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

These Dads Had 'Twins' — Just Four Months Apart

Angel and Dan's wanted twins, without the complications of a twin pregnancy — so they worked with two separate surrogates at once.

If you have ever been out late on a Saturday night, you may have high hopes of meeting a handsome stranger, but you probably wouldn't expect to meet your future husband. Angel Mario Martinez Garcia, 45, surely didn't when, five years ago on a very early Saturday morning in Barcelona, he casually approached Dan's Mouquet, 40, and asked him, over many gin and tonics, what he wanted out of life. The nightlife setting notwithstanding, Dan's told Angel he ultimately wanted a quiet life, with a partner and children.

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Gay Dad Family Stories

Love, Kids, and a Sixteenth Century French Château

A 400-year-old castle provides a charming backdrop to this modern family's life.

Ready to be enamored and exhausted? Meet Papá, Daddy, and their three lovable boys. This typical family's day-to-day is probably the closest we can get to a literal fairy tale, sans the leather-bound book. Their lives revolve around work, school, Wednesday soccer practices, and maintaining the sixteenth century French château they call home.

Yes, a 400-something-year-old castle is the backdrop to this modern family's life. The husbands acquired the château two years ago, and promptly moved in with their three newly-adopted sons to furnish the countless bedrooms and paint the walls rainbow with their own memories.

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Gay Dad Family Stories

The Inuit Custom Adoption Program Helped These Dads Form Their Family

After learning about the Inuit Custom Adoption Program from family, Keith and Kevin knew it was the way they wanted to become dads.

Keith Willey, 49, and his husband Kevin Kablutsiak, 42, who live in Ottawa, Canada, first met online in 2010. The couple had their first date soon afterwards in a coffee house and, "haven't looked back since," said Keith. They married on May 22nd, 2016.

Keith, who works as a Policy Advisor with the Canadian Federal Government, and Kevin, who works as the Director of Communications with the Canadian National Inuit Organization (ITK), always knew they wanted kids together, and talked about it early on in their relationship. Still, as gay men, they weren't sure that option would ever be available to them.

"I grew up in the UK in the 1970s so I assumed it would be impossible to have children," said Keith. "I always assumed that I would have to lead a life sort of in the shadows and in secret. Attitudes were so different in the 70s to how they are now that I simply believe that we thought it would be impossible to have a child."

The option materialized for the couple, however, when Kevin's sister, pregnant at the time, approached the two men about adopting her baby through the Inuit adoption process. They knew they couldn't pass up the opportunity.

"Kevin is Inuk and adoption, particularly inter-family adoption, is common in Inuit culture," said Keith.

The Inuit Custom Adoption Process was originally used in the small Inuit societies in the arctic, Kevin explained. It's primarily (though not exclusively) intended as a path for adoption within families. The process is legally recognized by the Canadian legal system.

As Kevin went on to explain, Inuit custom adoption was traditional used to support survival within, what were until quite recently, people living a nomadic lifestyle. It is, in essence, a deeply loving and selfless tradition of giving the gift of life to a carefully selected couple, most often with the guidance of elders (usually the matriarch within a family). If a couple couldn't conceive, for instance, others would sometimes offer their help. Similarly, if a couple lost a child, the grieving parents might be given a baby to help ease the ache of their loss. While most Inuit parents have zero intention of custom adopting their children to other families, adoption continues to be an established method in Inuit regions.

Through this process, and with everyone's agreement, the two men legally adopted Kevin's sister and her husband's child from birth. They named her Abbie. "Kevin's sister and her husband came to stay with us in Ottawa prior to the birth so Abbie was in our care from the moment she was born," said Keith. "She got to come home with us the day after the birth with the legal process taking around 11 months to complete from start to finish."


As far as their parenting styles, the couple say they've drawn on each of their pasts. "Both Kevin and I had somewhat difficult childhoods and have spent a lot of time working through and dealing with childhood trauma," Keith said. "As a result, we are better parents and we continue to look after ourselves and each other as we continue to grow in parenthood."

Though the couple come from different cultures, they said they've had no difficulty developing a parenting approach that works for them both. "I don't think either of us raise Abbie in the same parenting style that we experienced," Keith said, "We both talked and agreed on our approach before Abbie was born and we work well together as a parenting couple."

The result is a parenting style that incorporates some elements of both of their backgrounds, Keith said. "Inuit culture tends to shower children in love and we certainly do that," said Kevin. From English-style parenting, the couple have also borrowed the tendency of English parents to be "pretty obsessive," Keith said, about routines, such as scheduling meals, naps and bedtimes.

Though life was good before Abbie joined the family, "now it's fantastic!" Keith said. "I feel like being a parent was what I was put on this earth to be." Because neither man ever expected to become fathers, moreover, both say they look at parenthood as a privilege rather than a right — a helpful perspective they suggest to other gay men considering fatherhood. "Parenthood is an amazing gift," Keith said, "But remember it's about them, not you — and they deserve the best start in life we can give them."

