Last week we asked dads in our community a question: what is the ONE piece of advice you would give to a gay man who's considering fatherhood but hasn't taken the plunge yet? We got tons of great advice! See below:
The most common piece of advice we got? Quit procrastinating and just do it! "There will never be the 'perfect' time, says Casey Simon. "Do it! That simple. It is selfless, hard, emotional with sleepless nights and poopy diapers..... but 1 billion times worth every second."
Others agreed that parenthood can be an easy goal to put off. "There are always excuses," wrote Joe Hopkins. "Not being a dad is one of the regrets of my life."
"I haven't done everything right in my life," said Octavius Smiley-Humphries, "but I sure as hell got one thing right and that was becoming a father!"
#2 Be Open to All Possibilities
Fatherhood can occur for gay men in so many different ways. Many of our readers say that being open to different options can help you achieve your goal.
"Be open to ideas and approaches that you would normally dismiss," said Mark Deacon. "Open Adoption, Foster to Adopt, etc.. It may just open up opportunities that will change your life!"
Lots of dads specifically mentioned to be open to the foster care system. "We looked into it last March," said Andrew P Steiner. "Went thru training, and just adopted a wonderful boy. Costs are minimal. Hang on tight, as it can be a long road, but ours went quick."
#3 Do Your Homework!
Another sage piece of advice from our gay dad gurus: make sure you head into parenthood having done your research!
"Read, meet with people and begin," said Zane Alexander. "You can stop in the process, at any time once you're in it. But if you sit on the outside, thinking you will never know and never get started. Dive in."
Other dads offered some practical advice. "Find out if your work has "paternity' or 'bonding' leave," said Matt Burton, who recently finalized the adoption of his son (below). "That way you can spend some quality time bonding with the new child."
#4 You Can Be Gay and Be a Dad
On a site named "Gays With Kids," this piece of advice might seem obvious. But we've heard from many gay men who have told us they thought their sexuality would prevent them from becoming dads. Gay men who are raising kids are here to tell you: you can be gay and be a dad.
"As a gay father of 3 beautiful kids, you CAN be a great dad and also be gay," wrote Jeff Smith. "If fatherhood is in your heart, find a way to make it happen."
#5 You Can Be Single and Be a Dad
This is also a self-evident piece of advice: plenty of men are single parents and are raising happy and healthy kids. But often, many gay men put off becoming fathers for fear of doing it on their own. Several gay dads spoke up to say that, while it may be harder to go it alone, they couldn't be happier to be dads.
"Being in charge of someone else when you're by yourself... can really take a toll," said Michael Wayne. "But my son, adopted from foster care, is probably one of the only reasons I can make it sometimes. You don't need a partner to do it, bro. Boyfriends come and go, but you'll be your kid's dad forever."
#6 Find Your Support System... You'll Need It
Whether you're single or in a relationship, have family nearby or not, many gay dads point to the importance of building a support system---whatever that may look like for you.
"Find a trusted babysitter, daycare, and especially other single (and non-single) parents you will meet," said Bud Lake. "My husband just took one of our sons classmates to school today because his mom was in a bind."
You may need to look beyond your current circle to find the support you need, cautioned PaulnBrendan Upcroft. "Being a father requires a huge commitment of your time and energy," he said. "You will need the support of friends and family who understand what you are dealing with and have some interest in your journey."
#7 Get Your Sleep In Now
A piece of universal advice given by practically every parent? Take time for yourself now! "Take a vacation," said Chad LaDuke. "It will be a while before you get another one without the kiddo."