Gay Dad Life

How Gay Dads Evan and Andy Overcame Serious Struggles and Challenges

Dr. Evan Goldstein and Andrew Yu, or Andy, as Evan calls him, met on Gay.com 11 years ago. Today the couple are raising beautiful twin boys named Phoenix and Sebastian, age 4, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Their journey to becoming a family wasn’t without considerable struggles, however. When Evan met Andy, Evan was still married. Married to a woman that is. It would take him two years to complete the tough transition from a heterosexual married life to a new, gay life. Despite the trying circumstances of their relationship in those early years, and despite all the emotional turmoil and heartache, Andy stayed with Evan.

“Andy brought me out of the closet and helped me accept this missing part of myself. I knew I had to end my marriage, which was so tough on everyone, especially my wife. It was rough, but Andy stuck through it with me,” says Evan.

The guys share that they haven’t gone down the marriage road yet, but for them, their intertwined lives are already like those of a married couple. “Both he and I feel that a relationship defines a marriage, not a certificate. It’s wonderful to have the legal right, of course, but maybe I am waiting for him to propose!” laughs Evan.

Evan and Andy with their twins

While Evan was finally fulfilled in his personal life, professionally, he hadn’t yet reached that point in his professional life.

“I matched for fellowship at Mount Sinai Hospital for heart surgery, where they only give one spot a year. But I was miserable. I realized that I was on this train of education because I was hiding from who I really was.” In that moment of realization, Evan’s medical practice Bespoke Surgical was born, and it’s now a leading health practice specializing in gay men’s sexual health and wellness, with offices in New York City and Beverly Hills.

The couple's journey to fatherhood came about after Andy gauged Evan’s interest in becoming a parent. “I don’t think I was as ready to be a father as quickly as Andy. He is older than me and a lot of his friends were becoming fathers. One day, he came to me and asked if I would entertain the thought of having children. We agreed that he should start investigating. I was astonished with how quickly he worked! In literally 11 months, our identical twin boys were born!”

The couple are thrilled with their lives as fathers to their sons, but the transition to parenthood was challenging at times. “It was a little rough for me. I had just finished schooling after 33 years and also just come out of the closet. A part of me felt that I had never lived a gay life since I found myself right back in a relationship, and now with kids! But parenthood most definitely has been the best thing ever in my life,” says Evan.

The family meets Snow White

Evan and Andy’s boys were brought into the world via surrogacy, and on their journey the men encountered many complications.

“It was a rough pregnancy. We wound up placing three embryos and then having four viable embryos: One had split to become identical. The day before we planned to reduce, a new ultrasound showed only the twins were viable. Identical twins have a higher rate of complicated pregnancy, so it was quite a ride! They were born in Arizona, so we named the first twin in honor of the surrogate mother, calling him Phoenix. We brought the little peanuts home a week after their birth on January 24, 2012. Life would never be the same!” says Andy.

Early in Sebastian’s life the dads felt something was not right: Andy noticed that Sebastian’s behavior had changed significantly. They decided to intervene early and set up an intensive set of therapies that included occupational and speech therapy. They experienced the worries and fears of parenthood most acutely when Sebastian, just 17 months old, was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum.

“We interacted with so many therapists and coordinators — it was a revolving door in our apartment. It was an unknown diagnosis for us, so we did so much research and joined many support groups to really figure out the best course of action. We realized the only way for us to get Seb back was to take matters into our own hands. We became part of the process and the solution. Many therapists, nannies and sleepless nights later, we are happy to say he is in mainstream school; he is extroverted and engaged. Yes, he has quirks and still requires guidance, but who doesn't?” says Evan.

Gays With Kids had a lot of follow-up questions for Evan and Andy. Fortunately, the dads graciously answered all of our questions in great detail!

What has most surprised you about fatherhood?


Evan: "The changes and sacrifices that I have made in both my personal and professional life and how with each year this continues to evolve. As I age and as I see how these changes have allowed my kids to flourish, I realize they have not been sacrifices at all — I wouldn’t have it another way!”

What’s the best thing about having twins? The most challenging?

Evan: "The best thing is also the most challenging: They are crazy balls of energy! The first few years were definitely more difficult for us — there’s two of everything! Two feeds, two diaper changes, two baths, and often not at the same time! It’s in my nature to be a bit of a control freak, meaning I want to be hands-on and I want things to be a certain way. At different times, this can be a blessing or a hindrance.

