Co-parenting

Paths to Gay Fatherhood: The Known Donor Dad

The Known Donor Dad


And now, for my own category! As I wrote about last June, I recently made the decision to become a known sperm donor for my good friends, Tori and Kelly. In that article, I detailed my frustrations over the lack of resources available to those thinking about becoming a sperm donor, even though this, too, is becoming increasingly popular among gay and bisexual men.

But once again, in place of research, Gays With Kids has brought you anecdotes of men who have become known donors. In “The Known Sperm Donor,” for example, I brought you the stories of three different men, each of whom decided to serve as a donor for a lesbian couple. If anything became clear to me in the interviews I conducted for that article, it’s that there is no cookie-cutter pattern or instruction manual for men who decide to become known donors.

Corey Harris with his daughter and her moms Colleen and Nicole

Some men, like David Brown, would bristle at the thought of being called a “donor” at all. His relationship with Kelly and Karen, the women he helped conceive, more closely resembles a co-parenting arrangement. His kids call him Dad; he even bought a house next door to Kelly and Karen to help him play a more active parenting role. On the other end of the spectrum is Jeff, who is known as an uncle to the children he helped his friends conceive, and who lives in a completely separate state.

Then there are donor dads like Corey Harris, who is somewhere in the middle of these two ends of the spectrum, and who I caught up with recently to ask his advice to anyone considering becoming a known donor for a friend or couple.

“Use your guts,” Corey said by way of advice. “If you feel good about the people raising the baby, and you have come up with terms that are acceptable to you, go for it. [The moms] Colleen and Nicole have been so awesome. When decisions come, we sit down and talk about it. At the end of the day, they are the moms, and I don’t have the ability to overrule them. But it’s so nice to be included.”

Corey also suggests you spend time figuring out what you want out of the relationship. “It’s a lifetime commitment,” Corey said, “So make sure you’re standing up for yourself, and deciding what it is you really want.”

David Brown (with red baseball cap) and his partner with David’s three kids and their two moms Karen and Kelly

To this, I’ll add my own advice: Regardless of whether or not you expect to play an active role in the child’s life, be prepared to fall in love. I was never much of a “baby person” before the birth of my daughter. And truth be told, I’m still not. But I’m obsessed with my babygirl in a way I couldn’t have anticipated, and am grateful to her moms that they encourage my involvement rather than feel threatened by it.

You probably won’t be surprised to find that there is surprisingly little out there by way of resources for gay and bisexual men thinking of becoming known sperm donors. So my next piece of advice is probably the most important: Find others who have already gone through the process. Being a known donor comes with a specific set of questions and concerns, and despite my friend’s and family’s most patient attempts to listen to me as I go about processing these questions, there really is nothing better than talking with someone who has already gone through the experience.

Other than that? Follow along at home as I continue to document the stories of other known donors for Gays With Kids.

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

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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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The study also found that over half of gay dads have avoided certain social situations in the last year for fear of experiencing stigma.

According to new research by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the vast majority of gay men and their children experience some form of stigma. The findings are based on a survey of 732 gay father across 47 states in the United States.

More gay men are becoming fathers each year, and have more options for doing so than ever before: including adoption, foster care, and surrogacy. However as the study's authors write: "Despite legal, medical, and social advances, gay fathers and their children continue to experience stigma and avoid situations because of fear of stigma. Increasing evidence reveals that stigma is associated with reduced well-being of children and adults, including psychiatric symptoms and suicidality"

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Surprisingly (or perhaps not?) another source of stigma cited by the study originates from other gay men. "Gay men report suspicion and criticism for their decision to be parents from gay friends who have not chosen parenthood." The study also says gay dads often feel "isolation in their parental role."

The study concludes, "Despite growing acceptance of parenting by same-gender adults, barriers and stigma persist. States' legal and social protections for lesbian and gay individuals and families appear to be effective in reducing experiences of stigma for gay fathers."

Read the whole study here.

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I literally never thought I'd see the day. Literally.

Gay fathers on the cover of Parents Magazine! Gay fathers being celebrated in a "main stream" publication about being parents. Gay fathers!

I don't want to get overly dramatic here, but this is a milestone. A massive cultural milestone.

Sure, gay dads have come a long way in being accepted in our popular culture, but to my eye we've never been on the cover of a big popular parenting magazine celebrating our parenting skills. As if we are the norm.

We are now - thanks to Parents Magazine.

This is a particular milestone for me because I have a bit of a history with the magazine and with parenting publications in general. My first job out of grad school was in brand marketing at Johnson's Baby Products where I did indeed run advertising in this particular magazine. Back then though we only featured married, straight couples. There were no other kinds of parents to feature back in the day! And if I'm to be really honest, they were generally white, married, straight couples.

I distinctly remember one photo shoot where I forgot to put a wedding ring on the "husband's" finger and we had to reshoot it. No photoshop back then!

Now admittedly this was before I was a dad and before I was out, but as the years went by and I embraced my own journey as a gay dad, there were no role models or pop culture markers to say that I (and other gay dads) were accepted. There were no Andy Cohens publicly making baby announcements. We were alone on our parenting.

It was hard. There was a constant barrage of straight parenting norms that constantly reminded us that we were different.
Not any more! Being a gay dad, or any dad, is now simply being a parent. A good parent. A loving parent. And we have Parents Magazine to thank for the reminder and endorsement, with hopefully more to come.

And I can't help but think, and actually know, that this kind of normalization will inspire the next generation of gay dads who will simply accept, without hesitation, that fatherhood as a gay man is a real, accepted, and normal option.

Bravo!

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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