Gay Dad Family Stories

Salt Lake Gay Couple Behind Viral Wedding Proposal Become Foster Dads

They've gone viral, appeared on Ellen, and were married by Queen Latifa. What can top all that? Fatherhood.

Photo credit: Tiffany Burke, Follow Your Art Photography.

Over 5 years ago, you might remember seeing an amazing proposal that took place in a Home Depot in Utah. With the help of close friends and family, Spencer organized an incredible flash mob to sweep Dustin off his feet. If you did see it, you're one of the 14 million viewers who did. (If you have been living under a rock, you can see the video below!)

The fiancés quickly became an overnight sensation thanks to this unbelievably romantic stunt. They even appeared on Ellen and were given engagement gifts. (You know you've made it once Ellen starts giving you stuff.) Dustin and Spencer were also part of a symbolic wedding ceremony with many other couples who were married during the 2014 Grammy's event, by Queen Latifa, while Macklemore sang "Same Love."

And for their next act? Fatherhood.


Almost two years after their marriage, in the spring of 2016, Spencer and Dustin Reeser-Stout started their journey to fatherhood. Surrogacy was financially out of reach for the husbands, and not necessarily their first choice, so they began thinking about adoption. Then, a close friend who worked for Utah Foster Care encouraged them to look into fostering.

"We mentioned that we were considering adopting, and he told us that they were pushing a huge campaign to get more people to sign up to foster," said Spencer. "There is a huge need as there are more kids in the system than available foster families."

At first, Spencer and Dustin were concerned that they would come up against challenges and prejudice as a gay couple, but their friend assured them that it wouldn't be an issue. So they started by attending a community event organized by Utah Foster Care. At the event, they listened to speakers explain the process, and heard a foster family give testimonials and share their experience. Spencer and Dustin left feeling inspired and ready to help.

"We both left that night, looked at each other in the car on the way home and said, 'Well, we're doing this aren't we!?'" Within a few weeks, they were sitting in their first training class - one that would take them over the 32 hours needed to become a licensed foster parent in the state of Utah - ready to start their journey.

They were licensed on the first Monday in August 2016, and by Thursday of the same week, they received a call from the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS). There were two little boys waiting for them at the Christmas Box House, a childcare agency in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Dustin loading up on last minute baby and child supplies


"The placement committee reviewed our file and felt like our home would be a good fit for them, but they had very minimal information to give me except for their names, ages and brief situation about why they were placed in the system. I had so many questions and I was in shock because I didn't realize we would be getting a placement so quickly! I immediately called Dustin to see if he was ready to become that "instant family" and if he felt right about the scenario, and there was no hesitation."

Spencer left work early that day and the couple went on a huge shopping spree to get everything they could think of to start caring for the young brothers. By 6pm, Spencer and Dustin pulled up to the Christmas Box house and went inside. They were taken to a foyer where they anxiously waited for the social workers to bring the boys out. "We heard crying and shuffling, and when the door opened, two little angels appeared," remembered Spencer. "Timmy*, Christiano's older half brother, looked at me with tears crusted all over his face, and walked straight to me with his arms out to be held. My heart broke and I started bawling." The social worker gave 11-month-old Christiano to Dustin and then they all moved to a small room for about 20 minutes to play and get acclimated to their foster dads before going home.

*Not his real name

Dustin (left) and Spencer with the boys in the back

That first night, it was a priority for Spencer and Dustin to get their sons into a structured schedule. They fed and cleaned Timmy and Christiano, got them into their new pajamas, brushed their teeth, sang songs and read stories before putting them to bed. "That has become our nightly routine ever since," said Dustin.

Throughout the two and half years of fostering, Timmy and Christiano's biological family was required to have weekly visitations with their sons. As the boys were part of a sibling group of six, including four half siblings, they would see their biological mom and dad, grandparents and the older siblings during these visits.

In the spring of 2017, Timmy's biological father completed his court-ordered requirements for reunification and was granted custody of his son again. "That was one of the most heart-wrenching experiences for all of us," said Spencer. "We sobbed the day we dropped him off."

Dustin with 5-week-old Demetrias

The separation was also incredibly hard on Christiano; he was one and a half at the time and did not understand what was happening. Christiano experienced anxiety and separation issues for almost a year as a consequence. "Even though the licensing process tries to prepare you for the emotions of reunification, it is still one of the hardest things we have ever had to do," explained Dustin. "We loved him as our own boy for nine months and had to send him back into a situation that was definitely going to cause him even more trauma, but that's the risk of foster care."

During the summer of 2017, Spencer and Dustin were getting ready for their lives to change again. Christiano's biological mother was going through her court-ordered process for reunification and the dads were preparing to reunite them. She had become pregnant with another little boy during the process and was full term. She gave birth to Demetrias in July, but after 5 weeks, DCFS called Dustin and Spencer and asked them not only to keep Christiano, but asked if they would be willing to take on a 5-week old baby boy. The dads didn't hesitate.

