Stephen Wagenaar, 36, is a single gay dad from Krugersdorp, South Africa. He has sole custody of two beautiful 4-year-old boys whom he adopted with his then-husband of 8 years. The boys are biological brothers and just over 9 months apart in age; Stephen and his then-husband adopted each of the boys from birth.
Stephen's biggest wish was to become a father and he found most people to be positive towards gay men adopting. "In South Africa," Stephen says, "there are many orphaned children and the Department of Social Development welcomes LGBTI people and couples to apply for both foster and adoption. The screening process is quite intense, as it should be, but children are being given a chance on love almost daily."
In South Africa, same-sex marriage was legalized in 2006, and Stephen comments that his own experiences of being an openly gay dad have been, for the most part, positive. "But one still can find some conservative older people and groups of younger people that can't stop staring or talking about those different [to them]," Stephen says.
Stephen’s No. 1 priority is his two children, and he makes this very clear to anyone he dates. Stephen has found dating difficult because of his priorities but he will not compromise being the best dad he can possibly be to his two kids.
The challenges for many single dads is balancing finances and time, and for Stephen, it isn't any different. Stretching a single income can be tough but Stephen says that coming home to hugs from his boys makes all the challenges worth it.
Both Stephen's boys are in preschool so he doesn't have any childcare. Parenting, love and routine come naturally to him, and he hopes to teach his two boys to be honest, good men.
By being a loving dad, Stephen has discovered that he is kind, patient and a good example to his kids.
“It has not always been easy raising my boys alone,” says Stephen, "but I wouldn't change it for anything in the world."