Gay Dad Family Stories

An Office Romance: From Co-Workers to Co-Dads

Ryan, a new graphic design graduate, was just looking for a job when he walked into a design studio in Fort Lauderdale, resume and portfolio in hand. Little did he know at the time he'd walk out also having met his future husband and father to his children.

"We bonded over our love for design, art, music, travel," Ryan said of Chris, the man who conducted his interview that first day. "We became good friends and eventually had our first kiss in the office! The rest is history!" This is how Ryan and Chris became a family of four.


When the couple was ready to start their family, they looked into all options, but ultimately decide surrogacy was the right path forward for them. "We both felt strongly that we wanted children of our own biology and genetic makeup," Ryan said. "So we chose surrogacy."

While the choice to move ahead with surrogacy was an easy one for the couple, the process, they soon learned, would be anything but. "There are so many unknowns and variables," Ryan said. "First, there is the very preliminary fear of the unknown - having no idea what to expect or what direction to go in. There is the financial fear once we began discovering the costs associated with surrogacy."

Compounding these problems, Ryan said, was this: "I am a worried," he admitted. "So the continuous rollercoaster, the highs and lows, of surrogacy became the biggest obstacle." The couple's first attempt at conceiving didn't work, forcing the men to start from scratch with a new egg donor, and play the "waiting game" once again. "That was an extremely hard time," Ryan said. " here is so much time to question, doubt, fear, stress. So for someone like me, I was constantly nervous! I probably drove our surrogacy agency and our surrogate nuts with constant questions and concerns."


Surrogacy, Ryan cautions, is not for the faint of heart. "It got extremely taxing on us emotionally," Ryan says. At times, particularly after the first cycle did not work, he and Chris doubted whether or not to continue. "But we persevered," he said. "We trusted that the ultimate end result would outweigh the present strain."

And with twins, Connor and Olivia, now part of their lives, Ryan is incredibly thankful for sticking it out. "I remember people would tell us that one day after the babies were born we would look back and wonder what we stressed so much about," he said. "And it's true. We can look back now and feel so relieved that we continued - because it's worth it. It's all for that amazing, irreplaceable, heart-swelling little smile on their face. Or that giggle. Oh my God, that giggle is everything."

So how is life with newborn twins treating the dads? "On a surface level, everything has changed," Ryan said, explaining that the couple has also recently renovated and moved homes to accommodate their growing family. But the changes, Ryan says, go much deeper as well: "I've had to step outside of myself and put these two little humans first. It is a beautiful and sometimes challenging thing to care so much about another life that your thought process and priorities so innately shift. There was no option. It's like all of a sudden these two little ones are the absolute most important thing in my life and I wouldn't have it any other way."

Among the challenges of his newfound fatherhood, Ryan says, is making sure he's taking care of himself and relationship, in addition to his twins. "I remember joking in the very beginning after the birth to a friend about how daily personal hygiene seems to go out the window once babies are born," Ryan said. "I'd really have to struggle to remember if I even brushed my teeth that morning, let alone shower! I am so focused on them and making sure they are taken care of."

Now that several months have passed, however, Ryan says he's doing a better job learning to find balance in his life, something he says he struggled with even before becoming a dad. "Having the twins has forced me find balance because ultimately I've found that in order for me to be the best dad to them, I have to take care of myself as well," he explained. In order to be of "sound mind, body and spirit," and provide a stable environment and lifestyle for the twins, then, Ryan says he makes sure to take time for he and Chris as a couple, and for the things that fulfill him personally. "I have to make it work so I can be the best me for Connor and Olivia and my husband," he said.

As far as life as gay dads, Ryan says they do probably receive more attention in public than most heterosexual parents. "But in a positive way," Ryan says. "People constantly stop us to talk about the twins and comment on how amazing it is that we were able to have them. Chris and I joke that we are lucky to both be the kind of people who are comfortable conversing with random strangers on an almost daily basis. People are so interested in the process of surrogacy and have been extremely supportive."

For other dads considering surrogacy, Ryan stressed that the the right support system is crucial. "Whether it is a significant other or family or close friend," he said, "be strong, don't give up and always remember that everything happens for a reason."



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Gay Dad Family Stories

This European Couple Became Dads Through a U.K.-Based Surrogacy Program

Janno, from Estonia, and Matthias, from Belgium, were accepted into the "Childlessness Overcome Through Surrogacy" Program.

Janno Talu, an accountant, and Matthias Nijs, an art gallery director, were born in different parts of Europe. Janno, 39, is from Estonia, and Matthias, 28, is from Belgium. Their paths crossed when the two moved to London, each from their different corners of the European Union.

Janno relocated to London earlier than Matthias, when he was 24, and his main reason for the move was his sexuality. "Although Estonia is considered one of the more progressive countries in Eastern Europe, when it comes to gay rights, it is still decades behind Western society in terms of tolerance," said Janno. "And things are not moving in the right direction." In 2016, same-sex civil union became legal, but the junior party in the current coalition government is seeking to repeal the same-sex partnership bill. "In addition," Janno continued, "they wish to include the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman in the country's constitution. Even today, there are people in Estonia who liken homosexuality to pedophilia, which is why I decided to start a new life in the UK, where I could finally be myself."

