Become a Gay Dad

The Cost of Becoming a Gay Dad: The Ultimate Guide

For gay men hoping to become fathers, the bills start mounting before a dime goes to diapers or day care. Here are the costs associated with becoming a dad through adoption, foster care, and surrogacy.

Got a spare $233,610 lying around? That's more or less what the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates as the average cost to raise a child to the age of 17. But if you are a gay, bi, or trans man who doesn't have traditional, inexpensive baby-making options at their disposal, the bill will be even higher. So how, in the vast and confusing world of adoption, surrogacy, foster care and parenting partnerships, do you navigate the less talked about but very real costs of becoming a queer father?


The Cost of Foster-to-Adopt for Gay Men: $0 to $2,000

From foster parents becoming adoptive parents to singles and couples working with facilitators and private agencies, adoption is a beautiful way to build a family. Fostering — like any other on this list — can be a road fraught with emotion, but cost-wise, it's the unbeatable winner.

"There are all kinds of kids in foster care with all kinds of backgrounds, infants to teens and everything in between," says Ellen Kahn, Director of the Children Youth and Families Program for the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

At first, she notes, efforts are focused on reunification with the family of origin, usually about a year-and-a-half's worth of time. Those 18 months can be harrowing for fosters, she notes, especially when they are falling in love with the child. The flip side? Fostering to adopt is affordable for anyone — it costs no money, just time, love and patience.

"Truly," says Kahn. "There is no required out-of-pocket cost to foster or adopt a child this way. No cost to engage with the agency, no cost to get the necessary training or required classes, no cost to have your home study done."

Additionally, foster parents are provided a stipend to cover medical expenses, transportation, food and other necessities. "If you are financially challenged and think no agency will have you, think again," says Kahn. "They want you for what you bring to the table as a caregiver, as a stable and loving adult."

Additionally, those with expendable income may be able to fast-track the process by partnering with a private agency that works in conjunction with the state and/or county.

"For example, a single, gay man might choose to go to Adoptions Together, which has a contract with D.C. Child and Family Services to help find families for children in foster care who are 8 or older." A private entity, "they don't have the bureaucracy of public agencies …. So he might opt to pay them a fee to do his home study rather than wait for the state — plus he might feel a bit more confident that his social worker will be gay-friendly, because Adoptions Together is gay-friendly.

"You could choose to spend a modest amount of money, perhaps $2,000, to do this. And it's still the same pool of kids. Companies like [Adoptions Together] exist in pretty much every state."

The Cost of Domestic Private or Independent Adoption for Gay Men: $10,000 to $30,000+

Prospective parents amid the adoption process, no matter the classification, will be fluent in its extensive lexicon before their new child comes home. (Read our glossary of adoption terms here.) Depending on the state you live in (and that of the birth parent) you might call this version "private adoption." Or "independent adoption." Or perhaps "parental placement."

And while laws vary, of course, it's roughly the same idea.

"What it means is that the birth parents are placing their child directly with the adoptive parent or parents without an agency as an intermediary," explains attorney Jennifer Fairfax, whose D.C./Virginia/Maryland-based practice has been helping create new families for nearly two decades.

Though there are a handful of agency-only states — Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware — all the rest allow for private adoption, and there are several ways to pursue it (and before doing so, you'll want to have your home study completed).

"In many ways," says Fairfax, "I am a consultant or strategist for the adoptive parents." In the area where she practices, laws prohibit attorneys from directly matching birth and adoptive parents. "I walk my clients through all the different avenues — setting up advertising or online profiles on sites such as Parent Profiles or Potential Parents — and I review all their material before it goes live, giving input, making edits."

Attorneys like Fairfax can advise clients on the do's and don'ts of private toll free numbers and prepaid GoPhones, how to set up avenues of contact with potential birth moms, and the specific laws governing advertising — from flyers and classified ads to roadside billboards and social media accounts — which vary tremendously from state to state.

For Fairfax's clients, her fees average between $2,500 and $6,000; advertising can add several thousand dollars to their out-of-pocket expenses. "An online adoption site, for example, could cost $100 per month and you might be on it for two years."

Less advertising means less expense, of course. The flip side is that your match may take longer to find.

Birth mothers need legal representation too, and adoptive parents foot the bill. "These vary," says Fairfax, "but usually fall somewhere between $3,000 and $7,000."

State laws are among the factors determining these fees.

"For example, if we are finalizing an adoption in the D.C. area, my fees will be a little higher." In the birth mother's state, the math flips. "My clients will have to hire two lawyers over there: one for them, one for her."

