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 https://www.facebook.com/kekoafoods) or Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/kekoafoods).

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Surrogacy for Gay Men

What Professionals Will I Work With on a Surrogacy Journey?

There will be LOTS of people involved in your surrogacy journey. Kristin Marsoli of Circle Surrogacy breaks down the team of people you can expect to work with.

A surrogacy journey, while monumental, is also a complex process with multiple milestones, many of which are new territory for intended parents. You will likely form the strongest relationships with your egg donor and surrogate, however there are many other professionals who you'll encounter on your journey who will educate and support you on your way to parenthood.

Here are the types of professionals you can expect to work with on your surrogacy journey working with an agency such as Circle Surrogacy & Egg Donation:

Parent Outreach Team

When you start your research on surrogacy and surrogacy agencies, if you contact Circle Surrogacy, your first point of contact will be a member of our Parent Outreach Team. This person solely supports intended parents at the very beginning stages of their journeys, before they've signed on with an agency. The Parent Outreach Team is a wonderful resource to answer questions about the surrogacy process, surrogacy costs, how to choose an agency and more. At Circle, many of our Parent Outreach Associates are also parents through surrogacy, so they can share their experiences and understand exactly what it's like to be in your shoes. When you have your surrogacy consultation, you'll meet with a Parent Outreach Associate and a Lawyer to discuss your personal surrogacy needs and journey. Your Parent Outreach Team will support you through signing on with the agency.

Circle's Parent Outreach Team

Egg Donation Matching Coordinator

It's time to match with the first of two women who will be very important in your journey to parenthood: your egg donor! Selecting an egg donor may come easy to some, but others may take more time determining their perfect match. Our egg donor coordination team will help you find the right egg donor to meet your needs. They will help you navigate the egg donor database and coordinate your egg donor match.

IVF Doctor and Clinic Coordinators

You'll work closely with your IVF clinic professionals, including coordinators and, especially, your doctor. Your IVF doctor will advise you on your IVF journey and embryos, evaluate your egg donor and surrogate to determine they are ready for the process medically, and perform the egg retrieval and embryo transfer. Some intended parents come to surrogacy having already identified a clinic, others look for guidance in choosing a clinic that will best suit their needs.

Program Manager and Coordinator

Perhaps the professionals you will work the closest with will be your Program Manager (PM) and Program Coordinator (PC). As your journey support team, your PC and/or PM will be your day-to-day contact during your entire journey, from the moment you sign on with the agency, until the birth of your baby and beyond. Your PC and your PM ensure that you are meeting every milestone, having a smooth journey, and preparing for the arrival of your baby(ies).

Social Workers

Early on in your journey, you'll have an intended parent support call with one of the agency's social workers. During this call, you'll speak with the social worker about your upcoming journey, setting up expectations, talk about matching preferences and more. Social workers are also available to intended parents throughout their journey should they have a bump in the road, or if they need help navigating and talking through a situation.

L-R Alicia Abdella, Manager of Intended Parent Support and Social Worker, Jessica McCaffrey, Intended Parent Attorney and Scott Buckley, VP of Client Services

Lawyers (both at Circle and local attorneys)

During the surrogacy process you will work with a lawyer for the following milestones:

  • Drafting, negotiating and finalizing your surrogacy contracts
  • Establishing your parental rights
  • Safely returning home

Intended parents will be assigned a Circle attorney who will be part of the Coordination team. Parents can also expect to work with local counsel – lawyers who work out of the state from which their gestational carrier resides. Local counsel will help with establishing parental rights.

Surrogate Matching Team

A key milestone during your surrogacy journey is matching with your gestational carrier. At Circle, the Matching Manager – who is also a lawyer – presents intended parents with the profile of a gestational carrier whom she believes will be a great match. The match is based on a few criteria: legal fit, personality fit, geographic location and views on surrogacy. The Matching Team will help coordinate your first call with your potential surrogate, and work with you to find the most suitable match.

Trust Accountant Team

Each surrogacy operates a little differently; however if you work with a full-service agency such as Circle Surrogacy, a Trust Accountant will manage any outgoing payments to surrogates, egg donors and third parties. Upon matching, trust accountants keep intended parents informed of the monies needed to fund all expected expenses up until 6 months post delivery. They can also answer any financial questions intended parents may have.

Medical Billing Team

Intended parents will interact with the Medical Billing Team when they are matched with their gestational carrier. The team determines what intended parents can expect to pay for medical expenses from local monitoring, pregnancy and delivery, based on their specific case. The Medical Billing Team also reviews each medical bill from monitoring, physicians and the hospital prior to payment to ensure accuracy, and advocate for intended parents should medical facilities need to be called for any discrepancies.

