Gay Dad Life

From IKEA to Ellen: The Story of the Gay Dad Family Triplets

Justin Ruehs and Adam Smeets tried for two and a half years with three surrogates before finally getting pregnant. Then they learned they were expecting triplets.

The arrival of Harper, Collins and Emmett in June has been celebrated in the media worldwide. Even before then, the family first made news when they won an IKEA Facebook contest for a "room makeover." The homewares company filmed a video of the expecting dads receiving a fully-furnished baby room.

Next, the news caught on that they may have been the first gay couple to have triplets using both of their DNA—a claim they prefer not to make because most countries do not report those statistics, so it's impossible to know for sure.

And recently, the pair appeared on Ellen after a close friend wrote to the comedian about their story. On the show, Ellen DeGeneres had a personalized "Our Daddies Were on Ellen" triplet stroller rolled out onto the stage for them. She promised to cover the family's diaper costs until the kids grow out of diapers. And the photo service company Shutterfly added a gift of $10,000.

"Ellen was a whirlwind of excitement," Justin says. The attention has brought both encouragement from around the world and some unwanted attention.

"National TV is a bit scary, especially when you know Ellen's audience is so big. We wanted to make sure that we not only represented our story, ourselves, our family, but that we were also a good face for LGBTQ families," Justin says.

"What's really been upsetting is that a lot of international outlets—and even some local—are running stories about us that we didn't even know about," Justin says. Some publications have, without permission, used a frame from a local TV story that shows Emmett's face.

"I don't have a chance to tell them, 'You're not allowed to run my child's photo.'"

Adam says he was particularly affected by strangers' speculation about whether or not the couple deserved the gifts, arguing that there are other families out there with more need.

"No one knows the volume of work that has had to go in to make this happen," he says. The couple’s pregnancy expenses increased the moment they learned they would have triplets — each child carries an additional surrogacy fee—and continued to grow with the high-risk pregnancy and complications with the surrogate’s health after birth.

"That $10,000 isn't even 10% of what we owe," he says.

Even though the birth of their children made news around the world, the couple hesitated to tell anyone when they first learned they were expecting. A miscarriage last year had left them weary of sharing the news too soon.

"We told our families a year prior when we were pregnant—and it's just really hard to make the calls back and say you're not pregnant anymore," Justin says. "I think with the triplets, we just wanted to focus on making sure that everything was going right — making sure that they were healthy, making sure that they were growing right."

They told their employers first, out of necessity. They would need to save up the whole year's worth of time off and use it all at once to stay home with their newborns as long as possible.

Then they told their immediate family and each of their best friends. And so although only a few people knew it at the time, they quietly began preparing to grow their family.

"We've learned through the process you have to be joyful when you're to be joyful," Justin says. They moved to a home in the suburbs that was more affordable for a big family than their downtown Chicago home. When they found a good sale on baby clothes or diapers, they would stock up.

The couple welcomed three healthy babies in June.

"In the beginning, because they were born early, they had to eat every three hours," Justin says. That would take about an hour. Then they would need to go down for a nap.

"Then you would have, like, an hour. You could go take a quick nap or get one thing done."

Around the clock, the couple worked together like a team — a very sleep-deprived team — to keep the newborns fed, bathed and their diapers changed. Adam's parents came to live with them temporarily to help.

They began early sleep training after two and a half months. Now the babies "work" during the day, practicing with tummy time, sit-me-ups or play mats. They still eat every three hours while the sun is up.

"About six in the evening is the witching hour for the kids, so we'll kind of take them for a walk in the neighborhood," Justin says. The family walks for about an hour and returns for the babies' final feeding before their eight o'clock bedtime.

They only eat again at four in the morning. Though the feedings are fewer, they're still logistically complicated with two parents and three babies.

First, for that early morning meal, they'll grab the two most in need of feeding. Then, while one dad feeds the third kid, the other heads to the kitchen to sterilize bottles.

"We'll use that 30 minutes to get our housework done for the day," Justin says. "I think it would be impossible for us to go through a day without a schedule. Because if we didn't, we would always be feeding, we would always be changing diapers."

The couple has returned to work and relies on a nanny four days a week and Adam's parents on Fridays.