"As the boys have grown into their own, it’s been amazing to see them become brothers and friends. They have a perpetual play date!

"Overall, the most challenging aspect was finally understanding that my preconceived goals and ideas of how I envisioned their New York City children’s experience [are] often quite different than our reality. Our twins are identical but they are really independent beings with different personalities and different learning styles. Andy and I have had to learn to adapt to meet each of their individual needs at the same time.”

You both work full time — Evan, you’re a doctor with your own medical practice; Andy, you're a fashion designer. How do you juggle such intense careers while remaining hands-on dads?

Evan: "After bringing the boys into our world, Andy and I decided that we really needed to alter our work lives to be as present as possible at home. I stopped all emergency surgery and morphed my practice to same-day surgeries and consultations, allowing flexibility for me to maximize my time with the children. Of course, it's not always easy, but we make it work. We only have one go at this, and we thank God we are both at a stage professionally where we can provide a great life for our family that includes access to our time and our presence. We also have a rule that work travel can only take place on a weekday since the kids are busy with school and after-school activities. But weekends are strictly for family time.”

Family on the beach

Please share a cherished memory or experience from your first month as a dad.

Evan: "The boys were born a few weeks premature and they were slow to progress on feeding, but we were eager to get them home. So Andy and I stayed overnight at the hospital for several nights to personally give them their feedings, helping to elevate their weight, reinforce habits, and showing the hospital staff that we were competent parents. As a result, we were able to return home with our babies sooner than expected. When we arrived home, we were fortunate to be met by Andy's mom. That whole experience was truly surreal — one of many in our experiences as fathers!”

How has your relationship with Andy changed since becoming dads?

Evan: "All relationships change over time, even without kids. Andy and I have really learned what our positives and negatives are and how to pitch in where our strengths lie. Practicing patience and knowing when to slow down have been such positive changes for us. We try to focus on living in the moment. As for our romantic world, yes, that has changed for sure! Now that the kids are older and we can go out together, we do try to be alone as a couple once or twice a week. It allows our five minutes of intimacy to happen, ha-ha!”

Want to share any advice for other dads on keeping the relationship strong while raising kids?

Evan and Andy: "Advice is so hard in this situation, as the way we parent and maintain a good relationship varies in each family’s dynamic. For me, open lines of communication are key. Understanding and discussing each member of the couple's individual wants, desires, and reality are all so important. And this is an ongoing discussion as these factors change. Each day we're presented with new challenges and possibilities, and being able to adapt is vital. You’ve got to be really committed to making sure that everyone is happy."

Follow Dr. Evan Goldstein's family account and Bespoke Surgical on Instagram.

Visit Bespoke Surgical.

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Gay Uncles

Gay Uncles are an Essential Part of This Gay Dad Family's Village

It takes a village to raise a child, and this village includes many gay uncles

In November last year, Ottawa-based husbands Matt Ottaviani and Rej Gareau (whose story we shared in July) became first-time dads through surrogacy. They were overjoyed to welcome their daughter Andy and become a family of three.

But as many of us know, raising a child isn't always just about the nuclear family. The African proverb "it takes a village to raise a child" is a commonly repeated phrase, and rings very true for many families. Matt and Rej are no different, and when they shared their story last month, one thing jumped out to us: the important role Andy's guncles play in her and her dads' lives.

In honor of Gay Uncles Day today, we reached out to Andy's many guncles to learn first-hand how their relationship with the family affects their lives. Here's what they had to say.

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Gay Dad Life

Need a Sitter for Your Kids? Gays With Kids Reviews UrbanSitter

Back-to-school is already here for some of us, and if you're looking for a sitter to help out with school runs, after-school pick-ups, and the occasional date night, check out our review of UrbanSitter.

Instagram @davidcblacker

We moved from New York to Boston the summer of 2017. Along with the Manhattan skyline, our beloved Broadway, and late-night cookie deliveries, we also left behind our sitters — two sisters who had become more like family.

After settling for several months into our new home and neighborhood, we realized we hadn't had a dads' night out since our move. Our kids were still too young to leave alone at night, so I began what I presumed would be the tedious task of finding a sitter.

The first thing I did was to leave a post on our local parents' Facebook group. The dad of one of our daughters' classmates told me about UrbanSitter, a website and mobile app that he'd had success using to find last-minute sitters a few times. He also mentioned that within the app, I could see see babysitters and nannies recommended by parents at our kids' school in addition to local parenting groups.

