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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Gay Dad Family Stories

Ever Consider Having Kids With a Female Friend? This Single Gay Dad Says It Was His "Greatest Decision"

Jeffrey Walker had two children with a female friend in what he calls a "leap of faith." He doesn't regret a thing.

Meet Jeffrey Walker, a 56-year-old Communications Director for a large nonprofit based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Over a decade ago, he made the "greatest decision ever" and became a proud single dad to two incredible daughters through an intentional co-parenting arrangement. Here's his story.

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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/

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Politics

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A decades-old law can be used to discriminate against gay couples who use surrogacy abroad.

James Derek Mize and his husband Jonathan Gregg are both American citizens, but their daughter, born via a surrogate, may not be, at least according to the U.S. State Department.

The New York Times took an in-depth look at this case in a piece that ran in the paper yesterday. While James was born and raised in the U.S, his husband Jonathan was originally born in Britain. That may be enough, according to the State Department, to deny their daughter citizenship.

"We're both Americans; we're married," James told the New York Times. "We just found it really hard to believe that we could have a child that wouldn't be able to be in our country."

According to decades-old immigration law, a child born abroad must have a biological connection to a parent that is a U.S. citizen in order to be eligible to receive citizenship upon birth. Children born via surrogacy are determined to be "out of wedlock," according to the Times report," which then requires a more onerous process to qualify for citizenship, such as demonstrating that a biological parent is not only an American citizen, but has spent at least five years in the country.

The intent of the law, which dates back to the 1950s, was to prevent people from claiming, falsely, that they are the children of U.S. parents. But LGBTQ advocates argue this archaic policy is being used intentionally to discriminates against same-sex couples, who often have to rely on donors, IVF and surrogacy in order to have biologically children, and are thus held to a higher standard.

"This is where our life is. This is where our jobs are," James told the Times. "Our daughter can't be here, but she has no one else to care for her."

Read the whole story here.


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Fatherhood, the gay way

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