Gay Dad Life

"All You Need Is A Suitcase Or A Drawer"

Note from Brian: We first came up with the concept for Gays With Kids after becoming Levi's dads, and this post from March 2014 was the first story we published. We believe this story provides great advice to those who find themselves becoming new dads with little to no advance notice: All you really need is a suitcase or a drawer!


“We have a three-day old baby boy in Brooklyn in need of adoptive parents.”

That call was enough to stir away the remnants of a fairly decent hangover earned during a particularly indulgent Memorial Day weekend on Fire Island. It was 2009, and Ferd and I had returned home to our apartment in Hell’s Kitchen on Monday night. I’d been working from home for several years by then, so when I got the call late Tuesday morning I was in our living room trying to get back into work-mode. The laptop was turned on, but I was mostly tuned-out languishing on the couch.

We planned to start our family through adoption, but our hopes of adopting were growing dimmer over time, especially after experiencing one particularly painful false start. So we began to investigate other options, which eventually led to surrogacy. Only a few days before that Memorial Day weekend we signed a contract with a surrogacy agency accompanied by a sizeable non-refundable deposit.

I hung up from the adoption agency with the expectation that they’d get back to us in the next day or two with confirmation that this newborn baby would be ours.

The last of the cobwebs still lingering in my brain from the weekend’s activities were completely swept away as my mind whirled into overdrive with excitement. Ferd and I couldn’t fathom that it was all happening so fast! Barely able to contain ourselves, we did have the presence of mind to agree that it was best not to share the news until there was certainty. Neither of us wanted another instance of having to explain to family and friends that things didn’t work out, again.

So I waited almost a full hour before bursting it out to my parents, my siblings, and a couple of my closest friends. “I think we’re going to be dads,” I told them during succeeding phone calls, swearing each to secrecy. “Please don’t tell anyone until I tell you that I've heard back from the adoption agency.”

The next day we received confirmation that the baby was ours, he was healthy, and that we should plan to pick him up from the hospital the very next morning on what would be the fifth day of his life.

I panicked.

During the past couple of years I had spent considerable time imagining what it would be like to bring home our very own baby. In each scenario I contemplated the circumstances of how the baby entered our lives differed, but one thing remained consistent throughout: By the time we became dads, I knew we’d be fully stocked and prepared.

We’d have a crib set-up with requisite mobile hanging over the top and pull-down musical animal strapped to one side. We’d have a matching dresser, crib, and rocking chair. Closets would be overflowing with all the clothes and necessities to bathe, dress, and keep our baby warm, clean, and comfortable until we no longer needed diapers or a crib. The certificates we earned from the recent baby first aid training course would provide us with confidence that we could respond to any emergency that may arise. Finally, I imagined we’d have lots of help from doting grandparents and extremely qualified baby nurses.

But none of this planning had taken place, so we had absolutely nothing even remotely related to the caring of an infant. There had been no infant CPR course, and neither of us had spent any time with a newborn. Further, long-distance travel kept my folks and Ferd’s mom unable to join us for several days. We couldn’t even find a baby nurse available to help us until after the first couple of days.

So I panicked.

I could not believe that this innocent child not yet a week into this world would be completely entrusted to our care. I seriously wondered how our adoption agency could be so irresponsible as to leave him with us.

Editing my thoughts, I did vocalize my concerns with the agency that we were a bit ill-prepared. The response I got didn’t allay my fears. “All you really need is lots of love. And a suitcase or a drawer.” The latter, of course, was meant to act as a temporary sleeping place.

Ferd took the adoption agency’s advice to heart and remained extremely calm. His serenity freaked me out even more. Not only was I dealing with a negligent adoption agency, but now I also had to contend with a naïve co-parent.

Ignoring the agency’s advice, the first thing we did after learning we’d be bringing our son home the next day was to head to Buy, Buy, Baby, a super-store for everything baby, ironically located in Chelsea, Manhattan’s gay-borhood.

