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

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Mormon Church Reverses Decision on Children of LGBTQ Parents

The Mormon Church's controversial policy labeling LGBTQ couples "apostates," and refusing to baptize their children, has been reversed

In November 2015, the Mormon Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) announced a new policy decision that shocked many in their community: not only would same-sex married couples be considered "apostates," but even their chilren would be barred from receiving church blessing and baptisms.

The move was immediately met with backlash. Some allies resigned from the church in protest. Others stood by the church's decision, creating chasms within families. According to the Salt Lake Tribute, some even committed suicide.

Yesterday, the church did an about face: just three and a half years after first announcing its policy, children of LGBTQ parents can now be baptized and same-sex couples are no longer "apostates." (Though "homosexual acts" are still very much a sin.)

The move was announced by Fallin Oaks, a "counselor" to the church's President, Russell M. Nelson. He said in part:

"Previously, our handbook characterized same-gender marriage by a member as apostasy. While we still consider such a marriage to be a serious transgression, it will not be treated as apostasy for purposes of Church discipline. Instead, the immoral conduct in heterosexual or homosexual relationships will be treated in the same way."

Additionally, the statement said: "Effective immediately, children of parents who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender may be baptized without First Presidency approval. If the custodial parents give permission for the baptism and understand both the doctrine that a baptized child will be taught and the covenants he or she will be expected to make."

The reaction has been widely applauded by LGBTQ advocates and allies:

"We celebrate with the courageous members within the Church of Jesus Christ of Ladder Day Saint who shared their stories and lives," Troy Williams, Executive Director of Equality Utah said in a statement. "You were heard, and today marks a positive step in teaching our young people we all have value."

But, he cautioned, there is still much work to do to create a welcoming space for LGBTQ people, and parents, within the Mormon Church: "We have work yet to do in order to ensure young LGBTQ people and the children of LGBTQ people understand their tremendous value, and this is an important part of that journey."

The church's move follows other welcome news in the Beehive State: earlier this week, the states' Republican Governor Gary Herbert signed a hate crimes bill inclusive of LGBTQ people.


Change the World

Bill Allowing Discrimination Against LGBTQ Adoptive Parents Advances in Tennessee

Tennessee's anti-LGBTQ adoption bill still needs to be passed by the State Senate and signed by the Governor before becoming law.

Just this past week, we received the good news that Michigan will no longer permit state welfare agencies to discriminate against LGBQT parents in adoption proceedings, bringing the total number of states with so-called "religious freedom" exemption down to 9.

However, anti-LGBTQ advocates in two states, Tennessee and Arkansas, are both attempting to pass similar statewide "religious freedom" bills. The effort in Tennessee just received a major boost after passing the state's House of Representatives on Monday. The bill still needs to be passed by the Senate and signed by the Governor, both of which are currently controlled by Republicans.

Chris Sanders, the executive director of Tennessee Equality Project, put out a statement saying, "If this bill becomes law, same-sex couples, people of various religious beliefs, and people with no religious beliefs now face the prospect of being turned away from adoption agencies that they helped fund because they are labeled morally or religiously objectionable, which leaves children and youth with longer wait times for permanent homes."

Will be sure to keep readers posted as the story unfolds in both Tennessee and Arkansas.


Gay Dad Family Stories

Fatherhood Came Without Warning for These Two Young Gay Dads

Johnny and Adam were in their early 20s and had just started dating when a family friend asked if they could take a four-year-old boy into their home

When Johnny Guzman Tarango and Adam Tarango met in 2012, introduced by a mutual friend, they were both seeing other people at the time. What began as friendship quickly became passionate after breaking with their respective boyfriends to be with each other. Johnny was 20 years old and Adam was 21. The couple called Phoenix, Arizona home. Both were young, carefree, and very much in love.

Although Adam wanted to be a dad someday, Johnny was undecided. In January 2014, the couple were confronted with one of the biggest decisions of their lives: fatherhood.

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Gay Dad Life

Inside the Weird World of Expectations for Gay Dads

At social gatherings with other parents, Grant Minkhorst finds he's often the only father in the room

In my two months as a parent, I've had the pleasure of meeting a lot of new parents. As a gay dad, I am the one signing up for little activity groups and social gatherings with other new parents. I am often the only father in the room. I find myself trying to "fit in" by discussing all of the things that new moms talk about: nap schedules, feeding, baby gear and "that the sidewalks are too narrow!" But there are some topics of conversation to which I cannot contribute (e.g., breast feeding). As a social person, this can leave me feeling a little isolated, almost as if I exist just outside the real parenting bubble. Because being a mom is different.

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Change the World

Three Eagles, Two Male one Female, Form Nontraditional Family

Three bald eagles in the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge are sharing a nest and incubating eggs together

According to the Advocate, three bald eagles — two male and one female — are sharing a nest and incubating eggs together.

