Co-parenting

How These Co-Parents Chose Their Children's Names

The interesting and unusual back-story of how 2 moms and 2 dads chose their children's names 


There are two potentially challenging questions that almost every gay dad couple must consider (and resolve) before they become fathers:  (1) What will his last name be? (2) What names will she use to call each of us?

I’ve seen this discussion referred to as The Name Game, and the subject always generates lots of community engagement. During our own version of The Name Game, my husband and I had an additional twist to resolve: we co-parent our daughters with their two moms. Meaning we had to find a solution for the first question that would satisfy not two, but four different parents.

Choosing Our Dad Names

What our kids would call J.R. and me was a pretty simple decision; we’d both be ‘Dad’ or whatever came organically from the girls. Sure enough, it’s been ‘Daddy Bill’, ‘Daddy J.R.’, just ‘Daddy’, and any other play on this that you can think up. A frequent exchange goes like this - Daughter, “Daddy?”; Me, “Yes?”; Daughter, “other Daddy.”; J.R., “Yes?” Most of the time they don’t care which one of us answers, so whoever is quicker to respond will handle the matter.

For a few years, I was ‘Honey’ or ‘Honey Bill’. My husband called me Honey so often that our older daughter thought it was my name, and started using it when she was two. Later on, her little sister picked up on it too. They eventually stopped, which I think is a bit of a bummer. Now I’m only "Honey Bill" to my mother-in-law and a couple of friends. It also came in handy when I created my Instagram profile. (Check out @honeybilld, if you want to, maybe, I dunno, follow my page or whatever).

Meanwhile, with four parents involved, agreeing to the children's last name was a bit more complicated. First we had to decide whose last name(s) they would get. This coincided with deciding who would get to pick their first names.

One reason I often cite for the success of our family is that we four parents are a pretty laid-back group. This was evident very early on when, with no extensive discussion needed, the biological mom invited us to select the last name before our first daughter's birth. This co-parent comes from a family with a long tradition of honoring someone especially loved from an older generation by using his or her name for the newest generation. As such, she had a strong desire to give her children the names of her parents and grandparents. Sure enough, our older daughter's first name comes from her maternal grandmother and our younger daughter is named after her maternal great-grandmother. The middle names are also nods to other relatives of our kids.

Choosing the Last Name

For J.R. and me, how to land on a last name took a little more thought. We started with the ever-popular hyphenated idea, Delaney-Parish. But that’s kind of long, especially since the kids would also have first and middle names. We pondered merging our names, and even changing our own so to match the girls'. This was a fun experiment in which we broke out pad and pen and started mixing and matching: Delpar? Parlaney? Delparish? Parney? Ugh! They were all horrible. Then we struck gold: DELISH! Images of us introducing ourselves popped into my head; “Hi! We’re the Delishes!”

Nope. Never mind.

So it was back to the hyphenation, Delaney-Parish, final answer. But wait, there’s more! Fast forward to the hospital soon after the birth of our first-born. All four of her parents where in the room when the birth certificate paperwork was brought in. We’re all there feeling the love and joy, and birth mom asks if we can pop in her last name as the middle name, and bump the original middle name up to being a co-first name. (Apparently that's really a thing.) We didn’t even hesitate to say ‘yes’. And it was a no-brainer that we would do the same with baby number two. So now our poor kids are stuck with five names each. Good luck to them as they develop their signatures.

Wait, our family has one more "Name Game" name.

There’s one more improvised name that we use in our doubly non-traditional family. We were celebrating our first-born daughter's second birthday and it was time to break out the cake. I wanted to get the attention of all 3 of my co-parents without having to tick off each name. So I ingeniously called out for the “Parental Entourage,” and somehow it just worked. We parents have been using it ever since.

And there you have The Name Game as experienced among four intentional co-parents. If you were to ask me what traditional game it most resembles, I'd have to go with Twister.

Co-Parenting as a Path to Fatherhood 

Intentional Co-Parenting refers to single gay dads or gay dad couples who create a family with a friend or other non-romantic partner, typically either a single lesbian or lesbian couple. Check out these quick posts to get more information:

  • Co-Parenting: It's Not Just for Divorced Couples Anymore
  • Intentional Co-Parenting for Gay Men Explained
  • The Essential Co-Parenting Checklist
  • Show Comments ()

    So far in our podcast, we mostly interviewed dads who had their kids either through surrogacy or adoption. But there are other ways in which you can become dads. In this week's episode we look at two ways that are often overlooked: Known Sperm Donor, and Co-Parenting.

    David Dodge, managing editor at GaysWithKids.com is a father of two children, who he had together with a lesbian couple. Though he has no legal rights with his daughter and son, they still call him 'papa,' and his parents go to visit their grand children even when he's not around. In our interview, David sheds light on being a Known Sperm Donor.

    In our second interview we had Bill Delaney and husband J.R. Parish on a Skype call from San Francisco. They are co-parents of two girls together with a lesbian couple. In the call they discuss this carefully planned (and amazing!) arrangement.



    During the episode, we count the ways* in which gay men can currently become dads:
    1. Adoption
    2. Surrogacy
    3. Men who come out of straight partnerships and marriages
    4. Sperm Donation (known or unknown donor)
    5. Co-parenting




    *If you would like to add to or comment on this list please write to us at hello@daddysqr.com

    Our Family Coalition

    Our Family Coalition (OFC) is based in the Bay Area but is the largest state-wide advocacy organization for LGBT families. They've contributed to varying degrees to everything from marriage equality court cases, to getting LGBT inclusive curriculum added to CA's public school system, to achieving the multi-parent legal recognition that was mentioned on our interview with Bill and J.R.

    Episode Credits:

    Co-Hosts: Yan Dekel, Alex Maghen

    Guests: David Dodge GaysWithKids.com, Bill Delaney & J.R. Parish
    Music: Hercules & Love Affair, "Leonora" buy here
    Articles referred to in this episode:
    Putting the 'Known' in Known Sperm Donor (David Dodge, The New York Times)
    The Known Sperm Donor (GaysWithKids.com)
    Top Three Benefits of 'Intentional Co-Parenting' for Gay Men & Couples (Bill Delaney, GaysWithKids.com)
    11 Steps Gay Men Should Take Before Co-Parenting With a Female Friend (Bill Delaney, GaysWithKids.com)





    For any questions, comments or advise, please do not hesitate to contact us at hello@daddysqr.com or on Twitter @yanirdekel

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