Gay Dad Life

Cancer & Changing Surrogacy Laws Couldn't Keep This Gay Couple from Becoming Dads

Gabin Wu and Nathan Falkenborg are the proud dads of two beautiful daughters, Lily and Rosi, born July 2017. But their journey to fatherhood wasn't easy. Together 7 years, they have spent 5 of those years battling international surrogacy laws in order to become parents. During this time, Gabin also overcame a battle with cancer. Below, Gabin shares a bit about the young family's journey in his own words.


Written by guest blogger Gabin Wu.

Nathan and I have always wanted kids since getting married in November 2011. We started exploring surrogacy in Thailand in 2012 while we were both living in Singapore, and had lined up a family member to donate her eggs. We traveled to Bangkok, met with an agency, and were ready to get started. Then, things got complicated. The family member we had asked to be our donor was preparing for marriage, and her fiancé was not 100% onboard. So we pulled the plug, wanting to avoid any potential complication.

We then started looking at alternatives, such as compensated egg donors, but life took a slight turn. In mid 2013, the company I work for offered me a position in South San Francisco, California, and we relocated to the US. With a new job and international relocation we decided to put a hold on babies for a couple years, until we know where we would eventually settle down and lay roots.

In 2015, Nathan was offered a job in Singapore and we again relocated. Thinking we would eventually settle in Asia, we restarted the process of trying to have babies through surrogacy, but by this time commercial surrogacy had become illegal in Thailand. Our agency then moved operations to Cambodia and we made plans to get started there, which we quickly did. We had an egg donor selected, and started the fertilization process and had 2 embryos ready for implantation.

However, life got a little more complicated. I was diagnosed with stage 3 non-Hodgkin lymphoma. We decided to move back to the Bay Area for better medical care at UCSF. After completing 4 months of chemotherapy, I was fortunately cancer-free and in full remission by March 2016.

Gabin with Rosi and Lily

This time we had our minds and hearts set on starting the surrogacy process. It became a "now or never" thing. We implanted both embryos in one surrogate mother from Cambodia and eagerly awaited the results, she didn't get pregnant, so we were back where we started.

More determined than ever, we decided to try again with another egg donor. This time we had 11 embryos after fertilization. We also decided to double down on the number of surrogates - we implanted 3 embryos in 2 surrogates, hoping to get at least 1 successful implantation. We eagerly awaited the results. Not too much later, we learned that both surrogates were pregnant! Thinking we were looking at potentially 3 babies, we were a little nervous. The ultrasounds subsequently revealed that we had 1 fetus in each of the surrogates - phew!

Here's the kicker: The laws changed in Cambodia and commercial surrogacy became illegal in the country while we were already 3 months into the pregnancy. We scrambled to explore alternatives and our agency suggested we move the surrogates to Thailand for the birth and exit process. It was legal as it didn't involve Thai nationals - the surrogates were Cambodian and we were American. The US embassy in Thailand would issue US passports to our babies born abroad.

Nathan and Gabin doing skin-to-skin with their newborn daughters

That's where we are today. Lily was born on July 7 and Rosi was born 12 days later on July 19. We've applied for their US citizenship and had their DNA tested to prove parentage. We're now awaiting approval from the US embassy. We also received news that all single parent applications (only the biological father, since none of us are legally married to the surrogate mother) for children born abroad of US citizens are currently on hold due to a recent Supreme Court ruling around discrimination between time required for men being different from women for the application requirements. We've been told that the application would only be slightly delayed but that it would still eventually get approved.

It's been a long and tedious process, and an emotional roller coaster, but we're so thankful that we have two wonderful daughters and we can't wait to take them home to a house we just purchased and remodeled (in anticipation of the arrival of our daughters and our growing family) in Alameda, California.

Considering the journey into parenthood we've embarked on and the complications along the way, we were overwhelmed with joy when our daughters were born healthy and thriving. It's an emotion that I'm sure all new parents feel, though our journey was filled with more obstacles than most heterosexual couples would have to endure, much less gay dads! All in all we feel truly blessed and eternally grateful for being able to start our own little family and hope to do the best to raise our daughters and provide the best lives for them that we can.

Best word of encouragement to aspiring new dads: persevere! The journey any gay parent would have to undertake is inherently challenging in more ways than one. But if we made it work, despite our many hurdles, you certainly can too.

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Gay Dad Life

Dads Tell Us Their 'Gayest Moment Ever' as Parents

We may be dads — but we're still gay, damnit! And these "gayest moments ever," sent to us from our Instagram community, prove it.

