Gay Dad Life

Gay Dad Benjamin Carpenter is Britain’s Adopter Champion of the Year

When he started his adoption journey a decade ago, Benjamin Carpenter was the youngest gay adopter ever in his municipality. Now, the 31-year-old single dad has four kids and is considering adopting a fifth.


The organization First4Adoption named Benjamin Adopter Champion of the Year during the UK's National Adoption Week late last year. The award catalyzed a flurry of attention on Carpenter and his family, prompting him to assign pseudonyms to each of his kids.

Each of them has special needs: 8-year-old Jack is autistic and has autism-related OCD. Ruby, 5, has Pierre Robin syndrome, a visual impairment, scoliosis and limited use of her arms as a result of missing radius bones. Lily, Ruby’s 3-year-old biological half sister, is deaf and uses British Sign Language (BSL) to communicate. Newly adopted 1-year-old Joseph has Down syndrome and uses a colostomy bag.

Benjamin approaches each child's needs as just part of who they are, not their defining characteristic.

"All my children have the, 'I have a disability. So what?' attitude," he says. They enjoy what he feels is a normal family life on the Huddersfield, United Kingdom, farm they share with resident rabbits, chickens, geese, ducks and peacocks.

"As of yesterday, the weather was lovely. They were playing in the garden from morning 'till night," he says. "Our life is so complete. They're complete with me and I'm complete with them, really," he says. While he fields the question “How do you manage?" quite often, Benjamin says it’s just what he’s meant to do — and so far, the kids have been relatively easy.

"I've been very lucky. I may get it when they become teenagers. Obviously they will have their own demons when they get older with their adoption."

He receives an adoption allowance from Social Services for each of the children since they have special needs, allowing him to stay at home full-time aside from teaching BSL in schools.

All the kids are learning to communicate with Ruby. Benjamin is teaching them Makaton, a simplified form of sign language, in lieu of BSL. Ruby’s difficulty moving her arms prevent her from forming the signs, so the sisters have learned to communicate in other ways.

"They do it through facial gestures and body language. It's quite fascinating to see, really, when they're together," Benjamin says.

In fact, Ruby has learned to do many things independently without the use of her arms. Whatever the challenge, Benjamin resists the urge to do it for her, instead talking her through doing it on her own.

"She's learned to adapt, so she'll use her legs or she'll use her mouth or chin to do it," he says.

The kids share a collective dream of making their way to Orlando, Florida and visiting Disney World.

“They want to do all the white knuckle rides when they’re older — and I can see them doing it, especially my son," Benjamin says.

Joseph’s adoption was finalized earlier this year. Benjamin is already talking about adopting a fifth child. But first, Joseph will undergo surgery to reverse his colostomy.

Joseph was given up for adoption by the parents when they learned he had Down syndrome rather than being taken out of their custody by the state as is the case with most foster kids. As a result, until the adoption was finalized, the parents retained nearly full parental rights.

Ben accepting his award

"They could, if they wanted to, have changed their mind," Benjamin says. Until the final court hearing, Joseph’s birth parents were so involved in his life that Benjamin had to consult about even the smallest decisions that affected Joseph — even taking him in for a haircut.

Since the adoption finalized early this summer, he's breathed a sigh of relief.

"The fact of the matter is, he's now in a loving, stable [home]," he says. "The kids absolutely adore him. Jake is the first to go up to someone and say, 'This is my little brother!'"

Though he began seeking to be an adoptive parent four years prior, Benjamin wasn't matched with a child until 2010.

"I knew what I wanted, really, and it was quite difficult to adopt because I was out to prove myself," he says. Though same-sex adoption seems normal now, at the time, he felt himself under high scrutiny.

All he knew was that his first child, Jake, came from a rough background. Later, Benjamin learned Jake had autism and OCD. Experienced in working with adults who have "complex needs," Benjamin found his calling: Within two years, he was seeking to adopt another child with special needs.

When he's not spending time with his children, Benjamin works to educate other would-be adoptive parents.

“I do so many talks in my local [community] where I am — and when I first start my meeting with these prospective adopters, I ask them, ‘What are you looking for in adoption?’” he says. “Every adopter starts in their heads with what I call the Angelina Jolie or Madonna adoption — where everything is perfect.”

Many children over 4 years old, and those with special needs, struggle to be placed with a family because they do not fit that mold. Benjamin shows them photos of his own children and tells his story — the good and the bad — and tries to dispel the notion of “normal.”

"For me it's about getting people to think outside the box."

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Gay Dad Life

Karamo Brown Co-Writes Children's Book with Son, Jason

The 'Queer Eye' star and his son named the story on a family mantra: You are Perfectly Designed

When his sons, Jason and Chris, were young, "Queer Eye" Star Karamo Brown repeated the same saying to them: "You are perfectly designed."

That mantra is now a Children's Book, cowritten by Karamo and his 22-year-old son, Jason, who used to come how and "say things like, 'I don't want to be me, I wish I was someone else, I wish I had a different life." As a parent, that "broke my heart," Karamo told Yahoo! Lifestyle. "I would say to him, 'You are blessed and you are perfect just the way you are,' as a reminder that you have been given so much and you should be appreciative and know that you're enough — I know that the world will try to tear you down, but if you can say to yourself, 'I am perfectly designed,' maybe it can quiet out some of those negative messages."

The illustrations, by Anoosha Syed, also make a point of displaying families of a variety of races and sexual orientations throughout the book.