"It's a new type of exhaustion where you're just kind of zombie-like. You have to function, so you do," Adam says. “We’re now eight-o’clock-bed people and five-o’clock morning people, which I never thought I would be."

The babies are now old enough that they watch their dads as they walk around the room. All the late nights, exhaustion and financial woes fade away, if just for a moment, when one of the babies looks up and smiles at their daddy.

"That's kind of your first reward, when they start smiling at you," Justin says.

Show Comments ()
Gay Dad Life

Internet Conflicted About Advice Given to Closeted Gay Dad in the Guardian

Ok fellow gay dads: if you were the advice columnist at the Guardian, what would you have said?

Recently, in a post titled "I met my girlfriend's parents – and realized I once slept with her father," a man wrote into the advice column at the Guardian with the following predicament:

"Five years ago, I went through a bi phase and used to sleep around with pretty much everyone that came along, including other men. This changed when I fell in love with my new partner, who is everything to me. I recently met her parents and halfway through lunch realised that I had slept with her father. I was going to propose, but when my partner and her mother were away, he told me to end it with his daughter. I'm obviously in love – shall I just ignore him, or tell my partner?"

Pamela Stephenson, the Guardian's columnist, responded as follows:

"I am not sure you could ever have a comfortable future with your new partner. To tell the truth would be to court disaster: a probable break-up, plus the risk of a permanent rift between father and daughter and father and wife. Hiding the truth would lead to toxic secret-keeping that could be equally destructive in the long run. If this whole family was as open-minded and sexually open as you, it might be possible for you to become part of it. However, the father – your former lover – has made it clear that you will not be welcome. Walk away now, and avoid the massive pain that would otherwise be inflicted on your partner, her family and yourself."

Not all commenters agreed with Stephenson's advice.

"Assuming your girlfriend knows that you were bi until falling in love with her and that you slept with everybody in your path [which she deserved to know up front anyway] then you can give HER the option what to do with this bond, rather than leaving the choice to her dad," said one commenter.

Another said, "Walking away without explaining why would be callous and also allow the father to escape the possible consequences of his actions."

It's worth noting that none of these commenters, nor the columnist, are or will ever be gay dads, whose perspective on this bizarre situation may be uniquely valuable. Many gay dads have become fathers while still in the closet. And even those who became dads after coming out can still sympathize with the detrimental impacts of the closet on our lives and those of our families.

So what say you, gay dads, about this man's predicament?

Gay Dad Life

These Gay Dads Know How to Make Holidays Extra Super Special

Adam and Josh got engaged on Good Morning America on Valentines Day, and welcomed their Christmas miracle baby into their lives on December 26th

Picture this: Valentine's Day 2015, Adam and Josh Klocke were among 24 other couples ice skating in Bryant Park as part of a Good Morning America segment. Lara Spencer was hosting while Christina Perri sang "A Thousand Years" on top of a piano. Midway through, she stopped and Lara reported technical difficulties. This was the cue that the knowing members of each couple had been waiting for. They each dropped to one knee and asked for their partner's hand in marriage. Adam recalls, "It was such an amazing experience that we will never forget." 18 months later, they were married.

While their engagement was a life-changing experience, another for the husbands was welcoming their Christmas miracle, Baby K, via adoption on December 26, 2018. She was just two days old. Here's their story.

Keep reading... Show less
Change the World

Meet the Gay Dad Running For Common Council in South Bend, Indiana

Move over Mayor Pete Buttigieg! South Bend, Indiana may soon have another gay politico in the form of Alex Giorgio-Rubin, a dad of a 12-year-old adopted son.

You've probably heard of Pete Buttigieg, the young gay mayor running to be the Democratic nominee to challenge President Trump in 2020. But the town of South Bend, Indiana, may soon have another gay politico rising star in the form of Alex Giorgio-Rubin, a dad to a 12-year-old son.

Alex is running for a seat on South Bend's Common Council, in part, he says, to help make all families – including ones like his own – feel welcome.

As an out, married, gay dad, living in a Jewish household, raising a son who is on the Autism spectrum, Alex feels he can offer a unique perspective. "We come from the state that produced Mike Pence," said Alex. "We come from the state that made national headlines because of a bill that would allow businesses to discriminate based on sexual orientation; it's fair to say that the cards are stacked against my family, and many, many other families like mine."

