Co-parenting

Paths To Gay Fatherhood: The Co-parent Dad

The Co-parent Dad


Many GBT men who first become dads in a former heterosexual relationship move on to form stepfamilies that include a new same-sex relationship. LGBT stepfamilies are actually quite common, which, again, isn't so dissimilar to stepfamily creation on the whole in the United States. According to the National Stepfamily Resource Center, 42 percent of adults report having at least one step relative, and 30 percent report having a step or half sibling.

It should go without saying, though, that LGBT stepfamilies face additional complications. “When dating a man as a man with children, I think the most important thing is to just keep it as normal as possible," Kenny Este-Scarle told me, who we first met in a Gays With Kids article that ran last November. Kenny adopted two boys with his ex-wife before divorcing, ultimately coming to terms with his sexuality, and then, eventually, remarrying his current husband, Greg.

“Don't make it a bigger deal than it has to be," Kenny told me, when I asked his advice to other gay dads who find themselves in the dating pool post-divorce. “It can be intimidating, but be upfront and honest with the kids and the boyfriend and let everyone involved know this is okay. Change is okay and can be an amazing journey!"

What about from the other perspective, as a gay man dating another man with kids? “Don't jump into anything," Greg told me. “Take it slow with the kids, let them warm up to you. When you start to date a man with children, it is a package deal. You can't just have him. You have to share. If you can't share then it's probably not a good idea to pursue this kind of relationship."

“I think it's important that a potential partner needs to get to know how the man and his kids interact," Kenny added, suggesting couples first spend time exploring how best to integrate the new relationship. “It's about becoming part of a family and growing together."

Kenny also encouraged dads with kids to include his new partner in parenting in ways that feel comfortable. “Pull the 'boyfriend' aside for tips, pointers, encouragement and any help he may need in developing a relationship with the kids," Kenny said. “It's best that the adults be on the same page so as to provide consistency in everyone's lives! It just makes it easier."

Greg and Kenny with their three sons

For Greg and Kenny, the decision to involve Greg centrally in parenting allowed the family to evolve in interesting and useful ways. When Greg first started dating Kenny, for instance, Greg was, in his words, just “dating a man with kids." Once their relationship evolved, and the couple got married, however, Greg's role in the family began to evolve as well. Now Greg is also “dad," and is an integral part of the co-parenting arrangement with Kenny's ex-wife, in a situation that works for them all.

It's not, however, a situation without its fair share of complexity. “How do I, as the 'first' dad, let the other dad do things in a way I might not necessarily like?" Kenny asked rhetorically. “How does the 'new' dad deal with the pressure or expectations of being a new parent, and feeling like the other parent is watching and judging him?" There are no simple answers to these questions, Kenny suggested. Rather, they need to be continually addressed and revisited in any co-parenting arrangement.

Of course, an increasing number of GBT dads are entering co-parenting arrangements not by way of former relationships, but intentionally, with other couples or individuals. Though couples entering intentional co-parenting arrangements don't have the added complexity of a divorce to contend with, the situation still presents many challenges. One might wonder, then, why anyone would intentionally choose to enter a co-parenting arrangement in the first place. Won't there be too many cooks in the kitchen?

“There were a few factors behind our decision to co-parent," Bill Delaney told me, who writes about his experience co-parenting for Gays With Kids. “The financials of raising kids in San Francisco, the most expensive city in the country, was a big one. The lack of extended family support since we're not local was another."

Moreover, Bill believes that having those additional cooks is more help than hindrance. “The overall effort it takes to be a full-time parent is daunting and personally I didn't feel up to the job," Bill explained. “Now we are a team of four fully engaged and committed parents and it works beautifully for us and more importantly, for the girls. They are often the envy of their friends."

Co-parenting, Bill explained, also helps avoid some other common problems facing other LGBT parents: “It's an odd thing. We don't have the usual conflicts that many LGBT parents or their kids experience when it comes to holidays such as Father's Day and Mother's Day, or other occasions where both a mother and father, or lack of one or the other, might be referenced. But then, we're also not the traditional opposite-sex parented family either, not even to those who have divorced and remarried which are at least structurally similar to our two-home, four-parent set up. It's a nebulous realm of in-between, but a bit of both. It's an untraditional family. It's pretty cool."

So, for anyone interested in getting messy in the kitchen, what's Bill's advice?

“Be thorough," Bill said. “Be sure you and your co-parents are a good match in temperament and ability to communicate." Bill also recommends discussing all expectations in advance, no matter how touchy or uncomfortable. “Religion, approach to discipline, legal custody, financial arrangements…" he listed. “Even views on abortion," he added, “should there be medical issues for the mom or the child."

