Gay Dad Family Stories

'Fourth Time's a Charm' for This Foster Forever Family

It took four tries before Steven was united with his 'forever son' through foster care — and it was worth the wait.

On his path to becoming a dad, Steven Engle admits his biggest obstacle was himself at first. "In my mind, I had to be in a relationship or married to have a child," he said. Steven had wasted many years believing that simply as fact. "And yes, I realize how antiquated that is... I'm embarrassed to admit it." Then one day, he was out with a good friend who just said, "Why not do it on your own?" It was Steven's 'aha' moment. "Once I got past that, I was unstoppable."

Although Steven, who lives in Los Angeles, briefly considered adoption and surrogacy, he wanted to learn more about becoming a foster parent and adopting through the foster care system. Steven called up an old friend who had become a dad through a similar path to ask for advice and share his experience. His friend did so willingly and was happy to talk about adoption.

From there, Steven decided to attend an orientation at Extraordinary Families in Los Angeles. "I went in with a very open mind. I was very nervous and told myself that if something comes up and I realize it isn't a good fit, I would move on to another option, whatever that may be." After the orientation, Steven said that it felt so right that he started his training shortly thereafter. "I wanted to be certified ASAP. I knew that this was the road I was meant to be on."


And did Steven ever encounter any difficulty becoming a licensed foster parent as a single gay man in his early 40s? The short answer: no. "I am very fortunate that I live in Los Angeles. Extraordinary Families is open to any prospective foster parent regardless of sexual orientation, race, religion, marital status, etc. [It was] one of the reasons I felt so at home and comfortable with them."

In December 2016, he became a certified foster/resource parent.

After becoming licensed, Steven began to receive calls just days later. "My first call regarding a placement, I actually missed because I was out of town and ended up getting back to my agency too late, but the calls kept coming in after the New Year. I said 'no' to a small handful because I knew my limits as a single parent. Then in January of 2017, I got my first baby, a beautiful newborn little boy." Steven cared for this little boy for four-and-a-half months until he was reunified with relatives. "I was heartbroken," said Steven. He took some time off, but decided to try again a month or so later.

It wasn't long until he received another call, this time about a little girl. "She was a strong, precious newborn," remembered Steven. "She was home with me for only twelve days before DCFS was able to place her with the foster parents that adopted her sibling. It still hurt and breaks your heart." Steven, again, took some time off to heal.

In September 2017, he thought he'd give it another shot. "They say, third times a charm!" recalled Steven. But he was starting to wonder if he was meant to be a dad. "Maybe I was just meant to love these little ones unconditionally until their family was ready to raise them on their own. And I was beginning to accept that as my fate."

That was until his third placement. "He was a handsome little newborn boy. I had him for three and a half months, but he was reunified the day after Christmas." While Steven totally supported and agreed with his first two placements being reunified, he had a very different experience with DCFS when it came to his third.

"He was removed from my care and placed with a non-relative which is NOT out of the ordinary," explained Steven. "But due to the fact that my county social worker was not very forthcoming, it left me wondering why. This social worker had many conversations with me and my agency and we got multiple conflicting stories or paths that the court was planning on taking. She told us that the court was done doing their due diligence in regards to finding suitable 'blood relatives.' It came down to one bio relative and if this person didn't work out, my little guy was going to stay in my care. This relative ended up not passing a background check so I thought I was in the clear."

Fast forward to the day after Christmas, and Steven received a call from a DCFS supervisor, not even his social worker, telling him that they were moving the child to stay with a non-relative. "I was distraught to say the least. Had there been an open line of communication between DCFS and myself, I might not have been left in a position of wondering why. Sadly because of countless lies and remarks made, I was left wondering why? Was it because of my sexuality? Or was it because I only spoke English and not Spanish? Was it because I was single? Unfortunately all I have is my recollection of the conversations with the county social worker and the comments that she made towards the agency and myself. The decision was very unexpected and nothing like the previous two placements that I had."

