Meet Michael, 42, and Floyd, 39, with their 10-month-old twins Lauren and Nathan. These two new dads are spending the year abroad, traveling and bonding with their children; seeing Europe through the eyes of their children and as new parents. But let’s go back to where it all began for Michael and Floyd.
Michael, originally from France and Floyd from Akron, Ohio, met on Gay.com in San Francisco in 2003 and connected over their shared love of photography and travel. They met up for the first time at El Castillo, a Mexican restaurant for dinner and a chat. As Michael knew the area they started to tour the whole West Coast, and later Hawaii, together. These shared interests and experiences cemented their relationship, and they were married in 2011. They’ve been together for 13 years.
The family on their travels in Europe
Michael and Floyd are certainly models of perseverance. Determined to adopt children, they started with the foster-to-adopt program in Santa Clara county in 2012, but finding the system slow and cumbersome they looked to private adoption, working with an agency in San Francisco for two years. Again they were disappointed. They took a new path and after researching surrogacy and reading about a couple following that path to fatherhood in India they looked at the possibilities in Mexico. This took some time and a great deal of research. Finally they traveled to Mexico to sign the contracts and make the deposit to start the process. Less than a month after this they were told they were pregnant, later to be informed by the agency that it was twins! Nine months later they flew down to Mexico to meet Lauren and Nathan, who were born in September 2015.
Michael (left) and Floyd with their twins at Grand-Place d'Arras, France
When they went to Mexico, surrogacy was still legal for foreign same-sex couples, and although overall their Mexican experience was a good one, after the twins were born a new problem arose – bribes. It was difficult to get birth certificates without bribes and thus they were stuck in Mexico for an extra month. The clerk at the civil registry expected a 500 peso bribe (around USD $32 at the time) before he would distribute the birth certificates; a paediatrician tried to convince them to buy travel documents to exit the country, something they refused. Everything had a “foreigner price” attached to it.
Family selfie in Florence, Italy
What would be their advice for couples looking to start a family? Not to give up! It took them three years of searching before they found the “right path.” There are plenty of resources available to help people in the United States, such as Men Having Babies and, of course, Gays With Kids.
Based for a year in Essars, Northern France, Floyd and Michael have travelled quite extensively around Europe: France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal, Italy, Germany and Switzerland. By taking time off, they both feel this is a real chance to bond with the twins. “We are setting a foundation for a strong family bond.” At times they have raised a few eyebrows among their neighbors; one time in Lisbon an excitable man shouted, “Where’s the mom?” and “Come back here! I want to know how you did that!”
Walking in Marais de Cambrin, France
Traveling with young children is always a challenge but they have sound advice: “Be flexible. Be Patient. Everything takes 10 times longer! Have a checklist of things to pack for you and the kids.”
When they return to California, Floyd will be a stay-at-home dad while Michael will return to corporate America. They are currently writing a book about their experiences. No doubt that they’ll be off on more travels in the near future!
Exploring Venice, Italy
Following the tragic events in Nice, Gays With Kids reached out to Michael and Floyd to see how they as gay dads living and traveling around Europe and celebrating Bastille Day were affected by the horrific event. Floyd spoke with Brian of Gays With Kids and shared his perspective as well as some wise words.