"Families come in all shapes and sizes, and that's true for wildlife too!" wrote the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services on Facebook. "Meet Valor I, Valor II and Starr, a breeding trio of bald eagles that live along the Mississippi River in Illinois. For several years, fans from all over the world have been watching this nontraditional family through a webcam as the eagles deal with the trials and tribulations of parenting."

The thruple came to be in unique way. "The nest was originally inhabited by Valor I and another female eagle named Hope," wrote the Advocate. "Initially, Valor I had poor parenting skills — he didn't hunt or guard the nest while Hope was away. Valor II entered the nest in 2013 to pick up the slack — and taught Valor I some parenting skills in the process. Hope left the nest in March 2017 after she was injured by other birds. But instead of going off to find new mates, the male eagles decided to stick together until Starr joined their nest in September 2017."

Though rare, this isn't the first time that a trio of eagles have come to share nests in this way. According to USA Today, other trruples were have been spotted in Alaska in 1977, in Minnesota in 1983 and in California in 1992.

Check out this family below!


Trio Eagle Cam Stewards of the Upper Mississippi River Refuge Live Stream www.youtube.com

Gay Dad Life

In the U.K.? Join These Dads at Events Supporting LGBTQ Parents!

The dads behind the blog TwoDads.U.K are ramping up their support of other LGBTQ parents. Check out these events they're a part of!

What a couple of years it's been for us! When our daughter Talulah was born via UK surrogacy back in October 2016, we decided to take to Instagram and Facebook to document the parental highs and lows. Little did we expect for it to be where it is now. We always had the ambition to help other intended fathers understand more about surrogacy, and we also had the added driver to do our best to influence others – help open some of the closed minds with regards to same-sex parenting.

Here we are now, pregnant again with our son which we revealed Live on Facebook! We're due in August, we're now writing several blogs, social media influencers and launching a new business focusing on our main mission to support others and being advocates for UK surrogacy. It's no wonder we're shattered!

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Change the World

These Guys Are Proof: Bisexual Dads Exist!

Far more LGBTQ parents fall into the "B" category than any other. Here are three of their inspiring stories.

A couple months ago, Gays With Kids received the following message via one of our social media channels:

"Hey guys, love what you do. But where are your stories about bi men who are dads? Do they not exist? I get the sense from your page that most queer dads identify as gay. I identify as bi (or pansexual) and want to become a dad one day, but just never see my story represented. Are they just not out there?"We can say with resounding certainly that YES bisexual dads absolutely exist. In fact, of all the letters in our acronym, far more LGBTQ parents fall into the "b" category than any other.

But our reader is certainly right in one respect--we don't hear the stories of bisexual/pansexual dads told nearly often enough. While we occasionally find stories to tell about bi dads, like this great one from earlier this year from a dad who just came out, we otherwise aren't often finding stories of bi dads nearly as easy as we do gay dads. We're sure this is due to any number of reasons--societal pressure to stay closeted from both the straight and LGBTQ communities along with erasure of bisexuality both come to mind.

But it's also because we haven't done the best job reaching out specifically to the bi dad community! We hope to start changing that, starting by bringing you the stories of three bid dads in our community.

(Are you a bi dad? Click here so we can help tell your story and increase exposure for the bi dad community, or drop us a line at dads@gayswithkids.com!)

James Shoemaker, bisexual dad of three, in Alton Illinois

James Shoemaker, who is 65-years-old and lives in Alton, Illinois, says he's known he was bisexual since the age of five. Still he lived what he called a "happily socially heterosexual" life throughout his adolescence, until he had his first same-sex experience in college at the age of 18-years-old.

In his 20s, he began his first same-sex relationship with a man, which lasted about five years. But soon the conversation turned towards children. James wanted his own biological children, something that would have been difficult, particularly at the time, to achieve. He and his boyfriends split, and soon after James met the woman who would become his wife. Since he had previously been in a relationship with a man, and his friends and family were aware of his sexuality, there was no hiding his bisexuality from his wife. There was no hiding my bisexuality from her

"We were both in our 30's, and both wanted kids," James said. "Wo were both kind of desperate to find a partner and she expressed that."

He and his wife proceeded to have three daughters together and lived what he called a fairly "conventional" life. "There was so much societal support [for raising a family] within conventional marriage," he said. "This was new to me, since I came out at age 17, and was used to being "different".

Being in a relationship with a woman, James said, alienated him from much of the LGBTQ activism that began to take hold in the 1980s and 1990s. "I felt I could not act as a representative for gay rights while married to a woman and raising kids with her," he said.

When his youngest daughter turned 18, he and his wife split and, and James began, once again, to date other men. Eventually, he met Paul Mutphy, who he has been dating for four years. Since reentering the world dating another man, he's had to confront, at times, people's misconceptions about his bisexuality. "It's not just gay guys looking for more social acceptance," James said, noting that "Bi rights" has not really caught the public's attention in the same way as "gay rights".

Maxwell Hosford, bi trans dad of one, in Yakima Washington


Maxwell Hosford, who lives in Yakima, Washington, came out as bisexual when he was 13-years-old. "I was still questioning myself," he said "and the term bisexual seemed to fit me."

