Gay Dad Life

When Someone Calls Adoption "Buying New Sh*t"

This is the seventh article in Anthony Romeo’s series about his adoption journey. Read the first article in the series.


This piece contains some vulgarities thinly disguised by asterisks. Reader discretion (or creativity) is advised.

Sorry gang, no cute cat pictures this time. I don’t have a heartwarming story to tell you about a valuable life lesson we’ve picked up on the road to parenthood. I don’t even have any funny one-liners for you. I’m angry, mad as hell this time, and if you really want to stick along for the whole ride, not just the cute stuff, then you’ll take the good, you’ll take the bad, you’ll take them both, and there you’ll have … the launch of a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for our adoption expenses.

We launched ours on Black Friday, accompanied by a post on Gays With Kids, thinking it was a clever way to maximize the opportunity to help us expedite our own fundraising process, and to, yes, “cash in” on an industry-driven spending-spree. Why wouldn’t we take advantage of a socially acceptable monetary hemorrhage to try to make our family happen?

We were met with a really glowing launch, getting donations from friends and family from day one, on each consecutive day. We raised over $1300 in our first week. People were leaving sweet comments on our GoFundMe page, we were getting encouraging text messages, things felt like they were moving in the direction we’d envisioned.

And then I decided to reach out to friends on social media. Again, mostly positive. But the picture here, lovely readers, is not as rosy as you’d realize from a quick gander at our GoFundMe page. I had a conversation with a friend who had previously donated to a charity with which I was working, and his thoughts are worth sharing. Because if I’m angry about it, maybe you will be too. Or, maybe you’ll tell me that he’s right. Here’s how he started his thoughts.

“Frankly, if you and Dom can’t raise those $20,000 in adoption expenses over a relatively short period of time ... How in the world do you think you’ll be able to support a child for the next 25 years or so? Kids aren’t free, kids aren’t cheap, and it’s wholly unreasonable to feel that you could raise your child on donated funds forever.”

Let’s call my gut reaction sticker shock. I wanted to call him an a***ole. I did not. I decided to take what I thought could be a teaching moment and use it to help someone understand the way the process works.

My response was, “Almost everyone can afford to raise a kid; they aren’t the most expensive thing in the world. It takes budgeting, and restructuring, and sacrifice, absolutely, but it’s doable. To complete a home study at $1,500, fine, totally doable. We are then shown to a birth mother, and if she places her baby with us, that other $19,000 is due immediately. No payment plans, no options. Write the check or there’s no kid.”

I felt like he wasn’t understanding that there’s a $20,000 upfront cost before you even get a baby, which then costs you money. Comparing the cost of upfront adoption fees to a child’s 25-year life cycle as a dependent wasn’t accurate, and it doesn’t hold water as an argument.

He continued, “I know nothing of the process of adoption, I do know something about buying things on credit when you don’t have the income to do so otherwise.”

Fuming. We’d literally worked for days on our GoFundMe script, filmed for over four hours to get the right angles and the right footage, asked my brother-in-law and his friend to volunteer their time to edit and format it for us at no cost, and planned our course of action for months prior to launching the fundraising campaign. And it was being boiled down to buying expensive Nikes that we couldn’t afford.

To obtain $20,000 sooner rather than later has always been the goal. Dom’s 33, I’m 30. Raising money on our own, and trying to hit $20,000 would take time. And hear me: We are saving money, independent of GoFundMe. Once that money is raised, it might take another few years to actually have a baby placed. Age is a consideration, and people feel the need to become parents at different points in their lives. Dom and I feel it now.

My friend added, “Either you can’t afford to save enough to pay the fees, which brings me to question your ability to afford a child. Or you can afford a child, but you choose not to wait to save on your own and instead are soliciting others ... I just don’t understand how you don’t understand that you’re asking me to give up buying some new sh*t for myself to buy some new sh*t for you.”

That’s about as low as you can make a person feel. And it immediately made me second-guess everything Dom and I were doing.

