Gay Dad Family Stories

We'd Fly Across the World for Our Baby Boy

As two gay dads prepare to take on a new adventure–launching a baby food business–they reflect on the path that got them there.

As we prepare to launch our next life adventure – a baby food business – we've been taking time to reflect on our journey. From softball in Chelsea, to flying 5,000 miles for the birth of our son, to turning our passion for childhood nutrition into a company, it's been nothing short of an epic fairytale.


How We Met

The two of us met playing softball on the NYC LGBTQ league 15 years ago. During tryouts (or is it auditions?) in Chelsea, David literally hit the ball out of the park -- to his surprise and everyone else's awe. Then he did what he always does when attention turns towards him, he did a high kick extending his right foot passed his head and dropped into a split across home plate. Danny, who was a manager in need of players, was more impressed by David's playfulness than his home run. He wanted David on his team.

After the season ended, we finally took our first official date. Like any normal first date, the conversation slowly turned to…children? David rattled off not only the gender of his three future children, but also their names. When Danny challenged the names and argued that he should have a say in the names since they would be his children too, David shared that one son had to be named after his brother who died of leukemia before David was born. Danny compassionately accepted, but only after ensuring they would choose the other two kids' names together! Danny would later argue that he had never promised they would have three, but rather two, children and David would always refer to "our first date" when we emphatically agreed to three kids. So, with just a few hours into a first date, we had skipped dating, a wedding, shopping for a home, and just planned our whole family!

Fatherhood

When we began our journey to fatherhood, we researched the process, attended meetings and conferences organized by NYC's Men Having Babies and ultimately decided that gestational surrogacy was the best option for us. Without much convincing, our long-time friend offered to carry for us, which was wonderful news. Except she lived in Honolulu, HI. We lived about as far away from Hawaii as possible in New Jersey. But 5,000 miles can't stop fatherhood!

During the pregnancy, the new adventure took on a whole new meaning. Our friends and family met our excitement and threw us an overwhelmingly lovely baby shower. Their support and enthusiasm meant the world to us. After the last guests had left, we sat together hand-in-hand relaxing in front of the firepit in our suburban backyard. Now, we're prompt party cleaners, but this night we just sat still. We discussed our babymoon to Germany only a few days away before heading to Hawaii, well in advance of our child's due date, completely uninformed and unaware of how much life was about to change. Then, unexpectedly, the phone rang. It was our surrogate on the other line. "Hey Gurl!" we answered by pressing the speaker phone button, only she didn't respond. It was a doctor from Kapiolani Medical Center in Honolulu. "Hello, this is Dr. (incoherent), D wanted me to call you. She has preeclampsia, the baby is coming now. Come now."

Our mouths dropped. For several seconds, we. were. silent. "What did they say? Are they coming? Are they okay?" D said in the background.

"Hello, are you coming now?" The doctor said.

"Huh? What? What are you talking about?" Danny fumbled out.

"The baby! … is coming." The Dr. replied.

"How soon?" Danny asked. "Like, this week?"

"Now-wah." The doctor slowly enunciated. "She needs to deliver now to protect her and the baby. We are inducing. She must deliver now." In the background, we could hear D asking questions, "What did they say? Are they upset? Are they coming?"

"We live in NJ." David blurted out.

"Then you need to get on a plane," The brilliant Dr. responded.

Then David jumped into action. "We got it. Can we talk to D?" he asked.

The doctor put D on the phone. "We will be there. We will be there." David reiterated as Danny froze.

D sighed. "Oh, thank you. Hurry. I'm sorry. Please hurry," she said with an air of desperation, and slight relief knowing we were going to do what we could to get there.

"We will be there," David reiterated and after saying goodbye, the call ended. We sat there staring out, not at the fire, not at anything, just staring, sitting, not moving, or even breathing.

David broke the silence. "We've got to clean the house!" While we cleaned the backyard, the house and put things away, David jumped on the phone with United Customer Service. Danny tried to keep cleaning, but mostly paced back and forth. Thankfully, we were able to catch a connecting flight to San Francisco and Honolulu and in 22 hours from the call we landed all before the baby was born!!

