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11 Family Stories That Show the Depth of the Adoption Experience for Gay Men

November is National Adoption Awareness Month! To celebrate, we've curated some adoption stories that show the true depth and breath of the adoption experience for gay men.

November is National Adoption Awareness Month! And few people are more aware of the importance of lifting up and celebrating adoption in this country than the LGBTQ community. According to the Williams Institute, 21% of same-sex couples are raising adopted children compared to just 3% of different-sex couples. Despite the fact that we are a crucial part of the support system for children needing loving homes, we are currently facing an administration that is trying to make it legal for foster care and adoption agencies to discriminate against us on the basis of religion.

To help celebrate National Adoption Awareness Month, and demonstrate that religious beliefs should in never trump the ability for a loving LGBTQ family to welcome children into their home, we've rounded up several family stories that show the true depth and breath of the adoption experience — men who never planned to become dads, and woke up one day to find themselves responsible for little ones. Men who always wanted to become dads, and suffered through years of failed placements before finally making their dreams come true. Single men, who realized they were strong enough to adopt on their own. And men who adopted older children through the foster care system.

These are just a few of the inspiring stories of gay, bi and trans adoptive dads — we are literally sitting on a treasure trove of them. And, no doubt, there are countless more headed your way in the months to come.


Adopting an Older Child Through Foster Care Was the Best Path for These Dads

"Hey! I got adopted today! These are my dads, Mark and Andrew!"

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."

Read more here!

Meet Gay Dads: Richard and Carlos

Tell us about your path to parenthood. Did you consider other options? We considered a variety of options such as foster-adopt, private lawyer adoption, and open adoption. After much deliberation, we decided to go with an agency adoption through Spence-Chapin.

What obstacles did you face on your path to fatherhood? Compared to most other adoption stories, our process went at lightening speed! In early September, we officially applied to our agency and received word that we were accepted in less than 24 hours. On Friday November 18th, Carlos and I hand-delivered our home study documents to the agency at 12pm and received a call at 4pm telling us that there was a baby boy who needed a home and the agency had chosen us. Fast forward to what seemed to be the longest two weeks of our lives, we were finally able to meet and welcome our son Timothy into our home.

Read more here.

These Gay Dads, Both Disney Cast Members, Are Raising Their Son with the Magic Kingdom at Their Doorstep.

Ben and Steve have always been big Disney fans, so much so they've worked for the Magic Kingdom in multiple capacities over the years: at theme parks overseas, with the Disney Cruise Line, and now at Walt Disney World in Orlando. The husbands even met at a Disney audition in 2009. And today, they're proud dads to a 2-year-old son.

"It's such a full-circle moment for both of us that now we raise our child with Walt Disney World right at his doorstep," said Steve, now the manager of Disney Performing Arts at Walt Disney World. "Many of our childhood Disney toys have now been passed down for him to play with," added Ben, now the Entertainment Manager at the Magic Kingdom. For the dads, it wasn't just wishing upon a star that helped them become dads through adoption, but Disney has certainly played a role in making their dreams come true.

Read more here!

"Are You My Daddy?" a Three-Year-Old Asks His Adoptive Father

February 17, 2011 was a regular day for many folks. But not for school counselor, Tim Suenkel. It was the day Tim met his adoptee son for the very first time, and instantly became his father. The meeting was arranged by social workers, and they met at a local Barnes and Noble store.

"The moment I met him," Tim said, "he opened his arms wide and said, 'You're my new best friend.'"

They had an overnight stay, and then the 3-year-old asked, "Are you my daddy?"

"I knew without any hesitation that the answer was most definitely, 'Yes!'" said Tim.

Read more here!

Fatherhood Came Without Warning for These Two Young Gay Dads

When Johnny Guzman Tarango and Adam Tarango met in 2012, introduced by a mutual friend, they were both seeing other people at the time. What began as friendship quickly became passionate after breaking with their respective boyfriends to be with each other. Johnny was 20 years old and Adam was 21. The couple called Phoenix, Arizona home. Both were young, carefree, and very much in love.

Although Adam wanted to be a dad someday, Johnny was undecided. In January 2014, the couple were confronted with one of the biggest decisions of their lives: fatherhood.

Read more here!

Adoption for These Dads Was Like a "Rollercoaster" But Well Worth the Ride

Every gay man who pursues fatherhood fights for their right to become a dad. They've had to keep going even when at times it's seemed hopeless. Jason Hunt-Suarez and Alex Suarez's story is no different. They had their hearts set on adoption; overcame multiple scams, some very bizarre leads, a birth mother's change of heart at the 11th hour, their adoption agency going bankrupt, and tens of thousands of dollars lost along the way. But after a long, turbulent, and heart-wrenching three-year-long journey, it was all worth it.

