Deke and Joseph met through a blind date. "A true blind date," explained Deke, back before the days of swiping left or right. They were set up through a mutual friend, and at first they just chatted over the phone. Joseph was living in Destin, Florida, while Deke was in Orlando. From their interactions via phone, the men decided that friendship rather than romance was going to be their future. That was, until they met in person.
"There was an instant connection when we saw each other," shared Deke. "We stayed up all night talking about our future together and even made plans to move in together. They say you know when it's right and we could not agree more!"
Joseph and Deke, the day after they met
This was 18 years ago. In 2014, the two were married on October 15 in Napa Valley, California. They are the co-owners of three very successful salons + spas in Destin, Florida, and they're currently thinking about opening a fourth location.
The conversation of kids began to get serious around the time they married. Deke explained, "We always knew we wanted to grow old together and always dreamed of getting married and eventually having children."
On November 11, 2017, Deke and Joseph became dads. Their daughter, Annlynn Grace Rogers, was born via surrogacy after a 3 and a half year journey. We spoke with the dads to find out how they realized their dream.
Tell us about your path to fatherhood.
Joseph: "We looked into adoption but settled on surrogacy when my father got ill."
Deke: "It all changed when Joseph's father was ill, it was then we decided to each have our own biological children. As it stood then once Joseph's mother passed he would no longer have any immediate family members and we both felt that it was important to find a solution to that if we were able to. It was then that we decided that we would have two children. We still have 5 embryos available and we plan to implant all of them in the the next few years. Looking down the road in 5 to 10 years we see ourselves with a large family. Adoption is still on the table, I think it is a wonderful thing and we would love to be able to help children that deserve a better life."
Tell us about any obstacles you faced on your path to fatherhood.
Deke: "During the 3 and a half years it took to go through the process of making embryos, being matched with a surrogate and all that comes after, was a roller coaster of emotions. We are so thankful to have had friends that had recently gone through the process and now have two beautiful girls. They were extremely helpful when it came to questions and concerns regarding the process. They helped guide us throughout the entire process. We are very appreciative and we welcome any questions from anyone thinking about surrogacy."
How has your life changed since you became a father?
Joseph: "Our daughter is only 3 weeks old so my husband and I were lucky enough to both be able to take a month off of work. Our days have been filled with taking care of and loving on Annlynn. Before having Annlynn, and owning three businesses with 50 employees, our days were filled with work and a busy social life. Now we are looking forward to slowing done and focusing on our new family.
How do you plan to juggle fatherhood and your careers? Do you plan on having help?
Deke: We aren't sure of how we are going to juggle work versus fatherhood. We went into this knowing that our lives were going to change and we are open to whatever that looks like. We do have assistance in the home, we have a sleep trainer that will transition to in home child care and she will probably reside in the home as our family grows. They say it takes a village and if thats what it takes that is fine with us.
What have you learned from your child since you became a dad?
Joseph: My husband and I have always been a great team in life and work. Now we have truly learned what teamwork is raising our daughter together has been the biggest joy in both of our lives.
Is your family treated differently than others on account of your sexual orientation?
Joseph: Our daughter is only 3 weeks old today so fortunately we have not run into many obstacles yet. That being said sometimes the questions on how we got to this point can sometimes be exhausting. Most of the time we enjoy inquisitive question but a few times they bordered on rude. Like asking which one of us is her biological parent and we quickly answer we are both her parents.
Deke: "We started this process and there were many times I became frustrated with peoples questions, with the level of ignorance that people have towards gays with kids. I decided early on rather than becoming agitated with them I would take the time to educate them in hopes that others would not have to endure these senseless questions."
Joseph and Deke's wedding, 2014
What words of advice do you have for other gay men considering pursuing your same path to parenthood?
Deke: "My advice, hit pause, take a few breaths before you answer some of the odd questions you'll receive and think of it as a teaching moment."
Joseph: "Go through an agency and do your homework by checking reviews. Patients is key and always remember you guys are in it together."
Is there anything else you'd like to share about your experiences creating or raising your family?
Deke: "This is the best thing we have ever done and the love you feel is unlike any other. We have only been fathers for four weeks and it is the most rewarding thing we've ever experienced! Our hearts are full."