When Brock and Kyle met, they were leading two very different lives. Brock was a dad of two and had recently divorced from his ex-wife of four years. He'd become a father at a very young age, and had only just begun to live his authentic life, as a single gay dad. Kyle, on the other hand only had himself to worry about. He was an alumni of the Virginia Military Institute, and was working at his family's company in Middlebury, Indiana. His priorities and his time were his own. When the two met, Kyle's day-to-day did a 180-degree turn while Brock's first priority was making sure his kids fit into the equation. Here's how their lives came together and their family became whole.
Brock (left), Kellan, Ren and Kyle
Brock never felt that he could be gay and accepted by his family. When he was 16, his mother found out he was dating a boy and he was sent to gay conversion therapy. Brock's family believed in the "traditional" domestic life and anything else was strictly taboo. When he returned from therapy, Brock decided to keep his true self hidden.
In 2009, when Brock was at college, he and his roommates decided to have a wild party. One for the books! At the time, Brock was still in the closet and that night he slept with his then-girlfriend. Six months after the party, she told him she was pregnant. Their daughter Ren was born in 2010.
"I went from being a college sophomore to becoming a daddy with a newborn hiding in my on-campus apartment," said Brock.
Jenn Hunter Photography
Brock was trying to balance two jobs, college and being a dad.
"I had to make a choice whether or not I wanted to come out," said Brock. "Choosing the latter to avoid even more complications, I met my ex, Courtney."
Nine months after his daughter Ren was born, Courtney and Brock got engaged. Brock dropped out of school to support his family. Courtney and Brock had a son, Kellan, together in 2012. They were married for 4 years until Brock finally came out.
Jenn Hunter Photography
Meanwhile, Kyle had moved to Michigan to work for his father and uncle's RV company. Kyle had come out during his time at the Virginia Military Institute; first to his fellow cadets, and then to his family. When he did come out, his family showed their support with unconditional love.
"They were only upset that I didn't come out sooner," said Kyle. "My father will tell you he was upset and sad that I felt that I had to hide something from him."
In 2015, Kyle and Brock's paths finally crossed on Grindr.
Despite the app's reputation for hook-ups, "he and I made it clear from the beginning that we had no intention of casual encounters," explained Brock. "I have two children to live for, I can't compromise my safety. He was the only person that understood that, and right away I knew he was the one."
Although Kyle had reservations when Brock first brought up his kids, he didn't let let this stand in his way.
"Though our conversations were Christian-mingle clean, I wasn't expecting that the first guy I had a successful and great opening with would send me a kid picture, and say, 'Hey, no hook-ups. These are my kids.'"
But the two fell in love. Brock quite often couldn't spend the night as he had the kids the next day and Kyle remembers how excited Brock was when we spoke about his kids. Kyle began to get curious and wanted to know what all the fuss was about.
The men waited 6 months for Kyle to meet the kids. Ren was a little hesitant at first, but Kyle made a big effort and spent an entire day with her so they could get to know each other better. Kellan took to Kyle immediately.
"We were both more worried about Kellan as he has ASD (autism spectrum disorder)," explained Brock. "Much to our surprise, Kellan and I went over to Kyle's house, and Kellan sat on his lap, and they watched Box Trolls together."
Since then, Kyle's life has changed completely. He now finds pink and white striped socks in his laundry, hairpins in the guest bathroom, and his Netflix now suggests "Thomas & Friends" or Strawberry Shortcake movies, instead of "Breaking Bad" and "Stranger Things."
One of the biggest things that Kyle had to learn to adjust to was having a son with autism. Some seemingly simple daily tasks, like brushing one's teeth, are not quite so simple for Kellan. Despite the challenge, Kyle has eagerly embraced his role as "Daddy Kyle."
"I wouldn't change any of this," said Kyle. " The love I receive is plenty of pay back. These kids are my world now."
Their families' response to their relationship has been quite different. Brock's family on his mother's side quite often "forgets" to invite them for family functions and weddings. Living in White Pigeon, Michigan, near the border of Indiana, the family often gets glares and funny looks in public.
Most Kyle's family, meanwhile, is still living in California, so whenever they visit them there or Kyle's dad travels to Michigan for work, Ren and Kellan are embraced as though they've been part of the family since birth.
Brock, became a dad when he was a sophomore in college; Kyle, became a stepparent to his boyfriend's kids, Although Kyle and Brook hadn't necessarily thought fatherhood was going to be part of their future, and their journeys there were very different, they're loving life as Ren and Kellan's parents.
"I have these awesome kids that are now my reason for waking up alive."