State laws governing birth-mother expenses will figure in as well. "In the District of Columbia, absolutely no living expenses are allowed; in states like California, Florida or Kansas they have 'flexible expenses,' where [adoptive parents] can pay reasonable living expenses with no specified limits."

This means they might have to pay for things such as rent, food, clothing and transportation, sometimes for the entire length of the pregnancy and up to eight weeks postpartum.

Additionally, the laws differ from state to state depending on the route adoptive parents take.

"Again, using the District of Columbia as the example: an agency is permitted to take living expenses for a birth mother. But for private adoptions, that is currently prohibited."

While the numbers certainly figure in for prospective parents, Fairfax says agency vs. private is often as much about their comfort level with one-on-one birth-mother relationships. "An agency will have spoken to the birth mom, interviewed her, perhaps gotten some social and medical history, and counseled her about the prospective parents before they even speak for the first time." She says her clients are a 50-50 split; some choose the agency, others go private.

While the D.C.-area laws prevent her from doing direct matches, attorneys in other states don't have that barrier, and so their clients could have more intermediary help.

"Florida is a great example," she notes. "There lawyers can match adoptive parents with birth parents. So the firm might have its own 800 number for birth moms to call. The attorney will speak with her directly and receive information — then he or she could offer one or more client matches with profiles for her to review. They operate much like an agency in this regard – though she stresses that is not the way the law is written – and it generally includes a hefty advertising fee, roughly $6,000 to $8,000.

"If an agency, an attorney, an advertiser or any third party helps find a birth mother for you," says Fairfax, "your adoption will probably fall in the $20,000 to $30,000 range. $20,000 or less is usually when the birth and adoptive parents are in the same state."

The Cost of Domestic Agency Adoption for Gay Men: $30,000 to $50,000+

The thing about adoption, says Joy S. Goldstein, LCSW, ACSW, is that everyone thinks they have one or more strikes working against them when being considered by expectant parents. "It can be something as simple as religion, or living in a studio apartment, or that they're older, or single, or a same-sex couple …. Whatever agency or attorney they are working with should be helping them reframe that into something positive about their family unit — because there's a birth mother out there who will see it."

She and husband Michael, both social workers, are the adoptive parents of three. Together they founded Forever Families Through Adoption, a licensed, nonprofit placement agency and resource center. Michael is also an attorney, whose practice focuses on adoption law; Joy is FFTA's executive director.

"It's an emotional journey," she explains. The financial anxiety many prospective parents feel doesn't help. The Goldsteins' formula — agency fees, attorney fees, home study and more — puts the base cost at about $23,000, but it will go up from there. How much depends on some things within your control, others not.

Additional expenses could include things like application approval and birth mother expenses, which can easily run into the thousands. The Goldsteins put this range at about $5,000 to $10,000.

"These can vary based on the laws of the state where [the birth mother] lives or whether she has medical insurance. In some states, for example, even if the mother contacts you in the ninth month, she is entitled to many months of court-approved, pregnancy-related living expenses. In New York State, it's typically three months."

Joy notes that when they were amid the process, they arranged for their birth mother to see a private physician. This would be an optional expense that adoptive parents would be expected to cover.

Do you have a job? If so, says Goldstein, requesting information about whether your company offers adoption-based matching programs or benefits is an important part of planning. Many do and can cover thousands of dollars of expenses, while also offering paid paternity leave.

"You have to be comfortable sharing the news, of course," Joy points out, since adoption leave can't be predicted along the same lines as that stemming from a pregnancy. A call could come anytime.

Internet advertising is another optional expense prospective parents can consider, one the Goldsteins say is generally worth it, garnering would-be parents greater exposure and a better shot at a birth mother finding them faster.

While adoption expenses are daunting, they are somewhat paced. Michael cautions people to be wary of agencies that require all the money up front. Generally speaking, the largest payment will be due at the time of matching. The caveat, of course, is that once a parent or parents are approved and ready, it may be months before your child comes home – or the call could come in a week, at which time, that money comes due.

Even if you've done a great job of saving, you may not be all the way there. Without it, your match could move on to another waiting family.

But believe it or not, there are places where you might get some help. "Some parents take out a small home equity loan [for] that last big payment," says Becky Fawcett. "Others drain their savings. What causes me personal anguish is hearing that people are putting their adoption fees on credit cards and then paying 17.99 percent interest."

Fawcett and husband Kipp, in fact, are among the savings-drainers. Five rounds of IVF cost more than $80,000. The eventual adoption of their first son, about $40,000, wiped out the rest.

