and agreed on our approach before Abbie was born and we work well together as a parenting couple."

The result is a parenting style that incorporates some elements of both of their backgrounds, Keith said. "Inuit culture tends to shower children in love and we certainly do that," said Kevin. From English-style parenting, the couple have also borrowed the tendency of English parents to be "pretty obsessive," Keith said, about routines, such as scheduling meals, naps and bedtimes.

Though life was good before Abbie joined the family, "now it's fantastic!" Keith said. "I feel like being a parent was what I was put on this earth to be." Because neither man ever expected to become fathers, moreover, both say they look at parenthood as a privilege rather than a right — a helpful perspective they suggest to other gay men considering fatherhood. "Parenthood is an amazing gift," Keith said, "But remember it's about them, not you — and they deserve the best start in life we can give them."

Though fatherhood came to them somewhat unexpectedly, Keith and Kevin say they couldn't be happier with the way things turned out. "When I reflect on our life together, and where we both came from, it is incredible to me that we are now married, content, and parents to our wonderful panik," Keith said, using the Inuktitut word for daughter. "We are totally blessed."


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As part of what may be the most adorable study you never knew you needed, pet-sitting website Rover.com found that gay and bi couples who adopt dogs reportedly boast stronger relationships as a result — 56% of gay and bi couples said they spent more time with their partners after adopting a dog. More than half of participants also said that owning a dog can help prepare couples for children.

Interestingly, gay and bi couples were also more likely to prepare for potential difficulties in their arrangements — 21% of gay and bi couples reported setting up a "pet-nup" agreement to determine custody of their new pup in case their relationship didn't last. Only 12% of straight couples, in contrast, did the same.

"You can outline the practicalities of what would happen in the event you split from your partner whether you have joint or sole custody," Rover.com dog behaviorist Louise Glazebrook told Australia's QN News. "It's a real tragedy to see breakups results in dogs needing to be re-homed.

There was, however, one clear downside to pet ownership mentioned in the study — 17% of respondents said they have less sex now that they're sharing a bed with their pup.

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