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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Change the World

How "Easy" Is It, Really, for Gay Men to Become Dads?

It's never been easier for gay men to become dads, but a recent Washington Post article, which includes interviews with four gay parents, gives voice to some of the challenges that persist.

In recent weeks, with reports like this one in eWire.News, and famous gay dads gracing the cover of Parents Magazine for the first time, a perception is growing that it's now "easy" for gay men to be dads now. To examine this idea, Washington Post recently interviewed four gay men who have become fathers at some point in the past 10 years to examine their experiences. What they found is that, yes, it's easier than ever before for gay men to become dads. But we still face many more barriers than our straight counterparts.

None of these barriers will be news to any gay man who has become a father. But it's helpful that major publications like the Washington Post are now starting to recognize and give voice to them.

The first "finding" from their conversations is that gay men need more "money in the bank" that straight people. With the exception of adoption through foster care, "the financial costs are often tantamount to buying a car or even a house outright," the author notes.

The article also notes that gay men--and fathers in general--are given less paternity leave in the United States on average than many other countries. One of the dads interviewed for the piece, who adopted his sone through foster care, said he could only afford to take two weeks of paternity leave, which was " too short," he said. His son "struggled to see me as the paternal figure — I was just the guy who went to work and came home from work later. That's a struggle for most dads whether gay or straight — but I wish I had gotten more time just to bond with him."

Gay dads also must do more "emotional heavy lifting," the author notes, noting that many attend therapy for many months before taking the plunge. "We don't come to parenting by accident," another dad interviewed in the piece said. "We come to it by way of a lot of money, and with great intentionality. That is the commonality among gay dads with children."

A final common experience to many of the gay dads interviewed in the piece were annoyances dealing with strangers. "The thing that has been the most difficult are strangers who don't understand," one of the dads said. "They see us out with our son and we don't fit into their little box of what a family looks like. I've been asked whether Jeffrey and I mixed our sperm together in a cup. And that's rude, but as our son gets older, he is being shaped by a certain narrative about who he is."

Read the whole article here.

Gay Dad Family Stories

These Dads Have Simple Advice For Other Gay Men Considering Foster Care: Put the Kids First

Though it took a full year to become licensed foster dads, Robby and David say it was a "wonderful experience."

Fostering has changed the lives of many dads in the Gays With Kids community. Sometimes the outcome of fostering can be heartbreaking, and other times, it's been the most joyous and wonderful new beginning for our families. Often times, it's both.

Although all the stories are different, one piece of advice we hear time and time again is this: remove your ego and put the children first. That's the one piece of advice foster-adopt dad, Robby Swagler, would give to anyone considering fostering.

Robby met his husband David Swagler, both 30 years old, when they were in college at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio. They both loved kids and decided to become foster parents, inspired by the overwhelming number of children in the foster care system. They wanted to provide a loving home for a child in need.

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Change the World

Antwon and Nate On Their First Year As Foster Dads

"Whether she stays or not," say new foster dads Antwon and Nate, "we'll never be the same."

We have had our foster daughter for over a year, and everyday brings different challenges and victories. The biggest challenge has been the uncertainty of knowing if she will stay with us or not. It brings the back and forth of both emotionally trying to self-preserve and wanting to fight to have her be ours.

The victories are endless. She knows we are her people, and she's our little girl. I think about going back to the way things were, but it's impossible. Because whether she stays or not, we'll never be the same.

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Change the World

Breaking with Older Generations,  Most LGBTQ Millenials Say They Want Kids

According to new research by the Family Equality Council, the number of LGBTQ parents is expected to rise dramatically in the coming years

According to the LGBTQ Family Building Survey, recently released by the Family Equality Council, the majority of young LGBTQ say they are interested in becoming parent. This marks a dramatic shift when compared with the attitudes of older generations.

Among the survey's findings:

  • 63% of LGBTQ Millennials (aged 18-35) are considering expanding their families, either becoming parents for the first time, or by having more children
  • 48% of LGBTQ Millennials are actively planning to grow their families, compared to 55% of non-LGBTQ Millennials, a gap that has narrowed significantly in comparison to older generations
  • 63% of LGBTQ people planning families expect to use assisted reproductive technology, foster care, or adoption to become parents, a significant shift away from older generations of LGBTQ parents for whom the majority of children were conceived through intercourse.

Despite the expected increase in LGBTQ parents, most providers, they note, "do not typically receive training about the unique needs of the LGBTQ community; forms and computer systems are not developed with LGBTQ families in mind; insurance policies are rarely created to meet the needs of LGBTQ family building; and discrimination against LGBTQ prospective parents by agencies and providers remains widespread."

The Family Equality Council goes on to recommend that family building providers "from reproductive endocrinologists and obstetricians to neonatal social workers, family law practitioners, and child welfare workers" begin preparing now to welcome future LGBTQ parents.

Read the full report here.

Change the World

Gay Dads More 'Equitable' in Parenting Roles Than Straight Dads, Says New Study

Unmoored by gender roles, gay dads take equal parts in being "playmates, caregivers, protectors, role models, morality guides,

A new study conducted by Éric Feugé from the Université du Québec à Montréal observed 46 families, made up of 92 gay dads and their 46 children over a period of seven years.

The study, which Feugé says is the first of its kind, analyzed the roles gay dads take in raising their kids and found the way they parent is 'very equitable'.

'We learned that gay fathers' sharing of tasks is very equitable,' the researcher told the Montreal Gazette, who added there was a "high degree of engagement" by both gay dads in all types of parental roles. "What's really interesting is that they don't conform to roles of conventional fathers. They were able to redefine and propose new models of cultural notions of paternity and masculinity."

Unmoored by gender roles, gay dads take equal parts in being "playmates, caregivers, protectors, role models, morality guides,' the author said.

Read the full review of the research here.

Change the World

Don't F*ck With This F*g

After a homophobic encounter on the subway, BJ questions what the right response is, in an era of increasing vocal rightwing activists

On February 1, 2019, Frank and I went out on a date night, something we haven't done in a while. Our son was sleeping over at his grandparents for the night and we made plans with our friends to meet them for dinner downtown. We decided to save some money and take the subway into town instead of taking a taxi.

We boarded the subway and sat down opposite a couple, a man and woman. I noticed they looked at us as we boarded the train and began whispering to each other. Frank and I were talking to each other when I heard the man uttering under his breath, "F*$%ing faggots."

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Gay Dad Life

14 Gay Dad Families Show Their Love This Valentine's Day

These pics of gay dads smooching will warm the hearts of even the biggest V-Day skeptics

You might quietly (or loudly) oppose the commercialism and celebration of Valentine's Day, but let's just take a moment and rejoice in these beautiful signs of affection, shared between 14 awesome two-dad families. Cynicism gone? Good.

Happy Valentine's Day, dads! We hope you have a lovely day with your kids, your significant other, and / or friends. Because who doesn't love love!?!

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