Foster/Foster-Adopt

Gay Foster Dad: Paths to Fatherhood for Gay Men

Little research exists on LGBT foster parents. (Anyone beginning to sense a theme here?) So what do we know of GBT dads who become foster parents? According to Dr. Gates of the Williams Institute, of the 8 percent of same-sex male couples are raising children under 18 years old, “1 percent identified at least one of their children as a foster child." In raw numbers, this means that approximately 2,600 same-sex couples are raising an estimated 3,400 foster children in the US.


Similar to adoption, same-sex couples are much more likely to be raising foster children than are their heterosexual counterparts. According to the Williams Institute, in fact, same-sex couples are six times more likely than their different-sex counterparts to be raising foster children.

GBT individuals often face additional challenges when deciding to become foster parents that their heterosexual and cisgender (meaning "not transgender") brethren do not. The legal context for LGBT foster parents is often unclear, for instance. According to the Family Equality Council, seven states in the country have passed laws that specifically restrict discrimination against LGBT people seeking to become foster parents. The law is ambiguous in most other states.

According to the ACLU, an estimated 500,000 children were in foster care in 2014 around the country, and 100,000 of these children needed to be adopted full time. However, only 20,000 adoptive parents were available last year for these children. Given these statistics, it is ridiculous to think that some states make the process of becoming a foster parent difficult for deserving LGBT people like Edward Peddell, who we first introduced Gays With Kids readers to in a Family Spotlight this past April.

Ed Peddell with his children

“I felt as if something was missing in my life!" Ed told me, when I asked him what made him decide to become a foster parent. “I have always been a humanitarian and reached out to help those less fortunate. As an educator I saw the need for people to step up and assist children in need. They enter the system through no fault of their own. Parents have made poor choices and decisions; thus, the children are removed for their own protection. We take them in, love them, provide for them and build a support team around them until they are reunified with their biological parents."

Raymond and Daniel Trumble-Stazzone, who we introduced you to in an article last December, also said that fostering children is a rich and rewarding, albeit it challenging, experience. “Being a foster parent can be the most rewarding and difficult experience of your life," Raymond wrote to me via email. “Children in foster care have typically experienced more trauma in their lives at such and young and fragile age than most adults will ever go through. Working with these children and helping them through their specific needs can be very challenging."

Daniel and Raymond Trumble-Stazzone with their kids Cody and Jacob

Raymond and Daniel planned to foster children they hoped to ultimately adopt one day, and cautioned other GBT men to not feel bad about setting this type of parameters while working with foster and adoption agencies. You might have a preference for single child versus a sibling group, he said, for example, or might also want to only work with foster children who are eligible for adoption.

Raymond and Daniel with Jacob and Cody

What advice does Ed have for someone thinking of this route to parenthood? “Be sure that you are willing to give 100 percent. Being a parent is a full-time job! You should be your child's biggest advocate and love them unconditionally. Your life as you know it will change, so be sure this is what you desire and most of all be prepared for anything."

If you are considering becoming a foster parent, be sure to research the laws in your state through organizations like the Family Equality Council, and check out the resources available by groups like the Humans Rights Campaign. Gays With Kids writers have also brought readers several fascinating stories on the subject, so be sure to check those out here.

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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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Gay Dad Family Stories

After Meeting in Culinary School, These Gay Dads Are Creating a Wonderful Life Together, Using Simple Ingredients

Jason and Patrick live in Charlottesville, Virginia with their daughters, and run a successful French-inspired bakery.

These gay dads own a successful French-inspired bakery and restaurant located in historic Charlottesville, Virginia. Chef Jason Becton, 41, lives in Charlottesville (where Thomas Jefferson's home Monticello is situated) with his baker husband Patrick Evans, 36, and their two daughters, Marian and Betty; they together are the owners of MarieBette, a popular bakery-restaurant in downtown Charlottesville that specializes in European foods, especially in delicious pastries from France. "Our business has become a gathering place for Charlottesvillians and we feel very welcomed here," shared Patrick. "The majority of people know that it is a business owned by two men married to each other with two kids."

