Gay Dad Family Stories

Signing With Two Adoption Agencies to "Double Their Chances," These Dads Won Big with Both

Days after welcoming their first son into their home, Ryan and Brandon received "the call" from a second adoption agency.

Ryan and Brandon Bolton met in a bar in Chicago in early 2012. Brandon, a professional hair and make-up artist, was touring with a show and happened to go to the same bar that Ryan used to frequent. They eloped in August 2012 and were married in New York.

In June 2013, they moved to Florida, where they began researching their fatherhood journey. "We were going to attempt surrogacy, but the costs were too high," said Ryan. "Adoption was something that was feasible." The husbands decided they needed to get a few puzzle pieces in place before signing, and Brandon was touring on various shows while they saved. They eventually moved forward, signing with their first agency, Adoption Center US, in January 2015.


During their home study, their social worker asked if she could recommend them to another agency, Legal Person, so they could work with two simultaneously. The dads-to-be were more than happy for the recommendation and were excited to move their journey along as quickly as possible.

"We knew we wanted a baby and figured that using more than one agency doubled our chances of getting one soon. We'd heard stories of people waiting for years and we didn't want to fall into that," said Brandon.

In September 2015, they were matched with a birth mom through Legal Person. Brandon and Ryan jumped at this opportunity to become dads, and in January 2016, they welcomed their eldest son Derek.

Then, two days after bringing Derek home, they received a call from Adoption Center US.

"Anita (from Adoption Center US) called us and said there was another baby that needed a home and thought we would be a great fit," said Ryan. "We kept her on speaker phone, wrote notes back and forth and finally Brandon wrote "yes/no" and he circled yes, so did I and that was it. We knew he was meant to be with us and I got to go meet him the following morning."

Parker joined the family just days after his big brother.

Initially, the dads only had to get a second car seat to accommodate their quickly growing family; they had everything else. "We had talked before about all of this and decided we ultimately wanted two children. This decision fast-tracked that, but we felt it was meant to be."

Brandon and Ryan knew that kids were going to be part of their lives together from day one, and were fortunate that everything "just kind of fell into place." That hasn't meant the transition from couple to parents of two kids almost the same age has been easy. "It is very hard and takes a lot of patience," shared Ryan. "Not that there aren't a million amazing aspects, there are. Every stage comes with it's own set of challenges and if you're looking to start a family, just brace yourself for that. Don't look for one phase to be done, thinking that the next will be flawless. I think knowing what to expect - as much as you can - really helps."

Brandon and Ryan's three-and-a-half-year-old sons Derek and Parker have taught them a lot. "I didn't know how intensely I could feel about protecting someone until we met them." Brandon (Papa) and Ryan (Daddy) are completely in love with their two kids and wouldn't change a thing.

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Gay Dad Family Stories

These Adoptive Dads Gained an Extended Family Through Foster Care

Adoptive dads Edward and Andrew have maintained a close relationship with their twins' biological family.

Celebrating gay, bi and trans fatherhood is what we do on Gays With Kids. We rejoice in whatever paths our community took to become parents. But many of those journeys come with heartbreak, sometimes for the intended parents, and sometimes for the biological family from whom the adoption or foster placement occurs. With an open adoption, the adoptive and biological families come to an arrangement which best benefits the child, and that's when something truly beautiful can occur. This isn't always possible in every scenario, but when it does, we're exceedingly thankful. Can a child ever have too many family members loving them? Not likely. This was husbands of five years Edward and Andrew Senn's experience.

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Expert Advice

Together, We Can Reinvent the Foster Care System

Molly Rampe Thomas of Choice Network calls on ALL adoption agencies to be LGBTQ-inclusive

There are nearly 500,000 children in the foster care system. We think it is time to dig deep into the roots of an imperfect system. We think it is time to create lasting change for the children in our communities who need it the most. We think gay dads are the perfect partner in this work!

Here is how we think the foster care system could be reinvented:

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Gay Dad Family Stories

How Parenting Boys Helped This Gay Couple Discover New Strengths

Billy always imagined himself raising daughters — instead he's raising two sons.

