In a sensory way, that definitely only exists in the Pacific Northwest, Portland is emblematic of trail mix. Yes, the crunchy kind — a mix of sweet dried blueberries, intelligent tasting dark chocolate, and some thinly skinned almonds that come together like actors on the stage to tell the story of a disparate but progressively idyllic city with an ability to pickle anything. Portland is also the backdrop to an equally intriguing modern tale of how two dudes became dads — or, when Sonja met Camron and Kieron.
“Cam” and Kieron had been friends for years before realizing they were “perfect for one another.” Camron shared, “Both of us were in long term relationships at [the time we met]. What I did know from day one was I had a huge amount of respect for Kieron following his childhood dream. Unlike myself, Kieron chose to follow his heart towards nature, the outdoors, and adventure… I, on the other hand, took the grounded route, which isn't as much fun for most, but it works well with my personality type.” Kieron built and manages an eco-tourism company which provides sustainable travel experiences across the Pacific Northwest; Camron works in corporate business strategy.
After some time, the two crossed paths again: “We hadn't seen each other for almost two years when we ran into each other.” Camron continued, “I had been dating someone new for over a year and was about to move to Arizona to start a life there with him.” After bumping into Kieron and catching up, it only took Camron a few hours to realize he was making the wrong choice. “My true equal had been only a few miles away for some time — life is all about timing.”
The couple met Sonja a few years down the road. She was the bartender for one of their “epic” holiday parties where she hit it off so well that they all became fast friends. “I couldn’t believe how many letdowns and heartbreaks they’d experienced in their hunt to become parents. For heterosexual couples, just a silly drunken night can result in a baby.” She said it, not us (but we agree). “For gay couples, even with all the love, financial, and emotional means to raise a child, it can be so difficult that they give up. I didn’t want to see Cam and Kieron give up. I could tell they were meant to be fathers. I wanted to help them in any way I could.” Okay, love her.
Sonja agreed to provide her eggs and carry the dads’ baby. The group embarked upon a first pass at surrogacy and were bestowed a now-six-month-old son Remy; Sonja has remained an important part of their life since giving birth and plans to stay involved indefinitely. In fact, she also has a four-year-old son of her own from an outside relationship, and together they all live in a child-rearing community of symbiosis. A self-identified family of “best friends and platonic life partners,” but not quite a throuple, Sonja and Camron and Kieron experience the highs and lows of parenthood together. Sonja said, “We weren’t entirely sure how this relationship would play out, we just knew that we had the love and respect for one another to make it work. There have definitely been kinks to work out, as with any family, but the evolution of this dynamic has been nothing if not astonishing in its effectiveness.”
A true emblem of effectiveness, the dads recently announced that they’re embarking on making baby number two with Sonja via “DIY fertilization methods.” “The kiddos will share the same birth momma genetics, and we're rolling the dice to see whose kiddo is whose so far as the father's genetics. Robby, Sonja's 4-year-old, is the half sibling and calls baby Remy his brother and treats him as such. He's a great little helper and loves to feed the littlest guy and show him how to play with toys,” Camron finished.
This arrangement is commonly known as “intentional co-parenting,” a popular arrangement in the LGBTQ+ community between birth parties that live separately but raise children jointly. “Camron and Kieron are the ultimate dynamic duo. They’re the epitome of opposites attract, and that translates to their parenting styles as well. At the forefront of it all is their immeasurable and intense love they have for Remy. You can see it in the way they look at him every single day.” Sonja elaborated that Camron and Kieron are also amazing stepdads and great male role models to Robbie. “I’m so grateful that they are around to show him what it means to be a wonderful human… [For Remy,] I’m honored to have received the title of ‘mom.’”
“We’ve all heard the saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’ but you don’t know how true that is until you’ve seen both sides of it. With my first child, Robbie, who is now 4 years old, I was basically a single parent,” Sonja said. “To now have three parents loving, supporting, and raising a child together has been such an eye-opening one-eighty. I would recommend it to anyone and everyone wanting to become parents. Find yourself a couple likeminded individuals and do it together — it really is a game changer.”
The family attributes part of its successful and unusual parenting arrangement to their location in the Pacific Northwest. Camron shared, “I grew up here and have never felt uncomfortable or threatened because of my sexual preference. As far as I can remember, Portland has always had an open mind regarding equality, LGBTQ matters, discrimination, and social justice. Overall, the people here are liberal and welcoming no matter who you are or want to be.”
One can get easily lost in the Bay Area when floating through daydreams of gay utopia, but perhaps we should all throw some finely blended granola into the baby bottle (figuratively speaking here, DON’T actually do this) and consider heading north to Oregon where queer families like ours can live in peace in an alternative, albeit still coastal, queer land of almond milk and honey.