Gay Dad Family Stories

These Dads Have Simple Advice For Other Gay Men Considering Foster Care: Put the Kids First

Though it took a full year to become licensed foster dads, Robby and David say it was a "wonderful experience."

Fostering has changed the lives of many dads in the Gays With Kids community. Sometimes the outcome of fostering can be heartbreaking, and other times, it's been the most joyous and wonderful new beginning for our families. Often times, it's both.

Although all the stories are different, one piece of advice we hear time and time again is this: remove your ego and put the children first. That's the one piece of advice foster-adopt dad, Robby Swagler, would give to anyone considering fostering.

Robby met his husband David Swagler, both 30 years old, when they were in college at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio. They both loved kids and decided to become foster parents, inspired by the overwhelming number of children in the foster care system. They wanted to provide a loving home for a child in need.


In March 2015, a little over 3 years after they were married, they began the licensing process. It involved 6 weeks of pre-service classes, and a home study by an agency. That took another six months. By March the following year, everything was in order and they were ready to begin fostering.

"The overall experience of getting licensed was wonderful!" shared Robby. "We had so much support from friends and family." And the other couples in the class were even more supportive. The dads-to-be formed strong bonds with three couples in particular, and they've since watched and supported one another go through each other's journey.

Two months after being licensed, Robby and David received their first placement: three-month-old twins, Joanna and Evan.

The next year and a half were an emotional rollercoaster for the foster dads. In foster care, a priority is always placed on family reunification, when possible, if it is in the best interest of the children. So Robby and David knew there was a high probability that the twins could be placed back with their biological parents.

"Throughout that year and a half we didn't have much control of the situation," explained David, "and a lot of our hope was placed in the faith of the system doing the right thing." The twins' biological mother was understandably torn about her decision, but in the end, she decided to terminate her parental rights. But just as that happened, the biological father tried to get custody – Robby and David hadn't known who the biological father was until that moment.

After a very long and emotional day in court – for everyone – the judge granted the state custody, and the dads adopted Joanna and Evan right after their second birthday, in February 2018.

During this time, the dads also fostered another 9-month-old boy. They cared for him for 4 months before he was reunited with his grandmother. "That was very emotional as well. We were very bonded to him," said Robby.

Robby and David are very cognizant of being two white men raising African American twins. They were very selective, then, about daycare. Ultimately, they chose a culturally and racially diverse daycare that represented their family, and that would allow their twins to interact with other families like theirs. "We have found it very easy to meet and interact with other interracial families through daycare and friends," explained Robby. "However, we've found it difficult to meet other gay men who have children. We live in a pretty rural area and haven't met many other gay couples."

As much as the dads would love to have the opportunity to find other gay dad families in the area, they are very happy to share that the relationship between the three foster-adoptive families Robby and David met when they began their fatherhood journey, has continued. In July 2017, they all rented a house in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for a week. "All the kids had a wonderful time swimming and relaxing!" said Robby. "It's been very beneficial for us and the other parents to have a friendships due to the fact we understand one another's families and how challenging the process can be."

As the twins near their 3rd birthday, the dads nights are filled with bedtime stories and family routines. "My children have taught me to enjoy the little things in life again," said Robby.

And to all those thinking about fatherhood? "As a gay man, I've had many thoughts that having children would never happen. Stay focused on your goal of becoming a father and it will happen!"

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"Under Their Spell": Congrats to all the Gay Dads Whose Families Grew in June!

Wishing all of these gay dads whose families expanded in May and June a lifetime of happiness! Congrats to everyone in our community on their recent births and adoptions!


Congratulations to dads Ben and Chris on the birth of their daughter Elizabeth!

Seattle husbands Ben and Chris welcomed daughter Elizabeth, May 18, 2019.

"We started our adoption plans last August an after getting all signed up with our agency, we were so lucky to match after only about a month and with a mom pretty close to us geographically!" shared Ben. "We've loved getting to know the birth mom and to go through this journey together, including being with her for her C-section and recovery."

Although the time in the hospital was exhausting emotionally and physically, the new dads couldn't have asked for better care or more accepting and accommodating medical staff. "When we finally met her and got to hold her, we were both in awe of how perfect she was. We're over the moon and under her spell 👨👨👧❤️"

Congratulations to dads Lance and Trevor on finalizing the adoption of their daughter Ava!

Lance and Trevan met in college in 2004 and knew right away that they were soul mates. "We always knew we wanted to be dads and started our adoption process in 2015." The Santa Monica dads welcomed little Ava into their lives in 2018.

"In our minds and hearts, she was ours from the moment we laid eyes on her," said Trevan. "Signing the final adoption papers was very emotional as it was the last step in a very long process. Seeing the smile on her face and her sweet baby giggles is the best thing about being her dad. She makes it easy and we are so lucky to be her dads."

"Our sweet Ava was worth the wait!"

Congratulations to dads Melton and Thomas on finalizing the adoption of their sons Gabriel and Braiden!

On May 17, Florida dads Melton and Thomas celebrated the adoption of their sons Gabriel and Braiden, who join sisters Summer, Kendra and Ashanti. This loving family was created through foster to adopt.

