Gay Dad Family Stories

These Men Open Up on the Beauty and Challenges of Being Gay Foster Dads

Jay and Joe love being foster dads, but have faced discrimination as members of the LGBTQ community

"Every time a foster child would leave our home, we felt that maybe we couldn't do this anymore – the pain was too much," said foster-adopt dad, Jay. "And then we would take that time, focus on the other kids we were fostering, collect ourselves, and try to move on, but not forget." Jay and his husband Joe began fostering children before same-sex marriage was legal. They have fostered six children in total, and adopted two, 7-year-olds Tyler and Jason.

The adoption dates of their two sons bring a joyous memory for the family; a day they were celebrated and finally acknowledged as a forever family of four. Here's their story.


Jay and Joe Bostick met while living and working in Houston over seven years ago. In 2012, when federal marriage rights did not exist, they eloped to New York City and were married in City Hall. Shortly after returning to Houston, they began their training to become foster parents. "Being gay persons, we knew the feeling of not always having a place to call home," said Jay, explaining their choice to foster. "We wanted to offer a safe haven for children who needed respite while their parents were taking care of themselves."

The training itself took a year before Jay and Joe became licensed through the Child Protective Services (CPS), and then it was another year before the first foster child was placed in their care. While most families would get placements much sooner, the foster dads-to-be experienced discrimination due to their sexuality. "After we would get a call to take a child, and I would disclose that [we were a same-sex couple], we would never hear from that social worker again," said Joe. It wasn't until they voiced their frustrations to one of the placement workers, a woman named Lynette, that things began to change.

She identified some case workers who were LGBT friendly and told the husbands that the next placement was theirs. And she was true to her word. A week later a little girl was placed in Joe and Jay's care and stayed with them for two years (2014-2016) until a judge reunited her with her biological parent. Sadly, the dads have not been allowed any contact with her since her reunification due to the birth family's refusal to acknowledge her time in protective care.

Their second foster child came to them in 2016 and was with them for a year before being reunited with members of his birth family, an aunt and uncle who the young boy had never met. Again, the birth family has preferred to cease contact with the dads, and even complained to the judge that it was immoral for their son to have been placed with two men. "Not being able to see the children that you raised - some for several years - because they are reunited with the birth family is a pain that dulls over time, but never goes away," said Joe.

Tyler (left) and Jason

In 2016, they received another call about a young boy named Tyler, aged 5, who was an adoptive placement. When CPS asked Tyler what kind of a mommy and daddy he wanted, he had said "I don't want a mommy, I want two daddies. Do you know Captain America and Superman? I would like them to be my dads." And so, in a tiny East Texas town, a social worker searched the Texas Foster-to-Adopt database until he found Joe and Jay. And thus, Tyler got his Captain America and Superman.

Also in 2016, Joe and Jay began fostering three half brothers; one was called Jason. When they first heard of the brothers, they were only licensed to accept two children at one time. Not wanting the boys to be separated, Joe and Jay had their license amended so that they could have as many as four foster children in their home at once. An adoptive family was soon vying to adopt all three of the brothers.

That adoption placement did not work out, and unbeknownst to Joe and Jay, Jason ended up being bounced from foster home to foster home for ten months, till eventually he was placed in a psychiatric hospital. Once the dads found out, they hired a lawyer, and fought to adopt him. "[Jason] had been through hell, and wasn't quite the same child when he returned to us," said Jay, "but we were hell bent on being his fathers and giving him the life he deserved. He now is fully adopted and has made incredible strides."

Jason's half-brothers were eventually adopted by an amazing couple who live 40 miles from Jay and Joy and they see each other a few times a year.

On two significant days in 2017, Jay and Joe celebrated the adoption finalizations of their two sons, Tyler and Jason. On both occasions, the courtroom was packed with more people than the judge said he'd ever seen. "The road has been so long for both the boys and for us that everyone wanted to see the final step," said Jay. "It was a feeling of love I had never experienced. This felt like true acknowledgment from the court, our friends, and our family that our family was not only legitimate, but also celebrated," added Joe.

Nowadays, Joe and Jay's lives, from dawn till dusk, are all about being fathers to their sons. If they're not coaching the little league basketball team, the dads are helping with math homework, or challenging their sons to a duel on the Ninetendo.

Tyler's adoption day

From their own experience with Child Protective Services, Jay and Joe would never recommend working directly with them - instead they suggest finding a private agency that also has public foster-to-adopt programs. But without CPS, they would never have become dads to their amazing sons. "The foster to adopt process is arduous, and long; several years long," said Jay. "But in the end, we have such peace that we were able to provide a permanent home and stable environment for two young men who could've been lost to an apathetic system."

One day, when their sons are at college and they have an empty home, the dads hope to foster again and provide more children a place to call home, even if temporarily.

Jason's adoption day

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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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Gay Dad Family Stories

Meet the First Same-Sex Couple to Receive a Grant Through Best Buy's Adoption Assistance Program

Keegan and Paul Schroepfer are believed to be the first gay couple to receive a grant through Best Buy's adoption assistance program.

Keegan Shoutz and Paul Schroepfer met at college in 2010, when marriage equality wasn't legal in their home state of Minnesota. Back then, kids were a far off distant thought. After the U.S. Supreme Court struck down DOMA in 2015, the pair married a year later and began discussing their future as dads. In 2017, the husbands began their adoption journey, and the long wait began.

