In August 2000, Steven and Michael were both looking online for a long-term relationship when their paths crossed on Match.com. They shared many interests, including a love of kids. On their first date later that month, they watched a football game. Michael remembers it as a relaxed and unpretentious evening with Steven not even dressing up for the occasion.
By the time they met, Michael was a single gay father of two kids: one through adoption and one via surrogacy, and he had raised both on his own. So before we focus on how Michael and Stephen fell in love, let’s look back at how Michael became a single gay dad in the 1980s.
Michael’s career as a flight attendant took him around the world, including Mexico and South America. He had always wanted to be a dad, and he didn't think being gay should interfere. So first he began to look into adoption, originally focusing on Mexico. But he found the Catholic Church very prevalent in Mexican life and that option quickly faded from reality.
In 1986, an opportunity arose to adopt a baby boy soon to be born in Guatemala. Michael, 38 years old at the time, leapt at the chance. For the adoption to be finalized, he had to live for several weeks in Guatemala so he moved in with his attorney's family. After his son Tim's birth, Michael and his newborn son continued to live with the attorney's family while all the paperwork was finalized.
1986: Baby Tim
Because he was a single man, before bringing Tim home to the States from Guatemala, Michael had learned that customs would likely not even let him board the plane with the baby. So he enlisted the help of a close female friend, who flew from the States specifically to fly back with Michael and Tim, helping to give the appearance that they were a family.
1990: Michael with Tim and baby Kate
Soon after Michael and Tim's return to the States, the laws changed in Guatemala, and the door to a second international adoption was closed forever.
Michael shares that throughout his children's childhood, he knew of no other gay dad within the entire community. So he befriended the moms of other schoolchildren, becoming very close with several. His kids report that they have always known that their dad was gay, and it's always been a non-issue.
(Editor's note: At the very end of this story, be sure to read our Q&A; with Tim on what it was like to grow up with a gay dad in the 80s. You may be surprised when you read his responses!)
2001: First family photo together
Tim and Katie were 14 and 10 years old, respectively, when they met Steven.
Steven had spent the night after watching the football game with Michael on their first date. His first encounter with the kids wasn’t quite how he, or Michael, had planned it. Michael had sent them to spend the night at a family friend's to give him some privacy for his stay-at-home date with Steven. But the kids arrived home the next morning earlier than expected. They actually knew their dad had a date the night before, so when they saw Steven they were excited for the chance to meet him. They peppered him with questions!
Steven describes the situation as feeling caught of guard, so he ended up taking his leave from the house as quickly as possible. But his next interactions with the kids were much more relaxed and soon he just naturally became part of the family.
In 2010, Michael discovered he had throat cancer. His family rallied around him, and Steven never left Michael's side during the six or more months' recovery that followed his surgery. Today, we are excited to share the news that Michael has been cancer-free for seven years and continues to remain in great health! He reports that he is considered to be fully recovered, and is even back at the gym with a personal trainer, feeling strong and great!
2007: Tim's 21st birthday in Las Vegas
Although Michael knew of no other gay dad families while raising his own children, today they have several gay dad family friends in the island community in which they live outside of Seattle. And, of course, he and Steven are visited frequently by their children Tim, now 31, and Katie, 26, who live in Seattle.
2012: Michael and Steven's wedding
The child of a gay dad from the 80s shares what life was like growing up in his unconventional home.
We're grateful that Michael's son Tim was willing to respond to a few questions about his childhood.
Gays With Kids: How and when did you realize your family structure was not like most?
Tim: At a young age it became clear that there was no mother in the big picture. This did not mean there wasn't a mother figure involved in my life. In fact, our family was different in the sense of how much love there was and how it was dispersed. I had a fantastic grandmother who has been the second most influential person in my life. She was amazing and made feel completely loved. She constantly spoke highly of my dad and how much she loved him. That was incredibly influential for me because like my grandma, his (my dad's) world was his kids.
2008: Tim's graduation
Gays With Kids: Was there anything in particular you really liked about having a gay dad?
Tim: Nothing stands out. Like any other kid at that age, I wanted to feel my dad's involvement in my life. I was fortunate to have my Dad be my coach on a few of my hockey teams and that time I spent with him meant the world to me.
Gays With Kids: Was there anything you disliked about your family?
Tim: The more I look back and think about it, I don't really see what the difference was. My family was there for me from day one. By school time, our bond had already been developed, and I couldn't picture my life any differently. Why would I? I was very fortunate to be loved and cared for by such an incredible family.
2011: Family photo
Gays With Kids: Were you ever teased or bullied because of your family?
Tim: While I don't really feel this affected me, I at times wondered if it affected my sister. We were fortunate enough to go to a small private school in southern California in which all the families were fairly close. We interacted frequently, making it feel like an extended family. Through high school I had friends over frequently and enjoyed them interacting with my family. I continue to love bringing friends over to my parents' house and have them all interact and become a bigger family.
Gays With Kids: Is there any advice you have for kids growing up today in gay dad families?
Tim: Just because the family structure isn't what most people see as a traditional family, don't be discouraged. A family is measured off of how much love and compassion they have for each other. This is important to me because one day when I'm a father, I hope I'm able to show the same compassion and love for my children that I received.
2016: Family photo