Gestational Carrier's OBGYN

Around the 10th week of pregnancy, the IVF clinic will discharge your surrogate from their care and she will start seeing her OBGYN. Your surrogate will select her OBGYN that is local to her, and usually the same doctor she saw for her own pregnancies. Many intended parents attend the 20-week ultrasound with their surrogate, at which time they meet the OBGYN in person (in some cases, IPs have been "attended" ultrasound appointments via video on their surrogate's phone!).

The entire team at Circle

Hospital Staff

Your baby will be delivered at a hospital in your gestational carrier's home state; many times, it's the hospital where she delivered her own children. Circle recommends touring the Labor & Delivery section of your surrogate's hospital to help familiarize yourself with its staff and layout in advance. Many intended parents combine their visit for the 20-week ultrasound and the hospital tour. Touring the hospital with your surrogate enables you both to ask questions of the hospital staff and prepare for baby's delivery.

Embassy personnel (international intended parents)

International parents will work with their agency's legal team as well as local counsel to ensure they can return home safely. Some intended parents will need to travel to the embassy to secure travel documents for their baby(ies).

There are so many experienced professionals involved in a surrogacy and egg donation journey. It's important to understand with whom you'll be working throughout each milestone. While every agency operates differently – and an independent surrogacy journey will involve fewer agency professionals – these are the professionals intended parents can expect to work with on a journey with Circle Surrogacy. And because Circle is a full-service agency, many of the professionals mentioned above – outside of IVF clinics, local attorneys, hospital and embassy personnel – are all under one roof, making the management of your journey smooth and secure.

Change the World

New York: It's Time to Legalize Ethical Surrogacy

New York, one of only three states to prohibit compensated surrogacy, is faltering on a bill to legalize the practice in the state

With the Democratic takeover of the State Senate in the 2018 elections, legislators in New York have been busy passing any number of long-held progressive priorities, from a sweeping package of bills strengthening rent regulations to others aimed at expanding and protecting voting access in the state. But as the legislative season comes to a close, another initiative, which looked all but assured to pass just a couple months ago, now stands in limbo: the legalization of gestational surrogacy via the Child-Parent Security Act.

New York is just one of three states that doesn't already permit surrogacy in some form, but we are closer than ever before to finally legalizing this important family-building option for LGBTQ people and those who struggle with infertility. The Child-Parent Security Act has passed the State Senate, and Governor Cuomo has promised to sign it. But the legislation is now stalled in the State Assembly, where a number of legislator and advocates have unfortunately spoken out against it. Assemblywoman Deborah Glick has called the practice "pregnancy for a fee" and the "commodification of women." Gloria Steinem likened the practice to allowing "profiteering from body invasion."

But State Senator Brad Hoylman, the bill's sponsor and himself a gay father of two via surrogacy, is nonetheless pressing ahead. "My two beautiful daughters were born through gestational surrogacy," he wrote via Twitter. "They are everything to me. Every family in NY, whether LGBTQ or struggling with infertility, should have the same opportunity."

We at Gays With Kids couldn't agree more, which is why we've brought you countless stories of gay dads, like Senator Hoylman, who have realized their dream of fatherhood through the incredible medical advancements of the last several decades that make surrogacy possible.

But even more importantly: we've brought you the stories of surrogates themselves — a perspective so often left out of the morality debate surrounding surrogacy — who help illuminate the incredible and diverse set of reasons women decide to become surrogates. The joy many of these women take in helping others realize their dream of parenthood via surrogacy is truly palpable, and couldn't sound more different from the alarmist and coercive reality painted by surrogacy's critics.

Here are just a few of their voices:

  • Shelly Marsh, told us of the urge she felt after becoming a mother herself to help others who can't start families as easily. She subsequently worked with two separate gay couples to do exactly that. "My girls are my life," she told us of her decision to become a surrogate. "If I have the ability to share that love with someone else, that is what I wanted to do."
  • Heather Manojlovic told us about some of the reasons she enjoyed working to make fatherhood a reality for gay intended parents. "The fact that I was able to help someone that may have had to overcome a lot of adversity during his lifetime to fulfill a dream meant so much to me," she wrote.

  • Another surrogate we profiled told us about the experience of working with an HIV positive man, a population of people who once thought biological fatherhood would never be in their future, become a dad through the Special Program for Assisted Reproduction (SPAR) program. "I knew they didn't have the same number of gestational carrier match options that gay men who weren't part of the SPAR program had," she wrote. "It felt even more gratifying for me to be able to be the person who helped make their dreams come true."

To be clear: surrogacy does indeed raise any number of moral and ethical issues that should absolutely be discussed before legalizing it. Abroad, surrogacy is often left unregulated, which creates a system that does in fact take advantage of women and their families who serve as surrogates. And let's face it: surrogacy is expensive, meaning this form of family creation is far too often available to just a privileged few.

But rather than ban the practice completely, why not work to improve these shortcomings?

