Books About Gay Fatherhood

Sure, much of what gay dads need to know about raising a child can be found in the excellent series Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5; Caring for your School-Age Child: Ages 5 to 12; and Caring for Your Teenager: The Complete and Authoritative Guide, by the American Academy of Pediatrics. But gay men contemplating fatherhood must overcome a different set of hurdles than others: legal, financial, societal, to name but a few. To help answer some of those questions, I compiled the following list, an admittedly motley collection of printed matter.

Gay Dads: A Celebration of Fatherhood

David Strah, with Susanna Margolis

Photographs by Kris Timken


From the publisher:

“Inspiring portraits of gay men and their families from all across America.

An evolution has quietly been occurring in the world of parenting. Recent surveys reveal that millions of children have found loving homes either by being born to, or adopted by, gay men. This book is a celebration of these remarkable new families.

Gay Dads includes twenty-five personal accounts from men describing their unique journeys to fatherhood and the struggles and successes they have experienced as they raise their children. This is the first book to provide such an expansive exploration of this extraordinary new family unit. With beautiful black-and-white photographs of each of the families, Gay Dads is a moving tribute to familial love.”

 Does This Baby Make Me Look Straight? Confessions of a Gay Dad

 Dan Bucatinsky


From the publisher:

“In 2005, Dan Bucatinsky and his partner, Don Roos, found themselves in an L.A. delivery room, decked out in disposable scrubs from shower cap to booties, to welcome their adopted baby girl — launching their frantic yet memorable adventures into fatherhood. Two and a half years later, the same birth mother — a heroically generous, pack-a-day teen with a passion for Bridezilla marathons and Mountain Dew — delivered a son into the couple’s arms. In Does This Baby Make Me Look Straight? Bucatinsky moves deftly from sidesplitting stories about where kids put their fingers to the realization that his athletic son might just grow up to be straight and finally on losing his own father just as he’s becoming one. Bucatinsky’s soul-baring and honest stories tap into that all-encompassing, and very human, hunger to be a parent —and the life-changing and often ridiculous road to getting there.”

The Kid: What Happened After My Boyfriend and I Decided To Get Pregnant

Dan Savage


From the publisher:

“Dan Savage's nationally syndicated sex advice column, "Savage Love", enrages and excites more than four million people each week. In The Kid, Savage tells a no-holds-barred, high-energy story of an ordinary American couple who wants to have a baby. Except that in this case the couple happens to be Dan and his boyfriend. That fact, in the face of a society enormously uneasy with gay adoption, makes for an edgy, entertaining, and illuminating read. When Dan and his boyfriend are finally presented with an infant badly in need of parenting, they find themselves caught up in a drama that extends well beyond the confines of their immediate world. A story about confronting homophobia, falling in love, getting older, and getting a little bit smarter, The Kid is a book about the very human desire to have a family.”

The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family

Dan Savage


From the publisher:

“Dan Savage’s mother wants him to get married. His boyfriend, Terry, says “no thanks” because he doesn’t want to act like a straight person. Their six-year-old son DJ says his two dads aren’t “allowed” to get married, but that he’d like to come to the reception and eat cake. Throw into the mix Dan’s straight siblings, whose varied choices form a microcosm of how Americans are approaching marriage these days, and you get a rollicking family memoir that will have everyone—gay or straight, right or left, single or married—howling with laughter and rethinking their notions of marriage and all it entails.”

Lesbian and Gay Parenting Handbook: Creating and Raising Our Families

April Martin


From the publisher:

“A much needed book that addresses the many questions and important issues associated with lesbian and gay parenting, by a well-known psychotherapist and lesbian parent.”

Gay Parenting: Complete Guide for Same-Sex Families

Shana Priwer and Cynthia Phillips


From the publisher:

“This insightful, thoroughly researched guide offers sage advice for same-sex families in every stage, from making the decision to have children to dealing with embarrassed teenagers. Discover the ways same sex parents should accent family pride to deal with being more visibly out.  Explore the options for bringing children into your lives, including adoption, fostering, surrogacy, and donor insemination. "

The Complete Lesbian and Gay Parenting Guide

Arlene Istar Lev


From the publisher:

“Gay parenting is a productive and positive decision, but author and lesbian mother Arlene Lev admits it isn't always an easy one. With practical wisdom and advice, and personal real-life stories, Lev prepares gay parents for this endeavor with everything they need to know and everything they can expect while making their own significant and challenging mark on family life in the 21st century.”

Gay & Lesbian Parenting Choices: From Adoptions or Using a Surrogate to Choosing the Perfect Father

Brette McWhorter Sember


From the publisher:

“Creating a family is one of the greatest joys a couple can have, but gay and lesbian couples face unique challenges when they wish to become parents together. Gay & Lesbian Parenting Choices provides a complete explanation of the many ways gay or lesbian couples can create a family and the legal hoops they must jump through as part of the process. Written by an attorney in an-easy-to-understand style, this guide provides a comprehensive look at the options available to gay couples and offers advice and information on how best to proceed.

