Gay Dad Family Stories

LJay Ramirez, Who Was Placed in Foster Care as a Teenager, Just Became a Foster Dad Himself

LJay Ramirez has always wanted to be a foster dad since he was placed in foster care as a young teenager. He and his husband, Matt, just finalized the adoption of their 2-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son.

"We've learned that a two year old is by far the hardest person to negotiate with successfully," said new adoptive dad LJay Ramirez, speaking about his daughter. "A six year old has so many questions that anyone would see as common sense but he genuinely is curious about the world he lives in."

Bay area dads, LJay and his husband Matt Ramirez, finalized the adoption of their 2-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son on January 5, 2019. They describe their parenthood journey so far as "crazy, fun, and exciting." They became dads through the foster care system, something LJay always wanted to do since having first-hand experience when he was placed in foster care as a young teenager.

The new dads lives have changed tremendously since becoming dads, and now they have want to share their story with others.


Matt (left) and LJay at their second wedding, celebrating their 5th wedding anniversary by renewing their vows

LJay and Matt met over eight years ago at a JCPennys. LJay was shopping with his nephew and Matt was working at the counter. When LJay's nephew spilt his juice all over the counter, LJay became very flustered and kept apologizing whilst trying to clean the mess. Matt insisted that it was okay but found LJay's response so endearing that he kept chatting with him. That was the beginning of something very special.

On October 13, 2013, LJay and Matt got married in front of their loved ones. It was almost another 5 years before they began their journey to fatherhood.

Matt and LJay always wanted kids, and they chose to foster because of LJay's own experience. At 8 years old, LJay was placed in foster care and moved from home to home because he was unwell. The continuous moving and instability took a toll on his young soul. "After moving from home to home, I was placed in a group home where one of the employees finally took me in," said LJay. When he moved to his last placement, LJay was able to do better in school and even graduated a year early! "Foster care can be a lonely experience, but when you find a loving family it's amazing what it can do for your self esteem."

LJay holding his two kids

It took five months for the husbands to become licensed foster parents due in part to their conflicting work schedules – LJay travels a lot for his job, and Matt works Monday to Friday – and when they eventually became licensed, there was a moment when a potential placement was going to fall through due to their living space. (They had found out in October there were two biological siblings who needed a home.) "Due to the age of our kids we had less than 14 days to move into a three bedroom or run the risk of the placement being delayed," explained LJay. "Thanks to Matthew's job, we were able to get into a larger living space with no changes to our address and minor moving details."

In December last year, the new dads welcomed a 6-year-old boy and 2-year-old girl into their home. Pretty quickly, LJay and Matt established routines for everyone to aid in a smooth transition. "We are constantly reminding the kids that we are grateful for them to be with us and that we love them very much," said Matt. "There were some difficult times but we did not let that deter the fact that we love them and love that they are with us."

Matt with the kids on the couch

On January 5, 2019, their children's adoptions were finalized.

As the children are Hispanic and so is Matt, the family are constantly visiting Matt's parents who provide education and understanding of their heritage and culture to the kids. "We were able to introduce them to Mexican traditions during the holidays and how family is important," said Matt. "It really helped to explain the meaning and traditions in the movie Coco, which is the kids' favorite movie, and how it is celebrated in our family."

LJay and Matt have some advice to others considering fostering and adoption: Ask lots of questions! "It is important to ask questions because adoption is so much more than getting to know kids," elaborated LJay. "Knowing what the kids have been through and who they have been with is important to help make proper changes in your home to be welcoming to the kids." LJay stressed that it's imperative parents-to-be that they know all they can about the children's medical history and mental status. "This information will help make sure you know what to say and what not to say to prevent the kids from reliving any traumatic experience which could cause behavioral issues."

LJay also added that asking questions to understand the process and responsibility of the foster / adoptive parents is crucial, too. "Kids in the adoption system need stability and love, and if the adoptive parents aren't ready to provide that, it will certainly show in their parenting by being impatient and irritated. Kids in the system have enough to deal with and when they feel their parents don't want them or mistreat them… No child deserves that."

Through their own questioning, LJay and Matt made sure they were ready to take on the world on behalf of their future kids. They spoke with family, friends and professionals to ensure that they were making the right decision, and they feel confident in their decisions. "It's so rewarding to complete this process," said LJay. "If you can find it in your heart adopt, there are so many kids in the foster care system that need loving homes."

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Foster/Foster-Adopt

This Gay Couple Was Inspired to Become Foster Dads Thanks to the Show "The Fosters"

Matthew and Brian say they used to feel like "unicorns" as gay foster dads. They're happy to see more LGBTQ couples take the plunge into the foster system.

