Co-parenting

11 Steps Gay Men Should Take Before Co-Parenting With a Female Friend

Considering entering an "intentional co-parenting" arrangement with a female friend or couple? These are the steps you need to take

Intentional co-parenting is when two or more parents raise a child together without being in a romantic partnership with each other. Here are some of the steps gay men interested in pursuing this process with a female friend or couple should think about prior to pursuing this path to fatherhood.

Step #1: Find a Co-Parent and Start Planning

First, find a co-parent. As with a romantic partner, one can be found anywhere. We found ours through a monthly prospective parent group. Others we know met through mutual friends, and others already were friends. There are now even match-making websites! Some common ones include: www.coparents.com; www.familybydesign.com/ and modamily.com/. Check out this article about a gay couple who met their co-parents through an online service

Step #2: "Date" Your Co-Parent Before Committing

It's important not to rush into things. You should "date" for a while to get to know each other. And if you're already friends, do not confuse friendship with being compatible co-parents.

Step #3: Have Uncomfortable Conversations

Discuss ALL expectations in advance no matter how uncomfortable: Religion, approach to discipline, legal custody, etc. Even abortion, should there be medical issues for mom or child.

Step #4: Create a Custody Schedule

In addition to the shared custody schedule, be sure to discuss how much time the whole family will spend together.

Step #5: Put it All in Writing

Put everything in writing. Parenting agreements are about more than just legal coverage (in fact, they provide little of it). It is about spelling out all expectations while everyone is calm and rational. You can refer to the agreement if there are disputes, as can legal authorities should it escalate.

Step #6: Be Ready to Call it Off

Bringing a life into the world is serious stuff. One of the advantages to intentional co-parenting is that you can take your time. If there's a strong sense that this parenting arrangement isn't right, then maybe it's not. Once that baby is around you are binding yourself to your co-parent in a profound way and there's no turning back.

Step #7: Take Note of All the Personalities Involved.

Co-parenting might not be for control freaks or those not able to assert themselves. Flexibility and an even temperament are key to long term success.

Step #8: Really Can't Stress the Personality Thing Enough...

Repeating: the personalities have to be compatible. I can't stress this enough. Ideally, the planning process will reveal if that's the case.

Step #9: Hire a Therapist

Get input from a counselor who specializes in shared custody arrangements. They can advise on the best custodial schedule for the children.

Step #10: Hire a Lawyer

Meet with a lawyer experienced with alternative families in your state. There will be a lot of documentation needed, and specific ways to handle certain steps (such as insemination), to ensure maximum legal coverage.

Step #11: Talk to Other Co-Parents

Seek out current co-parents. If possible, meet with the father(s) and mother(s) separately, to get the most candid advice. But also meet with everyone together, to get a first-hand view of the family's dynamics. One useful online resource is Rachel Hope's co-parent matchmaking website: www.partneredparenting.com

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Change the World

Republican Utah Lawmaker, and Dad of Two, Comes Out as Gay in Moving Video

Nathan Ivie has many important identities he's proud of: Mormon, Republican, Utahn, father of two... and gay.

In a moving video posted to Facebook, Republican lawmaker Nathan Ivie finally admitted publicly something he's known since the age of 9: he's gay. Ivie, who serves as a County commissioner, is now the first openly gay Republican elected official in the state of Utah. His coming out video has already been viewed more than 25,000 times:

"There's no easy way to say this, I might as well just jump up and say it: I'm gay," Ivie says in the video. "That's my reality and that's what I need to talk to you about today."

In the video, Ivie reveals that he and his wife has separated. He refers to her as his "best friend and supporter," however, and that he is continuing to co-parent their two children with her.

"It's ok to be different, it's ok to live authentically," Ivie says in his video. "You can be gay and a Republican. You need to trust that people will love you for who you really are."

Jackie Biskupski, Salt Lake City's openly lesbian Democratic mayor, praised Ivie via Twitter, writing: "All the best to you, I love how a simple act of love among strangers helped you find your truth and that you are being embraced by family and friends."

Gay Dad Life

Retired NFL Player Reveals He, His Husband and Ex-Wife Live and Raise Kids Together

Former Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jeff Rohrer says "we get in fights" thanks to the unique co-parenting arrangement, but that they're "doing the best we can."

Former Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jeff Rohrer, who played for the Dallas Cowboys from 1982 to 1989, came out as gay not long ago and became the first NFL player to marry another man, Joshua Ross. Jeff is a father of two teenage boys, who he had with his ex-wife, Heather Rohrer. In a recent interview with People, Jeff, Joshua and Heather discussed their unique co-parenting situation.

"It wasn't that Jeffrey came out to me, but once I figured it out, it was obvious he was gay," Heather said. "He thought it was wrong; he was so angry. He thought his children wouldn't love him, that he'd lose his job. I tried to help him. I kept trying to tell him it was okay, that it was no big deal. But it was to him."

Today, all three adults live together, along with their two children, Isabella, 16, and Dondillon, 15.

"We get in our fights, but we find a way to make up. We're just trying to do the best that we can," Joshua said.

"Jeff and Josh are my family, and we're a better team together than apart," Heather said for her part. "Being together for the kids is the important thing for us. It's been difficult to get to this place, but it's worth it."

Read the entire piece on People.

Gay Dad Family Stories

Gay Couple, Both Dads From Former Straight Relationships, Forge New Future Together

Ryan Lippert and David Pirrotta, who met two years ago on a dating app, are both dads to kids via former straight relationships

Ryan Lippert, 46, and his fiancé David Pirrotta, 42, are successful entrepreneurs. They're both founders of their own companies - Scout Model Agency, and David Pirrotta Brands, a Beauty Brand Manager and Distributor, respectively. They met over two years ago via a dating app and spent their first date talking and dining at a Los Angeles restaurant for 4 hours, till the restaurant closed. They're hard-working, passionate, and interesting guys. You could say they bring a lot to the table.

But there's more than just the two of them at that table. Together, they have three kids from previous straight relationships.

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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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