Disney Dads

A Disney World Visit Convinced This Gay Couple to Become Dads

Originally published: September 4, 2017

Michael and Matthew met 12 years ago in Warren, Ohio, the old fashioned way: in a bar. They were married June 17, 2015, and now live in Reynoldsburg, Ohio.

Initially, they did not want to become parents as they did not see a way for them both to be the dads legally in their state of Ohio, but a chance encounter at Disney World changed their minds.

In January 2016 while in Disney World for a marathon weekend, Michael and Matthew ran into a gay couple with a 4 month old daughter.

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"It was the first time we had seen a gay couple with a child and it got us thinking," Matthew said. "We ran into that couple another 6 or 7 times during that trip and we become good friends. Upon returning from Disney, we had some serious discussions and came to the conclusion that we both wanted to have a child. We contacted Adoption by Gentle Care and figured out next steps."

Elena with her Disney friends

The couple now have a semi-open adoption. They utilized Adoption by Gentlecare in Columbus Ohio for the adoption, and they require that the couple write a letter to the birth mother with photos each month for the first year and then twice annually each year after.

"We have met Elena's mother, but we don't have a relationship with her at this point," Michael explained.

Matthew with Elena

As a family that got its inspiration during a Disney tirp, Michael and Matthew say their family loves Disney even more after having Elena.

"We go three or four times per year," he said. "With Elena, it is seeing Disney through her eyes. Meeting characters, riding rides and just seeing the spectacles around Disney through her perspective is heartwarming. I will tell you, we went in July to meet up with Michael's mother just before we finalized and Elena has never slept better. That constant stimulation wore her out."

Matthew with Elena and Minnie Mouse

Becoming dads has changed the husbands' lives completely. Before, they said they would get off of work and shop, watch tv, go out to eat and exercise. Now their lives consist of shopping for Elena and the things they need around the house, eating when they get an opportunity, watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and going running with Elena in the stroller.

"You become less selfish when you have a child, and you don't feel angry about it," Matthew said.

Michael and Matthew holding Elena

After 11 years of just the two of them, Matthew said changing to family of three was definitely interesting.

"It took us about two or three weeks to get our groove but it was been wonderful," he said. "We found a great home daycare for when we are working and we have our evenings and weekends figured. We have been very fortunate that she is an easy baby above all."

So far, the dads have learned a tremendous amount of patience. "You realize quickly that everything is on Elena's schedule," Matthew said.

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As a gay couple with a child, they do sometimes face inquisitive strangers.

"You just have to be prepared for the questions," Michael said. "You will realize that strangers have no qualms about asking you also sorts of inappropriate questions. Our job is to figure out how to respond in a way that validates us and our daughter."

Michael and Elena

For Michael, the first moment he really felt like a dad came on the day their daughter was placed with them.

"We had only waited two months on the adoption list, so we were already shocked that we had a baby that quick," he said. "But on January 20th, We had done all this prep and worrying within the 72-hour window, then we get home, we were exhausted, excited and confused. All that build up in the 72-hour window and it was what do we do next? It dawned on us that our next move and then every move thereafter was going to be to raise Elena."

Posted by Brit Smith

Brit Smith is a Staff Writer & Associate Editor at GWK. A native of London, England, Brit started her American adventure nannying and waiting tables in Texas in 2006, and eventually graduated magna cum laude from the University of California, Berkeley in 2017. Brit has previously written and created podcasts for WBZ NewsRadio, iHeart Media, and Different Leaf.

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