A song called “Die Vampire, Die,” written by the brilliant Jeff Bowen for the musical [title of show], defines a vampire as “any person or thought or feeling that stands between you and your creative self expression.” The song asks, “Why is it that if some dude walked up to me on the subway platform and said these things, I’d think he was a mentally ill a***ole, but if the vampire inside my head says it, it’s the voice of reason.”

And that’s exactly what this stupid Facebook conversation did to me. It put me too much in my own head. Because, truth be told, I’d heard this kind of sentiment expressed a bit less crudely from other folks. It filled me with doubt and insecurity. I worried that people were misunderstanding the reason we were launching a GoFundMe, and suddenly a campaign designed to raise money, to create a pathway of kindness and generosity for our future kid to retrace, had been bastardized, characterized as the exact thing we’d worked so hard to avoid.

Earlier in my professional life, before the term “marriage equality," I canvassed for the Human Rights Campaign. And for a year and a half, I was the guy that stood on the sidewalk and tried to stop pedestrians by asking, “Hey, do you have a minute for gay rights?” I was spit on, called a faggot, told that I had AIDS, I was told that all gays should be forced to live on a separate island. I had a woman stand behind me as I tried to work, screaming the word “ABOMINATION” over and over for almost an hour. I was threatened, and harassed, and bullied, and I endured it all with a smile on my face because I knew a day in my life would come when I’d want the right to marry, just for me, and I could feel that I’d earned it. I stood in the pouring rain, and the freezing cold, in blizzards and heat waves, to make life better for my entire community. When you go through the sheer hell that comes with that work, fundraising for your own adoption process by telling cute stories to strangers online seemed like child’s play. My, how the mighty have fallen, eh readers?

And so this time, there’s no cute ending, there’s no happy tag at the end of the column designed to make you giggle and feel good. There’s just me left hoping that I didn’t seriously misjudge the way things would shake out, hoping that perception isn’t always reality. And still, under it all, hoping to find the right road to being a dad, whatever the “right road” turns out to be.

So, here’s where I stand. I’m going to ask the people who love us, who support us, and who want us to be parents and are willing to help, to help. In the same way that I can make the choice to ask, you can make the choice to decline, the country’s free that way. You can also choose to be an a** in the way you talk to me, but it doesn’t change the fact that $20,000 is a lot of money, money that we don’t have now, and that’s what we’re asking for. We’re perfectly capable of financing the raising of our child, thank you very much.

I’ve got to learn how to be more goal-focused, and to stop letting vampires distract me from the most important part of all of this, and that’s bringing a baby, our baby, home.

And so if giving makes sense for you, then by all means, give. You can give once, you can choose to give monthly. Because either way, you’ll be part of the network of people to whom we will always be connected, and for whom we’ll always be grateful.

Me? I’ll be the guy in the corner reminding himself that sometimes, the only vampires he’s got the power to slay are the ones inside his own head.

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

"Rollercoaster and Sons," Explores the Journey of One Single Gay Dad Through the Foster-Adopt System

When it comes to the foster-adopt system, "there is no roadmap," said single gay dad Chase Turner

Guest post written by Chase Turner

Many of us thought long and hard about what avenues were best to pursue being a dad. For me, fostering to adoption was the selected road. There is no roadmap here, many things that came my way were learned by doing. Along the way, I started wishing I had a better support group or people who could understand what it's like to be gay and attempting to adopt. Often we (people who are LGBT) feel scrutinized and judged for choices that the majority makes but for us there is pushback. Once my adoption was complete, I felt it was necessary that I put pen to paper and write this story, from a gay male perspective.

My goal was to provide a voice in the space of foster care and adoption where there is a void. Additionally, I wanted to provide an authentic look at all facets of the process, from the kids, to the obstacles and challenges that happened within my personal life. I do hope you enjoy and more importantly can relate or prepare yourself for a similar journey.

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This Couple is Using 'Wheel of Fortune' Winnings to Help Fund Their Adoption

Need to raise money for your adoption fund? Why not try your luck on Wheel of Fortune like these guys!