Alex, who is currently a stay-at-home dad raising his adopted son, 12-year-old Joseph, is married to Joshua Giorgio-Rubin, a Senior English Lecturer at the Indiana University of South Bend. The two have been together for six years.

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Family Stories

This Women's History Month, Gay Men Honor the Gals Who Help Make Them Dads

Each and every man becomes a dad with the help of a woman. We asked gay dads to honor one who helped them along in their path to parenthood to help us celebrate women's history month.

Each and every one of us became (or will become) a dad with the help of a woman--more often than not, with the help of multiple women. So this Women's History Month, we choose to celebrate these women by asking you to tell us a bit about them. Enjoy these inspiring stories below. Want to honor a woman in your life who has helped you become a dad? Tell us about her at

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Life

Gay Dad Settles Discrimination Suit Against LA-Based School

A single gay dad claims an LA-based school did not adequately protect his two daughters who were reportedly bullied on account of his sexual orientation.

According to MyNewsLA, a single gay dad settled his suit against an LA-based school, Pressman Academy of Temple Beth Am. The man, who is unidentified, alleged that his two daughters were discriminated against in the school on account of his sexual orientation.

Identified only as "John Doe" in the complaint, the single gay dad reportedly grew up in Israel and chose Pressman Academy for his daughters "because it is supposed to be the best school that would instill those same values in his children." The school apparently took issue, however, with John Doe's sexuality.

According to the suit, teachers and other staff members at the school repeatedly asked the sisters to bring a "woman figure" to the school's Mother's Day celebration, for instance. School staff also did not intervene to prevent bullying of the daughters, one of whom was reportedly called an "orphan" because she lacked a mother, and teased to the point of telling a school therapist that she was contemplating suicide.

The terms of the settlement were not made public but the girls, thankfully, now attend another school.

Change the World

This British Olympian Is Retiring to Fight for the Rights of His Gay Dad

British gold medalist Callum Skinner says his "heart sunk" when his father offered to hide his sexuality from the media during the 2016 Rio Olympics

In a recent article, OutSports reported that British cyclist Callum Skinner is retiring from the sport in order to focus on fighting for the rights of his gay dad and the broader LGBTQ community.

Skinner, who is an Olympic gold medalist, had already been taking a break from racing due to some health complications, but said in a recent post on his website that he's excited to use this time to to be an ally to the LGBTQ community.

He wrote in part: "As some of you will know, I'm particularly passionate about giving back to sport, using my profile for good, whether that's in supporting the long overdue reform of sports governance, LGBT rights and encouraging people to get on their bikes. My focus and effort now lies in working in partnership with British Cycling to continue to make the athlete experience more human whilst still maintaining that performance mindset."

As OutSports reported, Skinner began talking more openly about his gay father in the lead up to the 2016 Rio Olympics, when his father offered to hide his sexuality to avoid any potential negative media attention.

"It was only around about the Games when my dad was signing up to the scheme with the [British Olympic Association], that he said to me, 'you know, I don't mind hiding the gay thing'" Skinner said. "It was at that point that my heart sunk. And then I thought, 'I've truly been hiding this'. So I decided that win, lose or draw, after the Games, this is something that I'm going to be more open about, because my dad shouldn't have to hide who he is."

Read the full article here.

Become a Gay Dad

New Dad Andy Cohen Is Back on Grindr

Andy Cohen, who is single, has been criticized for being on the gay dating app Grindr just a couple weeks after welcoming a newborn into his home

A recent Page Six article claims the What What Happens Live host, Andy Cohen, was "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.

Fortunately, others came to Cohen's defense. "You think once people have children they should just be celibate?" one person asked. "I support Andy and grindr!" said another. "We're all human bro!"

The only thing crazy to us about Andy Cohen being back on Grindr is that the app repeatedly kicks him off, thinking he's impersonating himself. So maybe better to try Scruff?

Fatherhood, the gay way

Get the latest from Gays With Kids delivered to your inbox!


Follow Gays With Kids

Powered by RebelMouse