Gay Dad Family Stories

A Gay Teenager with a Challenging Past Finds a New Home, and Future, with Two Gay Dads

Sam suffered abuse at the hands of his birth family. But thanks to his adoptive dads, Adam and Josh, his future looks bright.

Being your children's most enthusiastic and loving cheerleader is one of the most important things you can do as a parent. To support, encourage, guide and to provide a safe loving environment where children can truly be themselves. And that's what Adam and Josh Blaylock are doing for their adopted 17-year-old son, Sam Blaylock.

Before meeting his dads, Sam experienced physical and emotional abuse from his birth family and relations. Once child services became involved, he was moved to and from the homes of different family members and a foster home, before finally coming to stay with Josh and Adam.

"After moving in with them I finally felt what a family actually meant," shared Sam.

Adam and Josh created a home environment of love, acceptance, and freedom to be his authentic self. But how did two Portland, Oregon, husbands in their early thirties become dads to a gay teenager? Although it wasn't necessarily part of the "plan," it's become abundantly clear that this was the family they were meant to have. Here's their story.


Adam and Josh at their wedding, July 2015

Both Adam and Josh came out to friends and families after their high school years. Adam, now 34 and a teacher, told his mom on a trip to New York City, while commemorating his 21st birthday. They celebrated by going to museums and Broadway shows.

"Shocking she didn't know already, right?" said Adam. Over dinner the truth came out, and Adam's mother didn't take it well. Adam never came out to his father and unfortunately no longer has any relationship with him because of his beliefs and how he expresses them.

Josh, 33 and a retail manager, came out to his sister on the way home from a Cher concert.

"So looking back, duh, I'm sure everyone knew," said Josh. "But growing up in an Evangelical household, I didn't know what the reaction to the truth was going to be." It would be another few years before he told his mom; Josh phoned her to tell her that he'd got a dog, and ended up saying how he'd moved in with his boyfriend Adam and he was gay. His mom's response was, "Well, you know how I feel about that," (which he didn't) and they left it at that.

From left to right: Adam, Sam and Josh, en route to Disneyland, October 2015

"It has taken awhile, and a lot of work on both parts, but by including my family in our lives, they were able to see the love that we have for each other and for them," said Josh. "They were all at our wedding in 2015, where Adam took my family's last name." Adam feels welcome in Josh's family and they couldn't be happier with their relationship.

When the husbands began thinking about children, Josh and Adam imagined they'd foster or adopt a younger child. "I am teacher, so I have seen first-hand how many children there are out there who need loving homes," said Adam. But when a friend of theirs who works with LGBTQ youth reached out to them and asked if they would temporarily foster a teenager while DHS found a permanent placement, they said yes.

Sam first came to live with his dads when he was 14 years old and after a very traumatic childhood that stretched into his teen years. He suffered abuse from his family and relations, both physical and mental, and then was sexually assaulted in a foster home where he lived temporarily. (Read Sam's story, in his own words, here.) Sam struggled with his sexuality, which was also a source of contention for his family who did not accept who he was or how he chose to express himself. Finally, it lead to child services collecting him from school one day, and taking him to stay with Josh and Adam.

At a friend's wedding, Utah, September 2017

"I felt at home the second I walked into their house," remembered Sam. "I felt a strong connection, and felt like I was in the wrong family for the past 14 years and now have found my people. My true family."

"We knew we could be a loving permanent home for Sam," added Josh. It took another two and a half years of court dates and working with child services, and the process itself was challenging and emotional. "It's very awkward and heartbreaking to sit in the courtroom supporting your kid while his mother is there, obviously caring about her child but not able to provide a safe environment for him," said Adam. "Sam loves his biological family, even though they are not supportive of his sexuality or that the state got involved, and we fully support contact with them as long as it is safe and he is in a stable mental state to see them."

On January 8, 2018, the husbands finalized Sam's adoption.

Adoption day, January 8, 2018

Since becoming dads, Adam and Josh's priorities have changed considerably. They dove head-first into parenting, so never had time to doubt. But even though the path was challenging, they know Sam has a bright future; they know they made the right choice.

"Having two dads is amazing," said Sam who now lives as an out and proud teen. "I never have to worry about anything when it comes to being gay. They understand it all. I never feel judged and can be as weird and as expressive as I want."

Adam and Josh have learned so much about themselves by helping Sam along his way. "We never would have even thought about coming out as teenagers, but Sam is undeniably himself, exploring drag and everything gay," said Adam. "We had always lived very heteronormative lives, but now we have learned to be very proud of our sexuality and family!"

Portland Pride June 2018

Through his safe and supportive family life, Sam has begun to really explore drag. "It started with just makeup, but then I wanted to dress up for pride 2017 and Adam helped me make my cute little tutu," explained Sam. "We were joking around and how it looked like Tinkerbell and thus came my drag name, Twinkerbell." Sam describes drag as being his number one outlet of coping and seeing the beauty in life.

And even though Sam will soon be off to college and they will become empty nesters, Adam and Josh will forever be his dads, and biggest cheerleaders.