Bill also suggests that co-parenting arrangements be put into writing, and that they cover more than just legal concerns. “It is about spelling out all expectations while everyone is calm and rational," Bill said. “You can refer to the agreement if there are disputes, as can legal authorities should it escalate. Consulting legal experts who specialize in alternative families doesn't hurt, nor does meeting with child care professionals who specialize in shared custody cases. We did both and it was a big help."

J.R. and Bill with their two daughters

If you are considering entering into a co-parenting arrangement, there are some resources available that cater specifically to LGBT parents. Organizations like CoParents and CoParentMatch, for example, pair you with other LGBT parents interested in entering a co-parenting arrangement. And other sites such as coparently aren't specifically LGBT, but nonetheless provide resources for individuals who are co-parenting after a divorce. And, once again, check out the Gays With Kids archives for additional stories on LGBT co-parenting arrangements.

More Paths to Gay Fatherhood.

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So far in our podcast, we mostly interviewed dads who had their kids either through surrogacy or adoption. But there are other ways in which you can become dads. In this week's episode we look at two ways that are often overlooked: Known Sperm Donor, and Co-Parenting.

David Dodge, managing editor at GaysWithKids.com is a father of two children, who he had together with a lesbian couple. Though he has no legal rights with his daughter and son, they still call him 'papa,' and his parents go to visit their grand children even when he's not around. In our interview, David sheds light on being a Known Sperm Donor.

In our second interview we had Bill Delaney and husband J.R. Parish on a Skype call from San Francisco. They are co-parents of two girls together with a lesbian couple. In the call they discuss this carefully planned (and amazing!) arrangement.



During the episode, we count the ways* in which gay men can currently become dads:
1. Adoption
2. Surrogacy
3. Men who come out of straight partnerships and marriages
4. Sperm Donation (known or unknown donor)
5. Co-parenting




*If you would like to add to or comment on this list please write to us at hello@daddysqr.com

Our Family Coalition

Our Family Coalition (OFC) is based in the Bay Area but is the largest state-wide advocacy organization for LGBT families. They've contributed to varying degrees to everything from marriage equality court cases, to getting LGBT inclusive curriculum added to CA's public school system, to achieving the multi-parent legal recognition that was mentioned on our interview with Bill and J.R.

Episode Credits:

Co-Hosts: Yan Dekel, Alex Maghen

Guests: David Dodge GaysWithKids.com, Bill Delaney & J.R. Parish
Music: Hercules & Love Affair, "Leonora" buy here
Articles referred to in this episode:
Putting the 'Known' in Known Sperm Donor (David Dodge, The New York Times)
The Known Sperm Donor (GaysWithKids.com)
Top Three Benefits of 'Intentional Co-Parenting' for Gay Men & Couples (Bill Delaney, GaysWithKids.com)
11 Steps Gay Men Should Take Before Co-Parenting With a Female Friend (Bill Delaney, GaysWithKids.com)





For any questions, comments or advise, please do not hesitate to contact us at hello@daddysqr.com or on Twitter @yanirdekel

J.R. and Bill with their daughters

Gay Dad Life

The Best Part of Coming Out, Says This Gay Dad, Is Being an Out and Proud Role Model for His Daughter

"I couldn't face myself in the mirror and think that I could be a good dad and role model for my child when I was lying to myself every moment of every day," said Nate Wormington of his decision to come out.

Photo credit: https://eliseabigail.com/

Nate Wormington had lived much of his life not being true to himself. He had a beautiful baby girl, was married to his best friend and soul mate, but there was still no doubt in his mind that he was gay. Still, he chose to stay in a heterosexual relationship lifestyle, and it was making him incredibly depressed.

"For some that may be a sustainable life, but denying a core value of myself began to take its toll on me, and I had to own up to my own truth to salvage my life and my relationships with the people I love." Despite the difficulties in doing so, he eventually, he came out. Today, he's co-parenting with his ex-wife and they're still best friends. This November, he's getting married to the man of his dreams. But most importantly, he's proud to be a positive example to his 7-year-old daughter.

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Co-parenting

Top Three Benefits of 'Intentional Co-Parenting' for Gay Men & Couples

Entering into intentional co-parenting arrangements with another adult or couple has many benefits, says Bill Delaney. Here are his top three.

I often joke that the best thing about co-parenting is that we can have both kids and a life. It's certainly easier to maintain a non-child-centric social life with scheduled child-free days, but that is the least of the benefits of sharing parenting responsibilities.

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Foster/Foster-Adopt

This Gay Couple Was Inspired to Become Foster Dads Thanks to the Show "The Fosters"

Matthew and Brian say they used to feel like "unicorns" as gay foster dads. They're happy to see more LGBTQ couples take the plunge into the foster system.