"We were so grateful to have that savings to drain," she notes, "but once we started to learn what people were doing to pay for adoption because they didn't [have the savings], the need to help was immediate."

So she founded HelpUsAdopt.org, a nonprofit that does just that, awards grants to prospective parents of all types who need that last bit of funding to say yes to a birth mother.

Fawcett stresses the organization's equal opportunity ideals. Her initial research turned up a handful of organizations that award similar grants, "but they made me sick to my stomach," she says, "so discriminatory in nature that to be quite honest, even my husband and I didn't qualify for a lot of them."

Note to those considering an application: This is not start-up money. Or middle money. Those who are awarded are already deep into the adoption process. There's a legal agreement involved.

"Our money is where you come up short. Applicants outline the details of how they have covered costs so far and we fill in the gap, whether it's a $5,000 grant or a $15,000 grant. We pay the last bills … checks that are due directly to the adoption professionals."

The number of grants awarded depends on the amounts each recipient needs; HelpUsAdopt gives away $100,000 each cycle. Fawcett says the hardest part is having to say no, but they continue to raise more money, each time helping more families. Once annual, they've since grown and now award grants thrice yearly.

She'd love to see more LGBT applicants.

"I want the LGBT community to know that we're really here to help, that we – staff, advisory board, donors, everybody – believe in their journeys to be parents.

The Cost of Surrogacy for Gay Men: $90,000 to $120,000+

The bad news is hardly news: surrogacy is expensive. The good, says Scott Buckley, director of operations for Circle Surrogacy, is that it's not exclusively reserved for the well-off. "We've found that intended parents who have tighter budgets can still manage the costs with some advance planning."

There's little difference, if any, in fees for single- or two-dad households.

"Both would require the assistance of an egg donor … The main difference is that the couples often choose to provide sperm from both intended fathers, so typically there would be a small fee charged for the additional IVF screening for a second sperm provider."

Standard expenses include agency fees, gestational carrier fees, travel expenses, IVF, attorneys' fees, social workers' fees, medical insurance. It adds up quickly. Unforeseen (but not unheard of — plan accordingly!) extras could include lost wages for the surrogate, additional required medical tests, caesarean section fees, even day care for the surrogate's children.

Buckley advises all parents to have extra funds set aside in case the unanticipated occurs.

"That said, we've introduced a number of packages and plans that aim to make fees as predictable as possible. The first is our unlimited IVF package, which we offer with partner clinics. For a single price, these guarantee as many retrievals and transfers as necessary until you have a baby. The second is unlimited matching, which we offer to all our intended parents — if your match breaks with your surrogate or egg donor, there is no additional fee to be rematched."

Most recently, Circle began offering a fixed-fee program. "With this option, intended parents will know exactly what they will pay for agency fees, surrogate and egg donor fees, and legal work from the beginning."

Some agencies, Circle included, have introduced financing options to help.

"In cooperation with Prosper Healthcare Lending, qualified parents can secure loans of up to $100,000. We've also seen parents take out mortgage-backed loans."

Men with HIV face another expense around what is commonly referred to as "sperm washing." As Gays With Kids has written about before, HIV+ men can become biological dads, too. According to Ryan Kiessling, MPM, of the Special Program of Assisted Reproduction at the Bedford Research Foundation Clinical Laboratory, HIV-positive men interested in surrogacy should budget from $8,000 to $10,000 for this procedure.

The Gay Parenting Assistance Program (GPAP) of Men Having Babies (a nonprofit organization providing guidance, advocacy & financial assistance for current and future gay surrogacy parents) annually provides dozens of gay prospective parents with over a million dollars worth of cash grants, discounts and free services from more than forty service providers. As of May 2015, two dozen couples have already benefitted from direct assistance, and at least 8 babies are expected to be born by the end of the year. Men Having Babies created GPAP as part of its mission to promote the affordability of surrogacy and other parenting related services for gay men through financial assistance and the encouragement of transparency and customer feedback.

One expense you may not have considered — but may find well worth it — is enlisting the help of a surrogacy expert. Attorney Rhonda Levy is one such professional; her company, Empowered IVF, helps clients transform into knowledgeable consumers, capable of navigating the unfamiliar and daunting world they have entered. Fees range from single, two-hour sessions to package deals good for multiple consultations as parents move along on their journey.

She recommends seeking the advice of neutral experts who are not benefitting financially from your choice of surrogacy agency.

