Gay Dad Life

Some Gay Dads Just Don’t Feel Gay Anymore

Gays With Kids writer David Dodge reviews the new gay play “DADA WOOF PAPA HOT” and talks with playwright Peter Parnell and director Scott Ellis, currently at the Lincoln Center Theater in New York City. To take advantage of the special discount ticket price of just $55 (regular $87) for any performance now through January 3, register with code DWPHGWK55. 


Move over “Kinky Boots," there’s a new gay show in town. But unlike the sparkle, glam, and drag we’ve come to expect from most Broadway shows with a queer focus, Peter Parnell’s “DADA WOOF PAPA HOT,” directed by Scott Ellis, gives the theatrical treatment to a newer area of the LGBTQ experience: parenthood.

“DADA WOOF” opens with a couple, Alan (John Benjamin Hickey) and Rob (Patrick Breen), dining with fellow gay dad couple Jason (Alex Hurt) and Scott (Stephen Plunkett). But as the couples discuss the banality of all things parenthood and marriage – “What kindergarten did you get into?” “What doctor do you use?” “Let’s arrange a play date!” – I found myself hoping a confused “Kinky Boots" queen might stumble into the wrong theater to liven things up with a death drop or two.

That, however, is exactly the point (or one of several) that “DADA WOOF” is attempting to make: In the era of gay marriage, gay parenting, and gay divorce – which, in most respects, all look pretty damn similar to their straight equivalents – what does it really mean to be “gay” anymore?

This is a question embodied most obviously in the show’s character, Alan, who waxes poetic throughout the show about his slow descent into heteronormativity. Alan finds himself bemoaning a sexless marriage, for example, right alongside his straight friend Michael (John Pankow); or worrying that the music blasting from his neighbor’s Fire Island share might disturb nap time.

It’s a not so subtle reminder to the gay men in the audience that, not all that long ago, these qualms were once the domain of our heterosexual brethren. The sentiment reaches its pinnacle about halfway through the show when Alan utters a simple phrase: “I just don’t feel gay anymore.”

John Benjamin Hickey and Alex Hurt in a scene from Lincoln Center Theater’s production of “DADA WOOF PAPA HOT.” Photo credit: Joan Marcus

It’s a controversial statement when you think about it. What does it mean to not “feel gay” anymore when a gay man marries and becomes a parent? Are gay men somehow less part of the LGBT community when they start families? Do we forfeit our gay card once we’re too busy with soccer practice and couples counseling to be bothered to douse ourselves in glitter and head to a Robyn concert?

Controversial, maybe; but judging by the number of heads I saw nodding in the theater following Alan’s pronouncement, it would seem the struggle to reconcile one’s sexuality with marriage and parenthood is one with which many a gay dad wrestles.

“Historically, as gay men, we have been defined by our sexuality,” Peter said, when I asked him why he thought gay dads might connect with Alan's predicament. “But the very act of being parents, and dealing with childhood, de-eroticizes sex. I think as gay dads we are always aware of that kind of tension.”

But for Peter, the phrase “I just don’t feel gay anymore,” isn't just about Alan's personal struggles. It also speaks to a larger cultural moment in which we find ourselves as a community, particularly since same-sex marriage, the cornerstone of the LGBTQ community’s fight for equality for the last decade, was legalized earlier this year by the Supreme Court.

“Journalists especially have been asking: Where do we go from here? How much have we been assimilated into the culture? How much outside the culture are we still? And what about those of us who self-identity as being outsiders, especially those of us who are older? That’s a question that [Alan] is asking for many of us.”

That marriage and children are now accessible to gay men is something that Peter marvels at, and he credits our access to such a heteronormative lifestyle to the considerable losses suffered by the gay community.

“We gained legal protections that were the emotional payout of the AIDS crisis,” Peter said plainly. “It’s in no way over, but there’s been an extraordinary change. We lost so many of us, and yet, in losing so many of us, so many straight people were touched by the losses of sons and family members and lovers. And then we fought for protection, and then institutionalized protection, for loved ones.”