While I appreciated the tip, I let him know that I was really hoping for a direct referral. But when none others came from the — other than a couple of middle schoolers looking for their first sitting jobs — I decided to give it a try.

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Move over Modern Family, there are some new gay dads taking over the small screen! Big Bad Boo Studios is bringing their animated series The Bravest Knight to Hulu. The series is based upon a children's book called "The Bravest Knight Who Ever Lived" by Daniel Errico, and it follows the life of Sir Cedric - now grown and married to Prince Andrew - as he regales their adopted daughter Nia with tales of his knighthood journey as she trains to become a knight herself.

"We are so excited about The Bravest Knight, its values and our partnership with Hulu," said Shabnam Rezaei, the director of the series and co-founder of Big Bad Boo Studios. "They understand how to push the envelope with authentic storytelling."

"I immediately fell in love with the idea of a girl wanting to work hard and make something of herself," Rezaei continued. "I also have a nephew who has two dads, so it's a very personal issue for me. I want him to have role models when he's watching TV. I want him to feel like having two dads is completely normal. That's what this show is going to do for him."

Errico's book was first realized as an animation when Hulu created a short film based upon his writing and were interested in exploring the concept of a full series. "I watched the eight minutes on Hulu and at the end the prince and the knight get married and I was in tears," says Rezaei. Rezaei then stepped in to create all new art work including new character design by Tim Linklater and backgrounds by Sarita Kolhatra. Together, they created a kickass bible and pitched the series to Hulu and were successful.

Diversity and inclusivity is celebrated throughout The Bravest Knight, reflected by its casting choices. Nia is played by Storm Reid, from "A Wrinkle in Time," and her dads Sir Cedric and Prince Andrew are voiced by T.R. Knight and Wilson Cruz respectively. The star studded cast also includes Wanda Sykes, Bobby Moynihan, RuPaul, Steven Weber, Teri Polo, AJ McLean, Jazz Jennings, Maz Jobrani and Christine Baranski as the formidable Red Dragon.

"With so many wonderful stories yet to be told, we hope that The Bravest Knight stands as an example of the undeniable strength in inclusivity, and the inherent joy in all forms of love and identity," said Errico, the author of the original book.

The first 5 episodes were released on June 21, and there are 8 more planned for release before the end of the year. Be sure to tune in!

This is the Main Title Song for Big Bad Boo's Hulu Original Series "The Bravest Knight". The song is performed by Justin Tranter and composed by Michael Plow...

Popular

'Our Family is Complete': Congrats to Gay Dads on Their Recent Births and Adoptions!

Join us in congratulating all of the gay men in our community whose families grew recently!

Wishing all of these gay dads congratulations on their exciting news this month. From becoming first-time dads to finalizing adoptions, congrats to everyone in our community on their wonderful news!

Circle Surrogacy is the proud sponsor of this month's congrats post. They were founded in 1995 on the belief that everyone should have the opportunity to be a parent. "For over 20 years we've helped LGBTQ+ couples and singles around the world fulfill their dreams of parenthood. We've helped bring more than 1,900 babies into this world... and counting!"

Congratulations to Andrew and Edward on finalizing the adoptions of their twins!

For Andrew and Edward, their foster parent training plus home study took about a year. "We had a brief placement of twin girls that were four years old two months after we had been approved," said Andrew. "Then we took a break as it was a difficult process, the 'loss' aspect, when that placement ended."

Then on March 15, 2017, their case worker sent them information about two little babies - a boy and a girl - that were still in the NICU and only nine days old. "It was a foster case with an uncertain future, but we decided those little babies needed us!" They dads took a leap of faith and on July 10 this year, their twins' adoptions were finalized. Andrew and Edward have a wonderful bond with the paternal grandmother as well as a special relationship with the twins' father. "We all love these twins, and the more love they have the better their lives will be."

"Adoption is one of those experiences where one side experiences incredible joy while the other side experiences incredible loss," continued Andrew. "We are grateful to experience this joy knowing that biological family members are happy for us to experience that joy."

Congratulations to this Mt Airy, Philadelphia, forever family of four!

Congratulations to Sean and Thomas on finalizing the adoptions of their twins!

Together 15 years, London couple Sean and Thomas recently finalized the adoption of their twins.