"They are siblings and have been with us since August 2017," said Thomas. "It's been a long journey we have been on with all the kids. But a sense of relief from all of the court hearings, case manger visits, guardian ad litem visits, but all worth it in the end to be able to serve as advocates for the kids."

"Most of all, adoptions provide permanency which every child deserves."

Congratulations to dads Paul and Ken on the birth of their daughter Charlotte!

A new family of four! Paul and his husband Ken welcomed daughter Charlotte in May and their dog Gigi is already a big fan.

"All we can say is that our journey to fatherhood was a true adventure which ended in the best possible way," said Philadelphia dad Paul. "We feel so blessed to be Charlotte's dads, and are inspired by all the other gay dads who paved the way before us."

"It felt so amazing to hold Charlotte for the first time - truly an awe-inspiring experience. The feelings of love are indescribable. She is a true "rockstar" and we are so proud of her."

Congratulations to dads Ned and James on finalizing the adoption of their son Aiden! 

DC dads Ned and James have been together 8 years and always knew they wanted to be fathers. Although the adoption process talk longer than they expected - about two years - Aiden arrived very suddenly, with less than a week's notice. "We were so excited to expand our family, all the short night and everything are so worth it."

The finalization was an exciting day for the family. "It was surreal, after all the waiting, to know he was official our son," said Ned. The celebrated with a nice lunch, and they're planning for a party with close friends and family soon.

Congrats to this forever family!

Congratulations to dads Ryan and Marcin on the birth of their daughter Lexi!

Baby Lexi joins older brother Liam and their dads couldn't be more thrilled! "Lexi joined our family through open adoption, but it was a pretty unique journey," shared Ryan. "We'd only been waiting three weeks when we got a call at 5pm Saturday that a little girl had been born at the hospital closest to our home and her birthmother had chosen us."

The dads weren't expecting to be matched so quickly and literally had nothing for a newborn. "Our village of friends rallied and bought us everything we needed to welcome her home." Twenty three hours after the initial call they brought her home. "The feeling of wholeness and total love was so intense the first time we held her. We knew she was meant to complete our family."

Congrats to this Houston family!

Congratulations to dads Mike and Sean on the birth of their daughter Emilia!

Mike and Sean always knew they wanted to be dads so they started their adoption journey last September. "It has been an emotional roller coaster until the time we were selected by our birth mom," said Mike. "We are so grateful to our birth mom because of her selfless love of this child made our dream come true, especially during the pride month of June."

"The first time we held our little one, it was love at first sight and we knew that it was all worth it and it was the best feeling in the world."

Congrats to this family of three from Orlando, Florida!

Congratulations to dads Adam and Taylor on the birth of their son Sawyer!

Adam and Taylor live in Lehi, Utah, and they began their fatherhood journey through the foster care system. After four years, they decided they were ready to adopt. Their adoption journey moved very quickly, and within a week they were matched. Baby Sawyer was born six weeks later!

"Having Sawyer has been the best," shared Adam. "She is so perfect and we could not be happier! Knowing that she is ours is something that is overwhelming and so exciting! The emotions that come with the journey are a roller coaster...but when she came there has been piece of mind!"

Congratulations to dads Billy and Joe on finalizing the adoption of their son Caleb!

Billy, Joe and Caleb with mothers / grandmothers and great-grandmothers.

Billy and his husband Joe live in Union Beach, New Jersey, and they recently finalized the adoption of their son Billy. "A friend of mine from high school found out she was pregnant and did not want more children and could not care for him so wanted us to adopt," said Billy.

The dads had let folks know that they were looking to adopt so it was, as they said, a "match made in heaven."

"It was a long journey but we were in close contact; we got to go to all the doctors appointments and I was the first one to hold him, skin to skin, in the hospital when he was born and haven't left his side since."

When the adoption was finalized, it felt like a weight had been lifted off their shoulders and a lot of anxiety melted away. "

When we finally got to the finalization date it was just a weight lifted off her shoulders and a whole lot of anxiety taken. "We were just so happy to know that this beautiful baby boy will be ours forever and always"

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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Change the World

Judge's Decision in NY 'Compassionate Surrogacy' Case Involving Gay Dad Overturned

Though compensated surrogacy remains illegal in New York State, "compassionate surrogacy" arrangements are remain legal

Last week, an unanimous four-judge panel, part of the New York Appellate Division in Brooklyn, New York, revived a gay dad's petition to adopt his son born via surrogacy. The dad, identified as "Joseph P." in court documents, had earlier been denied his petition to adopt by a Queens County Family Court Judge, John M. Hunt. The Queens judge denied the petition because compensated surrogacy contracts are illegal in New York. However, the child born to Joseph was born via "compassionate surrogacy," meaning his gestational surrogate was not compensated.

The Appellate court's decision, written by Justice Alan D. Scheinkmanm called Hunt's decision "clearly erroneous," and held that a new Family Court judge should re-hear the case.

