Gay Dad Life

Love Conquers Everything: Bryon Adopts Jason

Most fathers have to wait years before hearing their children say, “I love you." Bryon Denton, however, heard those magic words from his son, Jason, the very first day they met.


At the time, Bryon was working as a contract nurse at a home for children with developmental disabilities in Champaign, Illinois. His first day on the job, he was told that one of the kids, Jason, a 12-year-old boy with cerebral palsy, had very limited speech, and that he shouldn't expect much in the way of communication.

“They said he basically didn't speak, and when he does it's very hard to understand, so he doesn't talk to many people," Bryon recounted when we spoke by phone recently. So when Bryon walked in the room that first day and Jason looked up and said, “I love you," as clear as can be, his heart melted.

“I'm a big softie," he said. “I'm not sure why he picked me to talk to, but I of course fell in love with him right from the very beginning." His connection to Jason grew the more the two got to know one another. “His personality is always fun, happy and loving — he's the most loving child I've ever met. Every time I leave the room and come back in, I get a huge hug like he's just seeing me again for the first time in a long time."

Of course, that first day Bryon didn't know that Jason would become his son within a few short years; but his mother had a hunch. “When I was driving home from work that night, I excitedly called my mother and told her all about Jason. She told me, 'Just you wait,'" Bryon said, laughing, “'you're going to be bringing one of these kids home one day.'"

This prediction would prove correct, but it was far from preordained; Bryon would face a lengthy fight before he was able to claim the legal right to call Jason his son.

The trouble all started, oddly enough, because of a spare ticket to Suessical the Musical. “I had tickets to see the show," Bryon explained, “and I knew Jason loved music, so I thought, this will be perfect." One day, when Jason's mother was visiting him in the children's facility, Bryon asked her permission to take him to the show, which she granted. Soon after, Jason was sitting in the audience of his first Broadway show, delighted by a singing and dancing Cat in the Hat.

Jason enjoyed the experience so much that Bryon began taking him on additional outings, always with the consent of his mother. “She had a hard life," Bryon said, explaining Jason's mother was in and out of prison for much of her life and thus unavailable to provide for her son. Jason's mother was nothing but thankful, then, for the connection that was forming between Bryon and Jason.

Bryon's employer at the children's home, however, was less excited about this new relationship. “The administrator of the facility decided I could not possibly like a teenage child with developmental disabilities in the way that I did," he explained. “So she fired me."

Jason Denton

Bryon's boss never directly alleged that he was maintaining an improper relationship with Jason — the official reason for letting him go was that he was “unable to follow directions" — but it was certainly implied. After Bryon was terminated, Bryon's boss even convinced Jason's aunt, who had taken over custody of Jason while his mother was in prison, to rescind his visitation rights.

Jason's mother was not happy with this turn of events. “She really liked me," Bryon said. “So she actually filed to give me custody of him." Originally, Bryon's case did not look promising; he was only 21 years old at the time, an age when many young men would be unprepared to take on the responsibilities of caring for a teenager with special needs.

Complicating matters further was Jason's aunt, who retained custody rights, and fought Bryon's custody claim, even though he had his mother's blessing. After about a year and a half of arguing over the matter in court, however, Jason's aunt stopped contesting the matter. “She just walked into court one day and said, 'I didn't want him to begin with,' and walked out."

With Jason's mother incarcerated, and no other relative stepping forward to claim him, Bryon's case for custody suddenly looked much more promising. “The judge was like, okay, now we have a problem, because mom is in prison and there's nobody to make decisions for a child with special needs."

Any concern the judge had about Bryon's ability, as a single 21-year-old, to care for a special needs child was offset by his knowledge and skills as a nurse. “It made a big difference. This is a child with medical needs — he doesn't eat by mouth at all, he feeds through a gastro tube in his stomach." To complicate matters further, Jason was experiencing some serious health issues during his prolonged custody battle. “The children's home couldn't figure out what was going on with him, and someone needed to make decisions, so I filed for emergency custody of him, and the judge granted it."

Bryon's medical training would prove useful right away; once he got involved in his care, Jason was diagnosed, treated and discharged within three weeks. “It was just pancreatitis," Bryon said, frustrated. “It's something that's very fixable. We didn't know the cause, but it's still fixable. It seemed like the children's home was just going to let him die from this. He had just turned 14 and weighed 42 pounds."