Though fatherhood came to them somewhat unexpectedly, Keith and Kevin say they couldn't be happier with the way things turned out. "When I reflect on our life together, and where we both came from, it is incredible to me that we are now married, content, and parents to our wonderful panik," Keith said, using the Inuktitut word for daughter. "We are totally blessed."


Politics

Gestational Surrogacy Legalized in New York State

The Child-Parent Security Act, which legalizes commercial surrogacy in New York State, was included in the 2020 New York State Budget signed by Governor Cuomo

Yesterday, a years-long battle about the state of compensated gestational surrogacy came to an end in New York when the Governor signed into a law the Child-Parent Security Act in the 2020 as part of the state budget.

The effort stalled last year after opponents, including several Democrats, successfully argued that the bill didn't go far enough to protect women who serve as surrogates — even though it included a surrogate "bill of rights," the first of its kind in the country, aimed at ensuring protections.

"Millions of New Yorkers need assistance building their families — people struggling with infertility, cancer survivors impacted by treatment, and members of the LGBTQ+ community," the Family Equality Council said in a statement about the victory. "For many, surrogacy is a critically important option. For others, it is the only option. Passage of the Child-Parent Security Act is a massive step forward in providing paths to parenthood for New Yorkers who use reproductive technology, and creates a 'surrogate's bill of rights' that will set a new standard for protecting surrogates nationwide."

Opponents, led by Senator Liz Krueger, had once again attempted to torpedo legalization efforts this year by introducing a second bill that would legalize surrogacy in New York, but also make it the most restrictive state in the country to do so. "A bill that complicates the legal proceedings for the parents and potentially allows them to lose their genetic child is truly unfortunate," said Sam Hyde, President of Circle Surrogacy, referencing to the bill's 8-day waiting period. He also took issue with the bills underlying assumptions about why women decide to serve as a surrogate. The added restrictions imply that "they're entering into these arrangements without full forethought and consideration of the intended parents that they're partnering with," he said.

The bill was sponsored by State Senator Brad Hoylman, an out gay man who became a father via surrogacy, and Assemblymember Amy Paulin, who has been public with her experiences with infertility.

"My husband and I had our two daughters through surrogacy," Holyman told Gay City News. "But we had to travel 3,000 miles away to California in order to do it. As a gay dad, I'm thrilled parents like us and people struggling with infertility will finally have the chance to create their own families through surrogacy here in New York."

"This law will [give intended parents] the opportunity to have a family in New York and not travel around the country, incurring exorbitant costs simply because they want to be parents," Paulin said for her part. It will "bring New York law in line with the needs of modern families."


Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Just Like Dad: Ways My Kids and I Are Alike

Joseph Sadusky recounts the ways he and his adopted sons are cut from the same cloth.

Editor's Note: This is the third in a series of excerpts from Joseph Sadusky's new book, Magic Lessons: Celebratory and Cautionary Tales about Life as a (Single, Gay, Transracially Adoptive) Dad. The book contains many stories about my life as a dad, as well as lessons learned, and we're excited to share several excerpts from the the book over the course of the next few months. Read previous installments here!

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Expert Advice

4 Tips for Single Gay Dads Raising Daughters

Here are some ways to create a safe space for your daughter to discover who she is, with you by her side.

There's nothing quite like father-daughter relationships, and when it comes to single dads, your little girl likely holds a very special place in your heart. From the moment she's born, it's as if you can see every moment of her life in front of you, from her first steps to walking her down the aisle at her wedding. You'll be the first man she'll know and talk to, and you'll be her biggest example of what a loving man looks like. She'll come to you for advice on how to navigate challenges, be independent, treat others and grow into herself.

Your relationship with your daughter may be shaped by your personal history, whether you've been through a difficult divorce or breakup, you've transitioned out of a straight relationship, or you made the courageous decision to pursue surrogacy on your own. Whatever your situation is, studies have shown that children with involved fathers excel more in school and have fewer behavioral issues in adolescence.

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Change the World

After Suffering a Violent Homophobic Attack, This Gay Dad Turned to Advocacy

After Rene suffered a brutal homophobic attack that left him hospitalized, he and his family have turned to advocacy to heal

Guest post written by Rene and Nejc

We are Rene (35) and Nejc (29) and we come from Slovenia, Europe. I was an avid athlete, a Judoist, but now I am an LGBT activist and Nejc is a writer, who published a gay autobiography called Prepovedano. He was also a participant in a reality show in Slovenia (Bar) and he is an LGBT activist too. Nejc and I met by a mere coincidence on Facebook, and already after the first phone call we realized that we are made for each other. Nejc and I have been together as couple almost one year. We think we have been joined by some energy, as we have both experienced a lot of bad things with previous relationships and now we wish to create and shape our common path.

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