5,000 Miles to See Our Son

During the travel to Honolulu, we kept checking in with D, and she was updating the nurses. When they heard our story and saw how desperately D wanted us there for the birth, there for her, there for the unborn baby in her womb, not her baby as she had to keep explaining to the doctors, but our baby, the baby of these two men desperately racing across the country to witness and support this birth, they, the nurses not the doctors, reduced her Pitocin. When the nurses heard that we were leaving San Francisco, they monitored D and her Pitocin. Once we landed in Honolulu they increased it to move her closer to labor.

When we rushed to meet D at hospital she surged with confidence. She knew she could do it. So did we. As the Pitocin increased so did the contractions. D was amazing. She was emphatic that she would deliver without drugs and made us promise to support her -- even if she said otherwise when the contractions hit. We, her doula, and her nurses, witnessed her amazing strength and whispered small affirmations, like drops of an IV. As the contractions increased, the doctors began prepping for delivery. Members from the delivery unit, from the NICU (Neonatal Intensive-Care Unit) unit, and the AICU (Adult Intensive Care Unit) all descended on the room and doubly so because it was shift change! Nearly a dozen people were in the room discussing D and our baby. It was pretty overwhelming especially because D kept shouting, "The baby is coming! Baby's coming! I can't hold it anymore! I have to PUSHHHHHH! With each of us holding one of her hands, and the OB/GYN and nurse scrambling to get to her, D pushed our baby out! As Baby slid across the table, we watched in slow motion as the doctor struggled with a grip, nearly dropping baby. Baby was long, lean, and despite the cold and shaking hands, its arms stretched open. David snuck the first peek… a boy. David turned to Danny and our surrogate, "A boy! We have a boy! And," he paused. "He came into the world with Jazz Hands!!" he exclaimed as tears formed in his eyes.

Feeding a Preemie

The next several days were extremely intense, followed by weeks that were slightly less, but still, intense. We were learning how to care for a child, but not just any child, a preemie, who needed all the nourishment, rest and love he could get. We were up for the challenge!

Given his fragile condition, we turned into nutritional gurus. We learned everything we could about early childhood nutrition. We were particular about everything he consumed. And believe us, it's no easy thing to determine which strategies and foods are the best for your kids. The glut of information, particularly conflicting information, especially for two dads, was frustrating.

When we learned that today's younger generations will be the first generations to live shorter than their elders because of health – namely, nutrition – we knew we had to do something different.

But as food lovers, we savored the research. We relished steaming and stewing and pureeing. We delighted sharing in this nutritional journey with our son. A new family pastime, you could say.

When other parents ask us how we nourished our son – and why he's such an adventurous eater – we reply with a few key principles:

Savory over Salty or Sugary – We hoped he would appreciate savory foods because we knew if he did, he wouldn't prefer the high-salt, high-sugar empty calories that are decreasing the health of these young generations.

Scratch = Control – After turning to the ingredients list on every baby food in the store, David realized he needed to make all of our son's food from scratch to control the sugar, salt and unidentifable content.

Variety = Adventure – David's research led him to borrow ideas from scientific research and traditions around the world. He used herbs like tarragon, spices like cardamom, and unique root vegetables like burdock root, ginger, and turmeric.

Not only did these herbs, roots, and spices come with amazing nutritional qualities, but they expanded our son's palate. The research shows that taste preferences are formed early on.

As fathers of a fast-growing preemie, we felt like food was one of the things we could control for our son. Who knows what the world will be like when he graduates high school, but at least we know we gave him an appreciation for unique flavors. And maybe, just maybe, the antioxidants, brain-healthy fats, and gut-supportive foods will give him the resilience to make his way in the future.

