Dad Life

Now Married with Children

I have to admit that I completely underestimated the whole thing.


Because we had already been together for 17 years, it was easy to think that it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. Even after breaking into a sweat at the city clerk’s office getting our marriage license, I still discounted it all.

When the day finally came, it hit me hard.

When I woke up the morning of our wedding day, I had a pit in my stomach. Not because I was getting second thoughts; after all this time and with two kids home from college there is no time for second thoughts. It was because of the magnitude of what was about to happen.

I’m getting married! To a man! Married!

Christopher and Jim on their wedding day

The entire day I just felt fuzzy. I can’t really explain it.

When I was young, I spent my entire life trying to follow societal norms. I did what I was told to do, whether it made me happy or not. As a young man you’re supposed to date women, find a girlfriend, after some time get engaged, then one year later get married, and then eventually have kids. Marriage was between a man and a woman, of course. No discussion.

That was the plan, and I stuck to it as hard as I could.

While that particular path ended in divorce for me, I did end up having two amazing children and I ultimately found my true self in the process. All of the details – trust me, all of the details – are in my book “Out and About Dad"!

I’ll never regret a single moment because I have two children as a result. But it was a long process and I just never imagined fitting into another societal norm ever again.

If anything, I have been out of the norm. I’ve spent years raising those two children as an anomaly.

Back in the day, I was virtually the only fully active dad around, and quite possibly the only gay one. When I met my partner and we began building a life together, we were virtually the only ones of our kind, and perhaps the only visible ones.

Christopher and Jim early in their relationship

We just got used to being odd men out. Something as legitimate and equal as marriage never crossed our minds. I thought it was just never in the cards again, after having been married to a woman.

Thankfully, times are changing.

As we walked through New York’s Central Park on a glorious August Sunday with our two adult children and our wedding officiate (a dear friend from when I used to work at Johnson & Johnson), I think we all got the magnitude of the situation.

In a way, I’m happy that we didn’t get married until my children were older. Because they got it too. They were our witnesses, after witnessing and being in our lives for so many years.

When we reached the ceremony destination, a glow took us over. We were reveling in the moment, moment to moment, from the two children handing us the rings, to “I do,” to a champagne toast, to a glorious dinner later on in the evening.

It was monumental, I don’t know how else to say it. I was in a complete trance.

When I changed my Facebook status to “married,” that’s when the texts, posts, and congratulations started pouring in. I’ve honestly never felt more loved in my life. Especially at this time in my life.

And the best part?

I get to call him “husband,” just like everyone else married to a man. No more “partner,” no more “lover,” no more “boyfriend.” No more labels to try to define our relationship.

Husband.

It’s amazing how one little word can put you on equal footing and how one little word can mean so very much. Especially when you’re now married with children.

Alicia, Christopher, Jim and J.R.

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With everything going on in our country, I think saying that it has been a crazy year is an understatement. It has been emotionally difficult and draining at times for many. This year brought so many new changes that it is hard to wrap our minds around some of them. The daunting feeling of uncertainty looms over our heads as we march forward into this unfamiliar territory led by someone we do not particularly trust.

With that said, one thing will not change- the holidays. For my family, this time of year brings cheer, joy, hope, and optimism for the new year to come.

I have always had one golden rule when it comes to decorating our home for the holidays: the current holiday must pass before decorating for another.

Recently, our two year old, Alli Mae, had started to develop an appreciation for all that Christmas brings. The way she lights up and gets excited when she sees Christmas decorations made me think for the first time in my life, what if I changed things up this year? Decorating earlier will also help attenuate the political frustration that this year brought. That coupled with the amazement that our little girl has for Christmas makes a strong case for decorating for Christmas early. Sure, there are diehard Thanksgiving fans that grumble at the thought of Christmas coming early and I am sure they will give this a healthy eye roll and, if so, that's ok. We are not replacing Thanksgiving... we are enhancing it.

