Gay Dad Life

A Visit to Disney World Convinced This Gay Couple to Become Dads

Michael and Matthew met 12 years ago in Warren, Ohio, the old fashioned way: in a bar. They were married June 17, 2015, and now live in Reynoldsburg, Ohio. Initially, they did not want to become parents as they did not see a way for them both to be the dads legally in their state of Ohio, but a chance encounter at Disney World changed their minds. Here's what happened ...


Tell us about your path to parenthood. In January 2016 while in Disney World for a marathon weekend, we ran into a gay couple with a 4 month old daughter. It was the first time we had seen a gay couple with a child and it got us thinking. We ran into that couple another 6 or 7 times during that trip and we become good friends. Upon returning from Disney, we had some serious discussions and came to the conclusion that we both wanted to have a child. We contacted Adoption by Gentle Care and figured out next steps.

Elena with her Disney friends

Did you choose an open adoption with Elena? We have a semi-open adoption. We utilized Adoption by Gentlecare in Columbus Ohio for the adoption and they require that we write a letter to the birth mother with photos each month for the first year and then twice annually each year after. We have met Elena's mother, but we don't have a relationship with her at this point.

Matthew with Elena

Your family has an affinity for Disney! As a family, do you try to go to Disney World often? We love Disney and loved it prior to having Elena. We go three or four times per year. With Elena, it is seeing Disney through her eyes. Meeting characters, riding rides and just seeing the spectacles around Disney through her perspective is heartwarming. I will tell you, we went in July to meet up with Michael's mother just before we finalized and Elena has never slept better. That constant stimulation wore her out.

Matthew with Elena and Minnie Mouse

How have your lives changed since you've become dads? It has changed our lives completely. Before, we would get off of work and shop, watch tv, go out to eat and exercise. Now our lives consist of shopping for Elena and the things we need around the house, eating when we get an opportunity, watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and going running with Elena in the stroller. You become less selfish when you have a child and you don't feel angry about it.

Michael and Matthew holding Elena

You and Michael had been together for almost 11 years before you became Elena's dads. How did you adjust to life as a family of three? The changing from just Michael and I to a family of three was interesting. It took us about two or three weeks to get our groove but it was been wonderful. We found a great home daycare for when we are working and we have our evenings and weekends figured. We have been very fortunate that she is an easy baby above all.

What have you learned from your children since you became a dad? A tremendous amount of patience. You realize quickly that everything is on Elena's schedule.

Is your family treated differently than others on account of your sexual orientation? You just have to be prepared for the questions. You will realize that strangers have no qualms about asking you also sorts of inappropriate questions. Our job is to figure out how to respond in a way that validates us and our daughter.

Michael and Elena

What would you say was your "aha" moment when you first realized that you were a dad? That came on January 20th when she was placed with us. We had only waited two months on the adoption list, so we were already shocked that we had a baby that quick. But on January 20th, We had done all this prep and worrying within the 72-hour window, then we get home, we were exhausted, excited and confused. All that build up in the 72-hour window and it was what do we do next? It dawned on us that our next move and then every move thereafter was going to be to raise ElenaWhat obstacles did you face on your path to fatherhood? Upon getting on the list, Elena came two months later. To get on the list, it took a great deal of hoops to jump through to compile everything needed to qualify for adoption in Ohio.

Where do you see your family 5-10 years in the future? Watching our daughter develop and figure out what her dreams are.


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Gay Dad Life

This Gay Couple, After Learning an Acquaintance Was Putting Her Baby Up for Adoption, Became First-Time Dads Within Weeks

Tim and Clayton were preparing to become certified as foster parents when they learned, out of the blue, that an acquaintance was pregnant and planning to put her baby up for adoption. Two weeks later, they were dads.

Tim Burri saw Clayton Dobson across the room, in a bar, 6 years ago, and asked him to play a round of pool. Tim says he knows "how cliché that sounds," but it worked. The two Kentucky locals married in June this year, and have their hands full with their beautiful adopted daughter, Kennedy, who turns 1 year old this year on September 12.

