Gay Dad Life

Foster Care is a Marathon, Not a Sprint, Say These Gay Dads

Be ready to approach the foster care process with lots of patience, say these gay dads

Together over 18 years, Derek, an accountant, and David, a therapist and college professor, spent a long time waiting for the dream of a family to come true. They met through a mutual friend in the summer of 1999 in Boone, North Carolina, and now live in Newton, NC. Married in 2010, it wasn't till mid-2016 that they met their then 3-year-old son, Malachi. Here's their story.


Derek and David began thinking about fatherhood many years ago. They knew they wanted to be parents, but did not want to have a child while the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which forbid federal recognition of same-sex marriages, was law and risk only one parent having legal protection. So they decided to wait. When DOMA fell in 2013, the husbands heard the news on the way to the Atlanta Pride parade and immediately the conversation of kids was brought back to the table. By 2015, they were licensed foster parents, and then began the real waiting.

"We would get phone calls about children meeting our criteria weekly it seemed," said Derek. "For whatever circumstance or other they never would fit or [they would] be placed with another family very quickly. We went through the emotional ups and downs a lot!"

It wasn't till halfway through 2016 that, through a series of events that Derek and David describe as fate, a social worker reached out to the dads-to-be about a child who they thought would be a good match. After meeting the child's social worker, guardian and adoption specialist, they met Malachi a couple of weeks later. By September 2016, he had moved in with his dads.

We caught up with Derek and he shared their family's story.

Tell us about your path to fatherhood. We considered all options. We looked into private adoption as well as surrogacy. We ultimately decided there were children in our home state that needed a loving home.

Tell us about any obstacles you faced on your path to fatherhood. Hardest parts of our journey was the waiting. We would get a call that a child matching our preferences was available. We would say yes, and before we could get back to the agency representing the child, they would be placed somewhere else.

How has your life changed since you became a father? Life has completely changed. We made a choice to be parents and we no longer go out to clubs, keep crazy hours, etc. our focus is on family time.

How did you and David find the adjustment of becoming dads after it being just the two of you for so long? Adjustment was something else. Yes, David and I had some struggles taking into consideration that we now were responsible and had to factor a tiny human into our plans every weekend, where we ate, and just the logistics. Privacy - what's that? Our son is one that always wants to be where we are. Whether it's in the living room watching T.V. or trying to use the restroom. Transitioning from getting to snooze that extra few minutes to now, where we barely make it out the door on time to drop off at daycare, get coffee, and pull into the office for me or make it to class before the final bell for David is a remarkable feat. Although, if I am completely honest, we love it. We have dreamed of being parents, and our son makes us young.

Photo credit: Orange Cat Photo, Dana Andreasson

What have you learned from your child since you became a dad? Patience. We have also learned that what our parents did doesn't always work. Times are different and children respond differently. My parents had a firm hand and strict rules while we have rules but not necessarily a firm hand.

Was there ever a moment that you or David experienced any serious doubts about your path to fatherhood or fatherhood itself. We agreed we would not pursue being parents unless we could both be a part of the adoption. We also struggled with the thought that we would not be considered for placement of a child because we are a same-sex couple. We knew that when the Supreme Court ruling was handed down we would be protected to start our process.

What words of advice do you have for other gay men considering pursuing your same path or parenthood? Be patient. It is definitely a marathon and not a sprint. One of the last things my grandmother said before passing away while knowing we were in the process of placement, she told me with a tear in her eyes to be patient. It will happen. It will reveal itself to you when the time is right.

Photo credit: Orange Cat Photo, Dana Andreasson

Where do you see your family 5-10 years in the future? In five years, our son will be 9. Maintaining busy schedules packed with athletics, arts, and trips to Disney World. Keeping our family well balanced.

Is there anything else you'd like to share about your experiences creating or raising your family? It is the greatest journey we have ever been on.

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News

New York Will Fight 'Repugnant' Trump Rule on Adoption, Says Cuomo

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York promises legal action of the Trump administration moves ahead with plans to allow discrimination against LGBTQ adoptive and foster parents

Last week, the Trump administration announced plans to allow adoption and foster care agencies to discriminate against prospective LGBTQ parents — but he may face a legal fight from (former) hometown. In a tweet, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York said the proposed move "isn't just discriminatory and repugnant to our values,— it's also heartless and dumb as it would deny countless children a loving family and a safe place to call home." If the proposal moves forward, he continued. "we'll take legal action to stop it.

Governor Cuomo's office followed up the tweet with a lengthier statement posted to their website:

Once again the Trump administration is attacking the hard-earned rights and protections of the LGBTQ community, this time proposing a new measure that would give foster care and adoption agencies license to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Trump's proposal isn't just discriminatory and repugnant to our values — it's also heartless and dumb as it would deny countless children a loving family and a safe place to call home. If he moves forward with this rule, we'll take legal action to stop it.

No matter what happens in Washington, New York State is and will continue to be a beacon of equality in this country. Our Human Rights Law and adoption regulations expressly prohibit discrimination against the LGBTQ community, including when it comes to adoption. I encourage any LGBTQ New Yorker who feels they are a victim of this discrimination to contact the State Division of Human Rights for assistance.

Our message to the Trump administration is simple: there is no place for hate in New York or in our nation, and we will not allow this noxious proposal to stop LGBTQ New Yorkers from becoming parents or providing care to children in need.

News

Trump Administration to Allow Discrimination Against LGBTQ Foster and Adoptive Parents

In its latest move against the LGBTQ community, the Trump administration has proposed a rule that will give adoption and foster care agencies license to discriminate on the basis of religion

On Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services proposed a new rule to reverse an Obama-era policy prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity — allowing foster and adoption agencies to legally refuse to work with prospective adoptive and foster parents who identify as LGBTQ on the grounds of religious belief.

