Gay Dad Life

Hearts in Two Places: Bi-National Couple Bill and José and Their Sons

Bill Houghton met José Gomez in a Dallas, Texas bar 18 years ago. He was passing through on business and so was José.

“And I thought, ‘Oh, here is a good-looking Spanish guy who lives in another continent. We can have a nice weekend together and I’ll never see him again.’ It was perfect!” Bill says.

José had other plans. “He kept coming back!” Bill says. “He kept coming back and arranging for us to meet, and slowly but surely, he wore me down.”

Today, the couple live together in Barcelona, Spain with two 3-year-old sons, each of whom was born to a different surrogate in India. One, Owen, shares genes with Bill; the other, Noah, is biologically José’s.

Bill and José with Noah, just days old, and Owen is about to be born

After five years on separate continents and another five in the United States – Bill in Washington, D.C.; José in New York City – the couple moved to Barcelona where they were legally able to marry.

They loved to party and travel. Bill describes their choice to have kids like the moment a party is starting to fade and you’re faced with a choice: go home or head to the next party.

“José and I looked at each other and said, ‘No I don’t want to go the next party; I want to go home,’” he says. “The first part of our life together was traveling around the world and having as much fun as we could. The second phase is to build something meaningful together – and the boys have allowed us to do that.”

A Sometimes-Single Parent

José still travels frequently. He’s away for work, business development for an international retailer, close to 75 percent of the time. “He’s in New York now, on his way to Colombia. And then next week, he’s on his way to the Middle East,” Bill says.

Though they knew it would be that way when they had kids, Bill can’t help noticing José’s disappointment when he misses important events in their sons’ lives.

“We had talked about it when we first started and we knew that for a large part of the time that I would be sort of a single parent,” Bill says. “I was fine with that because [fatherhood] was something that we wanted so badly.”

As a one-man marketing consultancy, Bill founded the surrogacy agency Sensible Surrogacy to help other couples find trustworthy doctors and navigate the legal intricacies of the surrogacy process. In the European Union, particularly, it’s tricky to transfer legal guardianship from the mother to another person. As a result, José and Bill are currently each legally father only to the son who is biologically related.

Bill reading with Owen

Bill works from home and cares for the boys with support from the family’s nanny, Carolina.

“She keeps our life running like a clock. The truth is, I didn’t know the first thing about babies and she just – she put everything together. It was wonderful.”

Never Too Early

The boys go to preschool – which is available for kids at a much younger age than in the United States – during the day, while Bill works and Carolina shows up at noon to get the house in order. In the evenings, they meet the boys at the bus stop and head to the next activity: swimming lessons, the park or math lessons with Bill.

“They’re only three years old but we’ve already started tutoring them in math. Everybody in Spain thinks we’re crazy! ‘Three-year-olds should be running around outside!'” he says.

And they do have plenty of playtime, but part of that play involves structured learning. According to Bill’s research, that’s a key difference between kids who excel as adults and those who struggle.

“I’m doing everything that psychiatrists, psychologists tell parents not to do, which is, I have both of their lives completely mapped out. From the day they were born, I looked at Noah and I said, ‘You are going to be an engineer,’ and I looked at Owen and I said, ‘You are going to be a theoretical physicist.’”

Of course, he knows he may not get his wishes – and that’s okay. He’s more interested in cultivating curiosity and confidence in his kids.

They’re not tackling advanced physics quite yet. “Right now, I’m teaching them numerical sets: ‘Here’s a group of five ducks; here’s a group of three ducks. If I make one big group, how many ducks are there?”

The exercise will teach them addition. But more importantly than that, he says, the mental challenge stimulates their brains during these key developmental years. In addition to math tutoring with their dad, the kids spend time reading with Carolina.

“Maybe they’ll read better someday. But what’s more interesting for me is that they feel more comfortable and they like to read.”

The Best of Both Worlds

Bill struggles with Spanish – despite exploring many different ways to learn it – and with the isolation that comes with a language barrier. His neighbors are kind and accepting, but he doesn’t feel the same ability to connect with them as he would with acquaintances back home.

He feels his limited fluency makes it difficult to be social. But, he says, sending the boys to an English-language nursery school has presented new opportunities to meet American transplants and other English speakers.

“That’s exciting for me. After eight years, I get calls from people in English asking to go to dinner, to spend the evening watching American movies, and it’s like, ‘Yay!’ I feel like I’m finally home. I feel like I’m finally making a home here.”

Both Bill and José would like to return to the United States someday. To give their sons a sense of connection to both the U.S. and their home in Spain, they celebrate holidays from both countries, with a special emphasis on Thanksgiving, their favorite.

“The kids sort of have the best of both worlds,” Bill says, “but we try really hard to sort of maintain that connection to the States because José and I feel really connected to the States.”


Take Bill's Survey!

As mentioned in the article, Bill is the founder of Sensible Surrogacy and he's trying to collect the attitudes and insights of our community on gestational surrogacy. If you have a few minutes, please take his survey.


 

Show Comments ()
Race

How a White Gay Dad Discusses Racial Issues with his Black Sons

In light of the recent killing of George Floyd by the hands of police in Minneapolis, Joseph Sadusky shares two excerpts from his book that deal directly with issues around raising black sons.

Editor's Note: In light of George Floyd's death, this month, author Joseph Sadusky — who has been sharing excerpts from his book Magic Lessons: Celebratory and Cautionary Tales about Life as a (Single, Gay, Transracially Adoptive) Dad each month —will share two posts that deal directly with issues around raising black sons. This is the first, titled "White," which looks at general questions that come up for a white dad raising black boys. Read previous installments here.