The Newest Adventure - Kekoa Foods

Our son is 5, and mealtime is still a keystone for our family. Once we realized how food shaped our fatherhood, and the health of our son, we wanted to help other parents transform how children eat. So, we've spent the last three years dialing in recipes, testing, and meeting with parents. The culmination of all that hard work is our new company, Kekoa Foods, which means "Brave Warrior" in Hawaiian, our son's middle name.

David and Danny are father and founders. Their company, Kekoa Foods, is pre-selling their bold new baby foods on Kickstarter. Backers without kids can have their rewards sent family, friends, or the Newark YMCA, which is home to over 320 families, 80 of whom are infants and would greatly benefit from healthy nutritious options like Kekoa pouches.

Learn more here:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/kekoafoods/kekoa-foods-herbs-roots-and-spices-in-baby-food

Even if you don't want to pre-order products, please follow their journey at www.kekoafoods.com on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/kekoafoods) or Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/kekoafoods).

Show Comments ()
Gay Dad Life

In the U.K.? Join These Dads at Events Supporting LGBTQ Parents!

The dads behind the blog TwoDads.U.K are ramping up their support of other LGBTQ parents. Check out these events they're a part of!

What a couple of years it's been for us! When our daughter Talulah was born via UK surrogacy back in October 2016, we decided to take to Instagram and Facebook to document the parental highs and lows. Little did we expect for it to be where it is now. We always had the ambition to help other intended fathers understand more about surrogacy, and we also had the added driver to do our best to influence others – help open some of the closed minds with regards to same-sex parenting.

Here we are now, pregnant again with our son which we revealed Live on Facebook! We're due in August, we're now writing several blogs, social media influencers and launching a new business focusing on our main mission to support others and being advocates for UK surrogacy. It's no wonder we're shattered!

Keep reading... Show less
Surrogacy for Gay Men

How Long Does a Surrogacy Journey Take?

From the minute you sign with a surrogacy agency, how long will it take until you have a baby in your arms?

You've been waiting a long time to become a gay dad. You've done your research, and decided that surrogacy is the best fit for you. You're excited to get started, and even more excited at the prospect of the arrival of your little one.

But exactly how long is it going to take from the minute you sign on, until you have your baby in your arms?

On average, a surrogacy journey – from start to finish – can average between 16-21 months.

And while that sounds like a long time, remember that 9 months of that is your surrogate's pregnancy!

To help you better understand how long a surrogacy journey takes to complete, it's helpful to understand the different milestones along the way. Below is a general surrogacy process timeline from Circle Surrogacy. Remember, every surrogacy journey is unique, so the exact timing of your journey may be different than these estimates.

Keep reading... Show less
Change the World

Surrogate Pens Powerful Op-Ed, Urging New York Legislators to Legalize the Practice

Victoria Ashton says she was "fully in control of her body" while serving as a surrogate for two New York families.

In an essay for Gay City News, Victoria Ashton, who has serves as a gestational surrogate for two New York-based families, powerfully defended her decision to help others form their family, and urged legislator to enact the Child-Parent Security Act (CPSA) to legalize the practice in New York State.

She says, for her, the decision to become a surrogate was "easy." After she had her own two children, and her family felt complete, Victoria says she "still felt this nagging desire to bring more children into this world. I loved being pregnant and both of my pregnancies were easy and textbook. But since I thought the only way to be pregnant again was to have another child of my own, I tried to push it aside and move on, because at the time two children was the perfect fit for us."

So she began to educate herself and research the process for becoming a gestational surrogate. "I understood the commitment, I understood the process, I understood the risk — but my overwhelming desire to help someone in need by giving them life is a reward that tops it all. Somewhere out in the world another family or couple deserves to be just as happy as I am. A man or woman deserves to be called Mommy and Daddy, if they wish. They deserve to experience firsts. They deserve unconditional love."

Victoria also sought to clear up misconceptions that some may have about the role and rights of a surrogate throughout the process, saying she had "full control over" her body throughout the process. "I made decisions about my own body and my own health," she wrote. "I felt protected and secure. It was a partnership from day one." But, she noted further, she was lucky to live in a state where surrogate enjoy full protection under the law. "Had those not existed," she wrote, "it would have complicated my own decision."