"About 3 years ago we started meeting adoption agencies and were approved as prospective adopters the following spring," shared Thomas. "We were anticipating a long wait, but quite quickly were matched with our twins. At the time they were nearly five."

After a fairly long transition period for everyone to get settled in, the adoption was formalized the day after Father's Day. "Two years after matching, at times it seems like the kids have been with us forever and other times a blink of an eye. But it is certainly the most life-changing, transformative experience and we cannot imagine life without them. It's wonderful that our family is now official!"

Congratulations to Phillip and Clinton on the birth of their daughter Madison!

Little Madison joined her dads on July 1, 2019, after coming into the world via surrogate.

"I caught Madison as she was born," said Phillip. "I have never felt such an exhilarating rush in my entire life! We were genuinely in love at first sight!"

Now that we Phillip and Clinton are dads, they say they feel a "sense of wholeness" in their lives! "We have a new motivation and purpose in life! It's truly the greatest blessing!"

These new dads and the apple of their eye live in Texas.

Congratulations to Michael and Tyler on the birth of their twins, Elliot and Oliver!

Herriman, Utah, couple Michael and Tyler have been together for 9 years, and married for 3. "In the beginning of our relationship we knew how important family was and how much we wanted to be dads," said Micheal. "After we got married we met with a couple surrogacy agencies and were advised to meet with an IVF clinic before proceeding. In doing so, we found that going through a surrogacy journey independently was very possible."

So the dads decided to shift gears and work in that direction, booking a follow up appointment with the clinic. "We met with their 3rd party coordinator over the surrogate process and she did not have any inquiries of any surrogates." Serendipitously, and unbeknownst to the husbands at the time, their future surrogate made an appointment to talk about being a gestational carrier for a same-sex couple. "The next day we got the unexpected call that someone was interested and open to meet. From there the rest was history as we continued with the surrogacy process."

Over a year later, the dads welcomed their two sons. "The first time we got to hold the boys, it felt so natural to us, as if nothing else in the world existed and time stood still as we got lost in the moment."

Congratulations to Adam and Josh on finalizing the adoption of their daughter!

Adam and Josh got engaged on Good Morning America on Valentines Day, and welcomed their Christmas miracle baby into their lives on December 26th. On July 12 this year, they celebrated becoming a forever family of three.

"For an event that always seemed like it would be the end of our adoption journey, Baby K's Finalization Day felt more like the beginning of a greater adventure," shared Adam. "Since day one, Baby K was always loved and 100% part of our family, but we are so filled with joy to see this day come and make it officially official. We cannot wait to spend the rest of our lives not only watching Baby K grow and develop, but also to see the two of us learn and grow in this new role as parents."

Congrats to these Dallas dads!

Congratulations to Dan and Martin on the birth of their son Herman! 

Copenhagen couple Dan and Martin welcomed their second child through surrogacy on July 11 this year in Florida, USA. Herman joins big sister Ellen, born March 1, 2015, in Vermont via surrogacy. Here's a little more.

"Two amazing American women and their families took us in as their own and we're forever bonded," said Dan about their path to fatherhood experience. "It has been an amazing journey with both of them, our family is complete."

Congrats to the Danish family!

This post is sponsored by Circle Surrogacy

Circle was founded in 1995 on the belief that everyone should have the opportunity to be a parent. To this day, that belief is at the core of everything we do. For over 20 years we've helped straight and LGBTQ+ couples and singles around the world fulfill their dreams of parenthood. We've helped bring more than 1,900 babies into this world... and counting!

We're an agency comprised of social workers and lawyers, accountants and outreach associates, and program managers and coordinators; but, more importantly, we're an agency made up of parents, surrogates and egg donors, who are passionate about helping people build their families, and invested in each and every journey.

Circle is proud to have helped so many gay families achieve their dreams of becoming parents. Together, we make parenthood possible.®

News

Ed Smart, Father of Kidnapping Victim Elizabeth Smart, Comes Out as Gay

In coming his coming out letter, Ed Smart, a Mormon, condemned the church for their "ridicule, shunning, rejection and outright humiliation" of LGBTQ individuals.

In a post on Facebook, Ed Smart, father of kidnapping survivor Elizabeth Smart, came out as gay. He also discussed his strained relationship with his Mormon faith, claiming he felt he didn't feel comfortable living as an openly gay man in a church with a difficult history with respect to its LGBTQ members. He and his wife, Lois, have filed for divorce.

