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."
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