Doug and Nick Roberts connected three and a half years ago via a dating app, and on their first date, the two immediately felt a connection. Doug, a psychologist, and Nick, a neuroscientist, were married 18 months later. Today the couple live in the suburbs of Philadelphia, and they're ready to start their next exciting adventure together: fatherhood.

The husbands would like to have children, and Nick has always wanted to adopt. "We considered surrogacy, and may consider it in the future as we expand our family," said Doug, "but right now, it is cost-prohibitive. Adoption was easily the right choice for us as we begin to grow our family.

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"Daddy, Which Belly Did I Come From?"

How do gay dads talk to their kids about the women that helped bring them into the world?

When you tell your kids the story of how they came to be, is the woman who delivered them identified by a face and a name? That's a decision that every gay dad has to make when it comes to having kids through surrogacy or adoption. In this episode we explored two ways of keeping in touch with the birthmother (for adoptive kids) or the gestational surrogate (for IVF and surrogacy) as part of gay dads' children's birth story.Some adoptive parents choose to have an 'open adoption,' where the child gets to meet the birthmother. Parents who go through surrogacy sometimes keep in touch with the surrogate and have their kids meet her when they are old enough.

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'Our Family is Complete': Congrats to Gay Dads on Their Recent Births and Adoptions!

Join us in congratulating all of the gay men in our community whose families grew recently!

Wishing all of these gay dads congratulations on their exciting news this month. From becoming first-time dads to finalizing adoptions, congrats to everyone in our community on their wonderful news!

Circle Surrogacy is the proud sponsor of this month's congrats post. They were founded in 1995 on the belief that everyone should have the opportunity to be a parent. "For over 20 years we've helped LGBTQ+ couples and singles around the world fulfill their dreams of parenthood. We've helped bring more than 1,900 babies into this world... and counting!"

Congratulations to Andrew and Edward on finalizing the adoptions of their twins!

For Andrew and Edward, their foster parent training plus home study took about a year. "We had a brief placement of twin girls that were four years old two months after we had been approved," said Andrew. "Then we took a break as it was a difficult process, the 'loss' aspect, when that placement ended."

Then on March 15, 2017, their case worker sent them information about two little babies - a boy and a girl - that were still in the NICU and only nine days old. "It was a foster case with an uncertain future, but we decided those little babies needed us!" They dads took a leap of faith and on July 10 this year, their twins' adoptions were finalized. Andrew and Edward have a wonderful bond with the paternal grandmother as well as a special relationship with the twins' father. "We all love these twins, and the more love they have the better their lives will be."

"Adoption is one of those experiences where one side experiences incredible joy while the other side experiences incredible loss," continued Andrew. "We are grateful to experience this joy knowing that biological family members are happy for us to experience that joy."

Congratulations to this Mt Airy, Philadelphia, forever family of four!

Congratulations to Sean and Thomas on finalizing the adoptions of their twins!

Together 15 years, London couple Sean and Thomas recently finalized the adoption of their twins.

"About 3 years ago we started meeting adoption agencies and were approved as prospective adopters the following spring," shared Thomas. "We were anticipating a long wait, but quite quickly were matched with our twins. At the time they were nearly five."

After a fairly long transition period for everyone to get settled in, the adoption was formalized the day after Father's Day. "Two years after matching, at times it seems like the kids have been with us forever and other times a blink of an eye. But it is certainly the most life-changing, transformative experience and we cannot imagine life without them. It's wonderful that our family is now official!"

Congratulations to Phillip and Clinton on the birth of their daughter Madison!

Little Madison joined her dads on July 1, 2019, after coming into the world via surrogate.

"I caught Madison as she was born," said Phillip. "I have never felt such an exhilarating rush in my entire life! We were genuinely in love at first sight!"

Now that we Phillip and Clinton are dads, they say they feel a "sense of wholeness" in their lives! "We have a new motivation and purpose in life! It's truly the greatest blessing!"