Matthew Hamparian and his husband Brian Lawrence have been together for over 18 years and live in Columbus, Ohio. "We had talked about children for a long time," shared Matthew. They were inspired by the show "The Fosters," and watched it regularly as one of the staffers of the show was a friend of Brian's. In one of the episodes, Matthew remembers a conversation between a foster child and the biological child of his foster parents. The foster child asks if he was okay with the fact that he had to share his home with foster siblings. He responds that he is okay with it, because he and his family have enough of everything.

"It was very meaningful to us as we were both raised that when you got up the ladder, you threw the ladder back," explained Matthew.

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Gay Dad Family Stories

Their Hearts Were Stolen First, Say These Foster Dads; Then Their Last Names

Foster dads Santiago Gutierrez and Cesar Espinoza have opened up their homes, and hearts, to a sibling group of two

Santiago Gutierrez, a 29-year-old digital moderator, and Cesar Espinoza, a 38-year-old technician, met 10 years ago while Santiago was working as a server at a restaurant. Cesar was there dining with friends, and even from afar, he was immediately taken by Santiago. He found out through another waiter that Santiago was single, so he left his name and number on a napkin, and a couple of days later Santiago texted him. After some back and forth, they met up for their first date. This past May 1, 2018, they were married.

Kids were always part of the plan for this San Antonio couple but an opportunity to become dads came into view a little earlier than planned. At the end of 2015, they found out that an acquaintance was pregnant, but did not want to be a parent. They raised the prospect of taking on that responsibility. "We were living a comfortable life and we wanted to share that with kids and provide happiness and love," said Santiago.

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Change the World

How "Easy" Is It, Really, for Gay Men to Become Dads?

It's never been easier for gay men to become dads, but a recent Washington Post article, which includes interviews with four gay parents, gives voice to some of the challenges that persist.

In recent weeks, with reports like this one in eWire.News, and famous gay dads gracing the cover of Parents Magazine for the first time, a perception is growing that it's now "easy" for gay men to be dads now. To examine this idea, Washington Post recently interviewed four gay men who have become fathers at some point in the past 10 years to examine their experiences. What they found is that, yes, it's easier than ever before for gay men to become dads. But we still face many more barriers than our straight counterparts.

None of these barriers will be news to any gay man who has become a father. But it's helpful that major publications like the Washington Post are now starting to recognize and give voice to them.

The first "finding" from their conversations is that gay men need more "money in the bank" that straight people. With the exception of adoption through foster care, "the financial costs are often tantamount to buying a car or even a house outright," the author notes.

The article also notes that gay men--and fathers in general--are given less paternity leave in the United States on average than many other countries. One of the dads interviewed for the piece, who adopted his sone through foster care, said he could only afford to take two weeks of paternity leave, which was " too short," he said. His son "struggled to see me as the paternal figure — I was just the guy who went to work and came home from work later. That's a struggle for most dads whether gay or straight — but I wish I had gotten more time just to bond with him."

Gay dads also must do more "emotional heavy lifting," the author notes, noting that many attend therapy for many months before taking the plunge. "We don't come to parenting by accident," another dad interviewed in the piece said. "We come to it by way of a lot of money, and with great intentionality. That is the commonality among gay dads with children."

A final common experience to many of the gay dads interviewed in the piece were annoyances dealing with strangers. "The thing that has been the most difficult are strangers who don't understand," one of the dads said. "They see us out with our son and we don't fit into their little box of what a family looks like. I've been asked whether Jeffrey and I mixed our sperm together in a cup. And that's rude, but as our son gets older, he is being shaped by a certain narrative about who he is."

Read the whole article here.

Gay Dad Family Stories

Demolition Daddies: These Gay Dads Recently Appeared on House Hunters Renovation

The dads say their star turn on the popular HGTV show is all thanks to their two-year-old son, Theo, who charmed the producers

"I'm really not sure what our lives were like before having our son," pondered Matt. "I remember always doing stuff, but I have no idea how I wasted all that personal time that I find so precious now. I took so many showers without someone trying to pull all the towels down to make a bed on the bathroom floor. It must have been nice, but also wasn't as memorable."

Matt DeLeva and fiancé Joseph Littlefield met in 2014 at a Pride event at the San Diego Zoo, and have a 2-year-old son Theo through adoption. For this Los Angeles-based couple, and like many others, becoming dads was an emotional rollercoaster. Before being matched with Theo's birth family, they had two other connections with birth moms that didn't work out. "Each was upsetting," said Matt. "When you talk to birth mothers, you start to get excited and mentally plan your future. When it doesn't work out, it feels like a loss."

