Gay Dad Life

As Gay Parents, It's Important to "Find Your Village," Say These New Dads

"It truly takes a village," say new gay dads Sean and Spencer Parker. "You do not have to do it alone."

In 2011, Sean Gannon, then a 22-year-old fitness instructor in New York City, was going through profiles on the dating website OkCupid, when a photo of an attractive man in a pirate costume caught his eye. Sean got in touch with the swashbuckler, and a few days later the two had their first date in New York's Washington Park.

When Sean and Spencer Parker, a 30-year-old director, got to know each other better, they realized they shared a dream: They both wanted to have kids. As their relationship grew stronger, they became more serious about fatherhood.


Sean (left) and Spencer on their wedding day, September 2016

While attending a Men Having Babies conference in New York City, they listened to a panel of children born through surrogacy talking about their experiences. From that day on, the men knew they wanted to pursue surrogacy; they wanted biological children of their own. The husbands, who were married September 25, 2016, chose Circle Surrogacy as their agency.

They found a welcoming community in Maplewood, New Jersey. Maplewood has a large number of LGBT families, and the township shows its inclusive spirit in gay flag-raising ceremonies and permanent rainbow crosswalks.

Sean and Spencer with their surrogate

As Sean says, "As a gay family, we chose one of the most accepting and safe family friendly places to raise our children. Maplewood NJ is full of gay families; it truly is the storybook fantasyland of my gay youth dreams. Prior to meeting Spencer, I had no idea Maplewood existed and how accepting it was of LGBTQ+ families, and I am so grateful to live in a place that I feel welcomed and that my family is accepted and supported."

From start to finish, the surrogacy process took about two years, a very short time by most standards. Nonetheless, the one setback they experienced, an embryo transfer that wasn't successful, felt like a major roadblock at the time. Despite misgivings about the wisdom of continuing their surrogacy, they persevered.

The happy conclusion of their journey was, of course, the birth of their twins, Clyde and Rowan about three months ago.

And in the blink of an eye, their lived changed forever. "Before having kids, we never used our kitchen and we were always on the go. Our lives were all about spontaneous evenings and trips at the last minute. Before having kids I thought we would carry on with the lifestyle we had. It only took a few days to realize that our whole world had changed-for the better in many ways. We definitely are now on a budget and more conscious of our unnecessary spending," the new dads say.

What's important to them now is radically different. "Being a family and showing up and being an attentive and connected father is the most important thing I can do with my life and for these boys," Sean says.

Like all new parents, Sean and Spencer struggle with sleepless nights. They are finding out that parenthood is a marathon rather than a sprint, and one without a grand finish at that. Each day requires different skills and work. The guys are lucky to be good communicators; they also report keeping each other grounded. Sean adds, "One thing that really seems to help all four of us calm down and come back to the present moment is singing Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds". Whenever I am feeling like I am not strong enough for a challenging moment, I sing this to the boys and I remember that every little thing is going to be all right."

Even while the dads are still in the fog of new parenthood, they say they can definitely see themselves having more children. "I do not know if we would do surrogacy again, but I can absolutely imagine us adopting to grow our family," says Sean.

There are two more things Sean and Spencer, now 29 and 37 respectively, would like to share. The first is: Do it! "Go into parenthood with your whole heart and be prepared for it to melt and explode into a million pieces because having kids is beyond anything you can ever imagine!"

The second piece of advice: Find your village. In the words of Sean, "It truly takes [a village] and you do not have to do it alone. Find your support system, and when things get challenging don't be afraid to reach out to them. In the beginning, I had so much pride in being a gay dad and I didn't want anyone to think that I wasn't capable of doing it on my own. That's just unrealistic and it's absolutely okay to ask for help. Reach out to your friends, family, or chosen family time and ask them to bring your lunch or talk to other parents about their experience. You asking for help in the long run benefits your children as well, they get to see your smile more."

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Politics

Daughter of Married Gay Couple Who Used Surrogacy Abroad Isn't Citizen, Says U.S. State Department

A decades-old law can be used to discriminate against gay couples who use surrogacy abroad.

James Derek Mize and his husband Jonathan Gregg are both American citizens, but their daughter, born via a surrogate, may not be, at least according to the U.S. State Department.

The New York Times took an in-depth look at this case in a piece that ran in the paper yesterday. While James was born and raised in the U.S, his husband Jonathan was originally born in Britain. That may be enough, according to the State Department, to deny their daughter citizenship.

"We're both Americans; we're married," James told the New York Times. "We just found it really hard to believe that we could have a child that wouldn't be able to be in our country."