These new dads and the apple of their eye live in Texas.

Congratulations to Michael and Tyler on the birth of their twins, Elliot and Oliver!

Herriman, Utah, couple Michael and Tyler have been together for 9 years, and married for 3. "In the beginning of our relationship we knew how important family was and how much we wanted to be dads," said Micheal. "After we got married we met with a couple surrogacy agencies and were advised to meet with an IVF clinic before proceeding. In doing so, we found that going through a surrogacy journey independently was very possible."

So the dads decided to shift gears and work in that direction, booking a follow up appointment with the clinic. "We met with their 3rd party coordinator over the surrogate process and she did not have any inquiries of any surrogates." Serendipitously, and unbeknownst to the husbands at the time, their future surrogate made an appointment to talk about being a gestational carrier for a same-sex couple. "The next day we got the unexpected call that someone was interested and open to meet. From there the rest was history as we continued with the surrogacy process."

Over a year later, the dads welcomed their two sons. "The first time we got to hold the boys, it felt so natural to us, as if nothing else in the world existed and time stood still as we got lost in the moment."

Congratulations to Adam and Josh on finalizing the adoption of their daughter!

Adam and Josh got engaged on Good Morning America on Valentines Day, and welcomed their Christmas miracle baby into their lives on December 26th. On July 12 this year, they celebrated becoming a forever family of three.

"For an event that always seemed like it would be the end of our adoption journey, Baby K's Finalization Day felt more like the beginning of a greater adventure," shared Adam. "Since day one, Baby K was always loved and 100% part of our family, but we are so filled with joy to see this day come and make it officially official. We cannot wait to spend the rest of our lives not only watching Baby K grow and develop, but also to see the two of us learn and grow in this new role as parents."

Congrats to these Dallas dads!

Congratulations to Dan and Martin on the birth of their son Herman! 

Copenhagen couple Dan and Martin welcomed their second child through surrogacy on July 11 this year in Florida, USA. Herman joins big sister Ellen, born March 1, 2015, in Vermont via surrogacy. Here's a little more.

"Two amazing American women and their families took us in as their own and we're forever bonded," said Dan about their path to fatherhood experience. "It has been an amazing journey with both of them, our family is complete."

Congrats to the Danish family!

This post is sponsored by Circle Surrogacy

Circle was founded in 1995 on the belief that everyone should have the opportunity to be a parent. To this day, that belief is at the core of everything we do. For over 20 years we've helped straight and LGBTQ+ couples and singles around the world fulfill their dreams of parenthood. We've helped bring more than 1,900 babies into this world... and counting!

We're an agency comprised of social workers and lawyers, accountants and outreach associates, and program managers and coordinators; but, more importantly, we're an agency made up of parents, surrogates and egg donors, who are passionate about helping people build their families, and invested in each and every journey.

Circle is proud to have helped so many gay families achieve their dreams of becoming parents. Together, we make parenthood possible.®

News

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.

In a post on Facebook, Ed Smart, father of kidnapping survivor Elizabeth Smart, came out as gay. He also discussed his strained relationship with his Mormon faith, claiming he felt he didn't feel comfortable living as an openly gay man in a church with a difficult history with respect to its LGBTQ members. He and his wife, Lois, have filed for divorce.

"This is one of the hardest letters I have ever written," he began the letter. "Hard because I am finally acknowledging a part of me that I have struggled with most of my life and never wanted to accept, but I must be true and honest with myself." He went on to acknowledged a new set of challenges facing he and his family as they navigate a divorce and his coming out — in the public eye, no less — but concluded, ultimately, that it's a "huge relief" to be "honest and truthful about my orientation."

He went on to condemn The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for their "ridicule, shunning, rejection and outright humiliation" of LGBTQ individuals. "I didn't want to face the feelings I fought so hard to suppress, and didn't want to reach out and tell those being ostracized that I too am numbered among them. But I cannot do that any longer."

In an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune, Ed Smart further discussed his reasons for coming out now, as a 64-year-old man.