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Gay Dad Life

Lance Bass Opens Up About Forming His Family Through Surrogacy

Lance Bass and his husband Michael Turchin hope to spend Father's Day next year as first-time dads!

According to a recent interview with ET Online, Lance Bass and husband Michael Turchin will likely be spending Father's Day next year as first time dads!

"It's looking like this might be the last Father's Day that I'm kid-less!" the former *NSYNC band member told ET. "We'll see if the timing's right. We're hoping to have a kid next summer, so we'll just see how everything works out. Who knows what wrenches might be thrown in, so we're just crossing our fingers that it all works out."

This past April, the dads-to-be revealed their plans to build their family via surrogacy, and will thus join the growing ranks of famous gay men who form their families in this way. In his recent interview with ET, Bass opened up further about what the process has been like so far.

"Our surrogate fell into our laps through our embryologist, who is incredible," Bass said. "We just loved her. She was so selfless and all about wanting to give that gift to someone. I wanted to cry because it was just so special that someone would do that."

The couple is still looking for an egg donor (here are some tips for choosing, Lance!) but are hoping to have the process complete by spring of this year.

In a recent appearance on the Today Show, Bass shared that he and his husband Michael Turchin have long hoped to become fathers.

"We are super excited," he said. "We love the idea of having a family. That's one of the reasons I wanted to marry this man, because I know he'll be such a great dad."

We'll be sure to keep you posted on their exciting journey!

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After Three Failed Adoptions, This Couple Almost Gave Up; Now They're Dads to Twins

It took surviving three failed adoptions and two scams, but Danny and Justin are finally dads

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Tom Daley and Dustin Lance Black Share First Photos of Newborn Son

Olympic diver Tom Daley and filmmaker Dustin Lance Black recently welcomed a son, born via surrogacy, into their home

On June 27th, 2018, Olympic diver Tom Daley and filmmaker Dustin Lance Black welcomed a son, born via surrogacy, into their home. The baby boy was named Robert after Tom's father, who passed away in 2011. The couple celebrated the birth with a pair of touching black and white photos released on their respective Instagram pages.

"Welcome to the world our precious little Robbie Ray Black-Daley," Tom wrote. "The most magical moment of my life. The amount of love and joy you have brought into our life is immeasurable. Our precious son."

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After a Heartbreaking Loss, These Adoptive Gay Dads Learned to Open Up Their Hearts, and Home, Once Again

After the death of their three-month-old daughter, Nick and Sean struggled to go on. But with the help of their adoption agency, friends and family, the dads welcomed a baby girl into their family last fall.

Nick Bryan and Sean McGuire, who live in Columbus, Ohio, have suffered heartache that no parent should ever have to endure. They became first-time dads in 2016 when they adopted a baby girl who was born two months premature. Sadly, their daughter did not make it to 4 months, and passed away due to premature complications. The dads struggled to go on. But with the support of their family, friends and a wonderful adoption agency, they tried again, and in November last year, another little girl was born, and she had two daddies ready to love her with all their hearts. Here's their family's story.

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When Traditional Adoption Wouldn’t Work for This Tennessee Gay Couple, This Woman Stepped in to Help

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Justin and Matthew live in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and have been together for 11 years. They met through mutual friends and the first time Justin saw Matthew, he knew there something special about him. They both wanted children, and after almost 4 years of dating, they decided to begin their journey to parenthood.

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Change the World

Federal Judge Rules Against Adoption Agency's Attempt to Discriminate Against LGBTQ Parents

Many challenges to LGBTQ adoption continue to exist, however, including a Federal amendment that would grant tax-funded adoption agencies the right to discriminate nationally.

This week brought us some much-needed good news in the fight to protect LGBTQ adoption rights: U.S. District Judge Petrese B. Tucker ruled that Catholic Services Society (CSS) violated the city of Philadelphia's Fair Practice Ordinance due to the organization's refusal to work with prospective parents' based on no other reason than their sexual orientation.

The decision is the result of a suit brought by CSS against Philadelphia. Last May, the city announced it was suspending foster care placements with two agencies, CSS and Bethany Christian Services, given their refusal to place children with LGBTQ prospective parents. While Bethany Christian Services ultimately agreed to stop discriminating against same-sex parents, CSS sued the city instead, and lost.

Judge Tucker found that no "substantial burden" existed on on CSS's religious exercise in providing foster care to children, writing that, "In essence, if CSS provides its services consistent with the minimal requirements of the all-comers provisions of the Fair Practices Ordinance, then CSS may continue to provide foster care to children.