Currently, those protections don't exist in New York, she pointed out. But the soon could, if the New York State Child-Parent Security Act (CPSA) is passed. The bill, Victoria writes, "goes above and beyond in providing the necessary protections that create successful surrogacy partnerships."

Read Victoria's full essay here.

Change the World

Three Eagles, Two Male one Female, Form Nontraditional Family

Three bald eagles in the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge are sharing a nest and incubating eggs together

According to the Advocate, three bald eagles — two male and one female — are sharing a nest and incubating eggs together.

"Families come in all shapes and sizes, and that's true for wildlife too!" wrote the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services on Facebook. "Meet Valor I, Valor II and Starr, a breeding trio of bald eagles that live along the Mississippi River in Illinois. For several years, fans from all over the world have been watching this nontraditional family through a webcam as the eagles deal with the trials and tribulations of parenting."

The thruple came to be in unique way. "The nest was originally inhabited by Valor I and another female eagle named Hope," wrote the Advocate. "Initially, Valor I had poor parenting skills — he didn't hunt or guard the nest while Hope was away. Valor II entered the nest in 2013 to pick up the slack — and taught Valor I some parenting skills in the process. Hope left the nest in March 2017 after she was injured by other birds. But instead of going off to find new mates, the male eagles decided to stick together until Starr joined their nest in September 2017."

Though rare, this isn't the first time that a trio of eagles have come to share nests in this way. According to USA Today, other trruples were have been spotted in Alaska in 1977, in Minnesota in 1983 and in California in 1992.

Check out this family below!


Trio Eagle Cam Stewards of the Upper Mississippi River Refuge Live Stream www.youtube.com

Change the World

These Guys Are Proof: Bisexual Dads Exist!

Far more LGBTQ parents fall into the "B" category than any other. Here are three of their inspiring stories.

A couple months ago, Gays With Kids received the following message via one of our social media channels:

"Hey guys, love what you do. But where are your stories about bi men who are dads? Do they not exist? I get the sense from your page that most queer dads identify as gay. I identify as bi (or pansexual) and want to become a dad one day, but just never see my story represented. Are they just not out there?"We can say with resounding certainly that YES bisexual dads absolutely exist. In fact, of all the letters in our acronym, far more LGBTQ parents fall into the "b" category than any other.

But our reader is certainly right in one respect--we don't hear the stories of bisexual/pansexual dads told nearly often enough. While we occasionally find stories to tell about bi dads, like this great one from earlier this year from a dad who just came out, we otherwise aren't often finding stories of bi dads nearly as easy as we do gay dads. We're sure this is due to any number of reasons--societal pressure to stay closeted from both the straight and LGBTQ communities along with erasure of bisexuality both come to mind.

But it's also because we haven't done the best job reaching out specifically to the bi dad community! We hope to start changing that, starting by bringing you the stories of three bid dads in our community.

(Are you a bi dad? Click here so we can help tell your story and increase exposure for the bi dad community, or drop us a line at dads@gayswithkids.com!)

James Shoemaker, bisexual dad of three, in Alton Illinois

James Shoemaker, who is 65-years-old and lives in Alton, Illinois, says he's known he was bisexual since the age of five. Still he lived what he called a "happily socially heterosexual" life throughout his adolescence, until he had his first same-sex experience in college at the age of 18-years-old.

In his 20s, he began his first same-sex relationship with a man, which lasted about five years. But soon the conversation turned towards children. James wanted his own biological children, something that would have been difficult, particularly at the time, to achieve. He and his boyfriends split, and soon after James met the woman who would become his wife. Since he had previously been in a relationship with a man, and his friends and family were aware of his sexuality, there was no hiding his bisexuality from his wife. There was no hiding my bisexuality from her

"We were both in our 30's, and both wanted kids," James said. "Wo were both kind of desperate to find a partner and she expressed that."

