Gay Dad Family Stories

Newly Out Gay Dad is Living His Truth

"All of my relationships in my past were real," says Steven, who began living his authentic life as a gay man in 2015. "My marriage included."

Partners Steven Graffam and John Stivale met commuting to work on the bus in New York City. The two had noticed one another for months. Then one day, they went beyond exchanging looks and exchanged phone numbers too. The two have been together a little under a year.

Steven is a gay dad with one son, via a straight relationship, who came to terms with his sexual orientation in 2015. Now he's in a serious relationship with a man who adores his son and they've begun to talk about their future, one that might include more kids. Here's Steven's story.


Steven didn't realize he was gay till he was 34. He had been with the same woman for 14 years, married for 10, and together they had son in 2007. "Fatherhood wasn't hard at all," said Steven, "I welcomed it with open arms; I finally found the meaning of love."

From left to right: Steven, his son and John

Steven came out to his wife in 2015. Although blind-sided and upset, she handled the revelation very well and has remained supportive of her ex-husband.

Although it took Steven a long time to be true to himself, he dislikes the word closeted. "When I hear that it makes me feel sad and brings me back to a bad place," he explained. "[It] feels untrue and that I deliberately did this … All of my relationships in my past were real, my marriage included." Steven's advice to others in a similar relationship is to live your truth, and everything will fall into place.

Steven waited another 18 months before talking to his son about his sexuality. Both he and his ex-wife decided that with all the upheavals their son was experiencing – parents divorcing, he and his mother relocated to a neighboring state, new co-parenting schedules – they didn't want to give their son something else to comprehend. When Steven did talk to his son, his reaction was very simple. He said "okay" and went on about his day. "We left it as an open conversation," said Steven.

In September 2017, after their flirtatious glances on the bus, Steven began seeing John. Steven's son embraced his dad's boyfriend, even getting them both a Fathers' Day card that read 'Daddy & Dad.' "John is very involved and we spend almost every weekend that I have my son together," explained Steven. "He is always asking where John is and when he's coming home from work … Sometimes I think my son likes John more than me!"

Although the relationship is still relatively new, Steven and John are excited about the future and talk about expanding their family. They're open to either adoption or surrogacy, but the biggest decision at the moment, which they can't agree on, is how many kids! John is in the one camp, while Steven is rooting for two. "If I had it my way I would have twenty more kids," says Steven. "I am sure when the time is right we will see eye-to-eye and have two more children. Wink- Ha!"

If there were one thing Steven could change, it would be waiting to tell his loved ones that he was gay. He wished he'd opened up earlier, as soon as he himself had realized and spoken to his ex-wife. "I lived with not telling them for about two years, and all of that pressure and stress I put myself through – what would they think and how would they react – was a waste of my time." Those close to Steven have embraced him, but he knows he is one of the luckier ones. "It breaks my heart to think in this day and age, there are still people out there that can't love others for who they are, no matter their sexual orientation, color, race or gender."

Although the last three years have meant a completely different life path and trajectory for Steven and his family, they are all much happier. Being a father has helped give him purpose, perspective and be able to prioritize what's really important, including coming out.

"Children change your life in every way," said Steven. "The way you think, feel and react; it is the most rewarding responsibility one will ever have. Have fun with it and enjoy the ride."

**Update: Steven and John are now engaged.**

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Gay Dad Family Stories

David and Ben Met on the Dance Floor — and Are Now Grooving Their Way Through Fatherhood

David and Ben, who became fathers with the help of Northwest Surrogacy Center, live in Melbourne with their daughter, Maia.

In 2003, while both studying at Reading University in the UK, Ben Suter and David Cocks met after locking eyes on the dance floor and then being introduced by a mutual friend. Ben, a meteorologist and Operations Manager, and David, an Assistant Principal, have been together ever since. They moved to Australia together in 2010, seeking a different life, and an overall better work-life balance. The chose Cairns in Queensland as their new home, between the Great Barrier Reef and the tropical rainforest, "taking life a bit easier," said David. The couple were also married in June 2016, back home in England.

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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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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."

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Those were a few of the responses I heard from my friends as I told them I was thinking of booking a trip to New York City with four kids, ages 11-6. My children's fall vacation from school was approaching and I wanted to get out of the house and explore. Was the Big Apple too much of an adventure?

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News

National's Pitcher Cites Wife's Two Moms as Reason for Declining White House Invite

"I think that's an important part of allyship," Doolittle said of his wife's two moms.