According to decades-old immigration law, a child born abroad must have a biological connection to a parent that is a U.S. citizen in order to be eligible to receive citizenship upon birth. Children born via surrogacy are determined to be "out of wedlock," according to the Times report," which then requires a more onerous process to qualify for citizenship, such as demonstrating that a biological parent is not only an American citizen, but has spent at least five years in the country.

The intent of the law, which dates back to the 1950s, was to prevent people from claiming, falsely, that they are the children of U.S. parents. But LGBTQ advocates argue this archaic policy is being used intentionally to discriminates against same-sex couples, who often have to rely on donors, IVF and surrogacy in order to have biologically children, and are thus held to a higher standard.

"This is where our life is. This is where our jobs are," James told the Times. "Our daughter can't be here, but she has no one else to care for her."

Read the whole story here.


Gay Dad Life

Netflix Documentary Explores a Gay Chinese-American's Path to Parenthood Via Surrogacy

"All In My Family," a new short documentary by filmmaker Hao Wu, explores his family's struggle to accept his sexuality and decision to pursue surrogacy in the United States

Filmmaker Hao Wu's latest documentary, released on Netflix this past week, explores his coming out story and his path to becoming a gay dad via surrogacy in the United States. Viewers watch as Wu comes out to his Chinese parents, who are not accepting of his sexual orientation.

As the film's synopsis notes, Wu, the only male descendant in his Chinese family, was "raised with a certain set of expectations - excel at school, get a good job, marry, and have kids." He achieves each of these goals, but as a gay man, he hasn't done so in the way his family had hoped. The film follows Wu brings his husband and children to China to meet his family, many of who are still unaware of his sexual orientation.

"I wanted to show the challenges for gay people of Chinese descent, what kind of cultural and generational barriers and differences they have to negotiate in order to build a family of their own," Wu said in an interview with InkStone.

Watch the moving documentary in full here.


Gay Dad Family Stories

This Surrogate Helped Two Different Gay Couples Realize Their Dreams of Becoming Dads

Shelly Marsh says her daughters are her "life," and wanted to share that love as a surrogate for two different gay couples.

We've shared hundreds, possibly thousands, of stories about GBT men who've become dads through the many different paths to fatherhood. We've thanked the women who've made our dreams come true; we wouldn't be dads without their, in many cases, selfless acts of love. Amongst the courageous birth moms, and our co-parenting counterparts, are the surrogates who carry our children. It's a very personal decision to become a surrogate, but Shelly's choice was simple: if she could help others experience the joys of parenthood, she would.

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Gay Adoption

5 Ways to Know Your Adoption Agency Is LGBTQ-Friendly

So you're ready to adopt. How do you know your adoption agency won't just discriminate against you as a gay man, but is actively welcoming to LGBTQ people?

You know what is the worst? Adoption agencies who discriminate! So how do you know your agency welcomes you? Check out our list of five immediate ways to know if your agency is LGBTQ affirming.

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Change the World

Gay Dads Featured in Enfamil Commercial

A new ad for Enfamil showcases two gay men talking about their daughter.

The best kind of inclusion is when you're not singled out but instead included right along with everyone else. This kind inclusion inspires others to pursue their own dreams and desires, just like any one else. As part of our popular culture, we know that brands are uniquely suited to inspire us in this way.

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Gay Dad Life

Cooking with Kids: An Interview with David Burtka

David Burtka sits down with us to talk about his new book "Life is a Party."

When you're a young couple it's easy to order in or dine out on a daily basis, but when the kids come along, spending time in the kitchen to prepare nutritious and healthy meals for them can become a problem for some dads. We turned to gay dad and celebrity chef David Burtka who just published his debut recipe book Life is a Party, to get some advice, inspiration, and support as we take our baby steps in the kitchen.

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Popular

Couple That Met at the Gym Now Spotting Each Other Through Fatherhood

How two real New-Yorkers became two soft-hearted dads

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.

Byron and Matthew Slosar, both 41, met ten years ago at one of New York City's Equinox gyms. "I asked him for a spot on the bench press," smiled Byron. The couple were married September 22, 2012.

Surrogacy was always the way Byron and Matthew wanted to become parents. They chose to wait and become dads later in life, until they had established careers and the financial means to pursue their chosen path.

They signed with Circle Surrogacy after interviewing a few agencies. "We immediately connected with their entire staff, particularly Anne Watson who lovingly dealt with my healthy neuroses on the daily for 1.5 years," said Byron. "They definitely personalized the service and helped us understand all 2,000 moving parts." The dads-to-be were also very impressed with how much emotional support they received from Circle.

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