Did your child know all the lyrics to Madonna songs by age 3? Do your kids critique all the red carpet lewks from the Tony Awards? Do you often have baby food, diapers, sparkling white wine, gourmet appetizer, and fresh cut flowers in your shopping cart — all in one trip? If you answered 'yes' to any of the above, you just might be... a gay dad.

We asked the dads in our Instagram community to share their gayest moments as a dad, ever, and their responses were just as hilarious as they were relatable.

Here's a great way to start the week...

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Gay Dad Photo Essays

How Single Dads Are Celebrating Valentine's Day This Year

Valentine's Day is not just for lovers! We caught up with 8 single gay dads to see how they plan to celebrate Valentine's Day with this year.

Valentine's Day is not just for lovers; it's also a day to celebrate our loved ones. And that's exactly what these single dads are doing.

Within our community, GWK has a large group of admirable, active, and awesome (!) single dads and we want to honor them! On Valentine's Day, they and their kids celebrate their family unit in the sweetest possible ways. We asked the dads to share these moments with us, and, where possible, one of the most heartwarming things they've experienced with their kids on Valentine's Day to date.

Hear their stories below.

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Gay Dad Photo Essays

11 Gay Couples Share Secrets to Their Long-Term Relationships This Valentine's Day

This Valentine's Day, we spoke with 11 gay dad couples who've been together for almost a decade or longer to learn what's made their relationships last

You're the peanut butter to my jelly, the gin to my tonic, the strawberries to my cream, the Mr. to my Mr.!

Happy Valentine's Day folks! We're excited to celebrate this day of lurrrrvvve by featuring a few dads in our community who've been together for almost a decade or more! And they're ready to share their secrets to a successful relationship and parenting partnership.

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Politics

Supreme Court to Hear Major Case Concerning LGBTQ Foster Care Parents

The Supreme Court agreed to decide whether cities are allowed to exclude tax-funded adoption agencies from foster care systems if they refuse to work with gay couples.

In 2018, city officials in Philadelphia decided to exclude Catholic Social Services, which refuses to work with LGBTQ couples, from participating in its foster-care system. The agency sued, claiming religious discrimination, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit unanimously ruled against the agency, citing the need to comply with nondiscrimination policies.

The case, Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, follows a 2018 Supreme Court decision regarding a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. In that case, the court narrowly ruled that the baker bad been discriminated against, on religious grounds, by the state's civil rights commission. It did not decide the broader issue: whether an entity can be exempt from local non-discrimination ordinances on the basis of religious freedom.

The court — whose ideological center has shifted to the right since the addition of Justice Brett Kavanaugh in fall 2018 — may choose to do so now. Advocates quickly called on the court to consider the potential impact on the more than 400,000 children currently in the foster care system:

"We already have a severe shortage of foster families willing and able to open their hearts and homes to these children," said Leslie Cooper, deputy director of the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project. "Allowing foster care agencies to exclude qualified families based on religious requirements that have nothing to do with the ability to care for a child such as their sexual orientation or faith would make it even worse. We can't afford to have loving families turned away or deterred by the risk of discrimination."

"It is unconscionable to turn away prospective foster and adoptive families because they are LGBTQ, religious minorities, or for any other reason unrelated to their capacity to love and care for children," said HRC President Alphonso David. "We reject the suggestion that taxpayer-funded child welfare services should be allowed to put discrimination over a child's best interest. This case could also have implications for religious refusals that go far beyond child welfare. The Supreme Court must make it clear that freedom of religion does not include using taxpayer funds to further marginalize vulnerable communities."

The court may choose to override a 1990 decision, Employment Division v. Smith, which created the current standard for carving out religious exemptions. In that case, the court ruled that laws that target a specific faith, or express hostility towards certain beliefs, are unconstitutional — but this standard has long been abhorred by religious conservatives, who think it doesn't offer enough protections for religions. If the court does overrule Smith, it could have far-ranging consequences. " As noted on Slate, "it would allow anyone to demand a carve-out from laws that go against their religion, unless those laws are 'narrowly tailored' to serve a 'compelling government interest.'"

The four members of the court's conservative wing — Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh —have all signaled an openness to reconsider Smith. The ruling's fate, then, likely rests in the hands of the court's new swing vote, Chief Justice Roberts.

For more, read the full article on Slate.

News

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."

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Politics

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."

Politics

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."

Fatherhood, the gay way

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