Meet London-based gay dads Joe and Francois with their twins Daphné and Axel. Francois was born in Brittany, France; Joe is originally from upstate New York. They were both living and working in New York City when their paths crossed four and a half years ago, and they were married on December 5, 2014. Francois works in finance, and March last year they relocated to London for his job. Joe is an actor, and for the past 11 years has worked primarily on the stage. The move across the pond has worked well for this international family; both Joe and Francois had previously lived in London and neither wanted to pass up the opportunity of living there again, despite the initial difficulty of moving with twins only a couple of weeks old.
Gays With Kids: We love a good love story! How did you two meet?
Joe: We were both living in Manhattan, New York City. We actually first saw each other on the app Grindr. I was in his neighborhood at a friend's party, and I forget who messaged who, but the next day we began talking, and that lasted for about two or three days. We then arranged a date a couple of days later before Francois was to head out of town for a couple of weeks. He's the only person I ever met through that App, and he became my husband! When we first met, I was 28, and Francois was 35, and we both had been through a bunch of odd relationships, and knew there were things we wanted out of this life, so our first date was very much a really fun, slightly intoxicated/intoxicating interview. We both discussed how we wanted children that night, and now here we are, with 1-year-old boy/girl twins.
Gays With Kids: Do both you or husband work, or are either of you stay-at-home dads?
Joe: Francois is a finance guy with those long hours, five days a week. I am an actor, and my work is primarily in the evenings, unless I have auditions, rehearsals, etc. I kind of have the best of both worlds, in that I get to have my career and see my kids throughout the day. Somedays it can be a bit overwhelming, but luckily, we have a fantastic au pair who lives with us and helps us throughout the week. We give her evenings and weekends off to go enjoy being a young girl in London. She is also French, so that helps me work on my French, and really sets the kids up to be bilingual, which is very important to us. We also have babysitters on call. With two working dads and two small children, you have to have a roster full of helpers.
Axel and Daphné's first birthday
Gays With Kids: Why did you chose your particular path to fatherhood?
Joe: When we thought about how we wanted to have kids, surrogacy was the only thing we really looked at. We both were very big on having, at least trying to have, that genetic link. Considering the challenges of being a gay couple with kids, and a child's nature of wanting to know where they come from, we thought it would be easiest if we were genetically linked, and could at least field the questions from there. Our egg donor was also a close friend of ours. We just want to be as transparent as possible. We also knew we wanted to try for twins. Fortunately for us, that's what we were blessed with, and we happen to both be biological fathers of one of the children.
Gays With Kids: What do you consider to be the most important lesson you are teaching your children?
Joe: Right this second, "dadda" on command. In the long run, I just want to make sure that they know they are enough. Whatever they choose to be, whoever they turn out to be ... it is enough.
Gays With Kids: Please share any advice you may have for others considering a similar path to fatherhood.
Joe: I would say that if you have the means, and are thinking that it's something you seriously want to do, do it. Jump in and get on your research, and start ASAP. You never know how long it will take to actually get through it. We ended up losing a surrogate early on due to some family stuff on her end, and that set us back a few months, but we got extremely lucky with finding our new surrogate, getting pregnant and delivering the children. We know others that haven't been as lucky, and it can take many cycles and years in some cases. What we thought would take a year ended up taking almost two.
Gays With Kids: Do you see any more children in your future?
Joe: We got lucky our first go around. We wanted twins and were hoping for one of each, and we got exactly what we had hoped for. I don't think there will be anymore kids in our future, but I never say never. I'm a total sap for kids stuff and baby stuff, so who knows?
Gays With Kids: Is there anything else you'd like to share about your experiences creating or raising your family?
Joe: It is the most challenging and rewarding thing we've ever taken on. It has changed me for the better. It has allowed me to meet a side of my husband that I didn't know before ... and that he didn't even know before, and vice versa. It's very early on for us, and who knows what will happen once puberty kicks in, but for now, it's all unconditional love ... and fatigue :-)
The answers have been edited occasionally for clarity.