But “DADA WOOF“ isn’t a play about the AIDS crisis. It’s also not about drag queens, or hedonistic revelry on Fire Island. But the very lack of these components in what is still ultimately a “gay” play is what is so notable; for Alan, a character who came of age at a time when being gay was more narrowly defined, is it any wonder, now that he’s married with children, that he finds himself in the midst of a gay identity crisis?

***

Director Scott Ellis and his husband Scott Drummond with their two children, Parker and Charlotte

In their work on “DADA WOOF,” neither the show’s writer, Peter Parnell, nor director, Scott Ellis, needed to dig too deep for inspiration – both are gay, in long-term relationships, and are fathers to 6-year-old children.

“I’ve never been in a room where I was as confident about what I was talking about,” Scott laughed, noting that most of the cast, including the two leads, are childless. “It felt great to be able to say, ‘You want to hear another story about what it’s like having kids? Well, this is my experience.’”

Another similarity between Peter and Scott: They both became fathers slightly later in life than most. And the generational difference between younger and older gay parents serves as an undercurrent throughout “DADA WOOF.

“Marriage and kids were never even a possibility when I was growing up,” Scott said, who along with his husband is a father to 6-year-old twins, a boy and a girl. But in today’s world, it's an unavoidable topic.  “You’ll just have to talk about it. If you are coupled up, and certainly if you are married, children will just have to be discussed. That wasn’t the case 10 years ago.”

For Peter, much of the impetus for writing "DADA WOOF” came from his experience of becoming a father later in life. “[My husband] Justin and I had been in a long-term relationship as a pair for so long,” Peter said. He and Justin, in fact, had been together 14 years before their daughter came into their lives. “It was just the two of us for so long. So there were some interesting feelings about what happens when a young child comes to a couple who, until then, had been a family.”

“DADA WOOF” writer Peter Parnell and director Scott Ellis on Opening Night

When his daughter was younger, Peter’s household began to experience some things likely familiar to many parents:  insecurities about being a first-time father, competitiveness between parents, and thoughts of whether or not the child loves one parent more than the other. “I would talk to straight friends and they’d say, ‘Oh, that’s going to change.’ And I’d think, Well, maybe it’ll change, but who knows? Especially when it’s two guys.”

So was Peter saying there is something inherently different about the experience of gay and straight parenthood?

“No, I don’t think I’m saying that,” Peter said thoughtfully after a moment. He admitted, though, that it’s a question he poses but leaves intentionally unanswered in his play.

“I think we’re going to find out where the similarities and differences are over time. I didn’t pose an answer; I pose a question. Where are there similarities? Where are there differences?”

Intentional or not, there are examples of where “DADA WOOF“ draws some distinctions about the gay parenting experience, an obvious example being the various paths to parenthood gay men have to choose from compared to our straight counterparts. Do you adopt or foster? Do you co-parent? Do you use a surrogate and an egg donor?

“DADA WOOF“ explores the experience of the latter, and some of the questions that can arise when only one part of a couple is biologically related to a child. In one scene, for example, Alan and Rob are attempting to put their three-year-old daughter to bed, but she wants a scary story read to her first. Alan tries to read her the story, but the little girl cries out for her father Rob to read it instead.

On the surface, it’s an innocuous moment, one that could unfold in any household, straight or gay. But it takes on special significance for Alan, as the non-biological parent, and the character wonders aloud: Does biology play a role in his daughter’s preference for Rob?

“I didn’t think it would matter,” he says ominously, about his decision to allow his husband the opportunity to be the biological parent.

Infidelity is another interesting theme throughout “DADA WOOF,” and one that takes many forms depending on the couple in question. One couple finds a sexual dalliance outside the confines of marriage acceptable, for instance, others view it as a transgression.

“In gay relationships, we’ve certainly had more fluid rules in the past,” Scott said. “But how do those rules translate when you’re parents and married? Does it get redefined?”

Peter never claims that the subject of open relationships is something specific to gay dads – obviously plenty of lesbian and straight couples have experience with the matter as well – but the play does seem to underline the complexities that can accompany a more fluid arrangement when kids and marriage enter the picture.

“I think everybody, but especially older gay dads, are still dealing with the history of being outsiders in the culture,” Peter said of these difficulties. “And I’ve been specific in balancing the play both in terms in what’s happening in the gay and straight marriages, even if things turn out differently for each couple.