This had been Steven's third placement, and he thought he was done. He couldn't go through the pain again. "I told my agency that I wasn't going to be looking for any more placements. And if I changed my mind, I would contact them. And of course, like I did with each other time, I then proceeded to tell them if something extraordinary comes up… let me know."

On January 17, 2018, Steven's phone started to ring non-stop. It had only been a couple of weeks since the third placement with the little boy had been given to a non-relative, and because he didn't recognize the numbers calling, he decided to ignore them. Then the texts started coming in.

"I was at Gelson's and I remember just thinking, 'Oh sh**, they have a baby for me' and I immediately started sobbing in the frozen food section. I pulled it together and checked out. And when I got to my car I gave Extraordinary Families a call. And they told me they had a 'safe surrender' baby."

The agency had said yes on Steven's behalf because they knew another agency would also get the call. "I didn't know they said yes, and I told them of course I will take him," said Steven. "I knew this would be my best chance to adopt at the lowest risk. I was very concerned [when I learned] that they had already said yes and I asked, what would have happened if I said no? They assured me that they could very easily call DCFS back and tell them that I changed my mind. I owe them a lot. Who knows what would have happened if I stayed longer balling inside of Gelson's."

Little Oscar, the newborn "safe surrender" baby, came home to live with Steven not long after. In June 2019, Steven finalized the adoption of his son Oscar when he was 17 months old.

After the long road that Steven traveled to become a dad, he has some sound advice for others: find an agency that feels like family, because they hold your hand throughout your entire journey. Many of Steven's social workers were at his son's adoption signing, and also at the adoption celebration party. They will remain like family.

"Aside from that, just remember that you have no control over the situation. With my first, I tried my hardest to be involved in every step, thinking it would somehow change the outcome. There are so many forces outside of your control. Don't waste your energy there. At the end of the day it's about loving these children, cherishing every moment with them and being there for them unconditionally."

"As much heartache as I experienced on my journey of fostering, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat," continued Steven. "These babies weren't born under the best of circumstances. They didn't ask for that. No child deserves that. Yes my first three were reunified but I gave them the best start to their lives. I took them each home from the hospital after birth. And whether they were with me for 12 days, four and a half months, or I adopted them, I gave each one of them a safe and nurturing home filled with unconditional love. I am just so thankful that I was in a position to give them the best re-start to their lives."

"It took four tries and I finally got my son. It was meant to be."

Show Comments ()
Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Dating a Single Gay Dad Is a 'Package Deal'

When you date a man with kids, you get the "whole package," says Kyle Ashworth

I am a package deal.

That is a phrase I have continued to tell myself since entering the dating scene. I say it because it's true. You see, I was previously married to a woman for ten years. From that relationship came four wonderful children who are the lights and loves of our lives. Seven years into our marriage I made some hard decisions. The most monumental of them all was coming out to my wife. Everything about being gay and living a life of authenticity felt like a fantasy to me. I didn't know what to expect, what to believe, or where to begin. I just knew I wasn't straight and living in that closeted space was destroying my life.

People often ask me what the hardest part of the journey out of the closet has been. That is a difficult question to answer. Coming out was hard because you'll never get a chance to go back in the closet—once you are out, you're out. Divorcing my wife was hard, because it meant that everything comfortable and "normal" in our lives would be disrupted. Losing friends and family members to bigotry and ignorance was difficult.

So why do we come out? What compels us to turn our whole world upside down?

Keep reading...
Gay Dad Life

Why Limit Yourself to One Path to Parenthood? These Dads Pursed Two!

Pursuing foster care and surrogacy at the same time wasn't easy — but Travis and Jay learned important lessons about both along the way.

Travis, 36, and Jay, 29, met nine years ago in a gay bar in Riverside, California. Both work in the medical device industry and in June 2018, they were married in front of friends and family, and their 19-day-old son through foster care.

To say June 2018 was a big month for Travis and Jay would be an understatement. They became first-time dads to four-day-old Kathan, and solidified their union with marriage. When the wedding part was over, the new dads were able to focus all their attention on their new family. It had been almost 18 months since they began the process of becoming foster parents till they were matched, and while they were waiting, they began to get anxious.

