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."


But despite those difficult hurdles, the men preserved and received a call one day about a baby boy who had just been born 30 minutes from their house. "The birth parents picked us, and gave us the greatest joy we could have ever received in the form of our son," Matt told Gay Star News in an article published in 2017.

The new dads had discussed fatherhood as early as their first date; now it was a reality. "We knew that it was in our cards to be dads. It was the easiest and best decision that we have ever made."

Another decision the dads made that has impacted their family life was to audition for a home renovation show in early 2018. They knew they wanted a house that needed work, so they looked online, curious to see if there was any home renovation shows being filmed in Los Angeles. "I figured that being a two-dad family would give us some points," said Matt, "I pitched our story online, and they set up a Skype interview with the casting director." The casting director then pitched them to HGTV, and when the HGTV team first watched it, they were so focused on Theo, that they later told Matt and Joseph they had to re-watch it to see what the dads were saying.

Basically, charming Theo got he and his dads onto House Hunters Renovation on HGTV.

Over the summer of 2018, the family of three and the House Hunters Renovation team and crew remodeled part of Matt and Joseph's house. "It was intense, but looking back at it, it was fun," said Matt. "If you asked while we were in the middle of it, I might have given you a different answer."

The family lived in the house throughout the renovation which was a challenge. They had to put up two layers of plastic between the living room and the kitchen to try and keep all the dust out. The air purifiers on in the bedrooms 24/7, and they also had to get creative without a kitchen and heat Theo's milk on the grill in the backyard. "I'm so happy that we went through all of it though," said Matt, "because we really love the finished product."

The episode aired on February 23.

One of the best parts of watching themselves and their home reno adventure? Being able to see Theo grow 5 or 6 months during the filming and have that captured for all time. "It was fun to see all the craziness we went through over the last year, and it was even better to see Theo on TV."

Looking beyond their house renovations and staring on one of the most beloved channels of any homeowner – aspiring or present – the dads are currently in the process of their second adoption journey. The dads have been told it might take them a little longer this time around as tends to be the case when adopting for a second time.

Matt and Joseph have also put their wedding plans on hold as they look to grow their family, but their nieces and nephews continue to ask about their plans as they're keen to get dressed up for the celebration. "Whenever it is, Theo will have a big role in the wedding," said Matt. "If we wait long enough, he might even be able to officiate!" Or, have a little brother or sister to share ring bearer duties!

Whenever the date will be, these dads are excited to celebrate their love as a family.


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Children's Books

New LGBTQ-Inclusive Children's Book Asks: What Makes a Family?

A new children's book by Seamus Kirst follows a young girl's journey of emotional discovery after she is asked which of her two dads is her "real dad."

Editor's note: This is a guest post from Seamus Kirst, author of the new LGBTQ-inclusive children's book "Papa, Daddy, Riley."

Throughout my life, I have discovered that reading provides an almost miraculous way of changing the way I think.

There is no medium that better offers insight into the perceptions, feelings and humanity of someone who is different from us. Through reading we become empathetic. Through reading we evolve. I have often emerged from reading a book, and felt like I was changed. In that, even in this digital age, I know I am not alone.

As children, reading shapes how we see the world. The characters, places, and stories we come to love in our books inform us as to what life might offer us as we grow up, and our world begins to expand beyond our own backyards.

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As National Foster Care Month comes to a close, we rounded up some amazing examples of gay men serving as foster care dads, helping provide kids with a bright future.

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Transracial Families Series

This Transracial Family Relies on a 'Support Group' of African American Women

Puerto Rican dads Ferdinand and Manuel are raising a daughter of Jamaican descent — and love to find ways to celebrate their family's diversity

Our second feature in our transracial family series. Read the first one here.

Ferdinand Ortiz, 39, and his husband Manuel Gonzalez, 38, have been together for 7 years. In 2017, they became foster dads when they brought their daughter, Mia Valentina, home from the hospital. She was just three days old at the time. On December 13, 2018, her adoption was finalized.