***

Patrick Breen and Benjamin Hickey in a scene from Lincoln Center Theater’s production of “DADA WOOF PAPA HOT.” Photo credit: Joan Marcus

Whether you’re a gay or straight, older or younger, or biologically related to your kids or not, “DADA WOOF” will strike a chord in most parents. And despite any differences the play highlights, ultimately “DADA WOOF” seems to say that the shared experience of parenthood does more to erase disparities between parents rather than create them.

“You’re a parent first,” Peter said. “There is a connection that happens between parents just from the fact that your children are becoming friends with one another. So if you are parents with kids that are the same age, you’re going through the same thing. It’s a bonding experience.”

Scott agreed. “I see absolutely no difference between gay and straight parents, or with sex and marriages,” he added. “How does it all change over the years? I'm finding it's not all that different." He did note, however, one unintended consequence of a household headed by two men.

“My partner and I have no taste when it comes to girls’ clothes,” he laughed. “Our daughter sometimes looks like one of the Golden Girls. How can two gay men be so bad at this? So we’re desperately reaching out to our women friends saying, ‘Please, take our daughter shopping!’”

But if the only real difference between gay and straight families is that we can’t help but dress our daughters like Sophia Petrillo, then maybe Peter’s antihero, Alan, is right: Maybe we do lose a bit of our "gayness" when we embark on a path towards marriage and fatherhood.

And as we move towards embracing the historically “hetero” institutions of marriage and family – institutions from which we’ve long been excluded – maybe we do risk becoming so integrated into the dominant culture that the only place we’re likely to see a drag queen anymore is right alongside the pearl-clutching Midwestern tourists who populate the balcony seats of “Kinky Boots. (And even then, only if we can find a sitter in time.)

Is assimilation such a bad thing? Peter, again, leaves this question unanswered. But at least one view of “DADA WOOF” is that it serves as a sort of warning to the would-be gay parents of the world – tread carefully, fellow homosexuals, or risk assimilation into a white picket-fenced cybernetic Borg from which you’ll never escape.

“Some might see the play as a cautionary tale,” Peter admitted, but that’s not necessarily what he’s attempting to convey with “DADA WOOF.” By way of example, he points out that his character Alan, who struggles throughout most of the play to reconcile his identities as a gay man, husband and father, ends up in a much difference place by the end of the show.

“He goes on a journey of self-involvement,” Peter says. “He’s learning to listen to the needs of the child and place those need in front of his own needs.  It’s one all parents know. There’s enormous truth in parenthood and it brings enormous gifts with it. It’s not without its challenges, of course, but if you go into this being mindful, with eyes open, you can learn to place the needs of another before you. And then parenthood can bring great gifts.”

But so, too, of course, can drag queens.

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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.

Gay Dad Life

Gays With Kids Turns Five!

Wow! Time certainly flies when you're busy becoming the world's biggest online resource and magazine for gay, bi and trans dads!

As if we don't have enough going on this June (Stonewall's 50th anniversary! Father's Day! Taylor Swift rounding up all the gays in West Hollywood for her latest music video!) we're also celebrating another milestone here at Gays With Kids: we're officially turning five this month. (And we don't look a day over two, right?!)

To celebrate, we took a look back at some of our most popular essays, photos, news stories and more. What do you want to see us cover in the NEXT five years? Let us know at dads@gayswithkids.com


#10. The Hardest Part of Foster Care? The Wait, Say These Dads-to-Be

Several years ago, we brought you this article: The Hardest Part of Foster Care? The Wait, Say These Dads-to-Be. The article included a video of Antwon and Nate, who were in the midst of their process to become foster dads, which quickly became one of our most popular posts of all time. In this video, they shared how difficult it was waiting for "the" call from the agency letting them know their lives would be forever changed once a child came to live with them.

Want to see how the dads are getting on several years later? Check out this updated video here!

#9. Famous Gay Dads and Their Kids!

