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."

Show Comments ()
Gay Dad Family Stories

This Couple of 27 Years Learned to Dream Big — and Became Dads to Twins

When Jamie and Kenny first met in 1992, marriage and fatherhood seemed laughable. But as the years progressed, so did their dreams.

Jamie and Kenny have been all over the world. To be precise, they have traveled to 66 countries. So far, they hasten to add. And they used to live in London. But in their own minds, they are still two small-town country boys from Louisiana.

Their story together started in 1992, when both men were young students (Jamie was born in 1974, Kenny is just six months older) from similar backgrounds at the same university in Louisiana. A mutual friend introduced them at a cafeteria, and they hit it off.

They hailed from very small and very religious communities that disapproved of homosexuality. Without any positive role models, Jamie and Kenny had internalized those negative views: The way they looked at their own lives, they assumed they would lead lives of ridicule, be unwilling to commit to one partner, would contract HIV and soon after die of AIDS.

Keep reading... Show less
Personal Essays by Gay Dads

How These Gay Dads Prepared for Twins

Marc and Steve, who are expecting twins girls later this year, tell us how they've prepared to grow their family

Guest post by Marc and Steve

As mentioned in our previous blog it was a shock to find out that we will be expecting twins later on this year. It had taken some getting used to idea but now we are counting down the last few months before we can welcome our twin girls into the family.

Both Marc and I knew we always wanted to have more than one child, the main reason for this was so our first (Spencer) always had some company, someone to play with and so he never felt like he was alone. From around the age of three Spencer has been asking about having a sibling, we knew this day would come as inevitably he was going to have friends who had siblings, so at some point he was going to question why he was an only child. We always said we wanted to have as small of an age gap as possible but unfortunately this did not happen for various reasons. Not that it makes that much difference to us now, in fact we believe it has worked out better this way, with Spencer being that little bit older and more independent he can be a lot more involved with the care of his sisters. He is already telling us that he will help us by getting them nappies and wipes.

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Family Stories

Gay Dads Freddie and Jeff Featured in CNN Documentary About Surrogacy

"Just in three days, I see the world differently," said new dad Jeff after the birth of his son Jace.

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.

"On our third date, Jeff and I discussed our desire to become parents someday, so we've always wanted to be dads," said Freddie. Jeff and Freddie Beisler-Snell met through a mutual friend and have been together 13 years, married for three. Right from the very beginning, they saw fatherhood as part of their future. In May 2019, they welcomed their son Jace via surrogacy.

When Jeff, 40, and Freddie, 36, started their journey, they began looking into adoption. Although they both yearned for a biological connection to their future kids, they didn't know much about surrogacy, or if it was a viable option for them. After doing a little more research, they attended a Gay Parents To Be event, sponsored by RMA of Connecticut taking place in Atlanta. "This event was great because it opened our eyes up to the entire surrogacy process," said Freddie. "After the event, we did some additional research on potential agencies and IVF doctors. We ended up narrowing down our search, and landed on Circle Surrogacy as our agency, and RMA-CT for our IVF clinic."

And from there, their surrogacy journey began.

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Photo Essays

Pics of the Moment Before and After Gay Men Become Dads

Dig through your phones — what was the last pic taken of you BEFORE you became a dad?

We all have THAT photo: the one taken moments after we become fathers for the first time. For some of us, we're doing "skin to skin" in a delivery room. For others, we're standing proudly alongside our newly adopted child and judge in a courtroom. However or wherever it happens, though, we make sure to snap a picture of it.

But what about that last photo BEFORE you first became a dad? What does that image look like, we wondered? Well, we asked our Instagram community to dig through through phones and find out. Some of us are enjoying a last carefree meal or glass of wine, others of us are captured nervously contemplating our futures. Whatever it is, we've decided these BEFORE pictures are just as meaningful.

Enjoy some of our favorites! Want to play along? Dig through your phones and send us your pics to dads@gayswithkids.com!

Keep reading... Show less
Entertainment

Gay Dad in Sundance's 'Brittany Runs a Marathon' is Relatable AF

Sundance hit "Brittany Runs a Marathon" stars a gay dad trying to get in shape.

Who would make for the best marathon training partner for an overweight, overly boozed 27-year-old woman? A gay dad, of course!

The pairing, for any gay man who has been subjected to impossible beauty standards (not unlike... literally all women?) makes a bit too much sense after watching the new Sundance film, "Brittany Runs a Marathon," starring SNL writer Jillian Bell (as the 27-year-old) and Micah Stock as the (somewhat *ahem* older) gay dad.

Based on a true story, the film follows Brittany, an overweight and over-boozed 20-something, trying to clean up her act by training for the New York City marathon — while doing so, she meets Seth (the gay dad), and the two begin to train together, along with Brittany's neighbor Catherine. Each has their own motivation for running: getting one's live together, recovering from a messy divorce, or an attempt to impress one's athletic son. (Which is the gay dad? Guess you'll have to watch to find out!)

We won't give too much more away, apart from saying that the trio — based off of actual people and events — really works. It's the feel good film you're waiting to see.

Expert Advice

Your 15 Most Common Questions About Adoption, Answered by an Expert

We asked our Instagram community for their biggest questions about adoption. Then asked Molly Rampe Thomas of Choice Network to answer them.

As part of our new "Ask an Expert" series on Instagram, our community of dads and dads-to-be sent us their questions on adoption in the United States. Molly Rampe Thomas, founder of Choice Network, answered them.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular

'Life Is Amazing': Congrats to Gay Dads Whose Families Recently Grew!

Help us congratulate gay dads on their recent births and adoptions last month!

Wishing all of these gay dads whose families expanded in the last month or so a lifetime of happiness! Congrats to everyone in our community on their recent births and adoptions!

Keep reading... Show less

Fatherhood, the gay way

Get the latest from Gays With Kids delivered to your inbox!

Follow Gays With Kids

Powered by RebelMouse