"Those first few months while caring for both Christiano and new baby Demetrias were probably the hardest months of our lives," shared Spencer. "I think we were finally able to relate to all parents in a way we never had before: sleepless nights, baby cries... Parenting infants is so hard."

On October 16, 2018, Spencer and Dustin finalized the adoptions of Christiano and Demetrias, after a two and a half year foster journey.

Photo credit: Tiffany Burke, Follow Your Art Photography.


"We had a huge celebration that day at our home with all of our family and friends," said Dustin. "We decided we would make it an official anniversary and call it our "Chosen Day" because it's the day we chose to become a family with these little angels." The dads plan to celebrate every year by doing something special to commemorate the experience.

The Reeser-Stouts have maintained contact with Christiano and Demetrias' biological family, and through their joint experiences, have become friends.

Photo credit: Tiffany Burke, Follow Your Art Photography.

As Spencer and Dustin shared, they've found the whole parenting situation at times very hard, especially on their relationship. "Our first year being dads was probably the roughest of our entire time together as couple," said Spencer. "Life changed dramatically and we lost ourselves to the new situation … we felt like daddy-hood consumed us and as miserable as I am making this sound, we really did struggle." Now the dads are happy to report that they're into the swing of things and they've learned to put themselves first, too, sometimes. They have a regular nanny who allows the dads to get out, make time for themselves and each other. "We are WAY better dads with a nanny!"

"It's just an honor to be living in a time that we get to be dads legally," continued Spencer. "When I was a kid, I always wanted to be a dad, and when I came out it was my biggest sadness thinking that I had to give that up to "be gay". Life just gets better and it makes me so happy to see more and more gay families visible in the community!"

From left to right: Spencer, Dimitrias, Dustin, and Christiano

Show Comments ()
Politics

Utah Court Rules Gay Couples Can't Be Excluded From Surrogacy Contracts

The Utah Supreme Court found in favor of a gay couple attempting to enter into a surrogacy contract.

DRAKE BUSATH/ UTCOURTS.GOV

Earlier this month, the Utah Supreme Court ruled that a same-sex couples can't be excluded from entering into enforceable surrogacy contracts, and sent a case concerning a gay male couple back to trial court to approve their petition for a surrogacy arrangement.

As reported in Gay City News, the case concerns Utah's 2005 law on surrogacy, which was enacted prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage in the state. As a result, the content of the law is gendered, saying that surrogacy contracts should only be enforceable if the "intended mother" is unable to bear a child. When a gay couple approached District Judge Jeffrey C. Wilcox to enter into a surrogacy arrangement, he denied them, arguing that the state's law only concerned opposite sex couples.

"This opinion is an important contribution to the growing body of cases adopting a broad construction of the precedent created by Obergefell v. Hodges and the Supreme Court's subsequent decision in Pavan v. Smith," according to GCN. "It's also worth noting that same-sex couples in Utah now enjoy a right denied them here in New York, where compensated gestational surrogacy contracts remain illegal for all couples."

Read the full article here.

Dennis McDonough and John Kihm have been together for over eight years and married since May 2015. Becoming dads was always part of their plan. In 2016, they became foster dads and during the following six months after becoming licensed, they cared for nine foster kids.

"We knew that we would be able to help children who were in need, children who were scared and had no where to go and no one to love them," shared Dennis. "We knew that somewhere along the process we would eventually have children who would need our love forever." Currently, the dads have four children, two of which they've adopted.

As this family has welcomed more children, helped reunite others with their biological families, and finalized two of their sons' adoptions, neither dad received any paid paternity leave.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular

"Under Their Spell": Congrats to all the Gay Dads Whose Families Grew in June!

Wishing all of these gay dads whose families expanded in May and June a lifetime of happiness! Congrats to everyone in our community on their recent births and adoptions!


Congratulations to dads Ben and Chris on the birth of their daughter Elizabeth!

Seattle husbands Ben and Chris welcomed daughter Elizabeth, May 18, 2019.

"We started our adoption plans last August an after getting all signed up with our agency, we were so lucky to match after only about a month and with a mom pretty close to us geographically!" shared Ben. "We've loved getting to know the birth mom and to go through this journey together, including being with her for her C-section and recovery."

Although the time in the hospital was exhausting emotionally and physically, the new dads couldn't have asked for better care or more accepting and accommodating medical staff. "When we finally met her and got to hold her, we were both in awe of how perfect she was. We're over the moon and under her spell 👨👨👧❤️"

Congratulations to dads Lance and Trevor on finalizing the adoption of their daughter Ava!

Lance and Trevan met in college in 2004 and knew right away that they were soul mates. "We always knew we wanted to be dads and started our adoption process in 2015." The Santa Monica dads welcomed little Ava into their lives in 2018.