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Terrell and Jarius need your help. Earlier this week they were made aware of an act of discrimination against a male transgender student at Johnson High School in Gainesville, Georgia

"Dex Frier was elected by the student body to run for prom king but is now facing backlash from the school's administration," shared the dads via their Instagram. "The school's Superintendent is forcing Dex to either run as prom queen or not run at all. This is very unjust and does NOT reflect the opinion of the parents nor the students."

Watch their video below:

Dex, 17, who came out identifying as male in his sophomore year, spoke with Gainsville Times about being nominated by the student body. "Frier said he kept his emotions in check while at school, but 'the moment I got home, I immediately started crying. I've never been shown so much support before,' Frier added."

He was later informed by school officials that his name had been withdrawn and he could only run in the prom queen ballot.

Sadly, there have been rival petitions started in support of Dex's nomination being withdrawn, and he's received backlash from those who believe he shouldn't be able to run.

Although Terrell and Jarius do not know Dex personally, they were made aware of what was happening through Jarius co-worker who is a parent at the school. "He's such a brave kid and is standing firm in his beliefs, and we should support him," said Jarius.

These dads are asking all of us to take a minute and sign this petition and share with friends and family, or anyone you think could help.

Surrogacy for Gay Men

Learn How These Dads Used Social Media to Find Their Surrogate

In the latest "Broadway Husbands" vlog, Bret and Stephen discuss the rather unconventional way in which they found their surrogate: through a Facebook group.

In this, the Broadway Husbands' sixth video, Bret Shuford and Stephen Hanna discuss the rather unprecedented process they went through to find their surrogate. The lucky couple also chat about winning an "Intended Parents" competition, which granted them the free services of a surrogacy agency who is now helping guide them (and their new surrogate!) on their journey.

In the first video below, get caught up to speed with the dads-to-be. Plus: there's bonus footage! Ever wondered about the financial side of their journey? In the second video, Bret and Stephen talk candidly about how they're managing to afford their dream of fatherhood.

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Gay Dad Life

Gay Single Dads Defend Andy Cohen's Right to Be on Grindr

After the Internet rushed to judge Andy Cohen for signing onto Grindr a couple of weeks after welcoming his newborn son home, fellow single gay dads rushed to his defense.

Last week, we wrote a post about reports that "What What Happens Live" host Andy Cohen had been "spotted" on gay dating app Grindr several weeks after welcoming a newborn into his home. This has some of his followers on social media all worked up"

"Get off Grindr and start being a dad," said one follower who appeared to think single parents must take a vow of celibacy the minute they start changing diapers. "You're sad, that kid has no chance," said another.

Well, suffice it to say that this judgment from people who are presumably not single gay dads of Andy Cohen certainly struck a nerve with our gay dad audience! We received well over 100 comments on this post on Facebook, the vast majority of them coming to Cohen's defense. We caught up with two fellow single gay dads to find out why the story struck a nerve.

"We don't have to live like monks!"

One of the most liked comments on our piece came from Owen Lonzar, who wrote the following:

"I have always been a good single father to my biological son who came to live with me when he was 7 years old. He is now 25 years old and we are very close. I used Grindr and dated while he lived with me. I never had anyone sleep over and he certainly never saw some man he didn't know hanging around my home. Single parents have to date responsibly and with sensitivity to their child but that doesn't mean they have to live like monks!"

We asked Cohen to elaborate a bit more on why the backlash against Cohen bothered him. He had the sense, he said, that much of the criticism against LGBTQ parents comes from gay men without children. "Gay men without kids have a lot to say," he said. "And all of it is ignorant, because they have no idea what it means to actually be a father." He said he was particularly disappointed in gay critics, given our shared history of discrimination. "You would think with all the prejudice we have faced that gay men would be less judgmental themselves," he said.

"Are we supposed to be celibate?"

Another commenter, Josue Sebastian Dones-Figueroa, who is a divorced father of five, questioned what Cohen's critics would prefer him do. "So what, parents are supposed to become celibate because they have kids?" he asked.

We followed up with Josue to ask him to elaborate a bit more: "The idea that just because he is a dad that he would need to stop being a man," he said, questioning why Cohen should have to put his life hold and stop dating, or having sex, just because he's now a father. "If the child is cared for loved and not neglected what is the problem? Life goes on right?"


Fatherhood, the gay way

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