We set out to purchase at least a few urgent things to prepare for our permanent visitor’s arrival the next day. Two hours, three clerks, and several thousand dollars later, we left the store with an incredible assortment of boxes, bags and baby wazzits that were soon delivered to our unsuspecting doorman.

I’ve got a life-time's worth of experience calling in experts for help, from contractors to architects to painters to gardeners to tutors to dog-trainers. And so while I felt better that we had the necessary supplies, I knew that we needed an actual person, a baby expert, to assist us with getting Levi through the first 48 hours before help would arrive.

I recalled walking by a new storefront not far from where we lived called Bump to Baby, so I walked over. The friendly clerk provided me with a list of doulas.

Fortunately, Ferd and I were avid Frasier fans or I would have had no idea what a doula was. But I immediately recalled the episode from the final season during which a very pregnant Daphne and Niles had hired a doula, a woman to help guide them through a natural childbirth. We didn’t need help with the childbirth, but we did need help with holding, feeding, burping, bathing, swaddling, and diaper changing. I figured if a doula worked for Niles, who was incidentally played by gay actor David Hyde Pierce, then a doula would work for gay dads Brian and Ferd.

The doula arrived at our apartment door early the next morning. She arranged for a car service to take us home from the hospital, showed us how to change a diaper on a life-sized baby, and reminded us to take our adoption paperwork, baby carriage, and a change of clothes for Levi to the hospital, all of which were pre-requisites to taking him home with us. Most importantly, she kept us calm.

In hindsight, even if we had time to prepare for Levi’s arrival as I had imagined so often in my daddy daydreams, the truth is that nothing could have properly prepared us for the enormity of bringing home our very own baby. From the first moment I set eyes on Levi, I rightfully sensed that this baby boy would have a profound impact on my life too huge to be able to comprehend at the time. My dormant paternal instincts were immediately awakened, and all that mattered was that Ferd, Levi and I were now a family.

Click here to download a FREE Find Your Path: A Guide To Help Gay Men Become Dads e-book

Show Comments ()
Gay Dad Life

'NolaPapa' Launches YouTube Channel: Story of a Gay Dad

Check out Erik Alexander's new YouTune Channel: Story of a Gay Dad

When we first found out that our second daughter was African American I froze. Not because of her race, but because I knew NOTHING about African American hair. So I frantically tried to learn as much as I could while she was a newborn so I was ready to style it when she was a little older.

I decided to launch our YouTube channel Nolapapa: Story of a Gay Dad to focus on this very topic! Episodes 1-5 will solely be dedicated to learning how to wash, care for and styling African American hair. Afterwards, the content will shift towards personal & family situations, adoption, gay parenting questions and other great content! I'd love your support and become part of our little village as we launch this new project!

Sending Nola love to each of ya!

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Life

Encouraged by His Son, Single Dad Richard Started Dating Again — and Just Got Married!

After his 14 year relationship ended, Richard got a gentle push into the dating pool from an unexpected source — his son!

In 2014, Richard Rothman's relationship of 15 years ended, leaving him understandably reluctant to jump back into the world of dating as a single gay dad. But after spending one too many Friday nights at home, he got a gentle nudge from somebody unexpected —his teenaged son, Jonathan.

"Dad," Jonathan said. "Would you just get out of the house and go on a date already?" (You may remember wise-beyond-his-years Jonathan from this post that went viral of a tattoo he got commemorating his adoption day.)

On his son's encouragement, Richard started dipping a tentative toe back into the dating pool. In 2015, he met Kevin thanks to mutual friends that introduced them via social media. It took four months before Richard introduced Kevin to his son, who was a Sophomore in high school at the time.

On New Year's Eve in 2017, Kevin proposed while the couple was vacationing in Palm Springs. The city has an outdoor festival every year, he explained, which the couple attended. The band Plain White T's happened to be performing their hit "Hey There Delilah" as Kevin got down on one knee and proposed. "Now whenever I hear that song it brings back memories of that night," Richard said.

