Gay Dad Life

Considering Open Adoption? Be Ready for Anything, Say These New Gay Dads

After reading "The Kid" by Dan Savage, this gay couple realized open adoption was the right path to fatherhood for them.

Guest post written by Dominic Ferraro, on his journey to becoming a gay dad with husband Andy via open adoption

The one

Andy and I met in college through mutual friends, in 2003. I was 18 and Andy was 20, so we were pretty young when we first met. We both went to college at Iowa State, and the Women's Center on campus was having an ice cream social and we were both there. We only spent about 5 minutes together then, but decided to meet for a movie the next night, and the rest is history as they say. We have been together ever since.


In 2012, while on a trip to Rio De Janeiro, Andy proposed to me and we had a civil union in 2013 in Chicago. We'd been together 10 years.

Shortly after our civil union, we moved to San Francisco. It all happened relatively quickly as at our wedding we didn't have any idea we would be moving. Andy had gotten a job offer that was just too good to turn down, so we packed up our entire lives and moved to California.

When we got to California gay marriage was legal, so in 2014 we were legally married.

Dominic (left) and Andy

The path

As a couple we both knew we wanted kids and it was something we discussed early on in our relationship. It was the timeframe that we could not really figure out. My parents were young. I always enjoyed having them around when I was young. I never heard the excuse that they were "too tired" to do things with me. As for Andy, he didn't really seem to have a time frame in mind.

We originally considered surrogacy because we had a lot of misconceptions about adoption, as I think a lot of people do. In 2013, shortly after our civil union in Illinois, we had even reached out to a friend about being a surrogate, but because we moved so abruptly to California, it never worked out.

Someone suggested a book to me by Dan Savage called The Kid. Andy and I both ended up reading it and it very much changed our minds on adoption. Reading The Kid coupled with the current political climate and things going on in the world really made us think. If we could change a child's life that might otherwise not have a great life and relieve some burden for a birthmother who has found herself in a difficult situation, then that would be a bonus to having a child. We chose open adoption because of the continued relationship we are able to have with Naya's birth mother.

Andy and Dominic in Mykonos

The process

My advice to anyone going through an open adoption process is to be ready for anything. I have listened to a number of other adoptive parent's stories and they are all different.

We were told that on average you would spend 16 months waiting before a birthmother might choose you, and you are only entered into the "pool" of people to choose from once you finish your paperwork, which includes: A home study (which can take 4-6 weeks) and a number of other adoption agency paperwork. It took us about 6 months to finish our paperwork and get our profile on the adoption website.

Our waiting time was not the average though, by any means. We expected that we would be chosen some time toward the end of 2018 just based on the adoption agencies timeline. In the mean time while we were waiting we tried to think about it as little as possible, because waiting is one of the hardest parts.

We didn't wait long though.

Andy and Dominic in Hawaii

The call

Two months after our paperwork was complete we got a call from the adoption agency saying a birthmother was interested in us. I was the one that got the initial call from the agency saying a birth mother was interested in us and honestly, I pretty much blacked out during most of the phone call, out of shock. It wasn't until going back and reading the follow up email from our agency that I got most of the details.

From that point on, it was a whirlwind! After a couple phone calls and an in-person visit with Naya's birthmother, we all decided to go forward, and at that time we were placed! Our birthmother was already 7 months pregnant so we had 8 weeks to figure everything out, 3 of which we had already planned a European vacation. So needless to say the pressure was on and in 5 weeks we had bought a car and most of the things necessary to take a baby home from the hospital. All while keeping it a secret from most of our family and friends incase for some reason things didn't work out.

While we were in Europe we were cutting it very close to the due date and any phone call was panic inducing for fear we might have to fly home in a pinch and potentially miss Naya's birth. In the end it all worked out and the vacation turned out to be very relaxing for us before becoming new parents.

The new dads

The baby

Naya was born a couple days late, so there was a lot of built up anticipation when she was actually born. Since she was late all of our birthdays ended up being in October, the 3rd, 9th and 20th which is something that is special to us. The whole experience is overwhelming most of the time, but in that moment I think we were both just grateful. Grateful that Naya and her birth mother were both healthy and doing well and that we got the family we have always wanted.