Mia is of Jamaican and African American heritage, and her dads are both Puerto Rican. When Manuel and Ferdinand began their parenting journey through the foster care system, they received specific training on how to be the parents of a child whose race and culture was different from their own. "We learned that it's important to celebrate our child's culture and surround ourselves with people who can help her be proud of her culture." However, as helpful as this training was, the dads agreed that it would've been beneficial to hear from other transracial families and the type of challenges that they faced.

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

How the Shut Down Opened Me Up to Being a Better Dad

David Blacker's dad used to tell him to 'stop and smell the roses' — the shut down has led him to finally take the advice

"Stop and smell the roses." It was the thing my dad always said to me when I was growing up. But like many know-it-all kids, I didn't listen. I was determined to keep my eye on the prize. Whether it was getting good grades in school, getting my work published, scoring the next big promotion, buying a house or starting a family. For me, there was no such thing as resting on my laurels. It has always been about what's next and mapping out the exact course of action to get me there.

Then Covid.

Ten weeks ago, I — along with the rest of the world — was ordered to shelter-in-place... to stop thinking about what's next, and instead, focus on the here and the now. In many ways, the shut down made me shut off everything I thought I knew about being content and living a productive life. And so, for the first time in my 41 years, I have literally been forced to stop and smell the roses. The question is, would I like the way they smell?

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Transracial Families Series

How This Transracial Family Creates a 'Safe Space' to Talk About Their Differences

Kevin and David know they can never understand what it's like growing up as a young black girl — but they strive to create a 'safe space' for their daughters to talk about the experience

Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of ongoing posts exploring issues related to transracial families headed by gay, bi and trans men. Interested in being featured as part of the series? Email us at dads@gayswithkids.com

Is adopting a child whose race and culture is different from your own something that us queer dads need to talk about? Share our experiences? Learn from others? We've been hearing from our community, and the answer has been a resounding, "yes."

With over one-fifth (21.4%) of same-sex couples raising adopted children in the United States today (compared to 3% of different-sex couples), it's highly likely, at the very least, that those families are transcultural. According to April Dinwoodie, Chief Executive of The Donaldson Adoption Institute, Inc., all adoptive families are transcultural. "All, in my opinion, adoptions are transcultural because there are no two families' culture that is exactly the same, even if you went as far as to get very specific about the family of origin and the family of experience and almost make it cookie-cutter … no two families operate the same."

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Gay Dad Life

Movie Night: My Favorite Family Tradition

As his sons have gotten older, the movies have morphed away from cartoons and towards things blowing up — but movie night remains his favorite family tradition.

Editor's Note: This is the next in a series of excerpts from Joseph Sadusky's new book, Magic Lessons: Celebratory and Cautionary Tales about Life as a (Single, Gay, Transracially Adoptive) Dad. The book contains many stories about his life as a dad, as well as lessons learned, and we're excited to share several excerpts from the the book over the course of the next few months. Read previous installments here!

Of all of our traditions and rituals, probably the most consistent and longest-lasting one was movie night. Sure, we read the heck out of Harry Potter. But our capacity for watching Harry Potter? We're talking Quidditch World Cup here, folks.

In its early version, movie night looked like this: During the week, I would order a movie and a cartoon from Netflix—back when "Netflix" meant "mail." On Saturday night—and I mean, faithfully, every Saturday night—we would order a pepperoni pizza (which Mark faithfully took the meat off of—I'll get to food later) for delivery and then sit and watch our cartoon and movies while eating. The kids had a say in the movie, but I got to pick the cartoon. They watched enough of their own cartoons on the regular, and besides, this gave me a great opportunity to introduce them to the wonders of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Josie and the Pussycats.


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Gay Dad Life

Happy Mother's Day From Gays With Kids!

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Mother's Day can be complicated holiday for many gay, bi and trans dads and their kids. Choosing how, when — or even if — to celebrate the day is a uniquely personal decision. But no matter how we've become dads, women have helped us achieve our dreams of fatherhood. And for that reason, we've loved celebrating all of the women who have supported our journeys to fatherhood, in ways big and small, over the years. Check out some of our favorite photos, essays, articles and more below!


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Fatherhood, the gay way

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