Gay Dad Family Stories

Meet Gay Dads: Joe and Francois with Daphné and Axel

Meet London-based gay dads Joe and Francois with their twins Daphné and Axel. Francois was born in Brittany, France; Joe is originally from upstate New York. They were both living and working in New York City when their paths crossed four and a half years ago, and they were married on December 5, 2014. Francois works in finance, and March last year they relocated to London for his job. Joe is an actor, and for the past 11 years has worked primarily on the stage. The move across the pond has worked well for this international family; both Joe and Francois had previously lived in London and neither wanted to pass up the opportunity of living there again, despite the initial difficulty of moving with twins only a couple of weeks old.

Francois (left) holding Daphné and Joe holding Axel

Gays With Kids: We love a good love story! How did you two meet?

Joe: We were both living in Manhattan, New York City. We actually first saw each other on the app Grindr. I was in his neighborhood at a friend's party, and I forget who messaged who, but the next day we began talking, and that lasted for about two or three days. We then arranged a date a couple of days later before Francois was to head out of town for a couple of weeks. He's the only person I ever met through that App, and he became my husband! When we first met, I was 28, and Francois was 35, and we both had been through a bunch of odd relationships, and knew there were things we wanted out of this life, so our first date was very much a really fun, slightly intoxicated/intoxicating interview. We both discussed how we wanted children that night, and now here we are, with 1-year-old boy/girl twins.

Francois and Joe with Axel

Gays With Kids: Do both you or husband work, or are either of you stay-at-home dads?

Joe: Francois is a finance guy with those long hours, five days a week. I am an actor, and my work is primarily in the evenings, unless I have auditions, rehearsals, etc. I kind of have the best of both worlds, in that I get to have my career and see my kids throughout the day. Somedays it can be a bit overwhelming, but luckily, we have a fantastic au pair who lives with us and helps us throughout the week. We give her evenings and weekends off to go enjoy being a young girl in London. She is also French, so that helps me work on my French, and really sets the kids up to be bilingual, which is very important to us. We also have babysitters on call. With two working dads and two small children, you have to have a roster full of helpers.

Axel and Daphné's first birthday

Gays With Kids: Why did you chose your particular path to fatherhood?

Joe: When we thought about how we wanted to have kids, surrogacy was the only thing we really looked at. We both were very big on having, at least trying to have, that genetic link. Considering the challenges of being a gay couple with kids, and a child's nature of wanting to know where they come from, we thought it would be easiest if we were genetically linked, and could at least field the questions from there. Our egg donor was also a close friend of ours. We just want to be as transparent as possible. We also knew we wanted to try for twins. Fortunately for us, that's what we were blessed with, and we happen to both be biological fathers of one of the children.

Daphné and Axel sleeping

Gays With Kids: What do you consider to be the most important lesson you are teaching your children?

Joe: Right this second, "dadda" on command. In the long run, I just want to make sure that they know they are enough. Whatever they choose to be, whoever they turn out to be ... it is enough.

Blowing out the candles on Daphné and Axel's first birthday cake

Gays With Kids: Please share any advice you may have for others considering a similar path to fatherhood.

Joe: I would say that if you have the means, and are thinking that it's something you seriously want to do, do it. Jump in and get on your research, and start ASAP. You never know how long it will take to actually get through it. We ended up losing a surrogate early on due to some family stuff on her end, and that set us back a few months, but we got extremely lucky with finding our new surrogate, getting pregnant and delivering the children. We know others that haven't been as lucky, and it can take many cycles and years in some cases. What we thought would take a year ended up taking almost two.

Happy Birthday Axel and Daphné!

Gays With Kids: Do you see any more children in your future?

Joe: We got lucky our first go around. We wanted twins and were hoping for one of each, and we got exactly what we had hoped for. I don't think there will be anymore kids in our future, but I never say never. I'm a total sap for kids stuff and baby stuff, so who knows?

Joe with Daphné

Gays With Kids: Is there anything else you'd like to share about your experiences creating or raising your family?

Joe: It is the most challenging and rewarding thing we've ever taken on. It has changed me for the better. It has allowed me to meet a side of my husband that I didn't know before ... and that he didn't even know before, and vice versa. It's very early on for us, and who knows what will happen once puberty kicks in, but for now, it's all unconditional love ... and fatigue :-)

The answers have been edited occasionally for clarity.

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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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These Adoptive Dads Gained an Extended Family Through Foster Care

Adoptive dads Edward and Andrew have maintained a close relationship with their twins' biological family.

Celebrating gay, bi and trans fatherhood is what we do on Gays With Kids. We rejoice in whatever paths our community took to become parents. But many of those journeys come with heartbreak, sometimes for the intended parents, and sometimes for the biological family from whom the adoption or foster placement occurs. With an open adoption, the adoptive and biological families come to an arrangement which best benefits the child, and that's when something truly beautiful can occur. This isn't always possible in every scenario, but when it does, we're exceedingly thankful. Can a child ever have too many family members loving them? Not likely. This was husbands of five years Edward and Andrew Senn's experience.

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'Fourth Time's a Charm' for This Foster Forever Family

It took four tries before Steven was united with his 'forever son' through foster care — and it was worth the wait.

On his path to becoming a dad, Steven Engle admits his biggest obstacle was himself at first. "In my mind, I had to be in a relationship or married to have a child," he said. Steven had wasted many years believing that simply as fact. "And yes, I realize how antiquated that is... I'm embarrassed to admit it." Then one day, he was out with a good friend who just said, "Why not do it on your own?" It was Steven's 'aha' moment. "Once I got past that, I was unstoppable."

Although Steven, who lives in Los Angeles, briefly considered adoption and surrogacy, he wanted to learn more about becoming a foster parent and adopting through the foster care system. Steven called up an old friend who had become a dad through a similar path to ask for advice and share his experience. His friend did so willingly and was happy to talk about adoption.

From there, Steven decided to attend an orientation at Extraordinary Families in Los Angeles. "I went in with a very open mind. I was very nervous and told myself that if something comes up and I realize it isn't a good fit, I would move on to another option, whatever that may be." After the orientation, Steven said that it felt so right that he started his training shortly thereafter. "I wanted to be certified ASAP. I knew that this was the road I was meant to be on."

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Single Gay Dad and the City

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"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?

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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.


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.

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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