Our article, Famous Gay Dads and Their Kids, featuring well-known gay dads from Neil Patrick Harris to Ryan Murphy, quickly became one of our most popular. In the years since, as the ranks of gay dads has continued to grow, we've brought you MANY more stories of gay men in the limelight who are venturing into fatherhood. Check them all out here!

#8. The Story Behind America's Youngest Gay Dad

The Story Behind America's Youngest Gay Dad, which ran back in 2015, is also one of our most popular posts of all time! The post explores the story of Brian Mariano, who became a father with an ex-girlfriend while still in high school. "Everybody in my life is really supportive of me," he said. "If it's someone new and a friend mentions I'm a dad, they will stop. 'Wait, what? How are you a dad? You're gay.' It's like that 'Mean Girls' quote sometimes. You know – 'if you're from Africa, why are you white?'"

#7. When His Son Got a Tattoo, He Freaked Out. Then He Saw What it Was

This article, When His Son Got a Tattoo, He Freaked Out, definitely plucked the heartstrings of our readers! Which is why it's one of the most popular articles on our site of all time.

"Guess what dad I'm getting a tattoo," Richard's son, Jonathan, texted him. "Don't you dare," was Richard's response. But Jonathan went ahead with it anyway. At first, his dad "fumed." But then he found out what the tattoo was.

"So I got my first tattoo!!" Jonathan wrote on Facebook, of his roman numeral tattoo on his side. "This date is the day that my life changed. This is the day my dads adopted me. The greatest day in my life knowing that for the rest of my life I would finally have a loving family that loved me for me!" (Another one of our most popular posts is this photo essay of gay dads who explain the meaning behind their tattoos.)

#6. 8 Black Dads Share What Black History Month Means to Their Families

Last year, during February's Black History Month, we ran an article titled 8 Black Dads Share What Black History Month Means to Their Families. To create the post, we asked our community a simple question: as a Black gay dad, what does this month mean to you, your family, and your community? The answers we got back were reflective, poignant and deeply moving, which is why this article became one of our most-viewed ever.

Check out the story here.

#5. 19 Photos of Matt Dallas & Blue Hamilton That Will Make You Green with Parenting Envy

Ok the popularity of this article, 19 Photos of Matt Dallas & Blue Hamilton That Will Make You Green with Parenting Envy, doesn't need that much explanation. Gorgeous, talented, successful and good dads? What's not to love! Also check out this more recent post, Things Husbands (and Gay Dads) Do According to Matt Dallas and Blue Hamilton, which is also quickly climbing the ranks of our most popular!

#4. A Gay Dad's Message From His Heart to his Facebook Friends

This article, A Gay Dad's Message From the Heart to his Facebook Friends, by gay dad Michael Anderson, ran in the troubling aftermath of the 2016 Presidential election, when so many LGBTQ people, our allies, and other vulnerable communities looked (and continue to look) towards an uncertain future.

"Suddenly I don't feel secure anymore," Michael wrote. "Vice president-elect Pence has an extensive anti-gay record from supporting gay conversion therapy on kids that literally includes trying to (but failing to) electro-shock the gay out, to signing legislation in his state in 2013 to jail any same-sex couple who attempted to get a marriage certificate. All of the progress that we have made that gives my family a sense of belonging and security is very likely to be erased."

For more of our ongoing political coverage, including the 2020 race, check out these articles as well.

#3. Helping Gay Men Afford Adoption Through Sizable Grants

Our third most popular article, Helping Gay Men Afford Adoption Through Sizable Grants, features our good friends Help Us Adopt, an amazing non-profit organization that helps adoptive parents offset the substantial costs associated with the process. They are also dedicated to inclusivity, and are one of the few financial resources available for gay adoptive parents. Check out this great profile of their work!

#2. 9 Times Gay Dads Crushed Their Pregnancy Announcement Pics

Gay dads love a good photo opportunity. So obviously this photo essay of gay dad pregnancy announcement pics is high up on our list as well. This photo essay, 9 Times Gay Men Crushed Their Pregnancy Announcement Pics, is our second most popular. Check out this most recent roundup of pregnancy announcement pics, which is also climbing the

And Our MOST Viewed Article of All Time Is... 

