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 Couple is Using 'Wheel of Fortune' Winnings to Help Fund Their Adoption

Need to raise money for your adoption fund? Why not try your luck on Wheel of Fortune like these guys!

Doug and Nick Roberts connected three and a half years ago via a dating app, and on their first date, the two immediately felt a connection. Doug, a psychologist, and Nick, a neuroscientist, were married 18 months later. Today the couple live in the suburbs of Philadelphia, and they're ready to start their next exciting adventure together: fatherhood.

The husbands would like to have children, and Nick has always wanted to adopt. "We considered surrogacy, and may consider it in the future as we expand our family," said Doug, "but right now, it is cost-prohibitive. Adoption was easily the right choice for us as we begin to grow our family.

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Gay Dad Family Stories

Traditional Surrogacy Is "Entirely Based on Trust" Says These U.K.-Based Dads

Marc and Steve pursued "traditional surrogacy," uncommon in the United States, meaning their surrogate is genetically related to their child

Marc and Steve live in Shropshire, United Kingdom. They have a four-year-old son, and are expecting twins via traditional surrogacy which is when the surrogate is both the egg donor and carrier. Here's their traditional surrogacy journey.

Together six years, Marc and Steve always wanted to be fathers, and craved a biological connection with their children. "This is why we chose surrogacy," explained Marc, "specifically, traditional surrogacy as it fitted our wants and need more; knowing our child's other genetic half was important to us."

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Gay Dad Family Stories

Boston Will Always Have a Special Place in the Hearts of These Gay Dads

Matt and Rej met in Boston and got engaged in Fenway Park. The latest chapter of their fairytale Beantown romance? Fatherhood.

Husbands Matt Ottaviani and Rej Gareau met in Boston in 2013 via OKCupid. A couple years later, the two returned to get engaged in Fenway Park. And in the latest chapter in their fairytale Beantown romance, it's also where they would begin the process of becoming dads with the help of Circle Surrogacy.


Matt and Rej dated for a short time while they were both living in Boston. Once Rej's studying was complete, he returned to Canada (where he is from) and they continued their relationship long distance. In a little under a year, Matt followed his heart to Ottawa. Together they braved the cold, bought a house, and got married in October 2015, following a proposal at Fenway Park orchestrated by Rej, and including friends and family. Their loved ones watched as Rej got down on one knee on the baseball field, and asked Matt to marry him.

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Politics

Utah Court Rules Gay Couples Can't Be Excluded From Surrogacy Contracts

The Utah Supreme Court found in favor of a gay couple attempting to enter into a surrogacy contract.

DRAKE BUSATH/ UTCOURTS.GOV

Earlier this month, the Utah Supreme Court ruled that a same-sex couples can't be excluded from entering into enforceable surrogacy contracts, and sent a case concerning a gay male couple back to trial court to approve their petition for a surrogacy arrangement.

As reported in Gay City News, the case concerns Utah's 2005 law on surrogacy, which was enacted prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage in the state. As a result, the content of the law is gendered, saying that surrogacy contracts should only be enforceable if the "intended mother" is unable to bear a child. When a gay couple approached District Judge Jeffrey C. Wilcox to enter into a surrogacy arrangement, he denied them, arguing that the state's law only concerned opposite sex couples.

"This opinion is an important contribution to the growing body of cases adopting a broad construction of the precedent created by Obergefell v. Hodges and the Supreme Court's subsequent decision in Pavan v. Smith," according to GCN. "It's also worth noting that same-sex couples in Utah now enjoy a right denied them here in New York, where compensated gestational surrogacy contracts remain illegal for all couples."

Read the full article here.

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Thoughts and Prayers Aren't Working:​ One Father's Plea for Gun Reform

One gay dad's plea to our leaders to enact sensible gun control

My articles on GaysWithKids aspire to be lighthearted, helpful and humorous. This one won't be any of those things. Because I'm feeling heavyhearted, helpless and sad. Last week I woke up to news of yet another mass shooting. This time at a family-friendly Garlic Festival in northern California. I don't know if it's because this one hit so close to home, or if it's because the headline included a picture of the innocent 6-year old who was among those killed, but I am overcome with emotion. But mostly I am angry. And I don't know what to do with my anger.