Different types of adoptions international, domestic agency, state agency, private, and facilitator-led are discussed, in addition to open versus closed adoptions. Special emphasis is paid to the considerations and concerns gay adoptive parents face, such as how to tell whether an agency is gay-friendly and whether both partners can adopt simultaneously or must use a two-part process. Advice is offered on finding an agency and dealing with the home study.

Gay & Lesbian Parenting Choices also considers the wide variety of assisted family-building choices, including donor sperm and insemination, egg donors and surrogates, as well as new technologies on the horizon. Consent laws, fertility procedures, choosing donors or surrogates, finding fertility clinics that are gay friendly, and advice about how to make sure your family is legally protected is also covered.

Other parenting options such as foster care and adopting your partner’s child are included, in addition to family protection measures such as wills and medical consents, getting cooperation from schools, finding support for your family, and talking about your family with your child.

This complete guide helps gay and lesbian prospective parents choose the path to parenthood that will work best for them and offers advice and support as they journey towards becoming a family.”

Family Pride: What LGBT Families Should Know about Navigating Home, School, and Safety in Their Neighborhoods

Michael Shelton


From Michael Bronski, Series Editor, Queer Action/Queer Ideas:

“The rapid emergence, over the past decade, of the LGBT family from the shadows of fear into your bright lights of the everyday world has been startling. Openly LGBT families are now attending PTA meetings, applying for social services, and rolling Easter eggs on the White House lawn. This journey—a continuous, unfolding adventure for many families—has been historically a slow, and often dangerous, one. in the 1950s and ‘60s one of the main concerns of the daughters of Bilitis, the first political and social group founded by and for lesbians, was to help women who raising children alone or with a partner. Dealing with issues of housing, school, being out, and dealing with hostile relatives and neighbors were a staple in their publication the Ladder. The advances of feminism, gay liberation, and the relatively new field of LGBT family law has made life for these families—and really, all families—immeasurably better, safer, and healthier.

This move into the right daylight over security and safety is immeasurably helped by Michael Shelton’s Family Pride: What LGBT Families Should Know about Navigating Home, School, and Safety in Their Neighborhoods. Raising a happy, healthy family is difficult for all Americans who choose to do do. For nontraditional families, and especially LGBT families, what should be a joyous experience can often be fraught with social, legal, political, and even medical problems. Are our children going to be safe at school if their classmates find out they have two mothers? Can I trust the doctors and nurses at the local health clinic to tell them Bobby's father has HIV/AIDS? How open can I be with our neighbors about the fact that my partner and I just broke up? These are just a few of the problems that come LGBT families face every day. Michael Shelton is not just providing reasonable, helpful—maybe even life-saving—advice here for LGBT families. He is mapping out new territory in helping reshape and rethink how all families might live safer, stronger, and happier lives.

Gay Men Choosing Parenthood

Gerald P. Mallon


From the publisher:

“Gay parenting is a topic on which almost everyone has an opinion but almost nobody has any facts. Here at last is a book based on a thorough review of the literature, as well as interviews with a pioneering group of men who in the 1980s chose to become fathers outside the boundaries of a heterosexual union -- through foster care, adoption, and other kinship relationships.

This book reveals how very natural and possible gay parenthood can be. What factors influence this decision? How do the experiences of gay dads compare to those of heterosexual men? How effectively do professional services such as support groups serve gay fathers and prospective gay fathers? What elements of the social climate are helpful -- and hurtful? Gay Men Choosing Parenthood challenges a great deal of misinformation, showing how gay fathers from different backgrounds adapted, perceived, and constructed their options and their families.”

Fatherhood for Gay Men: An Emotional and Practical Guide to Becoming a Gay dad (Race and Politics)

Kevin McGarry


From the publisher:

“Fatherhood for Gay Men: An Emotional and Practical Guide to Becoming a Gay Dad is the story of one man's journey down the road less traveled—a single gay man adopting and raising his two sons. Author Kevin McGarry recounts his passage into parenthood after years of having his natural fathering instincts stifled by the limits—real and perceived—of being gay. This unique book details the emotional, financial, practical, and social realities of the adoption process for gay men.

Much more than a “how-to” guide to adoption, Fatherhood for Gay Men is the personal account of a single gay man's struggle to become a father despite the real and imagined limitations of being a gay man. The book looks at the adoption process (domestic and international) from the inside, providing unique insight into: conducting a homestudy; costs (fees and expenses); what countries allow men to adopt;  alternatives to adoption; life as a new parent; online resources; and a state-by-state review of adoption laws, categorized by “Completely Legal,” “Favorable Climate,” “Mixed Success,” and “Illegal”.

The book also includes results of the 2000 study by Gillian Dunne, senior researcher for the London School of Economics Gender Institute, of 100 gay fathers and fathers-to-be.”