Keep reading...
Gay Dad Life

Top 10 Reasons You Should Date a Gay Dad

Jay Turner lays out the top 10 reasons you should consider dating a single gay dad

We're gay dads. Many of us were married to women, and for various reasons we eventually found ourselves single and looking for companionship from another man. Life is a little more complicated for us because we have kids. But that shouldn't deter you from seeking a relationship with a gay dad. In fact, there are many reasons why we make better partners than men without children. We are generally more mature, responsible, and emotionally available. We are also better communicators.

Here are the top ten reasons why you should date a gay dad:

Keep reading...
Personal Essays by Gay Dads

A Gay Dad Gains Clarity After a Health Scare

A recent health scare helped give Erik Alexander clarity.

Sometimes fear can cripple the mind and hinder ones judgement. Having children of my own, I have come to grips with accepting the things I cannot change and learned to take action when there is no other choice. When it comes to my own personal health, the future and well being of my family gives me all the clarity I need to make the right decision about any kind of health scare.

This episode is dedicated to all the parents out there that are going through or have gone through similar situations.

Keep reading...
Gay Dad Family Stories

This European Couple Became Dads Through a U.K.-Based Surrogacy Program

Janno, from Estonia, and Matthias, from Belgium, were accepted into the "Childlessness Overcome Through Surrogacy" Program.

Janno Talu, an accountant, and Matthias Nijs, an art gallery director, were born in different parts of Europe. Janno, 39, is from Estonia, and Matthias, 28, is from Belgium. Their paths crossed when the two moved to London, each from their different corners of the European Union.

Janno relocated to London earlier than Matthias, when he was 24, and his main reason for the move was his sexuality. "Although Estonia is considered one of the more progressive countries in Eastern Europe, when it comes to gay rights, it is still decades behind Western society in terms of tolerance," said Janno. "And things are not moving in the right direction." In 2016, same-sex civil union became legal, but the junior party in the current coalition government is seeking to repeal the same-sex partnership bill. "In addition," Janno continued, "they wish to include the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman in the country's constitution. Even today, there are people in Estonia who liken homosexuality to pedophilia, which is why I decided to start a new life in the UK, where I could finally be myself."

Keep reading...
Surrogacy for Gay Men

Interested in Surrogacy? Check Out These Bay Area Events This Weekend

If you're in the Bay Area this weekend, two major events are happening that will be of interest for dads-to-be and surrogacy advocates: the Men Having Babies San Francisco Conference, and the SF Advocacy and Research Forum for Surrogacy and LGBT Parenting (ARF)

If you're in San Francisco or the surrounding area, clear your calendar this weekend. Two events are happening simultaneously that are significant for dads-to-be AND surrogacy advocates: the Men Having Babies San Francisco Conference, and the SF Advocacy and Research Forum for Surrogacy and LGBT Parenting (ARF). For an outlines of both events, check out below.

Keep reading...
News

Gay Dads Show Up at Boston Event to Drown Out Anti-Trans Protesters

When Trystan Reese found out protesters were planning to show up to an event in Boston he was presenting at, he put out a call to his community for help — and gay dads showed up.

A couple months ago, Trystan Reese, a gay, trans dad based in Portland, Oregon, took to Instagram to share a moving, if incredibly concerning, experience. Reese, who works with Family Equality Council, was speaking at an event in Boston, and learned before his appearance that a group of protesters were planning to attend.

"As a trans person, I was terrified to be targeted by anti-LGBTQ people and experienced genuine fear for my own safety," Trystan wrote. In response, he did what many LGBTQ people would do in a similar situation — reach out to his community in Boston, and ask for their support. "And they came," he wrote. But it wasn't just anyone within the LGBTQ community that came to his defense, he emphasized — "you know who came? Gay men. Gay dads, to be exact. They came, ready to block people from coming in, ready to call building security, ready to protect me so I could lead my event. They did it without question and without reward. They did it because it was the right thing to do."

Keep reading...

Fatherhood, the gay way

Get the latest from Gays With Kids delivered to your inbox!

Follow Gays With Kids

Powered by RebelMouse