He and his wife proceeded to have three daughters together and lived what he called a fairly "conventional" life. "There was so much societal support [for raising a family] within conventional marriage," he said. "This was new to me, since I came out at age 17, and was used to being "different".

Being in a relationship with a woman, James said, alienated him from much of the LGBTQ activism that began to take hold in the 1980s and 1990s. "I felt I could not act as a representative for gay rights while married to a woman and raising kids with her," he said.

When his youngest daughter turned 18, he and his wife split and, and James began, once again, to date other men. Eventually, he met Paul Mutphy, who he has been dating for four years. Since reentering the world dating another man, he's had to confront, at times, people's misconceptions about his bisexuality. "It's not just gay guys looking for more social acceptance," James said, noting that "Bi rights" has not really caught the public's attention in the same way as "gay rights".

Maxwell Hosford, bi trans dad of one, in Yakima Washington


Maxwell Hosford, who lives in Yakima, Washington, came out as bisexual when he was 13-years-old. "I was still questioning myself," he said "and the term bisexual seemed to fit me."

A year later, when he was 14, Maxwell also came out as trans. "I had heard about Chaz Bono on the radio one morning before school and it got me thinking," he said. "I realized that I wasn't the only one who felt that way and that there was a term for how I've felt."

Though people often conflate sexual orientation and gender identity, Maxwell stressed that he sees his identity as trans and bisexual as perfectly natural. "I see them interacting in a way of fluidity," he said. "Not straight but not gay. Just a feeling of love."

Maxwell described his path to parenthood as a bit of an accident. "I was on testosterone for two years but had a four-week break because i was switching doctors," he said. During that break, Maxwell ended up getting pregnant, and wasn't aware of the pregnancy for several months after. "I just thought my body was just being weird from starting T again," he said. Once he took the test and saw the two pink lines, though he knew his life was about to change forever. He went to Planned Parenthood the very next day.

Being pregnant while trans, Maxwell said, was an incredible experience. "I was comfortable enough with my gender identity that I didn't have very much dysphoria," he said, though he noted he did face a lot of misgendering from strangers. "But I understood that because I did have a big ole pregnant belly," he said. He was grateful for his medical team who all referred to him according to the correct pronouns.

Soon after, his son Harrison was born. As soon as he held him in his arms, Maxwell said the entire process was worth it. "All the misgendering, all the questions and people misunderstanding doesn't matter once you have that baby in your arms nothing matters but that little bundle of joy."

Three years ago, Maxwell met his current fiancé, Chase Heiserman, via a gay dating app, and the three now live together as a family. He says he couldn't be happier, but he does face some difficulty as a bi trans man within his broader community. "In some peoples eyes my fiancé and I are a straight couple because I'm trans and he's cisgender," he said. Some of the difficulty has even stemmed from other trans men. "I've had some bad comments from other transmen regarding my pregnancy and how it doesn't make me trans," he said, noting he continues to fight the perception that he is not "trans enough" because he chose to carry his own baby.

Through it all, though, Maxwell says becoming a father has been the biggest blessing in his life. "Being able to carry my baby and bond through those nine months was amazing," he said. "I'm breastfeeding, which is hard as I'm trans, and so I'm self conscious of my large breasts now but it's such a bonding experience that it doesn't matter when I see the look of love and the comfort he gets from it."

For other gay, bi and trans men considering fatherhood, Maxwell has this simple piece of advice: "Go for it."

Michael MacDonald, bi dad of two, in Monterery California 

Michael MacDonald, who is 28-years-old and living in Monterey California, says he came out as bisexual over two years ago. He has two daughters, who are four and two-and-a-half years old, that were born while he was married to his ex-wife. "My children are amazing," he said. "They have been so incredibly strong and brave having mom in one house and dad in another."

Both children were fairly young when Michael and his ex separated, so "they didn't really break a deeply ingrained idea of what a family unit is like. They have always just sort of known that mom and dad don't live together."