Keegan, 31, works in public relations for Best Buy's corporate communications team, and Paul, 35, is a lawyer. Their journey to adoption took over two and a half years, and they describe it as "a LOT of waiting." The couple considered surrogacy but decided adoption was the right path for their family. The first part of their journey was focused on a pile of paperwork, in-person classes, and then social outreach.

Their nursery sat empty for a year after all their "homework" was completed.

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Gay Dad Family Stories

Sister Act: How Four Siblings Helped Joey and Rob Become Dads

The husbands *also* received help from Men Having Babies, a nonprofit helping gay men become dads via surrogacy.

"I first learned about Men Having Babies while searching the internet for insurances that covered surrogacy," said Joey Guzman-Kuffel, 40, a Marriage and Family Therapist. "As I researched our surrogacy options the Men Having Babies link popped up. When I clicked on their link, I learned that this awesome organization was bringing awareness to men wanting to have babies and the possibilities to do so."

Joey and his husband Rob Kuffel, 47, Protocol Officer for the US Navy, have been together seven years after meeting via OKCupid.com. They chatted for a week via the app, then graduated to a phone call which lasted 3-4 hours. "I always knew that I wanted to have kids and knew that I needed to be with a partner that wanted to have kids as well," said Joey. Rob felt the same way. The two were married in May 2014.

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Diary of a Newly Out Gay Dad

A Gay Chiropractor Explains Why He Came Out to His Patients

After Cameron Call, a chiropractor, came out to his family this past year, he knew he had one more step to take — he had to come out to his patients

Fear is an interesting thing. It motivates when it shouldn't, shows at inconvenient times, and is the author of stories that do nothing but hold us back. I would argue though, too, that fear has some good qualities. I believe it helps us to feel. And I think it can be a great teacher as we learn to recognize and face it.

For years fear prevented me from embracing my truth and accepting a large part of who I am. I know I am not alone in that regard. But for so long my fear convinced me that I was. Fear is what kept me from ever telling my parents or anyone growing up that I am gay. Fear mingled with strong religious teachings, embraced at a young age, which led me to believe that I could cure myself of my attractions to the same gender. And fear is a part of what kept me in my marriage to a woman for over ten years.

Only so much growth and learning can occur when we limit ourselves to our fears. If people never did anything they were afraid to do, life would be incredibly boring and far too predictable. At some point we must face the things we fear and just go for it not knowing what will happen next.

After finally coming out to my ex-wife after ten years of marriage (see previous articles for that story), and eventually telling my family I knew there was one more step I needed to make.

I am a business owner. I am a structural chiropractor and am highly specialized in my field. Nearly four years ago I opened my own clinic, Horizon Chiropractic Center, in Phoenix, Arizona. I poured my whole heart, body, and soul into the creation of my practice and its growth. Opening a business fresh out of school is no simple task and I worked hard to build my practice with close relationships and word of mouth referrals. I established myself as an expert and built a strong reputation as a family man, and my ex-wife and kids were the face of my practice.

I loved and do love every person who has ever come into my office and treat them like family. We laugh together during visits, celebrate wins, cry together, often hug, and cheer each other on regarding various things in our life. That's also a large part of who I am: a people person. I enjoy spending quality time with those I am privileged to help. No one comes in my office and only sees me for 2-5 minutes.

Even though there was so much good that I had built into my brand and reputation fear eventually found its way into my business too. I was afraid of what would happen if people found out the truth. Would they be okay with having a gay chiropractor? Would they still trust me to be able to help them? Of course, the story in my head I was telling myself was much bigger and badder than it needed to be.

When we decided to get a divorce, I felt strongly that I needed to face these fears and begin telling a number of patients the truth of what was happening in my life. I know in reality it is no one's business but my own. However, I felt like I needed to let my patients who had become like family to me truly see me for who I am, and who I always was. And so slowly, case by case, I began to tell a select number of people.

I'll never forget the first patient I told. She had been coming in for years and was bringing her son in to see me who is on the autism spectrum. It was the day after my ex-wife and I decided to get a divorce and she could tell something heavy was on my mind. I eventually came out to her. The first words out of her mouth were "I am so proud of you!" We cried and hugged and it was the complete opposite of what I ever expected. And it was perfect. I felt loved. I felt accepted. I felt seen.

As time went on it got easier. And overall the responses were all completely positive and supportive. Out of all the patients I told and those who found out from other circles, only three stopped coming in to see me. Since coming out, my office has grown tremendously. My reputation hasn't changed. If anything, it's solidified. I can't help but think that part of that is due to finally embracing all of me and allowing others the same opportunity.

I read somewhere once that you never really stop coming out of the closet. And I've noticed that too. Sure, not everyone needs to know; it isn't everyone's business. And I hope that one day we live in a time period where fear doesn't prevent anyone from being seen. I want to contribute to the upward trajectory I think our society is headed of understanding, acceptance, support, and equality.

I would love to be able to say that after coming out publicly I no longer feel fear; but I do. And I think in some ways I always will no matter what. But that's part of life, right? Recognizing fear when we have it but then choosing to move forward out of love – love for others, but maybe more importantly love for ourselves.

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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Fatherhood, the gay way

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