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News

New York Will Fight 'Repugnant' Trump Rule on Adoption, Says Cuomo

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York promises legal action of the Trump administration moves ahead with plans to allow discrimination against LGBTQ adoptive and foster parents

Last week, the Trump administration announced plans to allow adoption and foster care agencies to discriminate against prospective LGBTQ parents — but he may face a legal fight from (former) hometown. In a tweet, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York said the proposed move "isn't just discriminatory and repugnant to our values,— it's also heartless and dumb as it would deny countless children a loving family and a safe place to call home." If the proposal moves forward, he continued. "we'll take legal action to stop it.

Governor Cuomo's office followed up the tweet with a lengthier statement posted to their website:

Once again the Trump administration is attacking the hard-earned rights and protections of the LGBTQ community, this time proposing a new measure that would give foster care and adoption agencies license to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Trump's proposal isn't just discriminatory and repugnant to our values — it's also heartless and dumb as it would deny countless children a loving family and a safe place to call home. If he moves forward with this rule, we'll take legal action to stop it.

No matter what happens in Washington, New York State is and will continue to be a beacon of equality in this country. Our Human Rights Law and adoption regulations expressly prohibit discrimination against the LGBTQ community, including when it comes to adoption. I encourage any LGBTQ New Yorker who feels they are a victim of this discrimination to contact the State Division of Human Rights for assistance.

Our message to the Trump administration is simple: there is no place for hate in New York or in our nation, and we will not allow this noxious proposal to stop LGBTQ New Yorkers from becoming parents or providing care to children in need.

News

Trump Administration to Allow Discrimination Against LGBTQ Foster and Adoptive Parents

In its latest move against the LGBTQ community, the Trump administration has proposed a rule that will give adoption and foster care agencies license to discriminate on the basis of religion

On Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services proposed a new rule to reverse an Obama-era policy prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity — allowing foster and adoption agencies to legally refuse to work with prospective adoptive and foster parents who identify as LGBTQ on the grounds of religious belief.

Denise Brogan-Kator, speaking to the New York Times, said the proposal would have an "enormous" impact on the LGBTQ community, noting that all organizations that get funding from the department will be "free to discriminate."

The White House, for its part, proclaimed the proposed rule was promoting "religious freedom," saying in a statement that "the federal government should not be in the business of forcing child welfare providers to choose between helping children and their faith."

As the New York Times pointed out, LGBTQ couples with children are far likely than different-sex couples to be raising adopted children. This move in support of so-called "religious freedom," then, will merely negatively impact the more than 400,000 children currently in the foster care system by denying them loving homes with LGBTQ individuals and couples.

Read more about this rule here. We'll be sure to keep readers up to speed as this issue develops.

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Adoption Is a Rollercoaster, but it's Worth the Ride

Erik Alexander (aka Nola Papa) opens up about his whirlwind 3.5-week adoption process.

Adoption is an emotional journey for anyone. Depending on how long you have to wait, that anxiety can be amplified dramatically. In the beginning, we were told our wait could be anywhere from 5-7 years. Just imagine our excitement when we found it could be shrunken down to less than a month!

However, it didn't come without heartbreak. It is crucially important to know that each journey is completely different. Sure, there are happy and excited emotions. But there is also fear, tears and heartbreak. Some adoptions end in failure, without any explanation. But at the end of this journey, when you are holding your new baby, there isn't an emotion I can articulate to convey how complete you feel.

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Gay Dad Family Stories

David and Ben Met on the Dance Floor — and Are Now Grooving Their Way Through Fatherhood

David and Ben, who became fathers with the help of Northwest Surrogacy Center, live in Melbourne with their daughter, Maia.

