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

How One Failed Adoption Turned Into Two Successes for These Dads

Joe and Roberto were heartbroken after a birth mother decided against working with them. But fate (and perseverance!) would soon change their luck — twice over!

Adoption was always the first choice for Joe Motowidlak and husband Roberto Martinez when it came to starting a family. They went the private adoption route, ended up with two different attorneys and had two very different adoption journeys, that lead to two daughters born within a couple of months to one another. Although Joe and Roberto wouldn't change a thing, they consider themselves incredibly fortunate to have the family that they have and are the proud dads with full hearts to their two infant daughters.

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Gay Dad Family Stories

Nuno Costa, Out Competitive CrossFit Athlete, Expecting a Baby

Nuno Costa, just one of a handful of competitive LGBTQ athletes within CrossFit, recently announced he's about to become a dad via surrogacy.

Nuno Costa, 41, is no stranger to facing his fears. For years, he struggled with an addiction to drugs and alcohol. He's been sober since 2007 and credits CrossFit — the "functional fitness" phenomenon — for helping give his life new purpose. As one of the only openly gay male CrossFit athletes competing in the top levels of the sport, Nuno has long been an inspiration to LGBTQ athletes. And he's also really good at it — Nuno is one of the few athletes who has competed in nine out of the 11 past CrossFit Games, as either an individual or team competitor, every year since they started in 2012.

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Gay Dad Family Stories

This European Couple Became Dads Through a U.K.-Based Surrogacy Program

Janno, from Estonia, and Matthias, from Belgium, were accepted into the "Childlessness Overcome Through Surrogacy" Program.

Janno Talu, an accountant, and Matthias Nijs, an art gallery director, were born in different parts of Europe. Janno, 39, is from Estonia, and Matthias, 28, is from Belgium. Their paths crossed when the two moved to London, each from their different corners of the European Union.

Janno relocated to London earlier than Matthias, when he was 24, and his main reason for the move was his sexuality. "Although Estonia is considered one of the more progressive countries in Eastern Europe, when it comes to gay rights, it is still decades behind Western society in terms of tolerance," said Janno. "And things are not moving in the right direction." In 2016, same-sex civil union became legal, but the junior party in the current coalition government is seeking to repeal the same-sex partnership bill. "In addition," Janno continued, "they wish to include the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman in the country's constitution. Even today, there are people in Estonia who liken homosexuality to pedophilia, which is why I decided to start a new life in the UK, where I could finally be myself."

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What's it Like to Be a Child of the 'Gayby Boom'?

Tosca Langbert, who grew up with two dads, writes a piece for the Harvard Business Review about what it's like being among the first children of the "Gayby Boom" to come of age.

We've previously written about the pressure on LGBTQ parents to appear perfect, given that so many in the United States still feel out families shouldn't exist in the first place. And we know this pressure trickles down to our kids. But In an article for the Harvard Business Review titled 'The Gayby Boom Is Here to Stay," author Tosca Langbert eloquently writes, from her perspective, about the experience of beingone of the first children to come of age during an era when LGBTQ parenthood is far more commonplace. She and her two siblings, she notes, "were raised in a family that was an impossibility only decades ago."

In the article, Langbert said she knew from a young age that her family was different from those of most of her peers, who had one a father and a mother. But otherwise, she writes, she didn't feel like her family differed much. "Like any other parents, Dad sat in the carpool lane after school and taught us how to ride our bikes," she writes, "while Papa took us to the movies on the weekends and separated the whites from the colors."

Despite this mundanity, her family remained something to marvel at for much of her youth. When the family moved into a new neighborhood in 2006, it made the local newspaper, with a headline titled, "Gay Father Tests Tolerance in the Park Cities."

She and her siblings have spent much of their lives, she explained further, having to respond to the question: what's it like having two gay dads? For Langbert, there is only one correct response, which is: Amazing! "Any other response, even if simply accounting for a family's nuanced experience, might as well be an outright admission of failure on behalf of the entire LGBTQ community," she wrote.

