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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Gay Dad Family Stories

Salt Lake Gay Couple Behind Viral Wedding Proposal Become Foster Dads

They've gone viral, appeared on Ellen, and were married by Queen Latifa. What can top all that? Fatherhood.

Photo credit: Tiffany Burke, Follow Your Art Photography.

Over 5 years ago, you might remember seeing an amazing proposal that took place in a Home Depot in Utah. With the help of close friends and family, Spencer organized an incredible flash mob to sweep Dustin off his feet. If you did see it, you're one of the 14 million viewers who did. (If you have been living under a rock, you can see the video below!)

The fiancés quickly became an overnight sensation thanks to this unbelievably romantic stunt. They even appeared on Ellen and were given engagement gifts. (You know you've made it once Ellen starts giving you stuff.) Dustin and Spencer were also part of a symbolic wedding ceremony with many other couples who were married during the 2014 Grammy's event, by Queen Latifa, while Macklemore sang "Same Love."

And for their next act? Fatherhood.

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"Whether she stays or not," say new foster dads Antwon and Nate, "we'll never be the same."

We have had our foster daughter for over a year, and everyday brings different challenges and victories. The biggest challenge has been the uncertainty of knowing if she will stay with us or not. It brings the back and forth of both emotionally trying to self-preserve and wanting to fight to have her be ours.

The victories are endless. She knows we are her people, and she's our little girl. I think about going back to the way things were, but it's impossible. Because whether she stays or not, we'll never be the same.

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After Meeting in Culinary School, These Gay Dads Are Creating a Wonderful Life Together, Using Simple Ingredients

Jason and Patrick live in Charlottesville, Virginia with their daughters, and run a successful French-inspired bakery.

These gay dads own a successful French-inspired bakery and restaurant located in historic Charlottesville, Virginia. Chef Jason Becton, 41, lives in Charlottesville (where Thomas Jefferson's home Monticello is situated) with his baker husband Patrick Evans, 36, and their two daughters, Marian and Betty; they together are the owners of MarieBette, a popular bakery-restaurant in downtown Charlottesville that specializes in European foods, especially in delicious pastries from France. "Our business has become a gathering place for Charlottesvillians and we feel very welcomed here," shared Patrick. "The majority of people know that it is a business owned by two men married to each other with two kids."

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Study Finds Two-Thirds of Gay Dads Experienced Stigma in Last Year

The study also found that over half of gay dads have avoided certain social situations in the last year for fear of experiencing stigma.

According to new research by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the vast majority of gay men and their children experience some form of stigma. The findings are based on a survey of 732 gay father across 47 states in the United States.

More gay men are becoming fathers each year, and have more options for doing so than ever before: including adoption, foster care, and surrogacy. However as the study's authors write: "Despite legal, medical, and social advances, gay fathers and their children continue to experience stigma and avoid situations because of fear of stigma. Increasing evidence reveals that stigma is associated with reduced well-being of children and adults, including psychiatric symptoms and suicidality"

Almost two-thirds of respondents, or 63.5%, reported experiencing stigma based on being a gay father within the last year. Over half, or 51.2%, said they have avoided situations for fear of stigma, in the past year. Importantly, the study found that fathers living in states with more legal protections for LGBTQ people and families experienced fewer barriers and stigma. Most experiences of stigma (almost 35%) occurred, unsurprisingly, in a religious environment. But another quarter of gay dads said they experienced stigma from a wide variety of other sources, including: family members, neighbors, waiters, service providers, and salespeople

Surprisingly (or perhaps not?) another source of stigma cited by the study originates from other gay men. "Gay men report suspicion and criticism for their decision to be parents from gay friends who have not chosen parenthood." The study also says gay dads often feel "isolation in their parental role."

The study concludes, "Despite growing acceptance of parenting by same-gender adults, barriers and stigma persist. States' legal and social protections for lesbian and gay individuals and families appear to be effective in reducing experiences of stigma for gay fathers."

Read the whole study here.

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Fitness guru Shaun T. and his husband Scott Blokker are the first gay dads to be featured on the cover of Parents Magazine

I literally never thought I'd see the day. Literally.

Gay fathers on the cover of Parents Magazine! Gay fathers being celebrated in a "main stream" publication about being parents. Gay fathers!

I don't want to get overly dramatic here, but this is a milestone. A massive cultural milestone.

Sure, gay dads have come a long way in being accepted in our popular culture, but to my eye we've never been on the cover of a big popular parenting magazine celebrating our parenting skills. As if we are the norm.

We are now - thanks to Parents Magazine.

This is a particular milestone for me because I have a bit of a history with the magazine and with parenting publications in general. My first job out of grad school was in brand marketing at Johnson's Baby Products where I did indeed run advertising in this particular magazine. Back then though we only featured married, straight couples. There were no other kinds of parents to feature back in the day! And if I'm to be really honest, they were generally white, married, straight couples.

I distinctly remember one photo shoot where I forgot to put a wedding ring on the "husband's" finger and we had to reshoot it. No photoshop back then!

Now admittedly this was before I was a dad and before I was out, but as the years went by and I embraced my own journey as a gay dad, there were no role models or pop culture markers to say that I (and other gay dads) were accepted. There were no Andy Cohens publicly making baby announcements. We were alone on our parenting.

It was hard. There was a constant barrage of straight parenting norms that constantly reminded us that we were different.
Not any more! Being a gay dad, or any dad, is now simply being a parent. A good parent. A loving parent. And we have Parents Magazine to thank for the reminder and endorsement, with hopefully more to come.

And I can't help but think, and actually know, that this kind of normalization will inspire the next generation of gay dads who will simply accept, without hesitation, that fatherhood as a gay man is a real, accepted, and normal option.

Bravo!

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