Eight years ago, Billy and Joseph Saponaro, 31 and 33 years old respectively, met on a dating app. They both knew they wanted something meaningful, so they decided to go on a date. On July 9 this year, they celebrated their fourth wedding anniversary.

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Today is National Coming Out Day, and as we celebrate, we're sharing six coming out stories from dads in our community. Their personal stories are heartwarming, relatable, and empowering. Happy Coming Out Day, and remember, live your truth!

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

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Experiencing hateful and hurtful comments, Erik Alexander had to learn an important lesson: how to ignore the trolls.

Photo credit: BSA Photography

Twenty years ago when I came out, it was unbearably hard. As I have written before, I am from the Deep South. Anyone who dared to deviate from social norms was sure to be ostracized. It's not that these people were born hateful or mean; rather, it probably had more to do with them not being subjected to other lifestyles. Anything different from their own experiences sparked fear and confusion. Homosexuality, interracial relationships, religious differences – these were all unfamiliar territories to the average person I grew up around. Thus, growing up was particularly difficult.

I remember lying in bed at night when I was a little boy. I would pray and beg God to not let me be gay. Every single night I would end my prayers with "... and God, please don't let me have nightmares and please don't let me be gay." I remember crying myself to sleep many nights. I was embarrassed and ashamed. And I wanted God to cure me.

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Change the World

10 Inspiring Coming Out Stories From Gay Dads

Happy National Coming Out Day! To celebrate, we've rounded up some of our recent stories about gay men with kids coming out to live their most authentic lives.

Happy National Coming Out Day! To celebrate, we've rounded up some of our best articles of gay dads coming out to live their authentic lives.

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Jeff Rohrer, a father of two teenage boys via a previous relationship with a woman, is the first NFL player to marry another man. Read the article here.

#2. Coming Out to His Wife Was Painful, Says This Salt Lake-Based Dad of Four. But it Started Him on a Path of Authenticity

After Kyle came out to his wife, with whom he has four children, "she listened, she mourned and she loved," he said. Read the article here.

#3. Gay Dads Share Their Coming Out Stories for National Coming Out Day

We asked several gay dads to share their coming out stories in honor of National Coming Out Day, whose stories are heartwarming, instructive, and everything in between. Read the article here.

#4. Gay Muslim Single Dad Writes Op Ed on His Path to Self Acceptance

Maivon Wahid writes about the challenges of reconciling three separate, but equally important, identities in an opinion piece for Gay Star News. Read the article here.

#5. One Gay Dad's Path Towards Realizing Being Gay and Christian are Not Mutually Exclusive

Gay dads Matt and David Clark-Sally talk about coming out, parenting as gay men, and reconciling faith and sexuality. Read the article here.

#6. Republican Utah Lawmaker, and Dad of Two, Comes Out as Gay in Moving Video

Nathan Ivie has many important identities he's proud of: Mormon, Republican, Utahn, father of two... and gay. Read the article here.

#7. How Coming Out Helped This Gay Man Find the Strength to Be a Dad

Steven Kerr shares the moment he came out to his ex-girlfriend. "From that moment on," he writes, "my strength and purpose have grown." Read the article here.

#8. Ed Smart, Father of Kidnapping Victim Elizabeth Smart, Comes Out as Gay

In coming his coming out letter, Ed Smart, a Mormon, condemned the church for their "ridicule, shunning, rejection and outright humiliation" of LGBTQ individuals. Read the article here.

#9. 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. Read the article here.

#10. These Gay Dads Via Previous Marriages Have Adopted a Motto Since Coming Out and Finding Each Other: "United We Stand"

Vincent and Richard both had children in previous marriages with women; together, with their ex-wives, they are helping raise seven beautiful kids. Read the article here.

Gay Dad Life

8 Ways for Dads to Find Work/Life Balance

Finding work/life balance is hard enough... but can be even harder for gay dads.

Having kids is an amazing part of life, and it should be fun. Life does tend to get in the way sometimes, and one huge aspect of that is work. Striking that balance between work and home life is tough. If you both work it's even harder.

And if you're a gay couple, it can have it's own set of problems above and beyond the standard work-life issues that people face. Recently, the Harvard Business Review conducted a study that focused specifically on the experiences of same-sex couples who wanted to make moves towards a work/life balance.

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