While many gay dads-to-be choose their path to fatherhood, adoption picked Tim and Clayton. They had just begun looking into the foster-adopt process when they found out an acquaintance was pregnant and was meeting with a lawyer to put her baby up for adoption. "We went out on a limb," said Tim. "Clayton asked if she would ever consider us to adopt, and she agreed. Within two weeks we had a beautiful newborn baby girl!"

Clayton with baby Kennedy

The besotted new dads named their baby girl Kennedy. "Our lives have changed forever!" shared Clayton.

The dads quickly went from a relatively carefree existence of just the two of them, to spending every minute they have loving and looking out for their little girl. "Before we just hopped in the car and spent an afternoon doing whatever," explained Tim. "Now, we hover over the diaper bag and verbally list off the litany of items we surely over pack to make sure we have planned for every situation, which, in truth, we know there could always be something."

Clayton (left) and Tim (right) with Kennedy

The dads have shared photos with Kennedy's birth mom when she's requested them, usually on special occasions, but unfortunately they have not heard from her in several months. They plan to keep sharing photos when the birth mom requests, and they also want to keep an open and an age appropriate dialogue with Kennedy about where she came from. "We plan on being open and honest about how much we wanted her and her mom loved us and her so much that she wanted us to have her," said Clayton.

After 7 years together, the dads were married on June 16th this year on a beautiful goat farm. Yes, you read that right. "We had a causal cocktail hour in the open air barn, boarded a hay ride to a venue on the property in the woods creekside," explained Clayton. The dads arranged for fishing poles and bait for the kids who attended to be down by the creek so they could fish and have fun after the ceremony. After the ceremony, they all boarded a hayride again for a trip back to the barn where they had a catered dinner, goat-side! "Yes, there were goats in attendance for the kids," said Tim, quickly adding, "Yeah right, more so for me to play with!" Besides the goats, the real guest of honor was Kennedy who got to watch her dads declare their eternal love for one another.

Although there wasn't much waiting time for the fathers after they began their journey to become dads, there was ample waiting time for it become official. The original date for Kennedy's adoption to be finalized had been set for December 2017, but in reality, it took almost a year. Tim believes that much of the hold up can be attributed to their Governor who had "reorganized" the Cabinet, and since then, things took a lot longer to be processed. "We had a fairly new judge with a new staff," explained Tim, "they were struggling with scheduling non-docket items; our attorney had to appear during motion hour to get them to schedule the adoption hearing date."

But finally, on July 9th, 2017, it became official: Clayton, Tim and Kennedy are a forever family of three.

For Kennedy's first birthday they plan on having a unicorn themed birthday party and invite everyone who has been a part of their journey. The dads also plan to have Kennedy's birth date tattooed on the insider of their upper arms.

"We have learned a lot about ourselves as dads," summarized Tim. "I was convinced I had no instincts at all and was going to mess up so badly that her head would inevitably fall off because I held her wrong. How things change and how natural instincts hop into overdrive. I've learned that dang, ya know what? We actually are good at this, we can do this, and we are going to LOVE it."


Personal Essays by Gay Dads

This Gay Dad is Proof: Your Past Doesn't Have to Prevent You From Having Kids

There's plenty in Erik's past he says he's not proud of--drug use and a brief stint in local jail among them. Now married with two daughters, though, his life is proof that your past does not dictate your future.

I am sure that, at some point, everyone has looked back at their past and wished they could change a few things that they are not proud of. From time to time I feel like that, too. As I have written before, I moved to New Orleans when I was a kid- just out of high school. Owning this newfound life was incredibly liberating, but it did not come without consequences.

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Change the World

Federal Judge Rules Against Adoption Agency's Attempt to Discriminate Against LGBTQ Parents

Many challenges to LGBTQ adoption continue to exist, however, including a Federal amendment that would grant tax-funded adoption agencies the right to discriminate nationally.

