Gay Dad Family Stories

This Couple of 27 Years Learned to Dream Big — and Became Dads to Twins

When Jamie and Kenny first met in 1992, marriage and fatherhood seemed laughable. But as the years progressed, so did their dreams.

Jamie and Kenny have been all over the world. To be precise, they have traveled to 66 countries. So far, they hasten to add. And they used to live in London. But in their own minds, they are still two small-town country boys from Louisiana.

Their story together started in 1992, when both men were young students (Jamie was born in 1974, Kenny is just six months older) from similar backgrounds at the same university in Louisiana. A mutual friend introduced them at a cafeteria, and they hit it off.

They hailed from very small and very religious communities that disapproved of homosexuality. Without any positive role models, Jamie and Kenny had internalized those negative views: The way they looked at their own lives, they assumed they would lead lives of ridicule, be unwilling to commit to one partner, would contract HIV and soon after die of AIDS.


When they found each other, they realized that a stable relationship was what they both wanted. In 1992, marriage and children weren't in the realm of possibilities; they weren't even thoughts.

Despite these challenges ­­–– some real, some imagined –– they stayed together through their college years. They threw themselves on their work. They moved to the big city, New York. And finally, with a work transfer for Jamie, they undertook a move to London. They even managed to obtain British citizenship and a few years ago they became, technically, British-Americans.

Meanwhile, the world had been changing for the better. Seeing more and more same-sex families, the men began to dream bigger and bigger. When marriage became a possibility, Jamie and Kenny had a wedding in Provincetown, Massachusetts, in September 2008.

From their home in London, they began envisioning a future for them as dads. They looked at several options. Their personal circumstances –– Americans living in the United Kingdom –– made adoption extremely complicated. Surrogacy then became the preferred way of creating a family. While they were saving money to cover the enormous costs of the entire process, they identified a fertility clinic in Idaho they wanted to work with; soon they found a surrogate in Illinois.

At the end of 2016 they and their surrogate became pregnant with twins, one girl, one boy. With the Atlantic Ocean between them, the pregnancy presented some particular challenges. Appointments with doctors in Illinois were attended via FaceTime and Skype. Other information was shared via phone, email or text message.

Before they embarked on their surrogacy journey, the men and their surrogate had made clear to each other what their expectations were and how they would communicate. As a result of that, and because of the relationships that they forged between them, their arrangement worked very well.

Of course, not all anxiety can be overcome that way. The men were very aware of the inherent risks, both to the surrogate and to the babies, of a twin pregnancy. Out of a desire to be physically closer to their surrogate, they struck a deal with their British employers that allowed them to work remotely from America. And only 10 days after they relocated to Chicago to be closer to their Illinois-based surrogate, their twins were born prematurely.

That day in July 2017 was the scariest and happiest day of their lives. And only when their kids were born, Kenny and Jamie finally felt complete.

The new family of four flew back to London where they remained until being transferred more permanently to New York City earlier this year.

James continued to work as a chief compliance officer for a British bank, while Kenny became a stay-at-home dad.

These twins, Grayson James and Elizabeth (Izzie) Grace Rials-McCullough celebrated their second birthday in July!

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Gay Dad Family Stories

This European Couple Became Dads Through a U.K.-Based Surrogacy Program

Janno, from Estonia, and Matthias, from Belgium, were accepted into the "Childlessness Overcome Through Surrogacy" Program.

Janno Talu, an accountant, and Matthias Nijs, an art gallery director, were born in different parts of Europe. Janno, 39, is from Estonia, and Matthias, 28, is from Belgium. Their paths crossed when the two moved to London, each from their different corners of the European Union.

Janno relocated to London earlier than Matthias, when he was 24, and his main reason for the move was his sexuality. "Although Estonia is considered one of the more progressive countries in Eastern Europe, when it comes to gay rights, it is still decades behind Western society in terms of tolerance," said Janno. "And things are not moving in the right direction." In 2016, same-sex civil union became legal, but the junior party in the current coalition government is seeking to repeal the same-sex partnership bill. "In addition," Janno continued, "they wish to include the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman in the country's constitution. Even today, there are people in Estonia who liken homosexuality to pedophilia, which is why I decided to start a new life in the UK, where I could finally be myself."

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

A Gay Dad Asks: Is Destroying an Embryo Similar to Abortion?

It's a question many LGBTQ parents using advanced fertility treatments will need to face — what to do with "left over" embryos.