In 2003, while both studying at Reading University in the UK, Ben Suter and David Cocks met after locking eyes on the dance floor and then being introduced by a mutual friend. Ben, a meteorologist and Operations Manager, and David, an Assistant Principal, have been together ever since. They moved to Australia together in 2010, seeking a different life, and an overall better work-life balance. The chose Cairns in Queensland as their new home, between the Great Barrier Reef and the tropical rainforest, "taking life a bit easier," said David. The couple were also married in June 2016, back home in England.

While David always wanted kids, Ben took a little convincing. So they started their parenting journey with a dog, Titan, who quickly became like their first born. From there, Ben came around rather quickly.

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Single Gay Dad and the City

When Kyle decided to take his four kids, ages 6-11, to New York City on vacation, his friends thought he was crazy.

"You're crazy, Kyle."

"You can't be serious? A single dad taking four kids to the Big Apple? Think again."

"That's bold. There's no way I'd do that."

Those were a few of the responses I heard from my friends as I told them I was thinking of booking a trip to New York City with four kids, ages 11-6. My children's fall vacation from school was approaching and I wanted to get out of the house and explore. Was the Big Apple too much of an adventure?

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News

National's Pitcher Cites Wife's Two Moms as Reason for Declining White House Invite

"I think that's an important part of allyship," Doolittle said of his wife's two moms.

Sean Doolittle, pitcher for the Washington Nationals, declined an invitation to the White House after his team won the World Series this year. In an interview with the Washington Post, he listed his numerous reasons for staying home — and a main consideration, he revealed, was his wife's two moms.

"I want to show support for them. I think that's an important part of allyship, and I don't want to turn my back on them," Doolittle said during the interview.

Trump's treatment of a minority groups, generally, factored into his decision as well. "I have a brother-in-law who has autism, and [Trump] is a guy that mocked a disabled reporter. How would I explain that to him that I hung out with somebody who mocked the way that he talked or the way that he moves his hands? I can't get past that stuff."

Doolitttle clarified that his decision had little to do with policy disagreements with the White House. "There's a lot of things, policies that I disagree with, but at the end of the day, it has more to do with the divisive rhetoric and the enabling of conspiracy theories and widening the divide in this country. My wife and I stand for inclusion and acceptance, and we've done work with refugees, people that come from, you know, the 'shithole countries.'"

He concluded by saying he respected his teammates decision to attend the White house ceremony. "I want people to know that I put thought into this, and at the end of the day, I just can't go."

Read more of the Washington Post interview here.

Change the World

A Gay Fertility Doctor Opens Up About His Own Path to Parenthood

Parenthood is the "one and only job" held by the majority of the population, wrote gay fertility doctor Mark Leondires in a recent op-ed for The Advocate

Dr. Mark Leondires, founder of the fertility clinic RMA of Connecticut, has helped thousands of LGBTQ people become parents over the years. But in a recent op-ed for The Advocate, he discussed his own path to parenthood as a gay man, and some of the lessons he's learned along the way.

"Similar to most gay men I struggled with the coming out process," Dr. Leondires wrote. "I strongly desired to be a parent. And as a fertility doctor I knew this was possible. What was enlightening was after we had our first child is that in the eyes of my community, I went from being a gay man or gay professional to being a parent just like most of my straight friends."

Dr. Leondires goes on to say his reasons for opening up about his parenting journey is to offer some perspective LGBTQ people who are considering parenthood. "Once you have a family you will have this common bond with the vast majority of our population and something they can relate to — having children," he wrote. "You are no longer someone living this "special" lifestyle, you are a parent on a shared journey."

Being a parent is the "one and only job" held by the majority of the population, he continued. "It is also the only job you can't be fired from."

Understanding this commonality helped Dr. Leondires in his coming out process, he said. "I had to be proud of my family because I want them to be proud of our family," he wrote. "It wasn't about me anymore. The reality is that 5-7% of patients identify as LGBTQ+, and there may be a greater likelihood that your child might be LGBTQ+ because you are. Therefore, you need to be proud of who you are and who your family is, establish and maintain this foundation unconditionally."

Read Dr. Leondires entire essay here.

Fatherhood, the gay way

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