Many efforts are underway to help tackle surrogacy's hefty price tag. The non-profit organization Men Having Babies has been fighting for years to offset the considerable costs associated with surrogacy for gay men. New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who is currently vying for the 2020 Democratic nomination for President, has suggested insurance companies be required to cover some parts of the process, such as IVF treatments, for LGBTQ couples and others who can't get pregnant independently. And an increasing number of corporations, like Target, are offering benefits to their employees to cover some aspects of surrogacy's costs.

Senator Hoylman has also taken steps to shore up protections for surrogates by including a "Surrogates' Bill of Rights," the first of its kind in the country, as part of the legislation. Under the bill, surrogates will have guaranteed access to legal advice and extended medical benefits. By passing this legislation, New York will finally catch up to the 47 other states that already permit gestational surrogacy in some form, allowing LGBTQ people and others impacted by infertility to realize their dream of parenthood in the state they call home. But we will also have the opportunity to do something arguably more important — set the national standard for the ethical practice of surrogacy.

If you live in New York State, please take a second to send a message to your representative asking them to support the bill.

Gay Dad Life

New Book Explores How Two 'Broken Souls' Met on Craigslist, Fell in Love, and Started a Family

Nick and Bryan had both almost "given up," until they met each other through a Craigslist ad.

Guest post written by Nick He, authors of "Two Dads and Three Girls"

My name is Nick. I am 100% made in China. Growing up in China, being gay was not an option. I was denied a chance to be myself. Thanks to the Chinese education system, I also was not encouraged to seek my true self. Everyday, I was told to study, get a good score, go to a college, and to make my parents proud.

Growing up in Seattle, Bryan's happy family life was shattered by his parent's divorce. He quit college and worked in a local grocery store for 18 years. He knew that he liked boys when he was little, but chose to live a faked straight life.

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Do We Have a Biological Right to Fatherhood? Absolutely, Says This Gay Dad

Jay Bostick, a gay foster dad, responds to Kevin Saunders' controversial essay "Why This Adopted Gay Man Will Never Have Children"

Editor's Note: Below is an essay by Jay Bostick who eloquently lays out many of the reasons why he and many other readers were upset by a post we ran yesterday by Kevin Saunders titled, "Why This Adopted Gay Man Will Never Have Children." This post clearly touched a nerve! (Check out the ongoing discussion on our Facebook page.) While some of our readers appreciated Saunders' viewpoint, many others felt slighted by his reasoning for not having children, calling him everything from "self-involved," "selfish," and an "insufferable narcissist." Many other readers rightly questioned why Gays With Kids would even run an essay from a man who does not want children on (of all place) a parenting website.

The former point is a matter of opinion, but I'll offer some clarification on the latter. We agreed to run this post for two reasons. First, Saunders' perspective is unique among many adopted gay men. We have run countless essays on this site featuring adopted gay men who, inspired by their own upbringing, decided to give back by opening up their homes to children who need them. Saunders' experience, however, led him to conscience decision not to have children, a perspective worthy of discussion particularly by anyone who has been touched by adoption in some way. Secondly, as a 52-year-old gay man, Saunders is starting to find himself alienated from many in his LGBTQ peer group for his decision not to have kids. Again, we are so much more familiar with the opposite perspective on our page: when they become parents, many gay men find themselves ostracized from the broader, childless LGBTQ community. That the inverse is also starting to become true is a testament to the increase in LGBTQ parents in the United States, and an interesting dichotomy we believed warranted further exploration.

All that said, Saunders' essay is a matter of opinion, and one our readers (nor we) certainly don't have to agree with. This is why we were thrilled to receive this "counterpoint" to Saunders's essay from Bostick. We, at least, are enjoying the respectful exchange of ideas, and hope you are as well. Give Bostick's essay a read, as well as the original, and then let us know what you think in the comments or at dads@gayswithkids.com.

--David Dodge, Managing Editor

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Adults

Why This Adopted Gay Man Will Never Have Children

Do we have a biological right to parenthood? Kevin Saunders, a childless 52-year-old gay man, says no.

Guest post written by Kevin Saunders.

Two dear friends of mine, each partnered, capable gay men of relatively sound mind and body, have recently decided to become fathers, and I could not be more unnerved. The expense, the risk, the potential for disappointment, the logistical complexity that they must navigate leave me baffled and at times enraged with the lingering question that I have, out of respect, refrained from asking, "WHY, WHY, WHY do you want to do this?!" These feelings toward what most would consider a happy occasion beg a reciprocal enquiry: "Why do you care?" The answer is rooted in a disposition and a history that has left me skeptical of the innate right to biological parenthood that many, gay or straight, seem to feel entitled to.

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Gay Dad Life

Gays WITHOUT Kids (If Just For a Day...)

