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.

Show Comments ()
Entertainment

Take a Virtual Tour of The Homes of These Famous Gay Dads

Many famous gay dads — including Neil Patrick Harris, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Ricky Martin — have opened up their homes to fans on the pages of Architectural Digest.

In each issue, Architectural Digest offers a peak into the homes of different celebrities. In recent years, they've featured the homes of several famous gay dads. Check out the videos and stories the magazine pulled together on the beautiful homes of Neil Patrick Harris, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Ricky Martin below!

Keep reading... Show less
Children's Books

New LGBTQ-Inclusive Children's Book Asks: What Makes a Family?

A new children's book by Seamus Kirst follows a young girl's journey of emotional discovery after she is asked which of her two dads is her "real dad."

Editor's note: This is a guest post from Seamus Kirst, author of the new LGBTQ-inclusive children's book "Papa, Daddy, Riley."

Throughout my life, I have discovered that reading provides an almost miraculous way of changing the way I think.

There is no medium that better offers insight into the perceptions, feelings and humanity of someone who is different from us. Through reading we become empathetic. Through reading we evolve. I have often emerged from reading a book, and felt like I was changed. In that, even in this digital age, I know I am not alone.

As children, reading shapes how we see the world. The characters, places, and stories we come to love in our books inform us as to what life might offer us as we grow up, and our world begins to expand beyond our own backyards.

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Photo Essays

Interested in Foster Care? These Amazing Dads Have Some Advice

As National Foster Care Month comes to a close, we rounded up some amazing examples of gay men serving as foster care dads, helping provide kids with a bright future.

Every May in the United States, we celebrate National Foster Care Month. With over 437,000 children and youth in foster care, it's our honor to take a look at some of the awesome dads in our community who are opening their hearts and their homes, and providing these kids with a bright future.

Thinking about becoming a foster parent? Check out these resources here, and visit AdoptUSKids.

Meet the Foster Dads!

Keep reading... Show less
Transracial Families Series

This Transracial Family Relies on a 'Support Group' of African American Women

Puerto Rican dads Ferdinand and Manuel are raising a daughter of Jamaican descent — and love to find ways to celebrate their family's diversity

Our second feature in our transracial family series. Read the first one here.

Ferdinand Ortiz, 39, and his husband Manuel Gonzalez, 38, have been together for 7 years. In 2017, they became foster dads when they brought their daughter, Mia Valentina, home from the hospital. She was just three days old at the time. On December 13, 2018, her adoption was finalized.

Mia is of Jamaican and African American heritage, and her dads are both Puerto Rican. When Manuel and Ferdinand began their parenting journey through the foster care system, they received specific training on how to be the parents of a child whose race and culture was different from their own. "We learned that it's important to celebrate our child's culture and surround ourselves with people who can help her be proud of her culture." However, as helpful as this training was, the dads agreed that it would've been beneficial to hear from other transracial families and the type of challenges that they faced.

Keep reading... Show less
Personal Essays by Gay Dads

How the Shut Down Opened Me Up to Being a Better Dad

David Blacker's dad used to tell him to 'stop and smell the roses' — the shut down has led him to finally take the advice

"Stop and smell the roses." It was the thing my dad always said to me when I was growing up. But like many know-it-all kids, I didn't listen. I was determined to keep my eye on the prize. Whether it was getting good grades in school, getting my work published, scoring the next big promotion, buying a house or starting a family. For me, there was no such thing as resting on my laurels. It has always been about what's next and mapping out the exact course of action to get me there.

Then Covid.

Ten weeks ago, I — along with the rest of the world — was ordered to shelter-in-place... to stop thinking about what's next, and instead, focus on the here and the now. In many ways, the shut down made me shut off everything I thought I knew about being content and living a productive life. And so, for the first time in my 41 years, I have literally been forced to stop and smell the roses. The question is, would I like the way they smell?

Keep reading... Show less
Transracial Families Series

How This Transracial Family Creates a 'Safe Space' to Talk About Their Differences

Kevin and David know they can never understand what it's like growing up as a young black girl — but they strive to create a 'safe space' for their daughters to talk about the experience

Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of ongoing posts exploring issues related to transracial families headed by gay, bi and trans men. Interested in being featured as part of the series? Email us at dads@gayswithkids.com

Is adopting a child whose race and culture is different from your own something that us queer dads need to talk about? Share our experiences? Learn from others? We've been hearing from our community, and the answer has been a resounding, "yes."

With over one-fifth (21.4%) of same-sex couples raising adopted children in the United States today (compared to 3% of different-sex couples), it's highly likely, at the very least, that those families are transcultural. According to April Dinwoodie, Chief Executive of The Donaldson Adoption Institute, Inc., all adoptive families are transcultural. "All, in my opinion, adoptions are transcultural because there are no two families' culture that is exactly the same, even if you went as far as to get very specific about the family of origin and the family of experience and almost make it cookie-cutter … no two families operate the same."

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Life

Movie Night: My Favorite Family Tradition

As his sons have gotten older, the movies have morphed away from cartoons and towards things blowing up — but movie night remains his favorite family tradition.

Editor's Note: This is the next in a series of excerpts from Joseph Sadusky's new book, Magic Lessons: Celebratory and Cautionary Tales about Life as a (Single, Gay, Transracially Adoptive) Dad. The book contains many stories about his life as a dad, as well as lessons learned, and we're excited to share several excerpts from the the book over the course of the next few months. Read previous installments here!

Of all of our traditions and rituals, probably the most consistent and longest-lasting one was movie night. Sure, we read the heck out of Harry Potter. But our capacity for watching Harry Potter? We're talking Quidditch World Cup here, folks.

In its early version, movie night looked like this: During the week, I would order a movie and a cartoon from Netflix—back when "Netflix" meant "mail." On Saturday night—and I mean, faithfully, every Saturday night—we would order a pepperoni pizza (which Mark faithfully took the meat off of—I'll get to food later) for delivery and then sit and watch our cartoon and movies while eating. The kids had a say in the movie, but I got to pick the cartoon. They watched enough of their own cartoons on the regular, and besides, this gave me a great opportunity to introduce them to the wonders of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Josie and the Pussycats.


Keep reading... Show less

Fatherhood, the gay way

Get the latest from Gays With Kids delivered to your inbox!

Follow Gays With Kids

Powered by RebelMouse