In 2002, when they were each just 25 years old, Kevin and Jeff met at a local gay bar in Washington, D.C., called JR’s Bar & Grill.
Jeff was about to begin his Ph.D. program in molecular biology at Georgetown, while Kevin had been living in the city for two years working as an architect. The timing seemed unfortunate, as Kevin had recently given two-weeks' notice to his employer and was planning to move to New York City. Their relationship was going to be brief, right? Wrong!
June 2002: Capital Pride
Jeff insisted that they try a long-distance romance. Many new relationships would not survive a long-distance relationship right from the outset, but Kevin and Jeff made it work! Even though their first year together was really mostly spent apart, they tried to see each other as often as they could by taking advantage of the newly introduced cheap ($10 one-way!) bus rides.
After a year, Kevin chose to return full-time to Washington, D.C. to be with Jeff. They moved in together, first living with a roommate; then, after a couple more years, they got their own place.
2002: Christmas at Kevin's (left) apartment in East Village, New York City
Same-sex marriage was legalized in the District of Columbia during the spring of 2010. Following the celebrations, there were rumors that some churches in the area were going to try and fight against the recent marriage equality.
By this time, Kevin and Jeff had been together almost eight years, and although they already felt married, they wanted to make it official and do it fast. So Kevin signed them up for the first open marriage appointment available. He then sent Jeff an Outlook appointment with the date and location of their wedding, something the two nowadays consider Kevin’s wedding proposal.
2006: Kevin and Jeff after the closing on their first home, Washington, D.C.
It wasn’t a glamorous wedding. “We were married under some plastic roses, by a judge just back from his vacation,” Jeff remembers. By pure coincidence, they were married on the day of their eighth anniversary.
Kevin and Jeff were surprised by their moms' reactions: they were upset that they hadn’t been invited to their sons’ big day! At the time, Kevin and Jeff had not even thought of inviting them as it was such a low-key event.
2007: Jeff (left) and Kevin in Orlando
In 2007, Kevin and Jeff started thinking seriously about becoming dads. They attended a family conference run by a local organization that offered a series of classes about adoption and foster-adopt. A female friend of theirs was going through the D.C. Child and Family Services adoption process and inspired them to consider a similar route.
Ultimately they decided surrogacy was their preferred path to fatherhood, and in October 2010 they went to India to try surrogacy. Unfortunately, they had a nightmarish experience with the agency they selected and, after several weeks, returned home mission not accomplished.
2011: Kevin and Jeff with their first baby, Kirby, after learning their very last embryo "stuck" and their surrogate was pregnant with Baxter
Determined to continue with surrogacy, this time the guys sought a U.S.-based agency and soon came across one in in San Diego. They felt a strong rapport with this agency’s team so moved forward with them. They met with an experienced surrogate, conceived on the last embryo and soon were waiting for their firstborn, Baxter, to arrive.
June 2012: Jeff with newborn Baxter
Their egg donor was aware that Kevin and Jeff wanted a second child, but they had used all their embryos in the pursuit of Baxter. A week before Baxter was born, the agency contacted the dads-to-be with the message that their egg donor was willing to do one more egg cycle for them, but only if it occurred very soon. They had to make the decision whether they wanted to have a second child before they even had one!
Kevin and Jeff getting used to little or no sleep
Seven days after Baxter was born, Jeff and Kevin met their second carrier. They all hit it off, decided to go forward with the surrogacy, and a little while later there was a second pregnancy!
As excited as they were to become dads, this was a particularly daunting decision. Kevin was excited to have two kids, whereas Jeff was a little more pragmatic and anxious to have two so close together. But in the end they knew they’d figure it out, they said yes and began moving forward with their second surrogate a few days before welcoming their first child.
2013: Big brother Baxter announcing the exciting news
Baxter, 8 months old, announced the news to the world, by means of a photo that was shared with Jeff’s and Kevin’s families: he was holding a sign to announce that he was going to be a big brother. His little brother Tate was born September 23, 2013.
2013: Baxter sharing his drink bottle with his baby brother Tate
Today Baxter is 4 years old, and Tate turns 3 on September 23.
“Each day is different,” said Kevin, who is now a stay-at-home dad for the two boys. Kevin and Jeff both had stay-at-home moms and wanted to offer this opportunity to their children. Jeff’s career – in the past as a researcher for a national health organization, nowadays as president and CEO of a different research organization – was much more rewarding than Kevin’s so the decision for him to stay at home made more sense.
“It’s not all joy, and it’s incredibly helpful to have a partner who understands this and realizes that when he gets home, you might need to just walk outside and be alone for 10 minutes,” said Kevin. Still, he feels that it is a privilege to be a stay-at-home dad.
“One thing that always surprises me is when I’m away or come home everyday from work, is the look of joy [on my sons’ faces] that I could never had imagined,” shared Jeff.
2015: Celebrating Baxter's 2nd birthday
In that respect, the emotions of Jeff, Kevin and all the other gay dads that we know are no different from our straight parenting counterparts: Our kids’ love is what makes it all worthwhile.