From the author:

"We take risks by coming out of the closet as gay men and at the end of the day, we are emotionally happier because we took those risks. By coming out, we are being true to who we are. The same goes for anyone, gay or straight, who has gut instincts for parenthood. I knew over the years that I had parenting instincts because I had this incredible envy of other dads. I would watch them with their kids and wish that somehow, I could have that role. It was painful at times because being gay, I didn't think parenting was in my life plan. Had more role models been available to me, the process would have been a little less difficult."

On Being a Gay Parent: Making a Future Together

Brett Webb-Mitchell


From the publisher:

“This practical, down-to-earth guide to being a gay Christian parent is filled with interesting stories, simple anecdotes, creative ideas, and thoughtful reflections, while raising up important issues facing gay-and lesbian-headed households in contemporary American society. Includes a list of resources helpful in addressing often-surprising issues, simple day-to-day tasks, and crucial decisions around being a gay or lesbian parent in today's world.”

From Jane Tully, Clergy Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays:

”A truly faith-based family story, where love is what matters and the challenges of living openly and honestly are faced head on."

Forever Dads: A Gay Couples Journey to Fatherhood

Tony Zimbardi-LeMons


From the publisher:

"Forever Dads: A Gay Couple's Journey to Fatherhood chronicles Tony and Antonio's experience from their first exploratory meeting at the "Pop Luck Club," (a non-profit group who provides information, guidance and support to gay parents and prospective parents) to tackling one of the hardest, yet most gratifying responsibilities in the world--parenting. Readers will follow Tony and Antonio as they navigate the tumultuous roller coaster ride of the Los Angeles County foster-adoption system to the ultimate adoption finalization of their sons Erik and John. The book which ran in Frontiers Magazine is told in a compilation format and explores many themes, some unique to the gay experience and others simply universal in the journey to parenthood.

The Zimbardi-LeMons family story is told in heart-felt installments peppered with rich humor and poignancy, a must read for any prospective adoptive parent, gay or straight.”

Families Like Mine: Children of Gay Parents Tell It Like It Is

Abigail Garner


From the Publisher:

“Abigail Garner was five years old when her parents divorced and her dad came out as gay. Like the millions of children growing up in these families today, she often found herself in the middle of the political and moral debates surrounding lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) parenting.

Drawing on a decade of community organizing, and interviews with more than fifty grown sons and daughters of LGBT parents, Garner addresses such topics as coming out to children, facing homophobia at school, co-parenting with ex-partners, the impact of AIDS, and the children's own sexuality.”

Both practical and deeply personal, Families Like Mine provides an invaluable insider's perspective for LGBT parents, their families, and their allies.

Three Little Wonders: An Adoption Story

David H. Burton


From the Publisher:

“Together for ten years, David and his partner made the decision to become dads. Figuring out they wanted to adopt was easy, the waiting and complications along the way were not. Follow their journey as this same-sex couple tried to start their family and prevent three brothers from being separated.

A heart-warming tale of two dads and their Three Little Wonders.”

Lesbian and Gay Parents and Their Children: Research on the Family Life Cycle

Abbie E. Goldberg


From the Publisher:

“The past several decades have seen increasing controversies over lesbian and gay parenthood. More same-sex couples than ever are becoming parents, building their families while others debate their legal rights pertaining to marriage and parenthood. Against this sociopolitical backdrop, how do same-sex couples transition to parenthood, and what are their experiences as parents? Furthermore, what are the experiences of their children?

Lesbian and Gay Parents and Their Children: Research on the Family Life Cycle provides a comprehensive overview of the research on same-sex parenthood, exploring ways in which lesbian and gay parents resist, accommodate, and transform fundamental notions of gender, parenting, and family. The book takes a family life cycle approach, beginning with research on how same-sex couples meet and build healthy relationships, then describing how and why same-sex couples decide to have children and how they grapple with the changing roles each partner must adopt. Their experiences raising children through young adulthood are explored, including the challenges of interacting with their children's schools and teachers. In the end, the book considers the perspectives of the children themselves—as young adults and adults speak out about their experiences having lesbian or gay parents.

Integrating both qualitative and quantitative research, this book incorporates a range of disciplines, including psychology, sociology, sexuality/gender studies, and human development. It also highlights understudied aspects of same-sex parenting, such as termination of couple relationships.

With practical recommendations in every chapter, this book is an indispensable resource for those who research lesbian and gay mental health and family issues, as well as those who provide services to lesbian and gay parents and parents-to-be.”

Posted by Ferd van Gameren

Ferd van Gameren, a native of the Netherlands, moved to the United States chasing adventure and a graduate degree. Since then he has taught Latin, Ancient Greek and English at independent schools in Massachusetts and New York for quite a few years. After living in Canada for almost six years, he and his (Gays With Kids co-founder) husband Brian Rosenberg recently moved with their three children back to New York City.

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