Gay Dad Family Stories

These Gay Dads Lost Everything After Hurricane Dorian — Except Hope

The couple, who live in "Hope Town" in the Bahamas, lost everything after suffering a direct hit from Hurricane Dorian this past summer.

Max Bethel-Jones, 52, had traveled to more than 120 countries over the last 30 years working with the United Nations, but had never been to the Bahamas — in 2015, he decided to apply for a private teaching job as a special needs teacher in Freeport on the island of Grand Bahama.

Just weeks after his arrival, he'd get a whole lot more than another pin in his map of visited countries when he attended a social event at Freeport Rugby. "My object was to ogle the local male talent but several women had other ideas," he said. One woman was particularly insistent, he said, but after a couple of drinks she got the hint that he batted for the other rugby team. "She promptly told me there was someone I should meet."


That turned out to be Robbie. Max was game, until he found out that Robbie lived 170 kilometers away on a completely different island. "We made contact but I honestly never expected to meet," he said "People struggle to connect over 4 kilometers let alone 170.

Still, a few weeks later, he and Robbie managed to meet up for a date. To get there was an adventure in itself — the journey involved a drive to a tiny local airport on Grand Bahama, a flight aboard a small nine-seater plane called Flamingo Air ("It was pink and white!" Max said. "So gay!"), and a 30-minute boat ride before he ultimately arrived in the settlement on Elbow Cay where Robbie lives — called Hope Town.

Hope Town on Elbow Cay

And there, Robbie was waiting for him with one final mode of transportation — a golf cart. "Transport in Hope Town is 90% via golf carts," Max said. But the journey was well worth it, he said. "I arrived in paradise at the end of the world!" he said.

A few years later, Hope Town became Max's slice of paradise, too, when the couple moved in together. "We got married in August 2016 in Lima, Peru at the British ambassadors residence and became the first same-sex couple to legally marry there," Max said. After Max's work took the couple to Nassau, Bahamas for a two-year contract, the couple moved back to Hope Town permanently just this past summer, in July 2019.

Soon, they decided their paradise was big enough to share. Max already had two kids from a previous heterosexual relationship while in his 20s, who are now 23 and 26 years old, so the thought of having more had never really entered his mind. But one night, over dinner, Robbie — who was adopted at birth— admitted something to his husband that he hadn't expressed before. "Robbie said that there was one thing that made him sad over everything else and that was not being a dad," Max said.

In 2017, the two embarked on an adoption process, looking to Florida since the Bahamian government would make it difficult for a gay couple to do so locally. "We contacted 22 agencies and many failed to get back to us," Max said. Some simply didn't conduct inter-country adoptions, while others refused to work with them because they were gay. "I had one lady at a catholic agency saying it was "not God's will" Max said.

Eventually the couple found One World Adoption, located in Delray Beach, Florida, who agreed to work with the couple. "It took away the heart ache of rejection we had felt for so long," Max said. But their difficulties didn't end there. The couple's first match abruptly ended when the birth mom vanished, and after the couple had already spent $22,000 on payments and living costs. "After 30 weeks she disappeared," Max said. "There was nothing we could do."

Their second placement came six weeks later, when they received a call at 4:30 in the morning. A pregnant girl struggling with drug use, homelessness and HIV and needed an adoption placement — on March 18, 2018, she gave birth to a baby boy. "He was very tiny, five pounds two ounces, addicted to cocaine so was rushed to the NICU, where he remained for 16 days," Max said. Afterwards, the baby — who the couple named Apollo — joined Max and Robbie in their Bahamian paradise.

But life wasn't done throwing the family curve balls. Tropical storms in this area of the world are a "part of life," Max said. So when Hurricane Dorian first started to form in August of 2019, he wasn't immediately alarmed. "We expect to see tropical rain storms a few times throughout the season," he said. And the storm's initial trajectory was meant to hit north of Hope Town. "The odds of it hitting us were very low."

Unfortunately, instead, the couple's home suffered the full brunt of Hurricane Dorian, which is the largest tropical storm on record to hit the Bahamas. The family's home was destroyed, as were all of their possessions, furniture and clothes. Baby Apollo has also lost his crib, toys and puzzles. "Basically, it's rough," Max said. "Everything got either blown away or soaked."

