Personal Essays by Gay Dads

How to Survive a Midlife Crisis (A Guide for Gay Dads)

Turns out David Blacker is, in fact, experiencing a midlife crisis — according to the very official results of a Buzzfeed quiz

Today I took one of those Buzzfeed-like quizzes to determine whether or not I am having a midlife crisis. I know what you're thinking. How can 29 be considered mid-life? God bless you, but I'm actually 35. Fine, 41. The Buzzfeed results — granted, we're not talking a true clinical assessment here — implied that I am, in fact, showing symptoms of a midlife crisis. But instead of shopping for a new sports car, I'm looking around for something else.

Problem is, I don't quite know what that is yet.

The quiz asked me questions like, "Do you ever feel anxious about your life and the direction it's taken?" I mean, duh. "Do you feel cheated or let down by life?" Sometimes. And "Do you ever fantasize about ways your life could have been different or better?" Sure, who hasn't dreamed of becoming Mr. Shawn Mendez.

Don't get me wrong. I know on paper I've got it pretty good. A successful career I worked really hard for. A handsome, kind and funny husband who really gets me. An amazingly awesome kid that keeps me smiling. And some truly remarkable friends. So what do I have to complain about? Nothing, that's the strange part. I'm blessed with all that I have. I just don't always feel that way. Instead, I find myself looking for what's next… wondering what else life has to offer or more specifically, what else I have to offer it.

My "midlife crisis" comes after many years of going full speed ahead, chasing things like job titles and acceptance. But all I've really amassed was a big pile of responsibilities.

I've collected as many "things" as I can, I've impressed as many people as I can, I've gotten dream jobs, I've gotten promotions, I've saved money, I've set goals, I've reached goals. And I've always tried to do the right thing. So all this should lead to happiness and fulfillment, right? Spoiler alert. It doesn't.

After some serious soul searching, I've realized a big part of my so called "crisis" stems from the fact that my parents are getting older and, in some ways, their age is really starting to show, particularly with my mom who's struggling with dementia. This is one of those major events that forced me to reflect on what I've achieved in my life, and more importantly, what I haven't. It's very strange to suddenly make that shift from being cared for by mom to caring for mom. I look at her life and the things she wished she'd done differently, and I think, I don't want to have those regrets. I want to do those things now before it's too late. Because as they say, tomorrow isn't promised.

The second thing I learned after much introspection is that I'm not fulfilled professionally, which has lead me down a rabbit hole of questioning all my life choices. Like whether or not I can actually see myself continuing in the Advertising industry for the next 25+ years. And contemplating this is what keeps me up at night. Do I start over and go to grad school and begin my journey towards a second career this late in life? Will I be able to manage graduate-level coursework at my age? Can I financially afford to do this? Will this be good for my family in the long run? Or would I just be selfish for putting my happiness first for once? I don't know the answers, but at 41, I can't help but feel if not now, then when?

While I dream of a pressure-lite scenario that minimizes stress while enabling me to spend more time at home to be with my family, I think about the fact that Max will be off to college in nine years. Then what? What will satisfy me and feed my soul once I get my time back? What will my chapter two look like?

If I'm having these thoughts, I figure other gay dads are struggling with these same feelings, especially since many of us created our families a little bit later in life. So I threw myself into a ton of research, read a bunch of books and spoke to a handful of therapist friends and I learned different ways to cope with, manage and overcome a mid-life crisis. I've narrowed them down to nine tips that have inspired me as I navigate this life stage. Hopefully, they'll be useful to you, too.

1. Talk to Someone

Don't bottle up your feelings. Talk to someone you trust. Could be a friend, a colleague, your doctor, a trained counselor or a therapist. Ask yourself… have you lost interest in the things you've typically enjoyed? Do you feel pessimistic or hopeless more often than not? If so, you could be experiencing a mid-life crisis. And ignoring these symptoms could have some serious health implications. So start things off by going to your go-to. Confiding in that special someone will get things out in the open. And that's a great place to start.