Elsewhere around the country, however, the news on LGBTQ adoption rights has been much less encouraging. Over the course of the year, news hasn't been great for the LGBTQ community's adoption rights. Over the course of the year, a slew of anti-LGBTQ adoption measures have been cropping up in state legislatures all across the country. At the federal level this month, Republicans passed an amendment to an appropriations bill that if enacted will allow tax-funded adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ adoptive parents on the grounds of religious freedom.

Get Involved!

Want to take action? Look up your federal representatives here and demand they reject the inclusion of the anti-LGBTQ amendment in the appropriations bill passed by Republicans earlier this week.

Have you experienced discrimination as a potential gay adoptive or foster parent? We want to hear about it. Contact us at dads@gayswithkids.com and tell us about your experience.

And stay tuned to Gays With Kids as we continue to monitor and report on developments in anti-discrimination protections for adoptive LGBTQ parents, on both the state and federal level.

Change the World

Gay Dad's Family Car Vandalized with Homophobic Slur in Tennessee

"Sometimes people do things to try and make you sad," Michael told his sons following the incident. "But we have to be better than that."

Michael Quinton, a gay man living in Dandridge, Tennessee, had just arrived at home on July 6th when he noticed the damage done to his car. His tires were slashed, the car seats sliced up, and the radio rendered useless by a sharp object.

"My first reaction was a flood of every emotion," he said. "Angry, mad, sad, disheartened. As I took a look at the vehicle I saw more and more damage."

The physical vandalism, however, was nothing compared to the emotional damage inflicted by this next part of the crime: the word "fagot" had been etched into the side of his car.

Though Michael was clearly the intended target of the crime, he was particularly worried about how the incident might affect his two sons, Blake and Clayton, whom he had adopted with his ex-husband.

"I called my mom who lives a few minutes away to come sit with the boys as an officer was coming out," Michael told Gays With Kids. "At that moment I didn't want them to see the vehicle or the words carved into it.

Michael called the experience "eye-opening," adding, "Come what may I have to ensure [my sons] are taken care of. I have to show them that love wins and without a doubt there is nothing wrong with the way you love. One day they very well could help change the climate in this country."

As far as the perpetrator, Michael has his suspicions of who might behind the damage, and has shared them along with some potential evidence with the detective involved. The incident is being investigated as a hate crime. Michael has spent most of life in east Tennessee and says this was the first time he had ever experienced an act of hate. From sharing this horrible experience, a lot of people have reached out to Michael and his family to send words of support and kind messages. But Michael is still worried.

"In the end, the tone of this country has done a 180," he said. "I honestly feel worried that things will continue to happen to families like mine or anyone viewed different in others' eyes."

New data has shown that hate crimes have risen 12% in the past year, and that is only those that are reported. The African American community has been the most targeted, followed by LGBTQ people.

Michael with his kids

The damage to Michael's vehicle has also been a blow to family, symbolically, he says. Michael is recently divorced from the boys' second dad, and is now raising them full-time. The car, a bright blue Kia, came to represent so much more than a vehicle; it meant a new beginning for Michael and his boys after the separation.

"So many memories have been made in that vehicle over the last 18 months," shared Michael. His youngest son, Blake, "processes things a little different than your average 7 year old," Michael says. "You take away routine, structure, consistency, security and he doesn't do too well."

Since the incident, the family has been comforting each other by sleeping together on the couch every night. Michael has always kept an open conversation with his kids, whether it be about their adoption (Blake originally came to Michael through kinship guardianship, and Clayton is Blake's biological older brother whom Michael later adopted as well), divorce, and now this.

"I told them that sometimes people do things to try and make you sad," said Michael. "But we have to be better than that and know that we can't stop loving and that we have each other and I wouldn't allow them to be hurt. We also have to be able to forgive in order to find peace."

The car, sadly, is beyond repair. Fortunately, Michael has a vehicle supplied by work he can use for family drop offs, baseball practice and medical appointments. But eventually, he'll need to get his own car again. As a single-income father, Michael has set up a GoFundMe page to help with the insurance deductible and/or possible replacement of the car.

Despite the gravity of the situation, Michael didn't miss an opportunity to through some well-deserved shade back at the perpetrator of this heinous act. "Who spells faggot..... fagot?" he wrote on a post he published to Facebook shortly after the incident. "Doesn't most everyone have access to spell check with their phone? I mean come on!!!"

Fatherhood, the gay way

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