"A neutral expert can help you cross reference agency fee structures, and show you how some charge more without offering greater value," says Levy. "Additionally, some agencies encourage their intended parents to work with a particular fertility clinic."

This, she warns, could be because the agency has a mutually beneficial financial arrangement with that clinic.

Even more distressing, however, is that "some have chosen to refer their intended parents to [clinics with] a track record of only average and sometimes even poor performance. A neutral expert can help conduct an insightful fertility clinic assessment and protect them from unnecessarily experiencing multiple failed cycles, which can be extremely disheartening for both them and the gestational carrier."

She encourages people to do their homework and not go into the process in a passive way, but rather empower themselves with knowledge.

"The more you have, the more equipped you'll be to choose an agency that is meeting best-practice standards but isn't charging at the highest end of the scale, and a fertility clinic that will offer your carrier an excellent chance of becoming pregnant following the first embryo transfer."

The Cost of Co-Parenting or "Parenting Partnerships" for Gay Men: $0+

Also sometimes called co-parenting, "parenting partnerships" is an umbrella term describing a family in which parents are not romantically linked, but have purposefully chosen one another as child-rearing partners.

"There's no set formula," says Darren Spedale, founder of Family by Design, a site that helps prospective parents learn about parenting partnerships and helps them find their ideal co-parenting match. "It's really about finding the person who wants to be the complement to what you're looking for."

"LGBT iterations I've seen include gay men who find single women, gay men who partner with lesbian couples and gay couples who partner with lesbian couples … When you have two moms and two dads, there's not only a lot of love to go around, but a lot of resources available for the child — having someone available to pick their kid up after school becomes that much easier."

Spedale recommends that prospective partners should take it slow before moving forward, similar to regular dating; he recommends waiting at least a year from meeting to starting the conception process, taking the time not only to get to know one another's personalities and parenting ideologies to make sure it is truly a longterm match, but also to get all the necessary medical evaluations done, from STDs to testing for potential genetic disorders.

Costs for actually getting pregnant may be negligible, depending on the needs of the parenting partners; quite often parents simply self-inseminate. (And that is exactly what you think it is – between a collection cup for dad and a syringe for mom, Spedale estimates the bill at $3.)

A healthy discussion about sharing the child care costs, estate planning and the like should be mandatory and, says Spedale, backed up with a legal agreement. "If nothing else, having to put it all down in writing will force you to answer important questions you may not have thought of – but should."

Family by Design offers a template agreement to help get the conversation started, covering each parent's intent regarding obligations, how others should view your arrangement and the decision-making process not only for day-to-day concerns but major ones like child care providers, medical procedures, college.

"Most people enter the frame imagining a 50-50 endeavor in terms of both time and finances," says Spedale, "though that could be different if one parent's earning ability is much higher."

So, too, do others enter "known donor" arrangements; for example, a woman or two-mom couple who plans to do the majority of day-to-day parenting and decision-making, but would like the father to have some involvement in their child's life.

Important to note, in some states physician-assisted insemination will eliminate the donor's legal position as a parent. Check your state's statute.

Financially speaking, parenting partnerships are like fingerprints, as unique as the personal finances of those involved. Other questions to consider, says Spedale, would be things like which parent gets the tax credits associated with child-rearing.

Economically speaking, however, it seems to benefit parents universally. "I've heard a number of people say, 'You know, I don't know that I could have had a child if not for a parenting partnership. It's not financially feasible for me as a single parent, but it's definitely feasible in this model.'"

If couples can request wedding gifts in the form of honeymoon fund donations, why not ask friends and loved ones to invest in the creation of your family?

The Goldsteins have even seen it in their own family. "I have gay, married cousins who accepted wedding gifts to fund their IVF procedures," says Joy. "Everyone feels somewhat responsible for their son — which is a wonderful feeling, as we all got to participate."

*All costs in this article are approximate and based on domestic (U.S.) adoption and surrogacy procedures.

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Do We Have a Biological Right to Fatherhood? Absolutely, Says This Gay Dad

Jay Bostick, a gay foster dad, responds to Kevin Saunders' controversial essay "Why This Adopted Gay Man Will Never Have Children"

Editor's Note: Below is an essay by Jay Bostick who eloquently lays out many of the reasons why he and many other readers were upset by a post we ran yesterday by Kevin Saunders titled, "Why This Adopted Gay Man Will Never Have Children." This post clearly touched a nerve! (Check out the ongoing discussion on our Facebook page.) While some of our readers appreciated Saunders' viewpoint, many others felt slighted by his reasoning for not having children, calling him everything from "self-involved," "selfish," and an "insufferable narcissist." Many other readers rightly questioned why Gays With Kids would even run an essay from a man who does not want children on (of all place) a parenting website.

