Gay Dad Family Stories

This Gay Couple Fought Against Alcoholism and Discrimination to Become Dads

Kelsey Cain and his husband Stacy Ellis Cain are the proud parents to two children, who the adopted through the foster care system. The couple married in May 2015. Kelsey works as a the owner of a drug test company, and both he and Stacy also work as bail bondsmen. We caught up with Kelsey recently to talk about their path to parenthood, and to get their advice for others considering adopting through the foster care system.

How did you and your husband meet? We met through a mutual friend. I had been in Oklahoma for three years, and single for five. Ellis had been single for five years as well. Our mutual friend thought we should meet. Phone numbers were provided and the talks began! We spoke nightly for about six weeks. At the time I was living in Ada, Oklahoma and Ellis was living in Comanche, Oklahoma, where he was looking after his ailing mother. After six weeks our schedules allowed us to meet. We decided on dinner in Sulphur---a small town in between. Dinner was great! We already knew each other because of all of the time on the phone, but we were able to spend the evening enjoying the time being together in person, finally.

Tell us about any obstacles you faced on your path to fatherhood. Being in recovery for alcoholism, my adoption was denied by the local Native American Tribe I had started the approval process with. After 8 months of training, home studies and re-done home studies and being introduced to several available native children, I was denied "based on my length of sobriety." It turns out that the Director who denied me was let go from the organization not long after discrimination complaints were filed at every level possible. Then there was the kindergarten teacher at the kids' school who would not allow her son to hang out with our son because his dads are gay. Little does she know---we are probably the coolest dads in the school district! She is not an obstacle---but rather just a speck.
What names do your kids call you and your husband? I'm called dad, and sometimes "MoD" which is Mom & Dad. My husband is called daddy.
How has your life changed since you became a father? Everything has changed! We are still newlyweds and live like we are---we hope to love like this for the rest of our days together! (In our minds at least!) In the beginning, when the kids first moved in during trial adoption, we had to think about most every move we made. We were so used to picking up and going for a long weekend in the mountains or to the lake house. But having kids in school and dance and athletics with homework and bedtime---the list goes on---everything has changed. No more walking around in the buff! R-rated movies on Netflix are a treat! If I woke early one morning, I was able to decide then if I wanted to travel for a couple of days for work. Not any more. If Ellis has a bail to do in the evening we have to make sure someone is available - otherwise the kids are off to the courthouse for work with Daddy! They actually like both of our professions. Nathan's friends think his Dads are cool because of bail bonds and the drug testing offices.
What have you learned from your children since you became a dad?

We have both learned that our parents had done a pretty great job, mostly. We have learned that we don't or can't love one more than the other but it can be different. I was always accused of being the favorite of my 5 siblings. My parents always said they did not have favorites. Now I understand. Patience. Enough said for Patience. At 48 and 52 years old, we are in better shape than our kids, their friends and most of their parents, and we Love that! I thought I was going to be a total jerk when it came to food, and I am. And its okay! We have learned that it takes kids a while to learn who to go to if they want a "Yes." During the first 4 months both of the kids came only to me for everything. I am usually the one who will say "no" to the cola or piece of candy or bowl of ice cream. Ellis would even say "You should have asked me." We would constantly remind them that they now have two parents to ask. We are becoming more literal too. When we say to the kids "clean your rooms" we are now so literal that there had better not be anything on the floor! That bed better not have a single wrinkle on the duvet! We are learning to have fun.

Is your family treated differently than others on account of your sexual orientation or gender identity? I think we have been treated differently. We are a novelty in our town. We were already liked and respected in our community and now adopting two kids they seem to respect us even more deeply and different. The school where the kids had already attended prior to the adoption has completely welcomed us in. During the trial adoption period we met with each of the kids three teachers, a one-on-one meeting with each. We wanted to know them and we wanted them to know us. We didn't want the to have any opportunity to "create" who we might be according to stereotypes.
What words of advice do you have for other gay men considering pursuing your same path or parenthood? They are not pets! They are not "new craze." We are given this glorious and amazing opportunity to be of service to our fellow man---do not take it lightly.
What other experiences would you like to share? While raising kids, we have grown as individuals and as a couple. We have faced fears and enveloped joys we never knew we held or were capable. I have been able to call my parents and thank them. They really did a good job. Ellis has been able to "introduce" the kids to his parents through prayer and a couple of visits to the cemetery where they are laid. His family has said how proud his parents are.
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Gay Dad Family Stories

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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.

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Photo credit: BSA Photography

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