Richard and Kevin married on March 30, 2019 back at the scene of the crime — in Palm Springs, at the Frederick Loewe Estate. Jonathan was Richard's best man, and also walked him down the aisle (awwww.....). Kevin's brother Bobby served as his best man.

"As so many wonderful moments continue to happen for us in Palm Springs, we now own a home there in addition to our primary residence in Bentonville, Arkansas," said Richard.

Check out video from the couple's special day below!

And Jonathan is now an E4 Master-at-Arms in the US Navy.

Gay Uncles

Gay Uncles are an Essential Part of This Gay Dad Family's Village

It takes a village to raise a child, and this village includes many gay uncles

In November last year, Ottawa-based husbands Matt Ottaviani and Rej Gareau (whose story we shared in July) became first-time dads through surrogacy. They were overjoyed to welcome their daughter Andy and become a family of three.

But as many of us know, raising a child isn't always just about the nuclear family. The African proverb "it takes a village to raise a child" is a commonly repeated phrase, and rings very true for many families. Matt and Rej are no different, and when they shared their story last month, one thing jumped out to us: the important role Andy's guncles play in her and her dads' lives.

In honor of Gay Uncles Day today, we reached out to Andy's many guncles to learn first-hand how their relationship with the family affects their lives. Here's what they had to say.

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Photo Essays

Pics of the Moment Before and After Gay Men Become Dads

Dig through your phones — what was the last pic taken of you BEFORE you became a dad?

We all have THAT photo: the one taken moments after we become fathers for the first time. For some of us, we're doing "skin to skin" in a delivery room. For others, we're standing proudly alongside our newly adopted child and judge in a courtroom. However or wherever it happens, though, we make sure to snap a picture of it.

But what about that last photo BEFORE you first became a dad? What does that image look like, we wondered? Well, we asked our Instagram community to dig through through phones and find out. Some of us are enjoying a last carefree meal or glass of wine, others of us are captured nervously contemplating our futures. Whatever it is, we've decided these BEFORE pictures are just as meaningful.

Enjoy some of our favorites! Want to play along? Dig through your phones and send us your pics to!

Keep reading... Show less

Gay Dad in Sundance's 'Brittany Runs a Marathon' is Relatable AF

Sundance hit "Brittany Runs a Marathon" stars a gay dad trying to get in shape.

Who would make for the best marathon training partner for an overweight, overly boozed 27-year-old woman? A gay dad, of course!

The pairing, for any gay man who has been subjected to impossible beauty standards (not unlike... literally all women?) makes a bit too much sense after watching the new Sundance film, "Brittany Runs a Marathon," starring SNL writer Jillian Bell (as the 27-year-old) and Micah Stock as the (somewhat *ahem* older) gay dad.

Based on a true story, the film follows Brittany, an overweight and over-boozed 20-something, trying to clean up her act by training for the New York City marathon — while doing so, she meets Seth (the gay dad), and the two begin to train together, along with Brittany's neighbor Catherine. Each has their own motivation for running: getting one's live together, recovering from a messy divorce, or an attempt to impress one's athletic son. (Which is the gay dad? Guess you'll have to watch to find out!)

We won't give too much more away, apart from saying that the trio — based off of actual people and events — really works. It's the feel good film you're waiting to see.

Expert Advice

Your 15 Most Common Questions About Adoption, Answered by an Expert

We asked our Instagram community for their biggest questions about adoption. Then asked Molly Rampe Thomas of Choice Network to answer them.

As part of our new "Ask an Expert" series on Instagram, our community of dads and dads-to-be sent us their questions on adoption in the United States. Molly Rampe Thomas, founder of Choice Network, answered them.

Keep reading... Show less

'Life Is Amazing': Congrats to Gay Dads Whose Families Recently Grew!

Help us congratulate gay dads on their recent births and adoptions last month!

Wishing all of these gay dads whose families expanded in the last month or so a lifetime of happiness! Congrats to everyone in our community on their recent births and adoptions!

Keep reading... Show less

Fatherhood, the gay way

Get the latest from Gays With Kids delivered to your inbox!

Follow Gays With Kids

Powered by RebelMouse