Sean Doolittle, pitcher for the Washington Nationals, declined an invitation to the White House after his team won the World Series this year. In an interview with the Washington Post, he listed his numerous reasons for staying home — and a main consideration, he revealed, was his wife's two moms.

"I want to show support for them. I think that's an important part of allyship, and I don't want to turn my back on them," Doolittle said during the interview.

Trump's treatment of a minority groups, generally, factored into his decision as well. "I have a brother-in-law who has autism, and [Trump] is a guy that mocked a disabled reporter. How would I explain that to him that I hung out with somebody who mocked the way that he talked or the way that he moves his hands? I can't get past that stuff."

Doolitttle clarified that his decision had little to do with policy disagreements with the White House. "There's a lot of things, policies that I disagree with, but at the end of the day, it has more to do with the divisive rhetoric and the enabling of conspiracy theories and widening the divide in this country. My wife and I stand for inclusion and acceptance, and we've done work with refugees, people that come from, you know, the 'shithole countries.'"

He concluded by saying he respected his teammates decision to attend the White house ceremony. "I want people to know that I put thought into this, and at the end of the day, I just can't go."

Read more of the Washington Post interview here.

News

New York Will Fight 'Repugnant' Trump Rule on Adoption, Says Cuomo

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York promises legal action of the Trump administration moves ahead with plans to allow discrimination against LGBTQ adoptive and foster parents

Last week, the Trump administration announced plans to allow adoption and foster care agencies to discriminate against prospective LGBTQ parents — but he may face a legal fight from (former) hometown. In a tweet, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York said the proposed move "isn't just discriminatory and repugnant to our values,— it's also heartless and dumb as it would deny countless children a loving family and a safe place to call home." If the proposal moves forward, he continued. "we'll take legal action to stop it.

Governor Cuomo's office followed up the tweet with a lengthier statement posted to their website:

Once again the Trump administration is attacking the hard-earned rights and protections of the LGBTQ community, this time proposing a new measure that would give foster care and adoption agencies license to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Trump's proposal isn't just discriminatory and repugnant to our values — it's also heartless and dumb as it would deny countless children a loving family and a safe place to call home. If he moves forward with this rule, we'll take legal action to stop it.

No matter what happens in Washington, New York State is and will continue to be a beacon of equality in this country. Our Human Rights Law and adoption regulations expressly prohibit discrimination against the LGBTQ community, including when it comes to adoption. I encourage any LGBTQ New Yorker who feels they are a victim of this discrimination to contact the State Division of Human Rights for assistance.

Our message to the Trump administration is simple: there is no place for hate in New York or in our nation, and we will not allow this noxious proposal to stop LGBTQ New Yorkers from becoming parents or providing care to children in need.

Change the World

A Gay Fertility Doctor Opens Up About His Own Path to Parenthood

Parenthood is the "one and only job" held by the majority of the population, wrote gay fertility doctor Mark Leondires in a recent op-ed for The Advocate

Dr. Mark Leondires, founder of the fertility clinic RMA of Connecticut, has helped thousands of LGBTQ people become parents over the years. But in a recent op-ed for The Advocate, he discussed his own path to parenthood as a gay man, and some of the lessons he's learned along the way.

"Similar to most gay men I struggled with the coming out process," Dr. Leondires wrote. "I strongly desired to be a parent. And as a fertility doctor I knew this was possible. What was enlightening was after we had our first child is that in the eyes of my community, I went from being a gay man or gay professional to being a parent just like most of my straight friends."

Dr. Leondires goes on to say his reasons for opening up about his parenting journey is to offer some perspective LGBTQ people who are considering parenthood. "Once you have a family you will have this common bond with the vast majority of our population and something they can relate to — having children," he wrote. "You are no longer someone living this "special" lifestyle, you are a parent on a shared journey."

Being a parent is the "one and only job" held by the majority of the population, he continued. "It is also the only job you can't be fired from."

Understanding this commonality helped Dr. Leondires in his coming out process, he said. "I had to be proud of my family because I want them to be proud of our family," he wrote. "It wasn't about me anymore. The reality is that 5-7% of patients identify as LGBTQ+, and there may be a greater likelihood that your child might be LGBTQ+ because you are. Therefore, you need to be proud of who you are and who your family is, establish and maintain this foundation unconditionally."

Read Dr. Leondires entire essay here.

Fatherhood, the gay way

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