My life has been consumed with the quest to create a family. As a boy raised Catholic in the Midwest, I grew up thinking I was straight and would marry a woman and have children. When I was confronted with my attraction to men and the eventual realization that I was gay, I gave up that dream of having a family and chose the route of gay singledom. As the times changed, and I gained greater self-acceptance, I re-ignited my dream for a family and started the arduous journey toward parenthood.
Determined To Be Dad chronicles my trials and tribulations of self-discovery to acceptance to building a new reality and, finally, to the joys of creating our own family through adoption. With this tender and painful story, I offer my journey as a tribute to my desire for familial connection, overcoming self-imposed handicaps, and facing the harsh realities of two men trying to create a family. This is the story of faith, resilience, and the ubiquitous need for love and family.
I wrote Determined To Be Dad because I want to help others by sharing my dream about becoming a father and creating our family. Over the last three years, I have faced life-changing events that shook me to my core and made me question what I value, what makes me happy, and how I want to live my life. In September 2017, we finalized the adoption of our son, which was a long, steep road. During the adoption process, I told myself that if we lost custody of him, I would quit my job and have a more significant impact on society. In February 2018, I was diagnosed with cancer, and in June 2018, I was laid off from my corporate job.
The cancer diagnosis gave me a deep appreciation for living and motivated me to write this book. I feel lucky that my cancer was treatable, and I can now call myself a survivor. I reflect on the fact that others were not as fortunate as me, and I want to live a fuller life in their memory. Becoming a cancer survivor has pushed me to live every day more fully and like it's my last.
These life events made me think about life in a very different way and dig deep into myself to understand who I am. There were tremendous lows and incredible highs. I learned to accept things that I could not control and advocate for how I want to be treated and live. I became stronger in my conviction to lead a meaningful life, more in touch with my inner voice, and more grateful for all the unusual gifts in my life. Through these challenges, it became clear to me that God was telling me to have a more significant impact on the world and to throw caution to the wind to live fully.
Determined To Be Dad is filled with ups and downs of my journey to find myself and then create our family. It provides LGBTQ people with practical information about the process and necessary steps in creating a family. It also provides insights into the unforeseen emotions and feelings that happen along the journey to parenthood.
In Determined To Be Dad, I highlight many intersectional experiences where I find commonality with different communities and how those experiences have shaped my life and identity. For example, the experience of interacting with heterosexual couples struggling with shame and loss of infertility and how those feelings make them hide their infertility from family and friends. This hiding and shame intersected with our experiences as gay men and hiding our identities until we came out of the closet. Another example is my experience as a gay dad in our heteronormative culture. I often encounter situations where I step into the role of mother and female to take care of our children. When we were ready to leave the hospital with our adopted daughter, the hospital administrators informed us that California law requires newborns to be carried out of the hospital in the hands of one of the parents sitting in a wheelchair, which usually falls to the mother. At that moment, I had my first experience as a mom and sat down in the wheelchair.
I hope that this book will help others dream about a future that aligns with their heartfelt wishes and desires. I share my journey of becoming a proud gay man and a parent—the internal struggles of self-acceptance and the external acceptance of family, friends, and society. I hope that my story will help others who are fearful of coming out, that my life lessons will help ease others' pain through their hardships, and that those who dream about creating their own family knows that it can be within reach.
Determined To Be Dad, A Journey of Faith, Resilience, and Love will be available on June 16, 2020, in honor of Pride Month & Father's Day and will be available at nearly 40,000 retailers, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, and IndieBound.
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