Denise Brogan-Kator, speaking to the New York Times, said the proposal would have an "enormous" impact on the LGBTQ community, noting that all organizations that get funding from the department will be "free to discriminate."

The White House, for its part, proclaimed the proposed rule was promoting "religious freedom," saying in a statement that "the federal government should not be in the business of forcing child welfare providers to choose between helping children and their faith."

As the New York Times pointed out, LGBTQ couples with children are far likely than different-sex couples to be raising adopted children. This move in support of so-called "religious freedom," then, will merely negatively impact the more than 400,000 children currently in the foster care system by denying them loving homes with LGBTQ individuals and couples.

Read more about this rule here. We'll be sure to keep readers up to speed as this issue develops.

Foster/Foster-Adopt

Your Foster Adopt Questions Answered by a Foster Adopt Dad

We asked our Instagram community to send us their questions about being a foster dad — and an experienced foster dad responded.

Dad Joseph Bostick (read his story here) recently shared his experience as a foster and adoptive dad with our Instagram community via a question and answer session - did you feel nervous at the beginning? How did you start the process? Did you always know that you wanted to foster older kids?

Read Joseph's responses below.

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Gay Dad Family Stories

David and Ben Met on the Dance Floor — and Are Now Grooving Their Way Through Fatherhood

David and Ben, who became fathers with the help of Northwest Surrogacy Center, live in Melbourne with their daughter, Maia.

In 2003, while both studying at Reading University in the UK, Ben Suter and David Cocks met after locking eyes on the dance floor and then being introduced by a mutual friend. Ben, a meteorologist and Operations Manager, and David, an Assistant Principal, have been together ever since. They moved to Australia together in 2010, seeking a different life, and an overall better work-life balance. The chose Cairns in Queensland as their new home, between the Great Barrier Reef and the tropical rainforest, "taking life a bit easier," said David. The couple were also married in June 2016, back home in England.

While David always wanted kids, Ben took a little convincing. So they started their parenting journey with a dog, Titan, who quickly became like their first born. From there, Ben came around rather quickly.

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Single Gay Dad and the City

When Kyle decided to take his four kids, ages 6-11, to New York City on vacation, his friends thought he was crazy.

"You're crazy, Kyle."

"You can't be serious? A single dad taking four kids to the Big Apple? Think again."

"That's bold. There's no way I'd do that."

Those were a few of the responses I heard from my friends as I told them I was thinking of booking a trip to New York City with four kids, ages 11-6. My children's fall vacation from school was approaching and I wanted to get out of the house and explore. Was the Big Apple too much of an adventure?

Keep reading... Show less
News

National's Pitcher Cites Wife's Two Moms as Reason for Declining White House Invite

"I think that's an important part of allyship," Doolittle said of his wife's two moms.

Sean Doolittle, pitcher for the Washington Nationals, declined an invitation to the White House after his team won the World Series this year. In an interview with the Washington Post, he listed his numerous reasons for staying home — and a main consideration, he revealed, was his wife's two moms.

"I want to show support for them. I think that's an important part of allyship, and I don't want to turn my back on them," Doolittle said during the interview.

Trump's treatment of a minority groups, generally, factored into his decision as well. "I have a brother-in-law who has autism, and [Trump] is a guy that mocked a disabled reporter. How would I explain that to him that I hung out with somebody who mocked the way that he talked or the way that he moves his hands? I can't get past that stuff."

Doolitttle clarified that his decision had little to do with policy disagreements with the White House. "There's a lot of things, policies that I disagree with, but at the end of the day, it has more to do with the divisive rhetoric and the enabling of conspiracy theories and widening the divide in this country. My wife and I stand for inclusion and acceptance, and we've done work with refugees, people that come from, you know, the 'shithole countries.'"

He concluded by saying he respected his teammates decision to attend the White house ceremony. "I want people to know that I put thought into this, and at the end of the day, I just can't go."

Read more of the Washington Post interview here.

Change the World

A Gay Fertility Doctor Opens Up About His Own Path to Parenthood

Parenthood is the "one and only job" held by the majority of the population, wrote gay fertility doctor Mark Leondires in a recent op-ed for The Advocate

Dr. Mark Leondires, founder of the fertility clinic RMA of Connecticut, has helped thousands of LGBTQ people become parents over the years. But in a recent op-ed for The Advocate, he discussed his own path to parenthood as a gay man, and some of the lessons he's learned along the way.

"Similar to most gay men I struggled with the coming out process," Dr. Leondires wrote. "I strongly desired to be a parent. And as a fertility doctor I knew this was possible. What was enlightening was after we had our first child is that in the eyes of my community, I went from being a gay man or gay professional to being a parent just like most of my straight friends."

Dr. Leondires goes on to say his reasons for opening up about his parenting journey is to offer some perspective LGBTQ people who are considering parenthood. "Once you have a family you will have this common bond with the vast majority of our population and something they can relate to — having children," he wrote. "You are no longer someone living this "special" lifestyle, you are a parent on a shared journey."

Being a parent is the "one and only job" held by the majority of the population, he continued. "It is also the only job you can't be fired from."

Understanding this commonality helped Dr. Leondires in his coming out process, he said. "I had to be proud of my family because I want them to be proud of our family," he wrote. "It wasn't about me anymore. The reality is that 5-7% of patients identify as LGBTQ+, and there may be a greater likelihood that your child might be LGBTQ+ because you are. Therefore, you need to be proud of who you are and who your family is, establish and maintain this foundation unconditionally."

Read Dr. Leondires entire essay here.

Fatherhood, the gay way

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