This week brought us some much-needed good news in the fight to protect LGBTQ adoption rights: U.S. District Judge Petrese B. Tucker ruled that Catholic Services Society (CSS) violated the city of Philadelphia's Fair Practice Ordinance due to the organization's refusal to work with prospective parents' based on no other reason than their sexual orientation.

The decision is the result of a suit brought by CSS against Philadelphia. Last May, the city announced it was suspending foster care placements with two agencies, CSS and Bethany Christian Services, given their refusal to place children with LGBTQ prospective parents. While Bethany Christian Services ultimately agreed to stop discriminating against same-sex parents, CSS sued the city instead, and lost.

Judge Tucker found that no "substantial burden" existed on on CSS's religious exercise in providing foster care to children, writing that, "In essence, if CSS provides its services consistent with the minimal requirements of the all-comers provisions of the Fair Practices Ordinance, then CSS may continue to provide foster care to children.

Elsewhere around the country, however, the news on LGBTQ adoption rights has been much less encouraging. Over the course of the year, news hasn't been great for the LGBTQ community's adoption rights. Over the course of the year, a slew of anti-LGBTQ adoption measures have been cropping up in state legislatures all across the country. At the federal level this month, Republicans passed an amendment to an appropriations bill that if enacted will allow tax-funded adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ adoptive parents on the grounds of religious freedom.

Get Involved!

Want to take action? Look up your federal representatives here and demand they reject the inclusion of the anti-LGBTQ amendment in the appropriations bill passed by Republicans earlier this week.

Have you experienced discrimination as a potential gay adoptive or foster parent? We want to hear about it. Contact us at dads@gayswithkids.com and tell us about your experience.

And stay tuned to Gays With Kids as we continue to monitor and report on developments in anti-discrimination protections for adoptive LGBTQ parents, on both the state and federal level.

Gay Dad Life

"A Perfect Moment": Congrats to Gay Men Whose Families Grew This Month!

Congrats to all the gay dads and dads-to-be whose families grew this month from adoptions and births, or have recently announced pregnancies!

Wishing these growing families a lifetime of happiness! Congratulations to these gay men on their recent and expectant births, adoption finalizations and foster-adopt journeys, from all of us here at Gays With Kids!

"Truly a perfect moment," says Doug and Brent on the birth of their youngest son, Shepherd

Congratulations to dads Doug and Brent on the birth of their youngest son, Shepherd!

On June 28, Doug and Brent became dads for the second time through adoption when their son Shepherd was born. Their eldest son Sawyer is so excited to be a big brother and the dads are loving being a family of four.

"We finally felt our family was complete when we met him," shared Doug. "Truly a perfect moment."

We're thrilled for this Atlanta family!

With fatherhood around the corner, there is there is "an infinite amount to look forward to," says Richard.

Congratulations to dads-to-be Steve and Richard on their exciting news!

Steve and Richard are thrilled to announce that they are officially dads-to-be! Their little one, via private adoption, is expected in December 2018.

"Fatherhood has always been a dream for the both of us," shared Steve. "We're most looking forward to 'moments' with our baby. From brand new experiences... the first smile, the first laugh, seeing a flower for the first time, trying foods from other countries to ultimately showing them how to first and foremost offer love and kindness to others, above all else."

"While there is a infinite amount to look forward to," added Richard, "we so excited to wake up each and every day and everything new that comes along with it."

The family of three-to-be live in Urbandale, Iowa.

"There wasn't a dry eye in the courtroom," Joshua says, following the adoption of his daughter, Aria

Congratulations to dads Bryan and Joshua on finalizing the adoption of their daughter, Aria!

Floridian dads Bryan and Joshua are thrilled to have finalized the adoption of the gorgeous daughter, born in February earlier this year.

"After starting this journey one year ago and sitting in that courtroom with our 6-month-old, it really hit us," explained Bryan. "We were holding it strong together until we were answering questions from the attorney to the judge. At that moment, my husband Joshua started crying which made me cry."

"At that point," continued Joshua, "it really hit us how far we've come and there wasn't a dry eye in the courtroom. We couldn't be more proud to be her dads."

