Gay Dad Life

A Text From This Gay Man's Son Brought Him to Tears

As a gay man, John Groneman became a dad the "traditional" way (with a woman) but that's about as traditional as this family gets. Read about John's co-parenting journey below, which has led him to be a father of two grown sons, and, now, a grandfather.

Tell us about your path to parenthood. I have known I was gay since I was in the 6th grade. When I was in my 20's my best friend was a straight woman and we were roommates and did everything together. I was out so clearly she knew I was gay. She had a son with her ex-husband, but wanted more children and I wanted children as well. We decided to have two children together. As far as how they were created, we did it the old fashioned way, as that was a lot less expensive than artificial insemination. It was definitely weird and awkward. The result was having two sons that are 3 and a 1/2 years apart. We raised them together in the same house.

What obstacles did you face on your path to fatherhood? The biggest obstacle was that I'm gay so our method for her impregnation was weird for me. Another obstacle was that when my boys were in their teens, the friendship between their mother and I changed and we grew apart. During that time she moved out of state and I continued raising them by myself.

How did your life change when you became a father? I was young and spent a lot of time at clubs in Washington DC before they were born. After they came along I spent less time going out and more time with them. I had to become more responsible.

What have you learned from your children since you became a dad? I have learned to love unconditionally and that loving another human being does not always mean that the relationship is easy. I have learned how to let my children make their own mistakes and learn from them instead of always intervening.

Was there ever a moment that you experienced any serious doubts about your path to fatherhood or fatherhood itself? I don't remember ever having any doubts about being a father. There were times that my heart would ache for what my boys went through, but that was temporary.

John with his granddaughter Emma, May 2016

Is your family treated differently than others on account of your sexual orientation? We were definitely treated differently sometimes because of my orientation. When they were young we were involved with a church. At some point we were told that we were no longer welcome because I was gay. My older son, Michael, and I were texting about this recently. He was only about 6 (he's 27 now) and he sent me the following text which brought me to tears because of the amazing young man that he has become: "I'd say that's one of my earliest memories of discrimination. Its one thing for a redneck to scream hate speech from his pickup, that sort of thing slides off my back, I can be bigger than that. I hadn't processed how people could smile at you, eat with you, and get to know you on a personal level but still be bigoted towards you. Glad times are changing." Still makes me cry.

Where do you see your family 5-10 years in the future? Both of my sons are adults now. The relationship is so different with them as adults versus children. We are extremely close and I hope we always will be. My oldest son has an 8 year old daughter. Being a grandfather is so amazing! We all currently live about 20 minutes away from each other, but I have been interested in the adventure of living in a different state. I think that no matter how far apart we live, we will always talk and text about the things that are happening in our lives.

Michael and his daughter Emma

Brandon performing at SXSW, July 2016

What words of advice do you have for other gay men considering adoption? Raising children with a friend can get complicated. It requires a lot of communication beforehand. You need to discuss parenting views and you need to be in agreement. Make sure that you spend a lot of time discussing and being mindful of the fact that you are going to bring a person into the world and you will be shaping their life. It's a big deal, don't ever take it lightly. It's the most challenging thing I have ever done, but also the most rewarding thing in my life.

Is there anything else you'd like to add? I love my sons more than anything in my life. They have enriched my life in immeasurable ways. I can't imagine what it would be like without them. One year on my birthday when my younger son was in his late teens he posted a message to my Facebook page. Among other things it said "I know you don't get to pick your parents, but if I could, I wouldn't change a thing". That's how I feel about my boys.

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Gay Dad Life

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Daughter of Married Gay Couple Who Used Surrogacy Abroad Isn't Citizen, Says U.S. State Department

A decades-old law can be used to discriminate against gay couples who use surrogacy abroad.

James Derek Mize and his husband Jonathan Gregg are both American citizens, but their daughter, born via a surrogate, may not be, at least according to the U.S. State Department.

The New York Times took an in-depth look at this case in a piece that ran in the paper yesterday. While James was born and raised in the U.S, his husband Jonathan was originally born in Britain. That may be enough, according to the State Department, to deny their daughter citizenship.

"We're both Americans; we're married," James told the New York Times. "We just found it really hard to believe that we could have a child that wouldn't be able to be in our country."

According to decades-old immigration law, a child born abroad must have a biological connection to a parent that is a U.S. citizen in order to be eligible to receive citizenship upon birth. Children born via surrogacy are determined to be "out of wedlock," according to the Times report," which then requires a more onerous process to qualify for citizenship, such as demonstrating that a biological parent is not only an American citizen, but has spent at least five years in the country.

The intent of the law, which dates back to the 1950s, was to prevent people from claiming, falsely, that they are the children of U.S. parents. But LGBTQ advocates argue this archaic policy is being used intentionally to discriminates against same-sex couples, who often have to rely on donors, IVF and surrogacy in order to have biologically children, and are thus held to a higher standard.

"This is where our life is. This is where our jobs are," James told the Times. "Our daughter can't be here, but she has no one else to care for her."

Read the whole story here.


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Fatherhood, the gay way

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