Matthew Hamparian and his husband Brian Lawrence have been together for over 18 years and live in Columbus, Ohio. "We had talked about children for a long time," shared Matthew. They were inspired by the show "The Fosters," and watched it regularly as one of the staffers of the show was a friend of Brian's. In one of the episodes, Matthew remembers a conversation between a foster child and the biological child of his foster parents. The foster child asks if he was okay with the fact that he had to share his home with foster siblings. He responds that he is okay with it, because he and his family have enough of everything.

"It was very meaningful to us as we were both raised that when you got up the ladder, you threw the ladder back," explained Matthew.

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Terrell and Jarius need your help. Earlier this week they were made aware of an act of discrimination against a male transgender student at Johnson High School in Gainesville, Georgia

"Dex Frier was elected by the student body to run for prom king but is now facing backlash from the school's administration," shared the dads via their Instagram. "The school's Superintendent is forcing Dex to either run as prom queen or not run at all. This is very unjust and does NOT reflect the opinion of the parents nor the students."

Watch their video below:

Dex, 17, who came out identifying as male in his sophomore year, spoke with Gainsville Times about being nominated by the student body. "Frier said he kept his emotions in check while at school, but 'the moment I got home, I immediately started crying. I've never been shown so much support before,' Frier added."

He was later informed by school officials that his name had been withdrawn and he could only run in the prom queen ballot.

Sadly, there have been rival petitions started in support of Dex's nomination being withdrawn, and he's received backlash from those who believe he shouldn't be able to run.

Although Terrell and Jarius do not know Dex personally, they were made aware of what was happening through Jarius co-worker who is a parent at the school. "He's such a brave kid and is standing firm in his beliefs, and we should support him," said Jarius.

These dads are asking all of us to take a minute and sign this petition and share with friends and family, or anyone you think could help.

Surrogacy for Gay Men

Learn How These Dads Used Social Media to Find Their Surrogate

In the latest "Broadway Husbands" vlog, Bret and Stephen discuss the rather unconventional way in which they found their surrogate: through a Facebook group.

In this, the Broadway Husbands' sixth video, Bret Shuford and Stephen Hanna discuss the rather unprecedented process they went through to find their surrogate. The lucky couple also chat about winning an "Intended Parents" competition, which granted them the free services of a surrogacy agency who is now helping guide them (and their new surrogate!) on their journey.

In the first video below, get caught up to speed with the dads-to-be. Plus: there's bonus footage! Ever wondered about the financial side of their journey? In the second video, Bret and Stephen talk candidly about how they're managing to afford their dream of fatherhood.

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Gay Dad Life

Gay Single Dads Defend Andy Cohen's Right to Be on Grindr

After the Internet rushed to judge Andy Cohen for signing onto Grindr a couple of weeks after welcoming his newborn son home, fellow single gay dads rushed to his defense.

Last week, we wrote a post about reports that "What What Happens Live" host Andy Cohen had been "spotted" on gay dating app Grindr several weeks after welcoming a newborn into his home. This has some of his followers on social media all worked up"

"Get off Grindr and start being a dad," said one follower who appeared to think single parents must take a vow of celibacy the minute they start changing diapers. "You're sad, that kid has no chance," said another.

Well, suffice it to say that this judgment from people who are presumably not single gay dads of Andy Cohen certainly struck a nerve with our gay dad audience! We received well over 100 comments on this post on Facebook, the vast majority of them coming to Cohen's defense. We caught up with two fellow single gay dads to find out why the story struck a nerve.

"We don't have to live like monks!"

One of the most liked comments on our piece came from Owen Lonzar, who wrote the following:

"I have always been a good single father to my biological son who came to live with me when he was 7 years old. He is now 25 years old and we are very close. I used Grindr and dated while he lived with me. I never had anyone sleep over and he certainly never saw some man he didn't know hanging around my home. Single parents have to date responsibly and with sensitivity to their child but that doesn't mean they have to live like monks!"

We asked Cohen to elaborate a bit more on why the backlash against Cohen bothered him. He had the sense, he said, that much of the criticism against LGBTQ parents comes from gay men without children. "Gay men without kids have a lot to say," he said. "And all of it is ignorant, because they have no idea what it means to actually be a father." He said he was particularly disappointed in gay critics, given our shared history of discrimination. "You would think with all the prejudice we have faced that gay men would be less judgmental themselves," he said.

"Are we supposed to be celibate?"

Another commenter, Josue Sebastian Dones-Figueroa, who is a divorced father of five, questioned what Cohen's critics would prefer him do. "So what, parents are supposed to become celibate because they have kids?" he asked.

We followed up with Josue to ask him to elaborate a bit more: "The idea that just because he is a dad that he would need to stop being a man," he said, questioning why Cohen should have to put his life hold and stop dating, or having sex, just because he's now a father. "If the child is cared for loved and not neglected what is the problem? Life goes on right?"


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