Read more here!

Signing With Two Adoption Agencies to "Double Their Chances," These Dads Won Big with Both

Ryan and Brandon Bolton met in a bar in Chicago in early 2012. Brandon, a professional hair and make-up artist, was touring with a show and happened to go to the same bar that Ryan used to frequent. They eloped in August 2012 and were married in New York.

In June 2013, they moved to Florida, where they began researching their fatherhood journey. "We were going to attempt surrogacy, but the costs were too high," said Ryan. "Adoption was something that was feasible." The husbands decided they needed to get a few puzzle pieces in place before signing, and Brandon was touring on various shows while they saved. They eventually moved forward, signing with their first agency, Adoption Center US, in January 2015.

Read more here!

A Single Gay Dad Finds Family in the Foster Care System

Andrew Gubany lives in La Habra, California with his daughter and son, Dianna and Owen. He works as the National Sales Director for a Logistics Company by day, and is a spin instructor by night. We caught up with Andrew to see how life as a single gay dad via the foster care system is treating him.

Tell us about your path to parenthood.

I became a dad through foster-adopt. I had always known I wanted my adoption to mean something specific. I chose the path of foster care because I wanted to help children. If my "help" ended up leading to the adoption of a child, than I knew it was destiny.

Read more here!

After Four Years on a Waiting List, a Chance Encounter at Work Made This Adoptive Dad's Dreams Come True

After four long years on an adoption waitlist, Andre Barros wasn't sure if he'd ever become a dad. But a chance encounter with an adoptive parent at his place of work changed his life forever. Things began to move quickly. Within a few months, he was in a hospital room with his son's birth mother, cutting the cord, and giving his son his very first kiss.

Read more here!

After Three Failed Adoptions, This Couple Almost Gave Up; Now They're Dads to Twins

"Our adoption journey was not easy by any means," began Danny. "We waited 16 months before being successfully placed with our children." Husbands Danny Maffia and Justin DeMartin, together a total of eight years and married for two, endured a roller coaster ride to become dads, experiencing three failed adoptions. Today, they're the proud dads to twins born November 2017. Here's their story.

Danny, a professor of American Sign Language and an English interpreter, met Justin, a Director of Special Education, when they were both organizing a fitness fundraiser for breast cancer research. "[Justin] and I are also both certified group exercise instructors," said Danny. "Our love of fitness is what brought us together." Six year after meeting, they were married on May 29, 2016.

Read more here!

Meet the First Gay Dads to Legally Adopt in Puerto Rico

Policeman Jorge Vázquez Ramos and nurse Joel Andrades Rivera were married in August 2015 following the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality. The Puerto Rican couple had been together for 10 years, but it wasn't until this ruling that two amazing developments occurred in their lives: they were able to marry and become dads.

Jorge and Joel had been in the process of trying to adopt since 2009 but same-sex adoption was illegal in Puerto Rico until 2015. They had begun the process of international adoption but as soon as the Supreme Court made their ruling, the two applied to adopt in their home country. In November 2015 the Department of Family organized an event for children in state custody to meet with prospective gay parents. As Joel was unable to attend, Jorge went along alone. There, he meet siblings Yair and Alaya.

Read more here!

"Don't Try to Be Perfect," Say These Adoptive Gay Dads

Tremaine Maebry and Roland Locher met several years before they began their relationship. Their paths crossed initially while Tremaine was in a relationship, and they didn't meet again till Tremaine moved to the north side of Chicago and discovered Roland was his neighbor. They've been together 9 years and were married in 2015.

It took awhile for Roland and Tremaine to go through the adoption process for both personal reasons and those out of their control. And even when their home study was approved in 2015, they waited a further 14 months before they were matched with their sons. In 2016, they adopted two biological brothers, Jaelon and Jason, who were, at the time, 7 and 9 years of age.

Read more here!

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Just Like Dad: Ways My Kids and I Are Alike

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The Inuit Custom Adoption Program Helped These Dads Form Their Family

After learning about the Inuit Custom Adoption Program from family, Keith and Kevin knew it was the way they wanted to become dads.

Keith Willey, 49, and his husband Kevin Kablutsiak, 42, who live in Ottawa, Canada, first met online in 2010. The couple had their first date soon afterwards in a coffee house and, "haven't looked back since," said Keith. They married on May 22nd, 2016.

Keith, who works as a Policy Advisor with the Canadian Federal Government, and Kevin, who works as the Director of Communications with the Canadian National Inuit Organization (ITK), always knew they wanted kids together, and talked about it early on in their relationship. Still, as gay men, they weren't sure that option would ever be available to them.