Making matters worse, Apollo has suffered several medical issues after the storm cleared due to water contaminated by unsanitary conditions, and the power has remained off in Hope Town since September 1st of this year. As a result, Robbie and the baby are currently living on another island.

"Any help from the gay dad community would truly be appreciated," Max said, who has set up a Go Fund Me to help the family get back on their feet.

"Skilled individuals in wooden house building and / or carpentry who are able to volunteer would also be appreciated," added Max. "Plus if someone wants to donate lumber there is a list is available. We have also set up a shipping forwarding address in Florida if people want to donate materials instead of money." Email Max at maxhopetown@gmail.com for more details.

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Gay Dad Family Stories

How One Failed Adoption Turned Into Two Successes for These Dads

Joe and Roberto were heartbroken after a birth mother decided against working with them. But fate (and perseverance!) would soon change their luck — twice over!

Adoption was always the first choice for Joe Motowidlak and husband Roberto Martinez when it came to starting a family. They went the private adoption route, ended up with two different attorneys and had two very different adoption journeys, that lead to two daughters born within a couple of months to one another. Although Joe and Roberto wouldn't change a thing, they consider themselves incredibly fortunate to have the family that they have and are the proud dads with full hearts to their two infant daughters.

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Gay Dad Family Stories

Nuno Costa, Out Competitive CrossFit Athlete, Expecting a Baby

Nuno Costa, just one of a handful of competitive LGBTQ athletes within CrossFit, recently announced he's about to become a dad via surrogacy.

Nuno Costa, 41, is no stranger to facing his fears. For years, he struggled with an addiction to drugs and alcohol. He's been sober since 2007 and credits CrossFit — the "functional fitness" phenomenon — for helping give his life new purpose. As one of the only openly gay male CrossFit athletes competing in the top levels of the sport, Nuno has long been an inspiration to LGBTQ athletes. And he's also really good at it — Nuno is one of the few athletes who has competed in nine out of the 11 past CrossFit Games, as either an individual or team competitor, every year since they started in 2012.

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Gay Dad Family Stories

This European Couple Became Dads Through a U.K.-Based Surrogacy Program

Janno, from Estonia, and Matthias, from Belgium, were accepted into the "Childlessness Overcome Through Surrogacy" Program.

Janno Talu, an accountant, and Matthias Nijs, an art gallery director, were born in different parts of Europe. Janno, 39, is from Estonia, and Matthias, 28, is from Belgium. Their paths crossed when the two moved to London, each from their different corners of the European Union.

Janno relocated to London earlier than Matthias, when he was 24, and his main reason for the move was his sexuality. "Although Estonia is considered one of the more progressive countries in Eastern Europe, when it comes to gay rights, it is still decades behind Western society in terms of tolerance," said Janno. "And things are not moving in the right direction." In 2016, same-sex civil union became legal, but the junior party in the current coalition government is seeking to repeal the same-sex partnership bill. "In addition," Janno continued, "they wish to include the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman in the country's constitution. Even today, there are people in Estonia who liken homosexuality to pedophilia, which is why I decided to start a new life in the UK, where I could finally be myself."

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News

What's it Like to Be a Child of the 'Gayby Boom'?

Tosca Langbert, who grew up with two dads, writes a piece for the Harvard Business Review about what it's like being among the first children of the "Gayby Boom" to come of age.

We've previously written about the pressure on LGBTQ parents to appear perfect, given that so many in the United States still feel out families shouldn't exist in the first place. And we know this pressure trickles down to our kids. But In an article for the Harvard Business Review titled 'The Gayby Boom Is Here to Stay," author Tosca Langbert eloquently writes, from her perspective, about the experience of beingone of the first children to come of age during an era when LGBTQ parenthood is far more commonplace. She and her two siblings, she notes, "were raised in a family that was an impossibility only decades ago."

In the article, Langbert said she knew from a young age that her family was different from those of most of her peers, who had one a father and a mother. But otherwise, she writes, she didn't feel like her family differed much. "Like any other parents, Dad sat in the carpool lane after school and taught us how to ride our bikes," she writes, "while Papa took us to the movies on the weekends and separated the whites from the colors."

Despite this mundanity, her family remained something to marvel at for much of her youth. When the family moved into a new neighborhood in 2006, it made the local newspaper, with a headline titled, "Gay Father Tests Tolerance in the Park Cities."