The former point is a matter of opinion, but I'll offer some clarification on the latter. We agreed to run this post for two reasons. First, Saunders' perspective is unique among many adopted gay men. We have run countless essays on this site featuring adopted gay men who, inspired by their own upbringing, decided to give back by opening up their homes to children who need them. Saunders' experience, however, led him to conscience decision not to have children, a perspective worthy of discussion particularly by anyone who has been touched by adoption in some way. Secondly, as a 52-year-old gay man, Saunders is starting to find himself alienated from many in his LGBTQ peer group for his decision not to have kids. Again, we are so much more familiar with the opposite perspective on our page: when they become parents, many gay men find themselves ostracized from the broader, childless LGBTQ community. That the inverse is also starting to become true is a testament to the increase in LGBTQ parents in the United States, and an interesting dichotomy we believed warranted further exploration.

All that said, Saunders' essay is a matter of opinion, and one our readers (nor we) certainly don't have to agree with. This is why we were thrilled to receive this "counterpoint" to Saunders's essay from Bostick. We, at least, are enjoying the respectful exchange of ideas, and hope you are as well. Give Bostick's essay a read, as well as the original, and then let us know what you think in the comments or at dads@gayswithkids.com.

--David Dodge, Managing Editor

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Adults

Why This Adopted Gay Man Will Never Have Children

Do we have a biological right to parenthood? Kevin Saunders, a childless 52-year-old gay man, says no.

Guest post written by Kevin Saunders.

Two dear friends of mine, each partnered, capable gay men of relatively sound mind and body, have recently decided to become fathers, and I could not be more unnerved. The expense, the risk, the potential for disappointment, the logistical complexity that they must navigate leave me baffled and at times enraged with the lingering question that I have, out of respect, refrained from asking, "WHY, WHY, WHY do you want to do this?!" These feelings toward what most would consider a happy occasion beg a reciprocal enquiry: "Why do you care?" The answer is rooted in a disposition and a history that has left me skeptical of the innate right to biological parenthood that many, gay or straight, seem to feel entitled to.

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Surrogacy for Gay Men

What Professionals Will I Work With on a Surrogacy Journey?

There will be LOTS of people involved in your surrogacy journey. Kristin Marsoli of Circle Surrogacy breaks down the team of people you can expect to work with.

A surrogacy journey, while monumental, is also a complex process with multiple milestones, many of which are new territory for intended parents. You will likely form the strongest relationships with your egg donor and surrogate, however there are many other professionals who you'll encounter on your journey who will educate and support you on your way to parenthood.

Here are the types of professionals you can expect to work with on your surrogacy journey working with an agency such as Circle Surrogacy & Egg Donation:

Parent Outreach Team

When you start your research on surrogacy and surrogacy agencies, if you contact Circle Surrogacy, your first point of contact will be a member of our Parent Outreach Team. This person solely supports intended parents at the very beginning stages of their journeys, before they've signed on with an agency. The Parent Outreach Team is a wonderful resource to answer questions about the surrogacy process, surrogacy costs, how to choose an agency and more. At Circle, many of our Parent Outreach Associates are also parents through surrogacy, so they can share their experiences and understand exactly what it's like to be in your shoes. When you have your surrogacy consultation, you'll meet with a Parent Outreach Associate and a Lawyer to discuss your personal surrogacy needs and journey. Your Parent Outreach Team will support you through signing on with the agency.

Circle's Parent Outreach Team

Egg Donation Matching Coordinator

It's time to match with the first of two women who will be very important in your journey to parenthood: your egg donor! Selecting an egg donor may come easy to some, but others may take more time determining their perfect match. Our egg donor coordination team will help you find the right egg donor to meet your needs. They will help you navigate the egg donor database and coordinate your egg donor match.

IVF Doctor and Clinic Coordinators

You'll work closely with your IVF clinic professionals, including coordinators and, especially, your doctor. Your IVF doctor will advise you on your IVF journey and embryos, evaluate your egg donor and surrogate to determine they are ready for the process medically, and perform the egg retrieval and embryo transfer. Some intended parents come to surrogacy having already identified a clinic, others look for guidance in choosing a clinic that will best suit their needs.