"I grew up in the UK in the 1970s so I assumed it would be impossible to have children," said Keith. "I always assumed that I would have to lead a life sort of in the shadows and in secret. Attitudes were so different in the 70s to how they are now that I simply believe that we thought it would be impossible to have a child."

The option materialized for the couple, however, when Kevin's sister, pregnant at the time, approached the two men about adopting her baby through the Inuit adoption process. They knew they couldn't pass up the opportunity.

"Kevin is Inuk and adoption, particularly inter-family adoption, is common in Inuit culture," said Keith.

The Inuit Custom Adoption Process was originally used in the small Inuit societies in the arctic, Kevin explained. It's primarily (though not exclusively) intended as a path for adoption within families. The process is legally recognized by the Canadian legal system.

As Kevin went on to explain, Inuit custom adoption was traditional used to support survival within, what were until quite recently, people living a nomadic lifestyle. It is, in essence, a deeply loving and selfless tradition of giving the gift of life to a carefully selected couple, most often with the guidance of elders (usually the matriarch within a family). If a couple couldn't conceive, for instance, others would sometimes offer their help. Similarly, if a couple lost a child, the grieving parents might be given a baby to help ease the ache of their loss. While most Inuit parents have zero intention of custom adopting their children to other families, adoption continues to be an established method in Inuit regions.

Through this process, and with everyone's agreement, the two men legally adopted Kevin's sister and her husband's child from birth. They named her Abbie. "Kevin's sister and her husband came to stay with us in Ottawa prior to the birth so Abbie was in our care from the moment she was born," said Keith. "She got to come home with us the day after the birth with the legal process taking around 11 months to complete from start to finish."


As far as their parenting styles, the couple say they've drawn on each of their pasts. "Both Kevin and I had somewhat difficult childhoods and have spent a lot of time working through and dealing with childhood trauma," Keith said. "As a result, we are better parents and we continue to look after ourselves and each other as we continue to grow in parenthood."

Though the couple come from different cultures, they said they've had no difficulty developing a parenting approach that works for them both. "I don't think either of us raise Abbie in the same parenting style that we experienced," Keith said, "We both talked and agreed on our approach before Abbie was born and we work well together as a parenting couple."

The result is a parenting style that incorporates some elements of both of their backgrounds, Keith said. "Inuit culture tends to shower children in love and we certainly do that," said Kevin. From English-style parenting, the couple have also borrowed the tendency of English parents to be "pretty obsessive," Keith said, about routines, such as scheduling meals, naps and bedtimes.

Though life was good before Abbie joined the family, "now it's fantastic!" Keith said. "I feel like being a parent was what I was put on this earth to be." Because neither man ever expected to become fathers, moreover, both say they look at parenthood as a privilege rather than a right — a helpful perspective they suggest to other gay men considering fatherhood. "Parenthood is an amazing gift," Keith said, "But remember it's about them, not you — and they deserve the best start in life we can give them."

Though fatherhood came to them somewhat unexpectedly, Keith and Kevin say they couldn't be happier with the way things turned out. "When I reflect on our life together, and where we both came from, it is incredible to me that we are now married, content, and parents to our wonderful panik," Keith said, using the Inuktitut word for daughter. "We are totally blessed."


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Joe and Roberto were heartbroken after a birth mother decided against working with them. But fate (and perseverance!) would soon change their luck — twice over!

Adoption was always the first choice for Joe Motowidlak and husband Roberto Martinez when it came to starting a family. They went the private adoption route, ended up with two different attorneys and had two very different adoption journeys, that lead to two daughters born within a couple of months to one another. Although Joe and Roberto wouldn't change a thing, they consider themselves incredibly fortunate to have the family that they have and are the proud dads with full hearts to their two infant daughters.

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Your relationship with your daughter may be shaped by your personal history, whether you've been through a difficult divorce or breakup, you've transitioned out of a straight relationship, or you made the courageous decision to pursue surrogacy on your own. Whatever your situation is, studies have shown that children with involved fathers excel more in school and have fewer behavioral issues in adolescence.

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We are Rene (35) and Nejc (29) and we come from Slovenia, Europe. I was an avid athlete, a Judoist, but now I am an LGBT activist and Nejc is a writer, who published a gay autobiography called Prepovedano. He was also a participant in a reality show in Slovenia (Bar) and he is an LGBT activist too. Nejc and I met by a mere coincidence on Facebook, and already after the first phone call we realized that we are made for each other. Nejc and I have been together as couple almost one year. We think we have been joined by some energy, as we have both experienced a lot of bad things with previous relationships and now we wish to create and shape our common path.

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