Show Comments ()
Change the World

'Homosexuality is Wrong' Utah Teacher Tells Boy Who Gave Thanks for His Two Adoptive Dads

The substitute teacher went on to say two men living together is "sinful." She was fired shortly after.

To anyone with a heart, the moment should have done nothing more than bring a tear to the eye. Last week, just before the Thanksgiving break, a substitute teacher in a fifth grade class in Cedar Hills, Utah — just south of Salt Lake City — asked her students to name something they were thankful for this holiday season.

"I'm thankful for finally being adopted by my two dads," said Daniel, one of the boys, when it was his turn.

Rather than grab a tissue to dab her eyes, or ask the classroom to join her in a hearty round of applause to celebrate Daniel finding his forever family, the teacher took it upon herself to impart her personal religious beliefs onto the young boy. "Homosexuality is wrong," the teacher said in front of the class, adding that it was "sinful" for two men to live together.

The teacher, fortunately, was fired from Kelly Services, the substitute staffing company that employed her, quickly after the incident, but the moment is nonetheless receiving widespread attention in the press — no doubt in part because one of the boy's dads, Louis van Amstel of "Dancing With the Stars," posted a video clip to his 76,000 Twitter followers with the title: "Our child was bullied."

"It shouldn't matter if you're gay, straight, bisexual, black and white," he said to the New York Times in a follow up interview. "If you're adopting a child and if that child goes to a public school, that teacher should not share her opinion about what she thinks we do in our private life."

Louis also revealed that the moment may not have come to light were it not for three of his son's classmates, who told the principal about the teacher's bigoted comments. His son, Daniel, didn't want to report the incident for fear of getting the teacher into trouble.

Louis expressed thanks that the staffing company responded as quickly as it did following the incident — and also stressed that his neighbors and community have rallied behind he and his family in the days afterward, offering support. He wanted to dispel stereotypes that Utah, because of its social conservatism and religiosity, was somehow inherently prejudiced.

"It doesn't mean that all of Utah is now bad," he told the Times. "This is one person."

It's also true that this type of prejudice is in no way limited to so-called red states, and incidents like these happen daily. LGBTQ parents and our children are subjected to homophobic and transphobic comments in schools, hospitals, stores, airlines and elsewhere as we simply go about living our lives. These moments so often fly under the radar — many classmates don't have the courage, as they fortunately did in this case, to report wrongdoing. Some administrators are far less responsive than they were here — and most of us don't have 76,000 Twitter followers to help make these moments of homophobia a national story.

All that aside, let's also get back to what should have been nothing more than a heartwarming moment — Daniel, a fifth grade boy, giving thanks to finally being legally adopted into a loving family.

Entertainment

Amazon's New "Modern Love" Series Includes Episode on Open Adoption

The episode is loosely based on the New York Times "Modern Love" essay written by sex columnist and activist Dan Savage.

In 2005, Dan Savage, the gay sex columnist, contributed one of the most talked about essays for the Modern Love column in The New York Times. Better known for his acerbic wit and cutting political commentary, Savage exposed a more vulnerable side in this piece, sharing the highs, lows and everything in between that comes from the experience of pursuing an open adoption.

His son DJ's birth mother was experiencing what Savage called a "slo-mo suicide": homeless by choice, in and out of prison, and surrounded by drugs. Though Savage has chosen an open adoption so that DJ's birth mother would be a presence in his son's life, she often disappeared for months and sometimes years at a time without contacting the family, leaving their young son with lots of questions and no satisfying answers.

The piece ends on a heartbreaking note, with Savage simply seeking some sort of resolution. "I'm starting to get anxious for this slo-mo suicide to end, whatever that end looks like," he wrote. "I'd prefer that it end with DJ's mother off the streets in an apartment somewhere, pulling her life together. But as she gets older that resolution is getting harder to picture."

At the time, many interpreted Savage's story as a cautionary tale for those considering open adoptions. But in 2016, on the Modern Love Podcast, he asserted that was not his intention: "DJ's mom is alive and well," Savage said. "She's on her feet. She's housed. We talk on the phone occasionally. She and DJ speak on Mother's Day and on DJ's birthday." He added that he "would hate to have anyone listen to that essay or to read it — which was written at a moment of such kind of confusion and despair — and conclude that they shouldn't do the kind of adoption that we did," Savage said. "I think that open adoption is really in the best interest of the child, even if … it presents more challenges for the parents. So I encourage everyone who's thinking about adoption to seriously consider open adoption and not to be dissuaded by my essay."

Now, Savage's piece is getting the small screen treatment as one of 9 episodes included in Amazon Prime's adaption of the column. The episode inspired by Savage's essay, "Hers Was a World of One," contains some departures from Savage's original story — Savage's character, played by Fleabag's Andrew Scott, adopts a daughter rather than a son, for example, and the episode concludes closer to the upbeat note struck in the Podcast version of hist story than in the column.

Either way, we welcome any and all attention to the complexities of open adoption. Check out the episode (which also randomly includes Ed Sheeran in a couple scenes) and tell us what you think!