Read more about Karamo's fascinating path to becoming a gay dad here, and then check out the video below that delves deeper into the inspiration behind "You Are Perfectly Designed," available on Amazon.



Gay Dad Life

The Suburban Gay Dad

Are you intimidated by the suburbs? This gay dad was — but then he moved there.

In a recent article for Yahoo! Lifestyle, Steve Jacobs says the thought of living in the suburbs as a gay dad "intimidated" him. But when he started fantasizing about garages, he began to question that notion. Any apprehension he had soon evaporated, he said, one winter morning while trying to navigate the snowy streets of New York City with a stroller.

While "pushing the stroller through snow banks and pools of slush with snowflakes stinging our faces," he wrote, "a vision came to me: I pictured us walking into a garage, hopping into a car, and arriving at a diner with 10 times less drama. This image planted the seed of moving to the 'burbs that I couldn't shake."

Soon, the family of four found a house in a town a half hour outside the city. "It had grass and a beautiful yard for our spirited kiddos. The schools were good. There were even good restaurants. The only red flag: Census data estimated only 0.1 percent of the population was gay male."

There were some "growing pains" while trying to make friends in this environment. "When we attended our first dinner party, within minutes the hostess went to the kitchen and the other wives followed her, while the husbands settled into the living room. Ira and I froze, looking at each other. In the city, our straight friends hadn't separated out like this for the evening. Should we stay with the dudes, exert our masculinity, and blow off the mom we liked? Or does one of us go with the wives and accept the personal branding that comes with that? We did a quick rock paper scissors in the foyer. Ira went with the wives."

But ultimately, "being a parent defined me more than I ever imagined it would," he wrote, and he settled in nicely to his new suburban life.

Have you had a similar adjustment, from city life to the suburbs? Tell us about it at dads@gayswithkids.com for an upcoming piece!

Gay Dad Life

"Fridays with Fitz": A New Kid's Book Based Upon the Son of These Two Dads

Tracey Wimperly, author of the new children's book, said she hopes to give a more honest portrayal of the role grandparents play in the lives of children.

Guest post Tracey Wimperly

I've recently written a children's picture book (aimed at 2-4 year olds) called "Fridays with Fitz: Fitz Goes to the Pool." Every Friday - when his two dads go to work - Fitz and his grandparents (my husband, Steve and I) head off on an adventure. Through the eyes of a curious and energetic 3 year old, even ordinary adventures, like riding the bus or foraging for fungus in the forest can be fun and magical.

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One Single Gay Dad's Trailblazing Path to Parenthood Via Surrogacy

20 years ago, Gene became the first single gay man to work with Circle Surrogacy in order to become a dad — trailblazing a path for many others since.

This article is part of our family feature series with Circle Surrogacy, a surrogacy agency that has been helping LGBTQ+ singles and couples realize their dream of parenthood for the past 20 years.

"I think I was pretty naïve, I guess," chuckled Gene, one of the first single gay dads to work with Circle Surrogacy over 19 years ago. "I just had made a decision and went out and did it, and wasn't really thinking about how difficult it might be or what other people thought, being first at doing something."

So how did Gene hear about surrogacy as an option for single gay men? Well, it began with Gene flipping through a bar magazine. He recalls seeing an ad about a woman providing a service to connect gay men with lesbians in platonic co-parenting relationships. While he started down that path, working with the founder, Jennifer, he remembers thinking, "What if I meet someone? What if I want to move? It would create all these complications."

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"Dadvocates" Gather in D.C. to Demand Paid Family Leave for ALL Parents

"Dadvocate" and new gay dad Rudy Segovia joined others in D.C. recently to educate lawmakers on the need for paid family leave for ALL parents

On Tuesday October 22, Dove Men+Care and PL+US (Paid Leave for the United States) led the Dads' Day of Action on Capitol Hill. A group of over 40 dads and "dadvocates" from across the states lobbied key member of Congress on the issue of paid paternity leave for *ALL* dads. They shared stories of their struggles to take time off when welcoming new family members and the challenges dads face with no paid paternity leave.

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Falling for Fall: 33 Photos of Gay Dads and Kids at the Pumpkin Patch

Oh my gourd, it's fall! To celebrate, we rounded up 33 pics (and whole lot of pun-kins) in our annual fall photo essay!

Don your checked shirt, grab them apples, and shine those smiles while perched on pumpkins — it's the annual fall family photo op! A trip to the pumpkin patch and / or apple orchard is a staple family fall outing, and we're here for it. 🎃🍎🍂👨👨👧👦

Thanks to these dads who shared their pics with us! Share your own to dads@gayswithkids.com and we'll add them to this post!

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Gay Dad Family Stories

David and Ben Met on the Dance Floor — and Are Now Grooving Their Way Through Fatherhood

David and Ben, who became fathers with the help of Northwest Surrogacy Center, live in Melbourne with their daughter, Maia.

In 2003, while both studying at Reading University in the UK, Ben Suter and David Cocks met after locking eyes on the dance floor and then being introduced by a mutual friend. Ben, a meteorologist and Operations Manager, and David, an Assistant Principal, have been together ever since. They moved to Australia together in 2010, seeking a different life, and an overall better work-life balance. The chose Cairns in Queensland as their new home, between the Great Barrier Reef and the tropical rainforest, "taking life a bit easier," said David. The couple were also married in June 2016, back home in England.

While David always wanted kids, Ben took a little convincing. So they started their parenting journey with a dog, Titan, who quickly became like their first born. From there, Ben came around rather quickly.

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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