"In our minds and hearts, she was ours from the moment we laid eyes on her," said Trevan. "Signing the final adoption papers was very emotional as it was the last step in a very long process. Seeing the smile on her face and her sweet baby giggles is the best thing about being her dad. She makes it easy and we are so lucky to be her dads."

"Our sweet Ava was worth the wait!"

Congratulations to dads Melton and Thomas on finalizing the adoption of their sons Gabriel and Braiden!

On May 17, Florida dads Melton and Thomas celebrated the adoption of their sons Gabriel and Braiden, who join sisters Summer, Kendra and Ashanti. This loving family was created through foster to adopt.

"They are siblings and have been with us since August 2017," said Thomas. "It's been a long journey we have been on with all the kids. But a sense of relief from all of the court hearings, case manger visits, guardian ad litem visits, but all worth it in the end to be able to serve as advocates for the kids."

"Most of all, adoptions provide permanency which every child deserves."

Congratulations to dads Paul and Ken on the birth of their daughter Charlotte!

A new family of four! Paul and his husband Ken welcomed daughter Charlotte in May and their dog Gigi is already a big fan.

"All we can say is that our journey to fatherhood was a true adventure which ended in the best possible way," said Philadelphia dad Paul. "We feel so blessed to be Charlotte's dads, and are inspired by all the other gay dads who paved the way before us."

"It felt so amazing to hold Charlotte for the first time - truly an awe-inspiring experience. The feelings of love are indescribable. She is a true "rockstar" and we are so proud of her."

Congratulations to dads Ned and James on finalizing the adoption of their son Aiden! 

DC dads Ned and James have been together 8 years and always knew they wanted to be fathers. Although the adoption process talk longer than they expected - about two years - Aiden arrived very suddenly, with less than a week's notice. "We were so excited to expand our family, all the short night and everything are so worth it."

The finalization was an exciting day for the family. "It was surreal, after all the waiting, to know he was official our son," said Ned. The celebrated with a nice lunch, and they're planning for a party with close friends and family soon.

Congrats to this forever family!

Congratulations to dads Ryan and Marcin on the birth of their daughter Lexi!

Baby Lexi joins older brother Liam and their dads couldn't be more thrilled! "Lexi joined our family through open adoption, but it was a pretty unique journey," shared Ryan. "We'd only been waiting three weeks when we got a call at 5pm Saturday that a little girl had been born at the hospital closest to our home and her birthmother had chosen us."

The dads weren't expecting to be matched so quickly and literally had nothing for a newborn. "Our village of friends rallied and bought us everything we needed to welcome her home." Twenty three hours after the initial call they brought her home. "The feeling of wholeness and total love was so intense the first time we held her. We knew she was meant to complete our family."

Congrats to this Houston family!

Congratulations to dads Mike and Sean on the birth of their daughter Emilia!

Mike and Sean always knew they wanted to be dads so they started their adoption journey last September. "It has been an emotional roller coaster until the time we were selected by our birth mom," said Mike. "We are so grateful to our birth mom because of her selfless love of this child made our dream come true, especially during the pride month of June."

"The first time we held our little one, it was love at first sight and we knew that it was all worth it and it was the best feeling in the world."

Congrats to this family of three from Orlando, Florida!

Congratulations to dads Adam and Taylor on the birth of their son Sawyer!

Adam and Taylor live in Lehi, Utah, and they began their fatherhood journey through the foster care system. After four years, they decided they were ready to adopt. Their adoption journey moved very quickly, and within a week they were matched. Baby Sawyer was born six weeks later!

"Having Sawyer has been the best," shared Adam. "She is so perfect and we could not be happier! Knowing that she is ours is something that is overwhelming and so exciting! The emotions that come with the journey are a roller coaster...but when she came there has been piece of mind!"

Congratulations to dads Billy and Joe on finalizing the adoption of their son Caleb!

Billy, Joe and Caleb with mothers / grandmothers and great-grandmothers.

Billy and his husband Joe live in Union Beach, New Jersey, and they recently finalized the adoption of their son Billy. "A friend of mine from high school found out she was pregnant and did not want more children and could not care for him so wanted us to adopt," said Billy.

The dads had let folks know that they were looking to adopt so it was, as they said, a "match made in heaven."

"It was a long journey but we were in close contact; we got to go to all the doctors appointments and I was the first one to hold him, skin to skin, in the hospital when he was born and haven't left his side since."

When the adoption was finalized, it felt like a weight had been lifted off their shoulders and a lot of anxiety melted away. "

When we finally got to the finalization date it was just a weight lifted off her shoulders and a whole lot of anxiety taken. "We were just so happy to know that this beautiful baby boy will be ours forever and always"

Fun

Gay Dad Penguins Strike Again! This Time in Berlin Zoo

The latest male penguins to care for an egg together are Skipper and Ping in the Berlin Zoo.