Then, just a few days later came two additional horrific mass shootings that stole the lives of at least 32 more innocent people, many of them children. And then there's the "everyday" gun violence that plagues American cities like Chicago, where guns injured another 46 people this past weekend alone… creating so much turmoil, a hospital had to briefly stop taking patients.

How does one verbalize the collective sadness felt around the world? One can't. And that's why I am asking everyone reading this article to commit to getting involved in some way, to help end this epidemic once and for all. Even though the solution is so obvious, we can't allow ourselves to become numb to mass shootings. Because becoming numb isn't going to save anyone.

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Politics

Gay Russian Dads Forced to Flee Moscow

Fearing the Russian government might take their adopted kids into custody because of their sexual orientation, Andrei Vaganov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev fled Moscow

A married couple in Russia, with two adopted children, were just forced the flee their home in Moscow for fear that the authorities would take their children away, according to German news site Deutsche Welle.

Trouble started last month after investigators in Russia opened a criminal inquiry into the proceedings that had allowed the gay couple, Andrei Vaganov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev, to legally adopt the two boys —adoption by LGBTQ people in Russia has typically not been recognized. The government became aware of the adoption proceedings after the gay couple brought their 12-year-old son to the hospital, who was complaining of a stomachache. The boy was fine, but after he mentioned offhand that he was adopted and lived with two fathers, the doctor called the police.

Andrei and Yevgeny granted an interview with Deutsche Welle after escaping Moscow, but on the advice of their lawyers have yet to disclose where they are currently located. Here is a quick recap of that conversation:

"In connection with the 'propaganda of non-traditional values,' the state representatives are accused of having neglected their duty of supervision," Andrei said, when asked to explain on what basis the Russian government might take his children into custody. "This means that lesbian couples could even have their biological children taken away because, through their lifestyle choices, they propagate "certain values."

Yevgeny also explained the events that led to the couple's harrowing escape "I was alone in Moscow at that time. A week after Andrei and the children had left the country, there was a knock on my door, but nobody called 'police, open up.' After half an hour the violent knocking stopped. My parents' home was searched. They were looking for the children and our Danish marriage certificate because we got married in Denmark in 2016. My friends then got me out of the country."

Read the full interview here.

Change the World

4 Tips for Using Instagram to Connect with Gay Dads Offline

We asked gay dads who have successfully met up with other LGBTQ families offline for some of their tips

Last week, we ran a story about several gay dads who did the unthinkable: meet other gay dads IRL after connecting on Instagram! We get MANY questions from gay dads wondering how they can meet up with others in their area, so we decided to dig a bit deeper this week to get their advice. What can gay dads do to meet others off the 'gram?

1. Be kind — share others' excitement in parenting!


From @twinlifedads Ben and Andy:

"Be kind. That is absolutely it. Be kind to each other and don't be afraid to reach out. Respond to each other when you can. Share in excitement for each other. There is no reason to bring someone else down who might be excited about how they are parenting."

2. Drop a couple comments and likes before reaching out!

From @brisvegasdad Tim and Nic:

"I think drop comments now and then on their posts and instastories and see where things land. Chances are, if you're commenting on a post and it is a heartfelt response, they'll click through to your account, look at your photos and connect with you. And that's when the magic happens - you can introduce yourself, talk about your lives and how things are being a parent... and after a while, if you're in the same neighbourhood, you meet up and grow your friendship organically. That being said, I'm obsessed with Bobby Berk from Queer Eye and his husband Dewey Do - if they ever had kids, I'd probably be completely unsubtle and leave strange awkward comments on their instaposts saying, 'GAY DADS MEET UPSSSSS'."

3. Go in with no expectations

From @stevecsmith Steve and Ben:

"I always try to reach out without any expectations – mostly just to provide a positive comment. I like to leave it up to the other parents to comment or message back before suggesting meeting up or a playdate. Every family is different, so how each person is going to respond is different too."

4. Keep trying!

From @theconways13 Ricky and Jeff:

"Reach out to other families, start a light friendly conversation. Get to know each other and let conversations happen organically. If they lead to a play date great! Our first experience in meeting another lgbt family (not through ig/gwk) was very awkward cause there wasn't a whole lot of conversation happening before hand. The conversations leading up to the play date will help make the first play date with the family go a lot smoother and fun. Don't be afraid of not connecting with the other families. If it isn't successful the first time, continue reaching out to to other families- don't let it deter you from reaching out to others."

Fatherhood, the gay way

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