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Gay Dad Family Stories

Meet the First Same-Sex Couple to Receive a Grant Through Best Buy's Adoption Assistance Program

Keegan and Paul Schroepfer are believed to be the first gay couple to receive a grant through Best Buy's adoption assistance program.

Keegan Shoutz and Paul Schroepfer met at college in 2010, when marriage equality wasn't legal in their home state of Minnesota. Back then, kids were a far off distant thought. After the U.S. Supreme Court struck down DOMA in 2015, the pair married a year later and began discussing their future as dads. In 2017, the husbands began their adoption journey, and the long wait began.

Keegan, 31, works in public relations for Best Buy's corporate communications team, and Paul, 35, is a lawyer. Their journey to adoption took over two and a half years, and they describe it as "a LOT of waiting." The couple considered surrogacy but decided adoption was the right path for their family. The first part of their journey was focused on a pile of paperwork, in-person classes, and then social outreach.

Their nursery sat empty for a year after all their "homework" was completed.

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Gay Dad Family Stories

Sister Act: How Four Siblings Helped Joey and Rob Become Dads

The husbands *also* received help from Men Having Babies, a nonprofit helping gay men become dads via surrogacy.

"I first learned about Men Having Babies while searching the internet for insurances that covered surrogacy," said Joey Guzman-Kuffel, 40, a Marriage and Family Therapist. "As I researched our surrogacy options the Men Having Babies link popped up. When I clicked on their link, I learned that this awesome organization was bringing awareness to men wanting to have babies and the possibilities to do so."

Joey and his husband Rob Kuffel, 47, Protocol Officer for the US Navy, have been together seven years after meeting via OKCupid.com. They chatted for a week via the app, then graduated to a phone call which lasted 3-4 hours. "I always knew that I wanted to have kids and knew that I needed to be with a partner that wanted to have kids as well," said Joey. Rob felt the same way. The two were married in May 2014.

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Gay Dad Life

Gong Hei Fat Choy! Happy Chinese New Year!

As we usher in the year of rat, we asked some of our dads how they honor this special time.

Today we're celebrating, alongside our families, the Chinese New Year! As we usher in the year of rat, we asked some of our dads how they honor this special time, what they do to celebrate, and how they're instilling these traditions in their kids. Here are some of their responses.

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News

Indiana Court Says Couples Using Sperm Donors​ Can Both Be Listed on Birth Certificate — But Ruling Excludes Male Couples

The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in the case, a major victory for LGBTQ parents — but the Attorney General may appeal to the Supreme Court.

On Friday, a US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling from a lower court that said that both parents in a same-sex relationship are entitled to be listed on the birth certificate — previously, the state of Indiana had required the non-biological parent within a same-sex relationship using assisted reproductive technologies to adopt their child after the birth in order to get her or his name listed on the birth certificate, a lengthy and expensive process not required of straight couples in the same situation.

It's a double standard LGBTQ parents have long been subjected to in many states across the country. So this represent a major win. As reported by CNN, this ruling "takes a lot of weight off" the shoulders of LGBTQ parents, said Karen Celestino-Horseman, a lawyer representing one of the couples in the case. "They've been living as families and wondering if this was going to tear them apart."

The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals deliberated the case, according to CNN, for more than two and a half years, which is one of the longest in the court's history.

However, because all the plaintiffs in the case involved female same-sex couples using sperm donors, the ruling left open the similar question of parenting rights with respect to male couples. Indiana's Attorney General, moreover, may also appeal the case to the Supreme Court.

We'll be following the case closely and be sure to keep you up to date. For more on this recent decision, read CNN's article here.

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

As a Gay Dad, What's the Impact of Letting My Son Perform Drag?

Michael Duncan was excited when his 10-year-old son asked if he could perform in drag for charity — but he also felt fear and anxiety.

As LGBT parents, we have all lived through some sort of trauma in our lives. For many it is the rejection of our family, being bullied, or abuse. We learn to be vigilant of our surroundings and often are very cautious of who we trust. As adults, we start to become watchful of how much we share and we look for "red flags" around every corner.

So, what effect does this have on our children? Does it unintentionally cause us to be more jaded with our interactions involving others? For some the answer may be a resounding "no." But as we look deeper into the situation, we often find that through survival our interactions with others have changed and we may not even realize exactly how much we are projecting on those around us.

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Diary of a Newly Out Gay Dad

A Gay Chiropractor Explains Why He Came Out to His Patients

After Cameron Call, a chiropractor, came out to his family this past year, he knew he had one more step to take — he had to come out to his patients

Fear is an interesting thing. It motivates when it shouldn't, shows at inconvenient times, and is the author of stories that do nothing but hold us back. I would argue though, too, that fear has some good qualities. I believe it helps us to feel. And I think it can be a great teacher as we learn to recognize and face it.

For years fear prevented me from embracing my truth and accepting a large part of who I am. I know I am not alone in that regard. But for so long my fear convinced me that I was. Fear is what kept me from ever telling my parents or anyone growing up that I am gay. Fear mingled with strong religious teachings, embraced at a young age, which led me to believe that I could cure myself of my attractions to the same gender. And fear is a part of what kept me in my marriage to a woman for over ten years.

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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