Gay dads do Halloween right! So it's no surprise that this article, 13 Dads Giving You Major Family Halloween Costume Goals, is our most viewed of all time! And though Halloween may still be months away, why not prepare early with a look at some of our other most popular Halloween articles!

Gay Dads Snap Pics at the Pumpkin Patch
Nobody Does Halloween Like Neil Patrick Harris and Fam
31 Gay Dads Serving Major Halloween Costume Inspo (and Where to Get The Looks!)
Get Your DIY Skills On for Halloween, Dads!







THANK YOU!

Lastly, a big thank you to all of our readers! It's thanks to you that we now can claim the biggest online community of gay, bi, and trans dads in the world (not to mention two GLAAD award nominations ;) We can't wait to see what the next five years bring!

Gay Dad Life

Most Fathers Experience "Dad Shaming," Says Study

52% of dads with kids ages 0-13 say they experience some form of criticism from their partners, family, friends and even complete strangers

Just in time for Father's Day, The T.C. Mott Children's Hospital in Michigan released a new national poll of 713 fathers that found a majority experience some form of criticisms as new parents. While we have long known new mothers are subjected to criticism, less studies have focused on the experiences of dads.

About half of fathers (52%) say they have been criticized about their parenting style or choices. The common source of criticism is the child's other parent (44%), though the report didn't explore if this finding was equally true for LGBTQ couples. Grandparents (24%) and the father's own friends (9%) were also common sources of criticism. Dads even reported receiving criticism about their parenting from strangers in public places or online (10%), as well as professionals like teachers or health care providers (5%).

Among some of the findings:

  • 67% of dads say they were criticized for how they discipline their child
  • 43% are criticized for their children's diet and nutrition
  • 32% are criticized for not paying attention to their children
  • 32% are criticized for being too rough with their kids

"Over one quarter of fathers in this Mott Poll noted that criticism made them feel less confident in their parenting, and 1 in 5 fathers said that criticism made them want to be less involved as a parent," the report says. "In short, too much disparagement can cause fathers to be demoralized about their parental role. This is unfortunate for both father and child, and those tempted to criticize fathers should be wary of this potential consequence."

Read the whole report here.

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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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.

Surrogacy for Gay Men

What Professionals Will I Work With on a Surrogacy Journey?

There will be LOTS of people involved in your surrogacy journey. Kristin Marsoli of Circle Surrogacy breaks down the team of people you can expect to work with.

A surrogacy journey, while monumental, is also a complex process with multiple milestones, many of which are new territory for intended parents. You will likely form the strongest relationships with your egg donor and surrogate, however there are many other professionals who you'll encounter on your journey who will educate and support you on your way to parenthood.

Here are the types of professionals you can expect to work with on your surrogacy journey working with an agency such as Circle Surrogacy & Egg Donation:

Parent Outreach Team

When you start your research on surrogacy and surrogacy agencies, if you contact Circle Surrogacy, your first point of contact will be a member of our Parent Outreach Team. This person solely supports intended parents at the very beginning stages of their journeys, before they've signed on with an agency. The Parent Outreach Team is a wonderful resource to answer questions about the surrogacy process, surrogacy costs, how to choose an agency and more. At Circle, many of our Parent Outreach Associates are also parents through surrogacy, so they can share their experiences and understand exactly what it's like to be in your shoes. When you have your surrogacy consultation, you'll meet with a Parent Outreach Associate and a Lawyer to discuss your personal surrogacy needs and journey. Your Parent Outreach Team will support you through signing on with the agency.

Circle's Parent Outreach Team

Egg Donation Matching Coordinator

It's time to match with the first of two women who will be very important in your journey to parenthood: your egg donor! Selecting an egg donor may come easy to some, but others may take more time determining their perfect match. Our egg donor coordination team will help you find the right egg donor to meet your needs. They will help you navigate the egg donor database and coordinate your egg donor match.

IVF Doctor and Clinic Coordinators

You'll work closely with your IVF clinic professionals, including coordinators and, especially, your doctor. Your IVF doctor will advise you on your IVF journey and embryos, evaluate your egg donor and surrogate to determine they are ready for the process medically, and perform the egg retrieval and embryo transfer. Some intended parents come to surrogacy having already identified a clinic, others look for guidance in choosing a clinic that will best suit their needs.