We will most definitely continue to teach our children the meaning of Thanksgiving and to enjoy the symbolic feast that comes along with it. The white pumpkins I usually put out for Thanksgiving really made a statement when I mixed them with the Christmas attire. I was quite surprised and impressed by the final outcome!

These days, one of my primary goals in life is to create an environment for my family that is happy, healthy, and nurturing. I want them to get excited about Christmas, both the true meaning and the atmosphere that it brings. When my children walk into the house, I want them to be transported into a bright, cheerful place that they will always remember. Perhaps it will even inspire the way they celebrate the holidays with their families (and our future grandchildren) in the future. The world can be a harsh, cold and scary place, especially lately it seems. I would be lying if I said I didn't do this for myself, too. I am. For the first time in my life, I am worried for the future of our country. I am terrified of the direction we as Americans are taking and worry it is setting a precedent for what the future will be like for my family. Mass shootings seem to happen monthly now, yet there continues to be a lack of response by Congress to create solutions. Bigotry and racism, masked by patriotism, also plague our society. I know I am speaking of sore subjects, but all of these reasons give me the motivation for welcoming the Christmas season earlier.

I do have faith that in time, competent leaders will emerge and will steer us in a direction that will help fade our fear into the bold and lionhearted society that we are. We as LGBTQ families need to comfort one another. Lets extend our hands to each other. Let this holiday season not be about the "correct" time in which we decorate for Christmas, moreover lets make it about coming together as a community that lifts each other up. Lets protect each other. Lets embrace each other for all the we are, all that we bring and all that we stand for. Let us not be silenced- and pushed into a corner but let us lead by example- while showing our children who their parents are by being respectful and tolerant and warmhearted as we welcome this Christmas season.

Erik and Douglas' two daughters, Ella and Alli Mae, who recently turned 2

May you and your family have the most beautiful and happiest of holidays, regardless of when you choose to welcome Christmas. I pray that 2018 will bring each of you happiness, patience, resilience and with time, we will get there, together!

I would love for you to follow our family's journey on Instagram, Nolapapa.com and like us on Facebook.

Arejay Encinas and his husband Mauricio Camargo wanted to become foster dads so they could help a child find a loving home. The two live in Tucson, Arizona, and were married February 2015. A little less than two years after their wedding, they received a call about a newborn who needed to be fostered. They said yes immediately. In October 2017, the little boy's adoption was finalized. This is the story of two dads and their moving letters to their son Dylan on the day they became a forever family.

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In October this year, James and Andrew took their eldest Olivia (Liv for short) to Disney World for her 2nd birthday.

"We were going to wait under her adoption day," said James, "But she has a real affinity for Winnie the Poo and Belle from Beauty and the Beast ... She loved it!"

Andrew and James have been together a little over 10 years, and they currently are fostering two children, 2-year-old Liv and 5-month-old Brandon (Bran for short).

"We have always wanted to be dads from the moment we met," said James, who was also adopted through foster-care. "That is how I was adopted and it seemed to be the best fit for our family."

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November is National Adoption month, and in the US, around 16,000 same-sex couples are raising more than 22,000 adopted children.

In honor of National Adoption Day, Saturday 18, 2107, we heard from a few of our families on how they celebrate their kids' "forever family" days.

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Welcoming a child into your home though foster care or adoption can be an exciting, but also challenging, time. However, there are several things you can do to help make the transition smoother for the new child and your family.

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In March this year, we shared the story of Michael and Wes, their eldest daughter Katie (and wonderful big sister) and their newborn Talulah. Apart from the sore backs attributed to their age as new dads, Michael and Wes have loved every minute of it. (Watch Talulah's 1st year video below.)

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As celebrations sweep across Australia, the LGBTQ community, along with their allies, rejoice in the results of the marriage equality vote. Despite the controversial campaign that surrounded the plebiscite, love won. And won big! An overwhelming 79.5% of the population took part in the survey (12.7 million people), and in every state and territory, the majority voted "yes," with 61.6%.

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