She and her siblings have spent much of their lives, she explained further, having to respond to the question: what's it like having two gay dads? For Langbert, there is only one correct response, which is: Amazing! "Any other response, even if simply accounting for a family's nuanced experience, might as well be an outright admission of failure on behalf of the entire LGBTQ community," she wrote.

Children of the 'Gayby Generation,' are also put in the position of having to come out on behalf of their parents, and "often with mixed results," she wrote. She gave the following anecdote as an example:

"My father was asked to step down from his leadership position in my brother's Boy Scout troop on account of his sexuality. Even though my siblings and I were only fourth graders at the time, we understood that our family was under strict scrutiny, and that even the slightest misstep could beget severe consequences for how competent our fathers were perceived as being. In the face of this pressure, the first generation of 'gaybies' recognized the importance of presenting their families as perfect; doing otherwise would only present ammunition to those already dubious about the rights of LGBTQ parents to raise children."

The entire article, which includes the perspectives of multiple now-grown kids that are part of the "Gayby generation," is well worth a read, which you can access here.


Politics

Utah Bill Would Allow Gay Men to Enter Surrogacy Contracts

Rep. Patrice Arent of Utah is sponsoring a bill that will remove a provision that currently prohibits gay men from entering into commercial surrogacy contracts in the state.

Though Utah is not one of the three states that currently prohibit commercial surrogacy contracts, the state's current policy does specifically exclude gay men from doing so. That may soon changed, however, thanks to a bill in the state's legislature that was unanimously voted out of a House Committee that would remove that restriction.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, a Democrat, was created in response to a ruling by the Utah Supreme Court this past August that found the ban on gay men unconstitutional.

Gay men have been excluded from legally entering surrogacy contracts due to a provision in the current law that requires medical evidence "that the intended mother is unable to bear a child or is unable to do so without unreasonable risk to her physical or mental health or to the unborn child," Rep. Arent told the Salt Lake Tribune — a requirement that clearly excludes gay male couples.

The state's original surrogacy law dates back to 2005, before same-sex marriage was legalized in the state, which accounts for the gendered language. Though the state's Supreme Court already ruled the provision unconstitutional, Rep Arent further told the Tribute that, "People do not look to Supreme Court opinions to figure out the law, they look to the code and the code should be constitutional."

Politics

Colorado Republicans Try and Fail to Outlaw LGBTQ Marriage and Adoption Rights

A bill introduced by four Republican state legislators in Colorado that would outlaw same-sex marriage and adoption rights was voted down.

The "Colorado Natural Marriage and Adoption Act," which would have outlawed gay marriage and adoption in the state of Colorado, was voted down in the state legislature this week. The bill was sponsored by Republican Rep. Stephen Humphrey and three of his conservative colleagues: Dave Williams, Shane Sandridge and Mark Baisley.

If enacted, the bill would have enforced "state law that marriage is between one man and one woman" and restrict "adoption of children by spouses in a marriage ... that consist of one man and one woman."

The bill, which had little chance of success, particularly in Colorado which has trended more progressive over the past several election cycles, was mostly symbolic, according to Sanridrge. "We all know this bill isn't gonna pass in this current left-wing environment," he told Colorado Public Radio. "It's to remind everyone, this is the ultimate way to conceive a child."

In a sign of how far we've come on the issue of LGBTQ marriage and parenting rights, most Republican legislators in the state did not endorse the bill.

Though the bill had little chance of passage, LGBTQ advocacy groups in the state are taking the threats seriously nonetheless. Daniel Ramos, director of the LGBTQ group One Colorado, told LGBTQ Nation that the bills were an attempt to return Colorado to its "hate status" of the 1990s, adding the aggressiveness of the measures were "a bit surprising."

Surrogacy for Gay Men

Dads Talk About Surrogacy Process in New Video for Northwest Surrogacy Center

The Northwest Surrogacy Center interviewed some of their gay dad clients for a video to celebrate their 25th anniversary of creating families through surrogacy!

Image: NWSC Clients

Last year, Northwest Surrogacy Center celebrated 25 years of helping parents realize their dreams. And they celebrated in style by inviting the families they've worked with over the past two and a half decades to join them!

At the party, they took the opportunity to film queer dads and dads-to-be, asking them a couple of questions: how did it feel holding your baby for the first time, and tell us about your relationship with your surrogate.

Watch the video below and get ready for the water works!

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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