Let me start off by saying that I have always been pro choice and support all laws that allow people to have full reproductive rights including safe and legal abortions. This is a complicated subject and not one that I ever thought I would really have to deal with on a personal level, especially being a gay man.

I remember a very heated discussion on abortion in my biology class back in university. I was young, idealistic and had very strong convictions about abortion. I was debating with a female classmate who was pro life. She felt there was no reason for an abortion ever, not even if raped by your own parent or sibling. I could not really understand her position, then or now. Don't get me wrong, I still don't agree with her, but now that I'm older and wiser, and also a parent, I have come to respect and accept opinions other than mine.

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Expert Advice

What's It Like When You're NOT the Bio Dad to Your Baby

Lauren Mello of Circle Surrogacy breaks down some of the challenges facing the gay dad who will *not* become the biological parent.

If you're a gay couple considering surrogacy, one of the first decisions you'll need to make together is who is going to be the biological father. When it's time to create your embryos with your egg donor's eggs, you have a few choices when it comes to which dad will be providing his biology: one dad only can provide his biology, both dads can provide their biology and leave the fertilization to chance, or both dads can provide their biology and fertilize half of the embryos with each dad's sperm. Some gay dads choose this third option if they plan to have twins, or more than one baby through surrogacy.

Once embryos are created, you'll decide which embryos will be transferred into your surrogate mother. Hopefully a pregnancy results, and you'll be on your way to fatherhood!

The question is: what's is like when you're NOT the bio dad to your baby? We spoke with a few dads through surrogacy from Circle Surrogacy & Egg Donation, about the emotions surrounding being a bio dad...and not being one.

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

A Gay Dad Gains Clarity After a Health Scare

A recent health scare helped give Erik Alexander clarity.

Sometimes fear can cripple the mind and hinder ones judgement. Having children of my own, I have come to grips with accepting the things I cannot change and learned to take action when there is no other choice. When it comes to my own personal health, the future and well being of my family gives me all the clarity I need to make the right decision about any kind of health scare.

This episode is dedicated to all the parents out there that are going through or have gone through similar situations.

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Surrogacy for Gay Men

Interested in Surrogacy? Check Out These Bay Area Events This Weekend

If you're in the Bay Area this weekend, two major events are happening that will be of interest for dads-to-be and surrogacy advocates: the Men Having Babies San Francisco Conference, and the SF Advocacy and Research Forum for Surrogacy and LGBT Parenting (ARF)

If you're in San Francisco or the surrounding area, clear your calendar this weekend. Two events are happening simultaneously that are significant for dads-to-be AND surrogacy advocates: the Men Having Babies San Francisco Conference, and the SF Advocacy and Research Forum for Surrogacy and LGBT Parenting (ARF). For an outlines of both events, check out below.

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News

Gay Dads Show Up at Boston Event to Drown Out Anti-Trans Protesters

When Trystan Reese found out protesters were planning to show up to an event in Boston he was presenting at, he put out a call to his community for help — and gay dads showed up.

A couple months ago, Trystan Reese, a gay, trans dad based in Portland, Oregon, took to Instagram to share a moving, if incredibly concerning, experience. Reese, who works with Family Equality Council, was speaking at an event in Boston, and learned before his appearance that a group of protesters were planning to attend.

"As a trans person, I was terrified to be targeted by anti-LGBTQ people and experienced genuine fear for my own safety," Trystan wrote. In response, he did what many LGBTQ people would do in a similar situation — reach out to his community in Boston, and ask for their support. "And they came," he wrote. But it wasn't just anyone within the LGBTQ community that came to his defense, he emphasized — "you know who came? Gay men. Gay dads, to be exact. They came, ready to block people from coming in, ready to call building security, ready to protect me so I could lead my event. They did it without question and without reward. They did it because it was the right thing to do."

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Change the World

Gay Dads Use 'TikTok' To Fight for Acceptance

Kevin and Ivo are fighting to normalize LGBTQ parents through TikTok, a growing social media platform

"Are we fearful we're going to turn our son gay?" Kevin DiPalma, a red-bearded man, asks the camera.

"No!" says Kevin's son, Nasim, says

"Are we worried about bullies when he gets to school?" Kevin asks next.

"Yes!" Nasim said.

Thus is the nature of the videos Kevin and his husband Ivo upload to their TikTok account, a widely popular and rapidly growing social media platform among young people.

Within 6 months, the family had 200,000 followers across their social media.

See a complication of some of their videos below!


Fatherhood, the gay way

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