Program Manager and Coordinator

Perhaps the professionals you will work the closest with will be your Program Manager (PM) and Program Coordinator (PC). As your journey support team, your PC and/or PM will be your day-to-day contact during your entire journey, from the moment you sign on with the agency, until the birth of your baby and beyond. Your PC and your PM ensure that you are meeting every milestone, having a smooth journey, and preparing for the arrival of your baby(ies).

Social Workers

Early on in your journey, you'll have an intended parent support call with one of the agency's social workers. During this call, you'll speak with the social worker about your upcoming journey, setting up expectations, talk about matching preferences and more. Social workers are also available to intended parents throughout their journey should they have a bump in the road, or if they need help navigating and talking through a situation.

L-R Alicia Abdella, Manager of Intended Parent Support and Social Worker, Jessica McCaffrey, Intended Parent Attorney and Scott Buckley, VP of Client Services

Lawyers (both at Circle and local attorneys)

During the surrogacy process you will work with a lawyer for the following milestones:

  • Drafting, negotiating and finalizing your surrogacy contracts
  • Establishing your parental rights
  • Safely returning home

Intended parents will be assigned a Circle attorney who will be part of the Coordination team. Parents can also expect to work with local counsel – lawyers who work out of the state from which their gestational carrier resides. Local counsel will help with establishing parental rights.

Surrogate Matching Team

A key milestone during your surrogacy journey is matching with your gestational carrier. At Circle, the Matching Manager – who is also a lawyer – presents intended parents with the profile of a gestational carrier whom she believes will be a great match. The match is based on a few criteria: legal fit, personality fit, geographic location and views on surrogacy. The Matching Team will help coordinate your first call with your potential surrogate, and work with you to find the most suitable match.

Trust Accountant Team

Each surrogacy operates a little differently; however if you work with a full-service agency such as Circle Surrogacy, a Trust Accountant will manage any outgoing payments to surrogates, egg donors and third parties. Upon matching, trust accountants keep intended parents informed of the monies needed to fund all expected expenses up until 6 months post delivery. They can also answer any financial questions intended parents may have.

Medical Billing Team

Intended parents will interact with the Medical Billing Team when they are matched with their gestational carrier. The team determines what intended parents can expect to pay for medical expenses from local monitoring, pregnancy and delivery, based on their specific case. The Medical Billing Team also reviews each medical bill from monitoring, physicians and the hospital prior to payment to ensure accuracy, and advocate for intended parents should medical facilities need to be called for any discrepancies.

Gestational Carrier's OBGYN

Around the 10th week of pregnancy, the IVF clinic will discharge your surrogate from their care and she will start seeing her OBGYN. Your surrogate will select her OBGYN that is local to her, and usually the same doctor she saw for her own pregnancies. Many intended parents attend the 20-week ultrasound with their surrogate, at which time they meet the OBGYN in person (in some cases, IPs have been "attended" ultrasound appointments via video on their surrogate's phone!).

The entire team at Circle

Hospital Staff

Your baby will be delivered at a hospital in your gestational carrier's home state; many times, it's the hospital where she delivered her own children. Circle recommends touring the Labor & Delivery section of your surrogate's hospital to help familiarize yourself with its staff and layout in advance. Many intended parents combine their visit for the 20-week ultrasound and the hospital tour. Touring the hospital with your surrogate enables you both to ask questions of the hospital staff and prepare for baby's delivery.

Embassy personnel (international intended parents)

International parents will work with their agency's legal team as well as local counsel to ensure they can return home safely. Some intended parents will need to travel to the embassy to secure travel documents for their baby(ies).

There are so many experienced professionals involved in a surrogacy and egg donation journey. It's important to understand with whom you'll be working throughout each milestone. While every agency operates differently – and an independent surrogacy journey will involve fewer agency professionals – these are the professionals intended parents can expect to work with on a journey with Circle Surrogacy. And because Circle is a full-service agency, many of the professionals mentioned above – outside of IVF clinics, local attorneys, hospital and embassy personnel – are all under one roof, making the management of your journey smooth and secure.

Fatherhood, the gay way

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