Congrats to Sean and Spencer, who recently became dads to twins, via surrogacy!

Congratulations to Sean and Spencer on recently welcoming their twins, Rowan and Clyde, via surrogacy!

Spencer and Sean began planning their surrogacy journey before they were married in September 2016. And on May 26 this year their dream was realized: the husbands became dads when their twins Rowan and Clyde were born.

The new dads are completely smitten and in complete agreement of their favorite thing so far as fathers: Watching their twins discover and experience the world around them for the first time every day.

This family of four live in Maplewood, New Jersey.

"September cannot come soon enough!" say dads-to-be Benjamin and Christopher

Congratulations to dads-to-be Benjamin and Christopher!

Benjamin and Christopher are excited to share the news: a little bean will soon be joining their family to make them dads!

"We are most looking forward to bonding with our little bean; to see him grow and experience the amazing wonders of the world with our friends and family will be priceless," shared Christopher.

"To be able to travel with him on our excursions around this big crazy globe is something we've always talked about and looked forward to," added Benjamin, "September cannot come soon enough!"

We'e excited to follow the journey of this Pennsylvanian family.

"I was surprised by the impact those pen strokes would have," said AJ, after the finalization of his son's adoption

Jeff and AJ are beyond excited to finalize the adoption of son, Hayden!

New Yorkers AJ and Jeff became dads to son Hayden the day he was born, March 21, 2018. Hayden joined his dads via adoption, and on August 1st, it was finalized. They are now a forever family of three. AJ shared with us how the day impacted him.

"I thought the finalization would just be another happy part of Hayden's adoption journey we could tell him about and celebrate through the years. After all he became our son the moment we matched so a signing of papers wasn't going to change that in my eyes. But I was surprised by my naivety the impact those pen strokes would have. It was a moment of pure joy and happiness that will probably forever bring tears of happiness to my eyes when I think about that day."

The thing these dads-to-be are most excited about? "Double the dad jokes!"

Congratulations to dads-to-be Ryan and Steven on the pregnancy news!

Ryan and Steven live in Madison, Wisconsin, and in six months or so, they're going to be dads! What are the dads-to-be most looking forward to?

"Building a bond with our child in the same way we both have with our own parents," shared Ryan. "Watching them grow and experience the world, all while getting to see it through their eyes. Plus, double the dad jokes!"

Although the past 16 months have been an emotional rollercoaster, Ryan and Steven are beyond excited for their new adventure.

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5 Questions Gay Men Should Ask Themselves Before Starting Surrogacy

Here are five questions gay men should make sure they have the answers to before starting a surrogacy journey

Photo credit: Melissa Bissell Photography

Babies are the best! And growing your family through surrogacy is an amazing experience for everyone involved. There is a tremendous amount of planning, a detailed process and a rollercoaster of emotions that go along with it.

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Gay Dad Opens Up About His Experiences With Conversion Therapy

The California-based gay dad was one of 8 people to be interviewed about his experiences with the disproven practice of conversion therapy for The Cut.

Conversion therapy, the disproven practice of attempting to change an individual's sexual orientation through psychological interventions, has been in the news a lot lately. This past May, Maryland became the 11th state to completely ban the damaging therapy for minors. Some states are even considering bills to further prohibit the practice for adults.

Hollywood is paying attention to the trend, with two major movies, Boy Erased and The Miseducation of Cameron Post, to be released before the end of the year.

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After Seven Embryo Transfers, Four Surrogates and Three Egg Donors, Martin and Roger are Finally Dads

This gay couple's surrogacy journey was a long and arduous one, but it's one that resulted in their beautiful son. They wouldn't change a thing.

Going on 17 years together, it seems like a lifetime ago that Martin Aranot-Lopez and Roger Lopez met via chat room in the days of America Online. Recently the Miami husbands, who were married February 5, 2015, became first-time dads after a long and what often seem futile struggle. But all the pain and anguish melted away when they held their son for the first time, two months ago. Here's their story.

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