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One Gay Couple's Path to Finding Faith & Family in Georgia

For Joel and Patrick the chemistry was instant. They met during high school at a senior's party at a bowling alley. Both were in relationships at the time, but by the end of the night, Joel had shared a message with Patrick, written on a napkin: "Let's break up with our boyfriends and go out. Call me!" They've been together 12 years.

For these two dads living in Canton, Georgia, their road to fatherhood was paved with some heartbreak. They found out on the day of their baby shower that their birth mom had changed her mind. Thankfully, their journey did not stop there, and today they're the proud dads of one happy little boy called Greyson.

Another obstacle they faced was finding a church that accepted them as a family. Here's their story.


Tell us about your path to parenthood. We chose adoption. We did think about surrogacy but could not afford it.

What obstacles did you face on your path to fatherhood? It took almost three years to finally adopt and after a birth mother changed her mind (that story is in the video at the end of this interview); we felt like maybe we weren't meant to be dads, but we prayed hard and decided to try one more time to try and find the right birth mother and we found her two weeks from when the other birth mother changed her mind. Greyson was born a week later. It all happened in December of 2015. We met her on Christmas Day. She wanted that as a gift for Greyson to "meet" his parents on Christmas. He was born on December 30.

How did your life change when you became a father? Fatherhood has made us better partners for each other, more patient, and less selfish. We see the world like its brand new again.

What have you learned from your children since you became a dad? Not to sweat the little things. I'm a perfectionist with a very neat life style but when my kid drew on the wall- I sighed, laughed, and moved on. Something I would have not done before becoming a dad.

How important is your faith, and how do you incorporate it into family life? Very important. I feel that my relationship with god makes me complete as does my husband. We use prayer for the good and bad times. We are starting to pray with our son and he of course goes to church with us.

Can you please share with us your experience of finding the right church for your family? Finding a church was a five month process. We tried and contacted over 20 churches. Many said we weren't welcomed, others said we were welcomed but our marriage wasn't recognized, several were welcoming but didn't feel a connection, and lastly we found one with the Mega church of Andy Stanley but after a few weeks there, when we wanted to get more serious and wanted to volunteer there, they said we could not volunteer in the family services because of our life style aka we couldn't serve in the room with our own son. They also never put this in emails. No paper trail for their image was how I looked at it.

So have you found a church that accepts your family, and what is that church's name? Yes. Vinnings Lake Church with Cody Deese as the pastor. The church has several gay members and a diverse crowd in age and race.

Was there ever a moment that you or Patrick experienced any serious doubts about your path to fatherhood or fatherhood itself? Yes, after each failed adoption, we took it as hints that god didn't want us to be parents.

Other than your experience finding a church that accepts your family, are you treated differently than others on account of your sexual orientation? We haven't noticed this much besides when we are out alone and people think we're "giving the mother a break." Really, people?

Where do you see your family 5-10 years in the future? We see a family a three becoming a family of four.

What words of advice do you have for other gay men considering pursuing your same path or parenthood? Keep going for it. It's worth it. It makes life so much for rewarding and fun. There's always doubts, but if it's what you have been wanting you should take a chance.

Watch the dads video below where they talk about their family story, being dads and the importance of their faith:

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Race

How a White Gay Dad Discusses Racial Issues with his Black Sons

In light of the recent killing of George Floyd by the hands of police in Minneapolis, Joseph Sadusky shares two excerpts from his book that deal directly with issues around raising black sons.

Editor's Note: In light of George Floyd's death, this month, author Joseph Sadusky — who has been sharing excerpts from his book Magic Lessons: Celebratory and Cautionary Tales about Life as a (Single, Gay, Transracially Adoptive) Dad each month —will share two posts that deal directly with issues around raising black sons. This is the first, titled "White," which looks at general questions that come up for a white dad raising black boys. Read previous installments here.

It may be presumptuous for a Caucasian gay man to claim to feel terrified and heartsick at the shooting of Trayvon Martin. But upon hearing the news that day in 2012, this is exactly how I felt.

The horrible truth is that there are many incidents of racial violence toward black males that I could use as starting points for this topic. But the specific case of Trayvon Martin—whose only crime was being a young black male wearing a hoodie, walking in a neighborhood where he had a home—has a particular resonance for me. Whatever the legalities of George Zimmerman using a gun to "stand his ground" if he felt his life was threatened, the simple truth is that he chose—against the direction of law enforcement, whom he contacted for support—to follow an African American male who had every right to be walking those neighborhood streets, however "thug" he might appear.

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Become a Gay Dad

Curious About Covid 19's Impact on Foster Care and Adoption?

Leading industry experts answer questions from queer men about the impact of Covid-19 on the adoption and foster care processes.

Recently, GWK hosted a series of free webinars with leading experts led by industry experts in the fields of adoption and foster care to learn about up-to-date insights on how the coronavirus affects family building. The presentations left lots of room for audience Q&A, to allow participants to get their individual questions answered — there were some common questions raised during each webinar, however, so we've put together a quick video of our experts answering some of the top concerns from queer men interested in pursuing surrogacy.

Our team of experts include:

Have other questions about the impact of the coronavirus on adoption or foster care that you'd like our experts to answer? Be sure to email us at dads@gayswithkids.com.

Surrogacy for Gay Men

Top 5 Questions About Covid-19's Impact On Surrogacy

Leading industry experts answer questions from queer men about the impact of Covid-19 on the surrogacy process.

Recently, GWK hosted a series of free webinars with leading experts led by industry experts in the field of surrogacy to learn about up-to-date insights on how the coronavirus affects family building. The presentations left lots of room for audience Q&A, to allow participants to get their individual questions answered — there were some common questions raised during each webinar, however, so we've put together a quick video of our experts answering some of the top concerns from queer men interested in pursuing surrogacy.

Our team of experts include:

Have other questions about the impact of the coronavirus on surrogacy that you'd like our experts to answer? Be sure to email us at dads@gayswithkids.com.

Here is a breakdown of the Top 5 Questions About Covid 19's Impact On Surrogacy. These are highlights taken from our live webinar series we held featuring: G...

Transracial Families Series

How These Dads Address White Privilege within Their Transracial Family

The "white savior" complex is real, said Andrew and Don, who are raising two Black children.

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

Andrew Kohn, 40, and his husband Donald (Don) Jones, 47, together 13 years, are two white dads raising two Black children in Columbus, Ohio. Do they stick out? Sure. Have they encountered racism? They say they haven't. "I keep waiting for the moment so that I can become my best Julia Sugarbaker," said Andrew. "I think because we're a gay couple with Black kids, we're the other-other and people don't really say things to us. We have never had people touch our kids hair or do something that was inappropriate."

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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