It may be presumptuous for a Caucasian gay man to claim to feel terrified and heartsick at the shooting of Trayvon Martin. But upon hearing the news that day in 2012, this is exactly how I felt.

The horrible truth is that there are many incidents of racial violence toward black males that I could use as starting points for this topic. But the specific case of Trayvon Martin—whose only crime was being a young black male wearing a hoodie, walking in a neighborhood where he had a home—has a particular resonance for me. Whatever the legalities of George Zimmerman using a gun to "stand his ground" if he felt his life was threatened, the simple truth is that he chose—against the direction of law enforcement, whom he contacted for support—to follow an African American male who had every right to be walking those neighborhood streets, however "thug" he might appear.

Keep reading... Show less
Become a Gay Dad

Curious About Covid 19's Impact on Foster Care and Adoption?

Leading industry experts answer questions from queer men about the impact of Covid-19 on the adoption and foster care processes.

Recently, GWK hosted a series of free webinars with leading experts led by industry experts in the fields of adoption and foster care to learn about up-to-date insights on how the coronavirus affects family building. The presentations left lots of room for audience Q&A, to allow participants to get their individual questions answered — there were some common questions raised during each webinar, however, so we've put together a quick video of our experts answering some of the top concerns from queer men interested in pursuing surrogacy.

Our team of experts include:

Have other questions about the impact of the coronavirus on adoption or foster care that you'd like our experts to answer? Be sure to email us at dads@gayswithkids.com.

Surrogacy for Gay Men

Top 5 Questions About Covid-19's Impact On Surrogacy

Leading industry experts answer questions from queer men about the impact of Covid-19 on the surrogacy process.

Recently, GWK hosted a series of free webinars with leading experts led by industry experts in the field of surrogacy to learn about up-to-date insights on how the coronavirus affects family building. The presentations left lots of room for audience Q&A, to allow participants to get their individual questions answered — there were some common questions raised during each webinar, however, so we've put together a quick video of our experts answering some of the top concerns from queer men interested in pursuing surrogacy.

Our team of experts include:

Have other questions about the impact of the coronavirus on surrogacy that you'd like our experts to answer? Be sure to email us at dads@gayswithkids.com.

Here is a breakdown of the Top 5 Questions About Covid 19's Impact On Surrogacy. These are highlights taken from our live webinar series we held featuring: G...

Transracial Families Series

How These Dads Address White Privilege within Their Transracial Family

The "white savior" complex is real, said Andrew and Don, who are raising two Black children.

Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of ongoing posts exploring issues related to transracial families headed by gay, bi and trans men. Interested in being featured as part of the series? Email us at dads@gayswithkids.com

Andrew Kohn, 40, and his husband Donald (Don) Jones, 47, together 13 years, are two white dads raising two Black children in Columbus, Ohio. Do they stick out? Sure. Have they encountered racism? They say they haven't. "I keep waiting for the moment so that I can become my best Julia Sugarbaker," said Andrew. "I think because we're a gay couple with Black kids, we're the other-other and people don't really say things to us. We have never had people touch our kids hair or do something that was inappropriate."

Keep reading... Show less
Children's Books

New LGBTQ-Inclusive Children's Book Asks: What Makes a Family?

A new children's book by Seamus Kirst follows a young girl's journey of emotional discovery after she is asked which of her two dads is her "real dad."

Editor's note: This is a guest post from Seamus Kirst, author of the new LGBTQ-inclusive children's book "Papa, Daddy, Riley."

Throughout my life, I have discovered that reading provides an almost miraculous way of changing the way I think.

There is no medium that better offers insight into the perceptions, feelings and humanity of someone who is different from us. Through reading we become empathetic. Through reading we evolve. I have often emerged from reading a book, and felt like I was changed. In that, even in this digital age, I know I am not alone.

As children, reading shapes how we see the world. The characters, places, and stories we come to love in our books inform us as to what life might offer us as we grow up, and our world begins to expand beyond our own backyards.

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Photo Essays

Interested in Foster Care? These Amazing Dads Have Some Advice

As National Foster Care Month comes to a close, we rounded up some amazing examples of gay men serving as foster care dads, helping provide kids with a bright future.

Every May in the United States, we celebrate National Foster Care Month. With over 437,000 children and youth in foster care, it's our honor to take a look at some of the awesome dads in our community who are opening their hearts and their homes, and providing these kids with a bright future.

Thinking about becoming a foster parent? Check out these resources here, and visit AdoptUSKids.

Meet the Foster Dads!

Keep reading... Show less
Transracial Families Series

This Transracial Family Relies on a 'Support Group' of African American Women

Puerto Rican dads Ferdinand and Manuel are raising a daughter of Jamaican descent — and love to find ways to celebrate their family's diversity

Our second feature in our transracial family series. Read the first one here.

Ferdinand Ortiz, 39, and his husband Manuel Gonzalez, 38, have been together for 7 years. In 2017, they became foster dads when they brought their daughter, Mia Valentina, home from the hospital. She was just three days old at the time. On December 13, 2018, her adoption was finalized.

Mia is of Jamaican and African American heritage, and her dads are both Puerto Rican. When Manuel and Ferdinand began their parenting journey through the foster care system, they received specific training on how to be the parents of a child whose race and culture was different from their own. "We learned that it's important to celebrate our child's culture and surround ourselves with people who can help her be proud of her culture." However, as helpful as this training was, the dads agreed that it would've been beneficial to hear from other transracial families and the type of challenges that they faced.

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