A year later, when he was 14, Maxwell also came out as trans. "I had heard about Chaz Bono on the radio one morning before school and it got me thinking," he said. "I realized that I wasn't the only one who felt that way and that there was a term for how I've felt."

Though people often conflate sexual orientation and gender identity, Maxwell stressed that he sees his identity as trans and bisexual as perfectly natural. "I see them interacting in a way of fluidity," he said. "Not straight but not gay. Just a feeling of love."

Maxwell described his path to parenthood as a bit of an accident. "I was on testosterone for two years but had a four-week break because i was switching doctors," he said. During that break, Maxwell ended up getting pregnant, and wasn't aware of the pregnancy for several months after. "I just thought my body was just being weird from starting T again," he said. Once he took the test and saw the two pink lines, though he knew his life was about to change forever. He went to Planned Parenthood the very next day.

Being pregnant while trans, Maxwell said, was an incredible experience. "I was comfortable enough with my gender identity that I didn't have very much dysphoria," he said, though he noted he did face a lot of misgendering from strangers. "But I understood that because I did have a big ole pregnant belly," he said. He was grateful for his medical team who all referred to him according to the correct pronouns.

Soon after, his son Harrison was born. As soon as he held him in his arms, Maxwell said the entire process was worth it. "All the misgendering, all the questions and people misunderstanding doesn't matter once you have that baby in your arms nothing matters but that little bundle of joy."

Three years ago, Maxwell met his current fiancé, Chase Heiserman, via a gay dating app, and the three now live together as a family. He says he couldn't be happier, but he does face some difficulty as a bi trans man within his broader community. "In some peoples eyes my fiancé and I are a straight couple because I'm trans and he's cisgender," he said. Some of the difficulty has even stemmed from other trans men. "I've had some bad comments from other transmen regarding my pregnancy and how it doesn't make me trans," he said, noting he continues to fight the perception that he is not "trans enough" because he chose to carry his own baby.

Through it all, though, Maxwell says becoming a father has been the biggest blessing in his life. "Being able to carry my baby and bond through those nine months was amazing," he said. "I'm breastfeeding, which is hard as I'm trans, and so I'm self conscious of my large breasts now but it's such a bonding experience that it doesn't matter when I see the look of love and the comfort he gets from it."

For other gay, bi and trans men considering fatherhood, Maxwell has this simple piece of advice: "Go for it."

Michael MacDonald, bi dad of two, in Monterery California 

Michael MacDonald, who is 28-years-old and living in Monterey California, says he came out as bisexual over two years ago. He has two daughters, who are four and two-and-a-half years old, that were born while he was married to his ex-wife. "My children are amazing," he said. "They have been so incredibly strong and brave having mom in one house and dad in another."

Both children were fairly young when Michael and his ex separated, so "they didn't really break a deeply ingrained idea of what a family unit is like. They have always just sort of known that mom and dad don't live together."

Co-parenting isn't always easy, Michael said, noting it's "one of the hardest things in the world." He and his ex overcome any potential difficulty, though, by always putting the children first. "As long as they are happy, healthy and loved, that is all that matters," he said. "I'm so fortunate to have such an incredible/pain in the butt partner to help me raise these amazing little girls."

Though the separation was hard on all of them, Michael said it's also been an amazing experience watching his children's resiliency. "I am so proud of the beautiful little people they are," he said. "Their adaptability, courage and love is something really spectacular."

Since the separation, Michael hasn't been in a serious relationship, but he has dated both men and women, something he says has been "absolutely challenging. Not only does he need to overcome all the typical challenges of a newly divorced parent ("Do they like kids? Would they be a good stepparent?") but also the added stresses of being bisexual. "It can sometimes just be a bit too much for some women to handle," he said.

He has been intentional about making sure his children have known, from a young age, that "daddy likes girls and boys," he said. "They have grown up seeing me interact with people I've dated in a romantic way, like hand holding, abd expressing affection, so I think as they get older it's not something that will ever really seem foreign or different to them to see me with a man or woman," he said.

In his dates with other men, Michael says most guys tend to be surprised to learn that he has biological children. "But once I explain that I am bisexual, it's usually much more easily understood," he said. He is more irritated, though, when people question or outright refuse to recognize his bisexuality. "While I understand and have witnessed many guys who use bisexuality as a "stepping stone" of sorts when coming out," he said, it does not mean that "bisexuality is not real or valid."

As a bisexual dad, he also says he can feel isolated at times within the broader parenting community. "It can be a little intimidating feeling like you don't really belong to one side or another," he said. "There's this huge network of gay parents, and, of course straight parents. Being sort of in the middle can sometimes create a feeling of isolation"

The biggest misconception about bisexual dads who have split with their wives, he said, is that sexual orientation isn't always the reason for the separation. "When my ex wife and I separated, while my bisexuality did play a small part in it, it was not the reason we separated," he said. He added that while life might not be perfect, it's good. "My children are happy, healthy, and loved," he said. "That's really what matters the most."

Fatherhood, the gay way

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