2. Do a Life Audit

You may be feeling super dissatisfied right now and want to make some dramatic changes before it's too late. But, before you do, think long and hard about what's working in your life, as well as what isn't. Use this time to re-examine the things that are important to you. Has your sense of purpose changed or evolved? Here's some advice I wish I'd taken much earlier in life — don't compare yourself to others. It may seem, on the outside, that others have everything, but trust me, everyone's fighting some kind of battle they don't want you to know about.

3. Reframe Your Situation

Most of us think back to our younger years as the time of our lives. It's easy to forget the challenges and struggles we faced then (don't make me show you my High School yearbook photo!). Try to embrace the positive things about getting older. You're smarter. You've got experience… and you probably have more money, which means more security. Focus on what you still want out of life instead of thinking your best days are behind you. Because it's never too late to achieve new goals.

4. Pause Before Acting

Remember that song Impulsive by The Wilson Phillips? They were singing you bad advice. Sure, we're all tempted to follow our emotions and make drastic changes in a blaze of glory, but don't act too quickly and try not to be irrational. That means you probably shouldn't quit your job, get a face-tattoo, experiment with heterosexuality, or file for divorce without a lot of consideration and reflection. Instead, make logical changes that build on your skills, relationships and experience. Because, as we all know, making the wrong decision can result in terrible consequences — which could increase the intensity of your midlife crisis.

5. Embrace Your Creative Side

Everyone has a creative side. But many of us never show it. Now's your chance. Don't hide under "I'm not talented enough." That didn't stop Elizabeth Berkley from starring in Showgirls and it shouldn't stop you! Tapping into your creativity is one of the best ways to reconnect with your true self. So start writing in a journal. Learn how to paint. Take guitar lessons. Take a photography class. Not only are these things fun and relaxing, but they keep your brain active without feeling like work.

6. Be Thankful

Remember that Alanis song where she thanked India? (I know, sophomore albums are never as good as the first). Point is: Alanis was on to something here. Even though you're feeling dissatisfied with the way thing are currently going, it's worthwhile to sit down and make a list of everything you're thankful for. Doing this will take the focus off your problems and remind you that you have accomplished a lot in your life… so far.

7. Hang Out with Like-Minded People

They say being social is crucial to living a happy life. Thing is, most of us spend a majority of our time around people we don't necessarily enjoy: like annoying co-workers and the competitive parents of our children's friends (not you, Karen, you're the exception). Make the effort to find your tribe. Surround yourself with a community of people who share the same passions and interests as you. Call-up that old friend you once really connected with… because chances are they're going through something similar.

Laugh as Much as Humanly Possible

Whoever said, laughter is the best medicine wasn't lying. There are studies proving that laughter does great things for our psyche. Not only does it release endorphins and activate neurotransmitter serotonin, but it also relieves physical tension and stress, boosts the immune system and protects the heart. So instead of ending your day by watching the somber evening news, watch an episode of the Golden Girls or a little Carpool Karaoke with James Corden on YouTube. Lean into whatever it is that makes you laugh – and if you can't find anything good, check out my shirtless pictures on Instagram. That usually gets people laughing!

9. Appreciate the Life You Havw

Instead of resenting your responsibilities, think about all the things you are grateful for in your life. Every morning when you're brushing your teeth, try thinking about three things you are grateful for. Whether it's having a roof over your head, healthy children or hearing your favorite Whitney song on the radio. If you change your pattern of thinking, your behavior will follow suit. I know it's not always easy to focus on the good — you have to actually force it sometimes until they become a natural part of your life. Changing your mindset to one of appreciation and gratitude is the easiest and most profound change you can make in your life.


A midlife crisis doesn't have to be a crisis at all, but a chance for you to take control and make different choices in your life. So if you find yourself saying, "Is this all there is?" Ask instead, "what am I prepared to change?" Because no matter what age you are, every day provides an opportunity to do something new or change something old.

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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.

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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

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

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

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."

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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.

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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.

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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.

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