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Foster/Foster-Adopt

5 Tips For Winning at Fatherhood From a Gay Foster Dad

Taylor McGregor, a gay dad through the foster care system, provides 5 tips for other gay men considering becoming a dad through foster care.

Adopted himself, Taylor McGregor, who who recently featured in a family profile, always knew he wanted to become a dad through the foster care system. And since becoming dads, they've learned some insightful (and practical) advice they'd like to share with all future dads:

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Do We Have a Biological Right to Fatherhood? Absolutely, Says This Gay Dad

Jay Bostick, a gay foster dad, responds to Kevin Saunders' controversial essay "Why This Adopted Gay Man Will Never Have Children"

Editor's Note: Below is an essay by Jay Bostick who eloquently lays out many of the reasons why he and many other readers were upset by a post we ran yesterday by Kevin Saunders titled, "Why This Adopted Gay Man Will Never Have Children." This post clearly touched a nerve! (Check out the ongoing discussion on our Facebook page.) While some of our readers appreciated Saunders' viewpoint, many others felt slighted by his reasoning for not having children, calling him everything from "self-involved," "selfish," and an "insufferable narcissist." Many other readers rightly questioned why Gays With Kids would even run an essay from a man who does not want children on (of all place) a parenting website.

The former point is a matter of opinion, but I'll offer some clarification on the latter. We agreed to run this post for two reasons. First, Saunders' perspective is unique among many adopted gay men. We have run countless essays on this site featuring adopted gay men who, inspired by their own upbringing, decided to give back by opening up their homes to children who need them. Saunders' experience, however, led him to conscience decision not to have children, a perspective worthy of discussion particularly by anyone who has been touched by adoption in some way. Secondly, as a 52-year-old gay man, Saunders is starting to find himself alienated from many in his LGBTQ peer group for his decision not to have kids. Again, we are so much more familiar with the opposite perspective on our page: when they become parents, many gay men find themselves ostracized from the broader, childless LGBTQ community. That the inverse is also starting to become true is a testament to the increase in LGBTQ parents in the United States, and an interesting dichotomy we believed warranted further exploration.

All that said, Saunders' essay is a matter of opinion, and one our readers (nor we) certainly don't have to agree with. This is why we were thrilled to receive this "counterpoint" to Saunders's essay from Bostick. We, at least, are enjoying the respectful exchange of ideas, and hope you are as well. Give Bostick's essay a read, as well as the original, and then let us know what you think in the comments or at dads@gayswithkids.com.

--David Dodge, Managing Editor

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Adults

Why This Adopted Gay Man Will Never Have Children

Do we have a biological right to parenthood? Kevin Saunders, a childless 52-year-old gay man, says no.

Guest post written by Kevin Saunders.

Two dear friends of mine, each partnered, capable gay men of relatively sound mind and body, have recently decided to become fathers, and I could not be more unnerved. The expense, the risk, the potential for disappointment, the logistical complexity that they must navigate leave me baffled and at times enraged with the lingering question that I have, out of respect, refrained from asking, "WHY, WHY, WHY do you want to do this?!" These feelings toward what most would consider a happy occasion beg a reciprocal enquiry: "Why do you care?" The answer is rooted in a disposition and a history that has left me skeptical of the innate right to biological parenthood that many, gay or straight, seem to feel entitled to.

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Gay Dad Life

Gays WITHOUT Kids (If Just For a Day...)

Andrew Kohn explains why he decided to leave his kids at home this Pride

I'm not a monster. Yes, I saw the wagons carrying lovely toddler children waiving their flags and eating their graham crackers. The children were plentiful wearing their Pride family shirts, bejeweled in rainbow. The weather was perfect and the crowds were as prideful as ever. But my husband and I had a day where we didn't have to worry about someone else, not on the constant lookout for the next available bathroom or calming emotions because we could buy one unicorn costume and not every unicorn costume. We had a day without kids.

Yes, Pride has become commercialized. Some companies want my gay money, but others march and have a presence because one gay voice spoke up and asked why the company hasn't marched. I marched in the parade with my employer – who marched for the first time this year – because I started the conversation about why we hadn't marched before. My husband and I were present. We honored Stonewall. And praised Nina West. And we did it without carrying a bag with extra panties and a couple sippy cups.