"This is one of the hardest letters I have ever written," he began the letter. "Hard because I am finally acknowledging a part of me that I have struggled with most of my life and never wanted to accept, but I must be true and honest with myself." He went on to acknowledged a new set of challenges facing he and his family as they navigate a divorce and his coming out — in the public eye, no less — but concluded, ultimately, that it's a "huge relief" to be "honest and truthful about my orientation."

He went on to condemn The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for their "ridicule, shunning, rejection and outright humiliation" of LGBTQ individuals. "I didn't want to face the feelings I fought so hard to suppress, and didn't want to reach out and tell those being ostracized that I too am numbered among them. But I cannot do that any longer."

In an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune, Ed Smart further discussed his reasons for coming out now, as a 64-year-old man.

"I mean, I knew that it would probably come out at some point, just because people can't leave things alone. I did anticipate that it would happen at some time, but my intention in writing it was to try to let my friends and family know, you know my extended family ... know where things were. So, you know, I was really concerned about how the rumor mill starts," he told the paper. "I knew that at some point in time, that would come out," he elaborated. "I didn't know when it would come out, and so I would rather have it come out the way that it did versus having some rumors going around, and you know the crazy way things can get twisted."

In 2002, Ed Smart's daughter Elizabeth was abducted at knife point by a married couple from her bedroom in Salt Lake City, Utah. She suffered physical and sexual abuse at the couple's hands, for nine months, until she was finally rescued by police. During the ordeal, papers — including the Salt Lake Tribute — speculated about Ed Smart's sexual orientation based on some fabricated information sold to the paper by tabloids like the National Enquirer. (The Enquirer retracted the story, and the reporters at the Tribute were ultimately fired.)

"I think that in April I started feeling like I needed to prepare something," Smart told the Tribute. "Because during Elizabeth's ordeal, there were things said, and it wasn't what I wanted to say, and I was not going to allow that to happen again."

As to how his family has taken the news, Smart said they've been "very kind" to him. "I think it was very difficult to have this kind of come out of the blue. I don't think any of them knew I was struggling with this, so it was something they were, if you want to call it, blindsided by. I totally get that. They've really been very wonderful."

Congrats to Ed Smart on making the difficult decision to live his truth. Read his full letter here and his interview with the Tribute here.

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

"Rollercoaster and Sons," Explores the Journey of One Single Gay Dad Through the Foster-Adopt System

When it comes to the foster-adopt system, "there is no roadmap," said single gay dad Chase Turner

Guest post written by Chase Turner

Many of us thought long and hard about what avenues were best to pursue being a dad. For me, fostering to adoption was the selected road. There is no roadmap here, many things that came my way were learned by doing. Along the way, I started wishing I had a better support group or people who could understand what it's like to be gay and attempting to adopt. Often we (people who are LGBT) feel scrutinized and judged for choices that the majority makes but for us there is pushback. Once my adoption was complete, I felt it was necessary that I put pen to paper and write this story, from a gay male perspective.

My goal was to provide a voice in the space of foster care and adoption where there is a void. Additionally, I wanted to provide an authentic look at all facets of the process, from the kids, to the obstacles and challenges that happened within my personal life. I do hope you enjoy and more importantly can relate or prepare yourself for a similar journey.

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Fun

Gay Dad Penguins Strike Again! This Time in Berlin Zoo

The latest male penguins to care for an egg together are Skipper and Ping in the Berlin Zoo.

First, there was Roy and Silo — the two male penguins in the Central Park Zoo that served as inspiration for the famous children's book And Tango Makes Three. Then Magin Sphen got together in Sydney, where aquarium keepers gave the cocks (Calm down, that's what a male penguin is called!) a foster egg to care for.

And now, please welcome Skipper and Ping in Berlin to the latest list of gay dad penguins! As soon as the two emperor penguins arrived at the city's zoo, they set about trying to start a family, said Berlin Zoo spokesman Maximilian Jaege to DPA news.

"They kept trying to hatch fish and stones," Jaeger said.

So the zookeepers loaned the penguins an egg from a female penguin, who is apparently uninterested in hatching eggs on her own, according to the BBC.

Unsurprisingly, the gay penguins are killing it as parents. "The two male penguins are acting like exemplary parents, taking turns to warm the egg," Jaeger said,

Read the whole article on DPA here.

Fatherhood, the gay way

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