Co-parenting isn't always easy, Michael said, noting it's "one of the hardest things in the world." He and his ex overcome any potential difficulty, though, by always putting the children first. "As long as they are happy, healthy and loved, that is all that matters," he said. "I'm so fortunate to have such an incredible/pain in the butt partner to help me raise these amazing little girls."

Though the separation was hard on all of them, Michael said it's also been an amazing experience watching his children's resiliency. "I am so proud of the beautiful little people they are," he said. "Their adaptability, courage and love is something really spectacular."

Since the separation, Michael hasn't been in a serious relationship, but he has dated both men and women, something he says has been "absolutely challenging. Not only does he need to overcome all the typical challenges of a newly divorced parent ("Do they like kids? Would they be a good stepparent?") but also the added stresses of being bisexual. "It can sometimes just be a bit too much for some women to handle," he said.

He has been intentional about making sure his children have known, from a young age, that "daddy likes girls and boys," he said. "They have grown up seeing me interact with people I've dated in a romantic way, like hand holding, abd expressing affection, so I think as they get older it's not something that will ever really seem foreign or different to them to see me with a man or woman," he said.

In his dates with other men, Michael says most guys tend to be surprised to learn that he has biological children. "But once I explain that I am bisexual, it's usually much more easily understood," he said. He is more irritated, though, when people question or outright refuse to recognize his bisexuality. "While I understand and have witnessed many guys who use bisexuality as a "stepping stone" of sorts when coming out," he said, it does not mean that "bisexuality is not real or valid."

As a bisexual dad, he also says he can feel isolated at times within the broader parenting community. "It can be a little intimidating feeling like you don't really belong to one side or another," he said. "There's this huge network of gay parents, and, of course straight parents. Being sort of in the middle can sometimes create a feeling of isolation"

The biggest misconception about bisexual dads who have split with their wives, he said, is that sexual orientation isn't always the reason for the separation. "When my ex wife and I separated, while my bisexuality did play a small part in it, it was not the reason we separated," he said. He added that while life might not be perfect, it's good. "My children are happy, healthy, and loved," he said. "That's really what matters the most."

Change the World

Mayor Pete Hopes His (Future) Kids Are "Puzzled" That Coming Out Was Ever Newsworthy

Mayor Pete and husband Chasten don't have any kids yet, but have talked openly and often about their hopes to be dads one day

Pete Buttigieg, who is making waves in the political world by competing to be the first openly gay and (at 37 years old) first Millennial President of the United States, currently doesn't have any children with husband Chasten. But it's clear from his public comments and writings that he and Chasten hope to become dads one day.

And when that day comes, Buttigieg says he hopes his kids will find it puzzling that coming out as gay was ever a newsworthy event. Back in 2015, well before he began his campaign for president, Buttigieg wrote an essay in the South Bend Tribune that said the following:

"Like most people, I would like to get married one day and eventually raise a family. I hope that when my children are old enough to understand politics, they will be puzzled that someone like me revealing he is gay was ever considered to be newsworthy. By then, all the relevant laws and court decisions will be seen as steps along the path to equality. But the true compass that will have guided us there will be the basic regard and concern that we have for one another as fellow human beings — based not on categories of politics, orientation, background, status or creed, but on our shared knowledge that the greatest thing any of us has to offer is love."

In the meantime, Pete and Chasten are kept plenty busy with their two fur babies, Truman and Buddy.


Personal Essays by Gay Dads

An All-Boys School: One Gay Dad's  Short-Lived Experience in the Traditional Environment

"The most dangerous phrase in the language is 'we have always done it this way.'" —Rear Admiral Grace Hopper

The process of entrance to Manhattan's elite private schools can be similar or even more rigorous than college admissions. And you can take that and multiply it tenfold when you're dealing with an all-boys environment. I know this from experience, as my partner Andy and I have spent the last year and a half dealing with one such establishment, that has been in existence for "136 years," and touts the cliché slogan of "educating boys to become scholars and gentlemen."

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