"I mean, I knew that it would probably come out at some point, just because people can't leave things alone. I did anticipate that it would happen at some time, but my intention in writing it was to try to let my friends and family know, you know my extended family ... know where things were. So, you know, I was really concerned about how the rumor mill starts," he told the paper. "I knew that at some point in time, that would come out," he elaborated. "I didn't know when it would come out, and so I would rather have it come out the way that it did versus having some rumors going around, and you know the crazy way things can get twisted."

In 2002, Ed Smart's daughter Elizabeth was abducted at knife point by a married couple from her bedroom in Salt Lake City, Utah. She suffered physical and sexual abuse at the couple's hands, for nine months, until she was finally rescued by police. During the ordeal, papers — including the Salt Lake Tribute — speculated about Ed Smart's sexual orientation based on some fabricated information sold to the paper by tabloids like the National Enquirer. (The Enquirer retracted the story, and the reporters at the Tribute were ultimately fired.)

"I think that in April I started feeling like I needed to prepare something," Smart told the Tribute. "Because during Elizabeth's ordeal, there were things said, and it wasn't what I wanted to say, and I was not going to allow that to happen again."

As to how his family has taken the news, Smart said they've been "very kind" to him. "I think it was very difficult to have this kind of come out of the blue. I don't think any of them knew I was struggling with this, so it was something they were, if you want to call it, blindsided by. I totally get that. They've really been very wonderful."

Congrats to Ed Smart on making the difficult decision to live his truth. Read his full letter here and his interview with the Tribute here.

Fun

Gay Dad Penguins Strike Again! This Time in Berlin Zoo

The latest male penguins to care for an egg together are Skipper and Ping in the Berlin Zoo.

First, there was Roy and Silo — the two male penguins in the Central Park Zoo that served as inspiration for the famous children's book And Tango Makes Three. Then Magin Sphen got together in Sydney, where aquarium keepers gave the cocks (Calm down, that's what a male penguin is called!) a foster egg to care for.

And now, please welcome Skipper and Ping in Berlin to the latest list of gay dad penguins! As soon as the two emperor penguins arrived at the city's zoo, they set about trying to start a family, said Berlin Zoo spokesman Maximilian Jaege to DPA news.

"They kept trying to hatch fish and stones," Jaeger said.

So the zookeepers loaned the penguins an egg from a female penguin, who is apparently uninterested in hatching eggs on her own, according to the BBC.

Unsurprisingly, the gay penguins are killing it as parents. "The two male penguins are acting like exemplary parents, taking turns to warm the egg," Jaeger said,

Read the whole article on DPA here.

Change the World

Hungarian Company Raising Money for LGBTQ+ Organization with a LEGO® Heart

Startup WE LOVE WHAT YOU BUILD is helping combat misinformation and prejudice in Central and Eastern Europe

Guest Post from WE LOVE WHAT YOU BUILD

WE LOVE WHAT YOU BUILD is an innovative startup venture that sells LEGO® parts and unique creations. The core values of our company include social equality regardless of gender identity or origin. As LEGO® is a variety of colors and shapes, so are the people.

We all know that LEGO® is a brand that nearly everyone knows and likes between the age of 3 and 99 so this gives a great opportunity to connect unique LEGO® creations and Pride. We started a fundraising campaign for a Hungarian LGBTQ+ organization who's aim is to bring people closer to the LGBTQ+ community, they help to combat misinformation and prejudice regarding LGBTQ+ issues in Central- Eastern Europe since 2000.

You might know that gender equality and the circumstances of LGBTQ+ people is not the easiest in the former communist Eastern European countries like Hungary so this program is in a real need for help. For example a couple of month ago a member of the government said that homosexual people are not equal part of our society.

The essence of the campaign is when one buys a Pride Heart, a custom creation made of brand new and genuine LEGO® bricks the organization gets $10.00 donation so they can continue their important work. This Pride Heart is a nice necklace, a decoration in your home, and a cool gift to the one you love.

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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