Children of the 'Gayby Generation,' are also put in the position of having to come out on behalf of their parents, and "often with mixed results," she wrote. She gave the following anecdote as an example:

"My father was asked to step down from his leadership position in my brother's Boy Scout troop on account of his sexuality. Even though my siblings and I were only fourth graders at the time, we understood that our family was under strict scrutiny, and that even the slightest misstep could beget severe consequences for how competent our fathers were perceived as being. In the face of this pressure, the first generation of 'gaybies' recognized the importance of presenting their families as perfect; doing otherwise would only present ammunition to those already dubious about the rights of LGBTQ parents to raise children."

The entire article, which includes the perspectives of multiple now-grown kids that are part of the "Gayby generation," is well worth a read, which you can access here.


Utah Bill Would Allow Gay Men to Enter Surrogacy Contracts

Rep. Patrice Arent of Utah is sponsoring a bill that will remove a provision that currently prohibits gay men from entering into commercial surrogacy contracts in the state.

Though Utah is not one of the three states that currently prohibit commercial surrogacy contracts, the state's current policy does specifically exclude gay men from doing so. That may soon changed, however, thanks to a bill in the state's legislature that was unanimously voted out of a House Committee that would remove that restriction.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, a Democrat, was created in response to a ruling by the Utah Supreme Court this past August that found the ban on gay men unconstitutional.

Gay men have been excluded from legally entering surrogacy contracts due to a provision in the current law that requires medical evidence "that the intended mother is unable to bear a child or is unable to do so without unreasonable risk to her physical or mental health or to the unborn child," Rep. Arent told the Salt Lake Tribune — a requirement that clearly excludes gay male couples.

The state's original surrogacy law dates back to 2005, before same-sex marriage was legalized in the state, which accounts for the gendered language. Though the state's Supreme Court already ruled the provision unconstitutional, Rep Arent further told the Tribute that, "People do not look to Supreme Court opinions to figure out the law, they look to the code and the code should be constitutional."


Colorado Republicans Try and Fail to Outlaw LGBTQ Marriage and Adoption Rights

A bill introduced by four Republican state legislators in Colorado that would outlaw same-sex marriage and adoption rights was voted down.

The "Colorado Natural Marriage and Adoption Act," which would have outlawed gay marriage and adoption in the state of Colorado, was voted down in the state legislature this week. The bill was sponsored by Republican Rep. Stephen Humphrey and three of his conservative colleagues: Dave Williams, Shane Sandridge and Mark Baisley.

If enacted, the bill would have enforced "state law that marriage is between one man and one woman" and restrict "adoption of children by spouses in a marriage ... that consist of one man and one woman."

The bill, which had little chance of success, particularly in Colorado which has trended more progressive over the past several election cycles, was mostly symbolic, according to Sanridrge. "We all know this bill isn't gonna pass in this current left-wing environment," he told Colorado Public Radio. "It's to remind everyone, this is the ultimate way to conceive a child."

In a sign of how far we've come on the issue of LGBTQ marriage and parenting rights, most Republican legislators in the state did not endorse the bill.

Though the bill had little chance of passage, LGBTQ advocacy groups in the state are taking the threats seriously nonetheless. Daniel Ramos, director of the LGBTQ group One Colorado, told LGBTQ Nation that the bills were an attempt to return Colorado to its "hate status" of the 1990s, adding the aggressiveness of the measures were "a bit surprising."

Surrogacy for Gay Men

Dads Talk About Surrogacy Process in New Video for Northwest Surrogacy Center

The Northwest Surrogacy Center interviewed some of their gay dad clients for a video to celebrate their 25th anniversary of creating families through surrogacy!

Image: NWSC Clients

Last year, Northwest Surrogacy Center celebrated 25 years of helping parents realize their dreams. And they celebrated in style by inviting the families they've worked with over the past two and a half decades to join them!

At the party, they took the opportunity to film queer dads and dads-to-be, asking them a couple of questions: how did it feel holding your baby for the first time, and tell us about your relationship with your surrogate.

Watch the video below and get ready for the water works!

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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