News

Adopting Dogs Improves Gay Couples' Relationships, Says Adorable Study

In what may be a "pre-curser to parenthood," 56% of gay and bi couples reported spending more time with their partners after adopting a dog.

As part of what may be the most adorable study you never knew you needed, pet-sitting website Rover.com found that gay and bi couples who adopt dogs reportedly boast stronger relationships as a result — 56% of gay and bi couples said they spent more time with their partners after adopting a dog. More than half of participants also said that owning a dog can help prepare couples for children.

Interestingly, gay and bi couples were also more likely to prepare for potential difficulties in their arrangements — 21% of gay and bi couples reported setting up a "pet-nup" agreement to determine custody of their new pup in case their relationship didn't last. Only 12% of straight couples, in contrast, did the same.

"You can outline the practicalities of what would happen in the event you split from your partner whether you have joint or sole custody," Rover.com dog behaviorist Louise Glazebrook told Australia's QN News. "It's a real tragedy to see breakups results in dogs needing to be re-homed.

There was, however, one clear downside to pet ownership mentioned in the study — 17% of respondents said they have less sex now that they're sharing a bed with their pup.

What to Buy

Shop with a Purpose with Our 2019 Holiday Gift Guide

Want to find amazing gift ideas while *also* supporting LGBTQ-owned and allied businesses? Look no further than our 2019 holiday gift guide!

'Tis the season to show loved ones you care. And what better way to show you care, by also supported our LGBTQ+ community and allies whilst doing it! Shop (LGBTQ+) smart with these great suggestions below.

Keep reading... Show less
Diary of a Newly Out Gay Dad

A Newly Out Gay Dad Feels 'Demoted' After Divorce

Cameron Call showed up to his first family Thanksgiving since coming out and getting a divorce — and struggles to find himself "stuck with the singles."

Cameron Call, who came out in summer 2019, has generously agreed to chronicle his coming out journey for Gays With Kids over the next several months — the highs, lows and everything in between. Read his first article here.

Denial is an interesting thing. It's easy to think you're potentially above it, avoiding it, assume it doesn't apply to you because you'd NEVER do that, or maybe you're just simply avoiding it altogether. After finally coming out, I liked to think that I was done denying anything from now on. But unfortunately that's not the case.

And this fact became very clear to me over Thanksgiving.

Keep reading... Show less
Resources

New Report Details the 'Price of Parenthood' for LGBTQ People

A new report by the Family Equality Council takes a deep dive into the current state of cost for becoming a parent as an LGBTQ person

Parenthood is expensive. But parenthood while queer is still prohibitively costly for so many segments of the LGBTQ community interested in pursuing a family, according to a new repot by the Family Equality Council, titled, "Building LGBTQ+ Families: The Price of Parenthood."

Among the more interesting findings was this one: the cost of family planning is relatively similar for all LGBTQ people, regardless of income level. This shows "that the desire to have children exists regardless of financial security," the report's authors conclude.

Research for the report was conducted through an online survey of 500 LGBTQ adults over the age of 18, and was conducted between July 11-18, 2018. For comparison, the survey also included 1,004 adults who did not identify as LGBTQ.

Other interesting findings of the report include:

  • 29% of all LGBTQ+ respondents reported an annual household income under $25,000 compared to 22% of non-LGBTQ+ respondents.
  • 33% of black LGBTQ+ respondents, 32% of female-identified LGBTQ+ respondents, and 31% of trans/gender non-conforming LGBTQ+ respondents reported annual household incomes below $25,000.
  • Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have volunteered to participate in online surveys and polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to multiple sources of error, including, but not limited to sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, and error associated with question-wording and response options.29% of all LGBTQ+ respondents reported an annual household income under $25,000 compared to 22% of non-LGBTQ+ respondents.
  • 33% of black LGBTQ+ respondents, 32% of female-identified LGBTQ+ respondents, and 31% of trans/gender non-conforming LGBTQ+ respondents reported annual household incomes below $25,000.
  • Regardless of annual household income, 45-53% of LGBTQ+ millennials are planning to become parents for the first time or add another child to their family. Those making less than $25,000 a year are considering becoming parents at very similar rates as those making over $100,000.
  • Data from the Family Building Survey reveals that LGBTQ+ households making over $100,000 annually are considering the full range of paths to parenthood, from surrogacy and private adoption to foster care and IVF. The most popular options under consideration in this income bracket are private adoption (74% are considering), foster care (42%), and IVF or reciprocal IVF (21%). At the other end of the economic spectrum, for LGBTQ+ individuals in households making less than $25,000 annually, the most commonly considered paths to parenthood are intercourse (35% are considering), foster care (30%), and adoption (23%).

What to Buy

A Gift Guide for LGBTQ Inclusive Children's Books

Need some ideas for good LGBTQ-inclusive children's books? Look no further than our gift guide!

Every year we see more books released that feature our families, and we're here for it! We're especially excited for the day when diverse and LGBTQ+ inclusive books are less of "the odd one out" and rather considered part of every kids' everyday literacy.

To help us reach that day, we need to keep supporting our community and allies who write these stories. So here's a list of some of the great books that need to be in your library, and gifts to the other kids in your lives.

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