Believe me, I get sharing the day with your children. With your family. But in my house, we live Pride every day. Two white dads caring for two black kids makes us walking billboards for equality, love, and acceptance. I don't need a day to celebrate my family with my children. We do it in the grocery store. We do it at preschool. We recognize our uniqueness and celebrate it. My children don't need a meltdown and a long walk to tell them about their history and their fathers' connection to the past.

Instead of worrying about where we would find lunch and, again, where the closest bathroom was, I saw beauty that took me by surprise – and I was able to be in the moment with it. Trans men waking boldly and bravely around only wearing only their bindings. Watching high school kids sitting in the grass, wearing crop tops and eating french fries, literally carefree looking up at the clouds. We experienced a community that was free and uninhibited, if just for one afternoon, where who you are isn't odd or something to be hidden. But rather something that is a definition of you and should be your reality 365 days a year.

I know that being gay and having kids can be overwhelming at times. We ask ourselves if we're representing our community adequately (or have we become too heteronormative?). If we have children of a different race, are we giving them the experiences they need to know who they are, as well as navigate that world with gay parents? Are we so embraced at school functions because of our contributions to community or are we a token family? And yes, I'll ask it, are we good enough for acceptance by all gay families, who as if we're single again, judge each other on wealth, looks, and status? No family is better than any other, and gay parents certainly have opportunities to be better towards one another.

Our Pride ended in a small fight while walking to the car, like all good Pride's should. But it wasn't about kids bickering, or kids getting upset they didn't get the right treat. It was about us centering ourselves in a community that isn't exactly welcoming in certain spaces to gay families other times of the year. It was about us catching up with our past while also seeing our collective future.

And the kids didn't seem to mind. They had fun with a babysitter and lived their Pride out loud when they shopped for daddy and papa gifts for Father's Day. That's our Pride. Maybe when the kids are older, and really get the meaning of Pride, we'll start marching together in solidarity. But for right now, daddies needed a little time alone to reconnect with their LGBT family. And while there may be too many beer ads and not enough voter registration tables, we celebrate visibility and love. And my husband and I had time together, reminding us of who we are, who our original family was, and how we will connect who we are now, and our children, with that family as it grows.

At the end of the day, we're all in it together. And my children will be enriched by the experience. Just not this year. This year, we fertilized our roots so that our branches can grow.

Antwon and Nate became dads through the foster care system. Nine months after becoming licensed, they received a call on a Tuesday, and two days later, their daughter moved in. "It was very quick," said Nate. "Honestly, it was more just shock and nervousness for me."

As new parents, Nate took unpaid leave for two weeks, before going back to work part-time. Antwon didn't receive any leave.

"It's definitely important to have time off to bond, but it's also important to be financially stable when you do it," said Antwon. "I don't think you should have to choose between staying financially afloat or showing your kid love... and I don't think anyone should have to make that choice."

Only 15% of dads in the U.S. have access to paid paternity leave. We want to change this.

Watch Nate and Antwon's video to find out how:

Sign the pledge: www.dovemencare.com/pledge

Like Antwon and Nate, we're helping Dove Men+Care advocate for paid paternity leave for *ALL* dads! Over the next three months, we will be sharing stories of gay dad families and their paternity leave experience. Our goal is to get 100,000 folks to sign the Paternity Leave Pledge.

Dove Men+Care has collected over 30,000 signatures on the Pledge for Paternity Leave in three short months, in a mission to champion and support new legislation for federally mandated paid leave laws in the U.S. With the conversation growing on Capitol Hill, Dove Men+Care will target key legislators to drive urgency behind paid paternity leave policy and provide a social proof in the form of real dad testimonials, expert research and signature support from families across the country.

Our goal is to help Dove Men+Care bring 100,000 signatures to key policymakers in Washington, D.C. for their Day of Action on the Hill, and drive urgency behind this issue.

If you believe *ALL* dads should receive paid paternity leave, sign the Paternity Leave Pledge.

Fatherhood, the gay way

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