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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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Couple That Met at the Gym Now Spotting Each Other Through Fatherhood

How two real New-Yorkers became two soft-hearted dads

This article is part of our family feature series with Circle Surrogacy, a surrogacy agency that has been helping LGBTQ+ singles and couples realize their dream of parenthood for the past 20 years.

Byron and Matthew Slosar, both 41, met ten years ago at one of New York City's Equinox gyms. "I asked him for a spot on the bench press," smiled Byron. The couple were married September 22, 2012.

Surrogacy was always the way Byron and Matthew wanted to become parents. They chose to wait and become dads later in life, until they had established careers and the financial means to pursue their chosen path.

They signed with Circle Surrogacy after interviewing a few agencies. "We immediately connected with their entire staff, particularly Anne Watson who lovingly dealt with my healthy neuroses on the daily for 1.5 years," said Byron. "They definitely personalized the service and helped us understand all 2,000 moving parts." The dads-to-be were also very impressed with how much emotional support they received from Circle.

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Jeremy was 16 years old when he found out his new dads wanted to adopt him.

In late August 2017, husbands Mark and Andrew Mihopulos, 34 and 36 respectively, remember driving out to the east end of Long Island. They knew at the very same moment they were driving, social workers were letting Jeremy know they wanted to adopt him. "We expected Jeremy to be hesitant or feel mixed emotions," shared Mark. "We didn't know how he would feel about having two dads and about having white parents and family, as he is a black young man."

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"It's been one hell of a ride since the beginning," said 26-year-old Steve Argyrakis, Canadian dad of one. He was 19 when he found out he was going to be a dad and the mom was already several months along in her pregnancy. Steve, who lives in Montreal, was struggling with his homosexuality but wanted to do the "right thing," so he continued to suppress his authentic self. "I was so scared about the future and about my own happiness, that I had put aside my homosexuality once again."

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So you're ready to adopt. How do you know your adoption agency won't just discriminate against you as a gay man, but is actively welcoming to LGBTQ people?

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Gay Dads Featured in Enfamil Commercial

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Politics

Daughter of Married Gay Couple Who Used Surrogacy Abroad Isn't Citizen, Says U.S. State Department

A decades-old law can be used to discriminate against gay couples who use surrogacy abroad.

James Derek Mize and his husband Jonathan Gregg are both American citizens, but their daughter, born via a surrogate, may not be, at least according to the U.S. State Department.

The New York Times took an in-depth look at this case in a piece that ran in the paper yesterday. While James was born and raised in the U.S, his husband Jonathan was originally born in Britain. That may be enough, according to the State Department, to deny their daughter citizenship.

"We're both Americans; we're married," James told the New York Times. "We just found it really hard to believe that we could have a child that wouldn't be able to be in our country."

According to decades-old immigration law, a child born abroad must have a biological connection to a parent that is a U.S. citizen in order to be eligible to receive citizenship upon birth. Children born via surrogacy are determined to be "out of wedlock," according to the Times report," which then requires a more onerous process to qualify for citizenship, such as demonstrating that a biological parent is not only an American citizen, but has spent at least five years in the country.

The intent of the law, which dates back to the 1950s, was to prevent people from claiming, falsely, that they are the children of U.S. parents. But LGBTQ advocates argue this archaic policy is being used intentionally to discriminates against same-sex couples, who often have to rely on donors, IVF and surrogacy in order to have biologically children, and are thus held to a higher standard.

"This is where our life is. This is where our jobs are," James told the Times. "Our daughter can't be here, but she has no one else to care for her."

Read the whole story here.


Fatherhood, the gay way

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