First, there was Roy and Silo — the two male penguins in the Central Park Zoo that served as inspiration for the famous children's book And Tango Makes Three. Then Magin Sphen got together in Sydney, where aquarium keepers gave the cocks (Calm down, that's what a male penguin is called!) a foster egg to care for.

And now, please welcome Skipper and Ping in Berlin to the latest list of gay dad penguins! As soon as the two emperor penguins arrived at the city's zoo, they set about trying to start a family, said Berlin Zoo spokesman Maximilian Jaege to DPA news.

"They kept trying to hatch fish and stones," Jaeger said.

So the zookeepers loaned the penguins an egg from a female penguin, who is apparently uninterested in hatching eggs on her own, according to the BBC.

Unsurprisingly, the gay penguins are killing it as parents. "The two male penguins are acting like exemplary parents, taking turns to warm the egg," Jaeger said,

Read the whole article on DPA here.

Change the World

Hungarian Company Raising Money for LGBTQ+ Organization with a LEGO® Heart

Startup WE LOVE WHAT YOU BUILD is helping combat misinformation and prejudice in Central and Eastern Europe

Guest Post from WE LOVE WHAT YOU BUILD

WE LOVE WHAT YOU BUILD is an innovative startup venture that sells LEGO® parts and unique creations. The core values of our company include social equality regardless of gender identity or origin. As LEGO® is a variety of colors and shapes, so are the people.

We all know that LEGO® is a brand that nearly everyone knows and likes between the age of 3 and 99 so this gives a great opportunity to connect unique LEGO® creations and Pride. We started a fundraising campaign for a Hungarian LGBTQ+ organization who's aim is to bring people closer to the LGBTQ+ community, they help to combat misinformation and prejudice regarding LGBTQ+ issues in Central- Eastern Europe since 2000.

You might know that gender equality and the circumstances of LGBTQ+ people is not the easiest in the former communist Eastern European countries like Hungary so this program is in a real need for help. For example a couple of month ago a member of the government said that homosexual people are not equal part of our society.

The essence of the campaign is when one buys a Pride Heart, a custom creation made of brand new and genuine LEGO® bricks the organization gets $10.00 donation so they can continue their important work. This Pride Heart is a nice necklace, a decoration in your home, and a cool gift to the one you love.

Keep reading... Show less
Entertainment

Single Gay Dad Featured on Season Three of GLOW

Actor Kevin Cahoon joins the Gorgeous Ladies of Wresting in Vegas as a single gay dad — and drag queen — on Season Three of the hit Netflix show

For a couple of years now, Hollywood has been obsessed with gay dad characters (and who can blame them?) But the latest show to get hip to a story line featuring gay man raising kids is Netflix's GLOW, which explores a female wresting troop in the late 1980s.

But GLOW is helping represent a gay character that rarely gets time in the limelight:the single gay dad. In Season three of the hit comedy — which stars Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin, and Marc Maron — actor Kevin Cahoon joins the case as Bobby Barnes, a single gay father who plays a female impersonator. (80s divas only, of course — Joan Collins and Babs among them)


"I've never done female impersonation," the openly gay actor told OutSmart Magazine, "so I tried to learn really quick. You will know them all; I was very familiar with all of them. There were plenty of talk shows and performances on YouTube to study. I learned that their breathing was very informative."

A single gay dad AND drag queen on television? It's about damn time if you ask us.

Read the full interview with Cahoon here.

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Thoughts and Prayers Aren't Working:​ One Father's Plea for Gun Reform

One gay dad's plea to our leaders to enact sensible gun control

My articles on GaysWithKids aspire to be lighthearted, helpful and humorous. This one won't be any of those things. Because I'm feeling heavyhearted, helpless and sad. Last week I woke up to news of yet another mass shooting. This time at a family-friendly Garlic Festival in northern California. I don't know if it's because this one hit so close to home, or if it's because the headline included a picture of the innocent 6-year old who was among those killed, but I am overcome with emotion. But mostly I am angry. And I don't know what to do with my anger.

Then, just a few days later came two additional horrific mass shootings that stole the lives of at least 32 more innocent people, many of them children. And then there's the "everyday" gun violence that plagues American cities like Chicago, where guns injured another 46 people this past weekend alone… creating so much turmoil, a hospital had to briefly stop taking patients.

How does one verbalize the collective sadness felt around the world? One can't. And that's why I am asking everyone reading this article to commit to getting involved in some way, to help end this epidemic once and for all. Even though the solution is so obvious, we can't allow ourselves to become numb to mass shootings. Because becoming numb isn't going to save anyone.

Keep reading... Show less

Fatherhood, the gay way

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

Follow Gays With Kids

Powered by RebelMouse