Judge Hunt's decision is all the more confusing since Joseph had actually already become a father via surrogacy in New York—three times over. In each instance, he used donor eggs and a friend serving, voluntarily, as the gestational surrogate. He had his first child in 2012, and then twins the following year. In all three instances, a Family Court judge granted Joseph's adoption petition, given that each child was conceived via "compassionate surrogacy," meaning no money changes hands in the course of a surrogacy journey between carrier an intended parent. This type of surrogacy arrangement is not illegal under to New York law. The social worker in Joseph's latest attempt to adopt, Gay City News noted, also gave him a favorable review, calling him "a mature, stable, and caring person who intentionally created a family of himself, the twins, and John."

Gay City News notes: "Justice Scheinkman provided a careful description of the laws governing surrogacy in New York. The Legislature provided that surrogacy contracts are unenforceable and treated as void. However, the only surrogacy contracts actually outlawed are those where the surrogate is compensated. It was clear to the Appellate Division that the Legislature did not mean to outlaw voluntary surrogacy arrangements, merely to make them unenforceable in the courts. Those who enter into a compensated surrogacy agreement face a small monetary fine and people who act as brokers to arrange such agreements are liable for a larger penalty. There is no penalty for voluntary, uncompensated surrogacy arrangements."

Read the full article here.

Entertainment

How Fatherhood Has Impacted Tom Daley's Diving Career for the Better

British diver Tom Daley, and new-ish gay dad, is looking to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in South Korea.

British diver Tom Daley is currently in the running to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in South Korea, his fourth if he competes, at the young age of just 26.

But he also has another concern that most young gay men his age couldn't fathom—fatherhood. He and his husband, filmmaker Dustin Lance Black, recently welcomed Robbie Ray via surrogacy in June 2018.

In an interview with the Independent, Daley explained how fatherhood has changed his routine and training, which he says is often for the better.

"It has changed my life completely in all of the best ways possible," Daley said. "It has changed my perspective, the way I think about things. [My son] is the most important thing in my life, everything I do is for him, everything I think about he is at the forefront of everything."

With respect to his diving career, Daley continued, "if you have a bad day at training, or a good day, you are grounded immediately when you get home through the door because you are having cuddles or you are having to change a dirty nappy. It is the first time that I have been able to leave diving at the diving board and not think about what I need to the next day in the pool."

Whatever the challenges he faces while training, he said, "I can leave it there because you don't have time to think about diving when you are looking after a kid under one."

The strategy seems to be working in Daley's favor. He recently enjoyed his most successful FINA Diving World Series ever this past Spring in Canada, winning 12 medals across five events. And barring any major catastrophe, he is overwhelmingly expected to qualify for South Korea 2020.

And we can't wait to cheer the young dad on!

Change the World

One Gay Dad's Fight Against Hate in Superior, Nebraska

Brian Splater is refusing to let homophobic and transphobic elected officials in his town go unchecked

Millie B. Photography

Guest post written by Brian Splater

No one ever should feel they will have a very lonely and secluded life as a child. But that is something me and many other gay kids believe as they are growing up.

The truth of the matter is there are people who will try everything in their power to have our rights go back in time instead of forward. It is very disheartening when these people are elected officials, or they are people who use their place of employment to spread their disgust and hate.

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Politics

America's First Gay Dad Governor Heads Into the Lion's Den

Colorado Governor Jared Polis recently became the first elected Democrat to speak at the annual Western Conservative Summit in Denver

Last Friday, American's first gay dad Governor, Jared Polis, became the first elected Democrat to speak at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver, where he urged the Republican crowd to help him build a "Colorado for all."

"While we should never gloss over the things that divide us, there is a lot more that unites us," Polis said. "When we close ourselves off from discussion or debate, and we reject the possibility of hearing and understanding other perspectives, it threatens the fabric of our democracy."

If he was hoping for a Kumbaya moment, he didn't exactly get it. As he was called to the stage, he was greeted with a smattering of applause—while others booed and shouted for a "recall" of the Governor.

"It was almost unbearable for me to sit there to listen to his talk," Abby Johnson, one of the event's attendees, told the Denver Post. "And I'm going to tell you why. He kept talking about equality for all persons, yet we live in a society where 60 million innocent human beings have been slaughtered in the name of choice. Where is their justice? Where is their equal rights?"

Polis was also criticized from his left flank for attending the same event that refuses to let the Log Cabin Republicans, a group of gay GOP members, participate—and that featured Donald Trump Jr. as a speaker the same day. "To me it feels like vanity," Katie Farnan, a staffer with progressive group Indivisible, told the Denver Post. "He can go and be a hip Democratic governor who isn't afraid to go into GOP sanctuary. Or maybe it's recall insurance. But unless he was there to hold them accountable for their support for fascist and racist policies, what's the point?"

In response to the criticism from both sides of the political aisle, Polis told the Colorado Sun: "I think it's very important that Coloradans of different ideologies, different races, different geographies, different orientations and gender identities all really celebrate that we're all part of what makes Colorado great."

The event is hosted each year by Colorado Christian University to bring together conservatives from around the state, and the larger West.

What do you think, dads? Was Polis's decision to speak at the event a savvy political move or mere pandering?

Fatherhood, the gay way

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