Andrew Kohn explains why he decided to leave his kids at home this Pride

I'm not a monster. Yes, I saw the wagons carrying lovely toddler children waiving their flags and eating their graham crackers. The children were plentiful wearing their Pride family shirts, bejeweled in rainbow. The weather was perfect and the crowds were as prideful as ever. But my husband and I had a day where we didn't have to worry about someone else, not on the constant lookout for the next available bathroom or calming emotions because we could buy one unicorn costume and not every unicorn costume. We had a day without kids.

Yes, Pride has become commercialized. Some companies want my gay money, but others march and have a presence because one gay voice spoke up and asked why the company hasn't marched. I marched in the parade with my employer – who marched for the first time this year – because I started the conversation about why we hadn't marched before. My husband and I were present. We honored Stonewall. And praised Nina West. And we did it without carrying a bag with extra panties and a couple sippy cups.

Believe me, I get sharing the day with your children. With your family. But in my house, we live Pride every day. Two white dads caring for two black kids makes us walking billboards for equality, love, and acceptance. I don't need a day to celebrate my family with my children. We do it in the grocery store. We do it at preschool. We recognize our uniqueness and celebrate it. My children don't need a meltdown and a long walk to tell them about their history and their fathers' connection to the past.

Instead of worrying about where we would find lunch and, again, where the closest bathroom was, I saw beauty that took me by surprise – and I was able to be in the moment with it. Trans men waking boldly and bravely around only wearing only their bindings. Watching high school kids sitting in the grass, wearing crop tops and eating french fries, literally carefree looking up at the clouds. We experienced a community that was free and uninhibited, if just for one afternoon, where who you are isn't odd or something to be hidden. But rather something that is a definition of you and should be your reality 365 days a year.

I know that being gay and having kids can be overwhelming at times. We ask ourselves if we're representing our community adequately (or have we become too heteronormative?). If we have children of a different race, are we giving them the experiences they need to know who they are, as well as navigate that world with gay parents? Are we so embraced at school functions because of our contributions to community or are we a token family? And yes, I'll ask it, are we good enough for acceptance by all gay families, who as if we're single again, judge each other on wealth, looks, and status? No family is better than any other, and gay parents certainly have opportunities to be better towards one another.

Our Pride ended in a small fight while walking to the car, like all good Pride's should. But it wasn't about kids bickering, or kids getting upset they didn't get the right treat. It was about us centering ourselves in a community that isn't exactly welcoming in certain spaces to gay families other times of the year. It was about us catching up with our past while also seeing our collective future.

And the kids didn't seem to mind. They had fun with a babysitter and lived their Pride out loud when they shopped for daddy and papa gifts for Father's Day. That's our Pride. Maybe when the kids are older, and really get the meaning of Pride, we'll start marching together in solidarity. But for right now, daddies needed a little time alone to reconnect with their LGBT family. And while there may be too many beer ads and not enough voter registration tables, we celebrate visibility and love. And my husband and I had time together, reminding us of who we are, who our original family was, and how we will connect who we are now, and our children, with that family as it grows.

At the end of the day, we're all in it together. And my children will be enriched by the experience. Just not this year. This year, we fertilized our roots so that our branches can grow.

Antwon and Nate became dads through the foster care system. Nine months after becoming licensed, they received a call on a Tuesday, and two days later, their daughter moved in. "It was very quick," said Nate. "Honestly, it was more just shock and nervousness for me."

As new parents, Nate took unpaid leave for two weeks, before going back to work part-time. Antwon didn't receive any leave.

"It's definitely important to have time off to bond, but it's also important to be financially stable when you do it," said Antwon. "I don't think you should have to choose between staying financially afloat or showing your kid love... and I don't think anyone should have to make that choice."

Only 15% of dads in the U.S. have access to paid paternity leave. We want to change this.

Watch Nate and Antwon's video to find out how:

Sign the pledge: www.dovemencare.com/pledge

Like Antwon and Nate, we're helping Dove Men+Care advocate for paid paternity leave for *ALL* dads! Over the next three months, we will be sharing stories of gay dad families and their paternity leave experience. Our goal is to get 100,000 folks to sign the Paternity Leave Pledge.

Dove Men+Care has collected over 30,000 signatures on the Pledge for Paternity Leave in three short months, in a mission to champion and support new legislation for federally mandated paid leave laws in the U.S. With the conversation growing on Capitol Hill, Dove Men+Care will target key legislators to drive urgency behind paid paternity leave policy and provide a social proof in the form of real dad testimonials, expert research and signature support from families across the country.

Our goal is to help Dove Men+Care bring 100,000 signatures to key policymakers in Washington, D.C. for their Day of Action on the Hill, and drive urgency behind this issue.

If you believe *ALL* dads should receive paid paternity leave, sign the Paternity Leave Pledge.

Fatherhood, the gay way

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