Program Manager and Coordinator

Perhaps the professionals you will work the closest with will be your Program Manager (PM) and Program Coordinator (PC). As your journey support team, your PC and/or PM will be your day-to-day contact during your entire journey, from the moment you sign on with the agency, until the birth of your baby and beyond. Your PC and your PM ensure that you are meeting every milestone, having a smooth journey, and preparing for the arrival of your baby(ies).

Social Workers

Early on in your journey, you'll have an intended parent support call with one of the agency's social workers. During this call, you'll speak with the social worker about your upcoming journey, setting up expectations, talk about matching preferences and more. Social workers are also available to intended parents throughout their journey should they have a bump in the road, or if they need help navigating and talking through a situation.

L-R Alicia Abdella, Manager of Intended Parent Support and Social Worker, Jessica McCaffrey, Intended Parent Attorney and Scott Buckley, VP of Client Services

Lawyers (both at Circle and local attorneys)

During the surrogacy process you will work with a lawyer for the following milestones:

  • Drafting, negotiating and finalizing your surrogacy contracts
  • Establishing your parental rights
  • Safely returning home

Intended parents will be assigned a Circle attorney who will be part of the Coordination team. Parents can also expect to work with local counsel – lawyers who work out of the state from which their gestational carrier resides. Local counsel will help with establishing parental rights.

Surrogate Matching Team

A key milestone during your surrogacy journey is matching with your gestational carrier. At Circle, the Matching Manager – who is also a lawyer – presents intended parents with the profile of a gestational carrier whom she believes will be a great match. The match is based on a few criteria: legal fit, personality fit, geographic location and views on surrogacy. The Matching Team will help coordinate your first call with your potential surrogate, and work with you to find the most suitable match.

Trust Accountant Team

Each surrogacy operates a little differently; however if you work with a full-service agency such as Circle Surrogacy, a Trust Accountant will manage any outgoing payments to surrogates, egg donors and third parties. Upon matching, trust accountants keep intended parents informed of the monies needed to fund all expected expenses up until 6 months post delivery. They can also answer any financial questions intended parents may have.

Medical Billing Team

Intended parents will interact with the Medical Billing Team when they are matched with their gestational carrier. The team determines what intended parents can expect to pay for medical expenses from local monitoring, pregnancy and delivery, based on their specific case. The Medical Billing Team also reviews each medical bill from monitoring, physicians and the hospital prior to payment to ensure accuracy, and advocate for intended parents should medical facilities need to be called for any discrepancies.

Gestational Carrier's OBGYN

Around the 10th week of pregnancy, the IVF clinic will discharge your surrogate from their care and she will start seeing her OBGYN. Your surrogate will select her OBGYN that is local to her, and usually the same doctor she saw for her own pregnancies. Many intended parents attend the 20-week ultrasound with their surrogate, at which time they meet the OBGYN in person (in some cases, IPs have been "attended" ultrasound appointments via video on their surrogate's phone!).

The entire team at Circle

Hospital Staff

Your baby will be delivered at a hospital in your gestational carrier's home state; many times, it's the hospital where she delivered her own children. Circle recommends touring the Labor & Delivery section of your surrogate's hospital to help familiarize yourself with its staff and layout in advance. Many intended parents combine their visit for the 20-week ultrasound and the hospital tour. Touring the hospital with your surrogate enables you both to ask questions of the hospital staff and prepare for baby's delivery.

Embassy personnel (international intended parents)

International parents will work with their agency's legal team as well as local counsel to ensure they can return home safely. Some intended parents will need to travel to the embassy to secure travel documents for their baby(ies).

There are so many experienced professionals involved in a surrogacy and egg donation journey. It's important to understand with whom you'll be working throughout each milestone. While every agency operates differently – and an independent surrogacy journey will involve fewer agency professionals – these are the professionals intended parents can expect to work with on a journey with Circle Surrogacy. And because Circle is a full-service agency, many of the professionals mentioned above – outside of IVF clinics, local attorneys, hospital and embassy personnel – are all under one roof, making the management of your journey smooth and secure.

Gay Dad Life

Gays WITHOUT Kids (If Just For a Day...)

Andrew Kohn explains why he decided to leave his kids at home this Pride

I'm not a monster. Yes, I saw the wagons carrying lovely toddler children waiving their flags and eating their graham crackers. The children were plentiful wearing their Pride family shirts, bejeweled in rainbow. The weather was perfect and the crowds were as prideful as ever. But my husband and I had a day where we didn't have to worry about someone else, not on the constant lookout for the next available bathroom or calming emotions because we could buy one unicorn costume and not every unicorn costume. We had a day without kids.

Yes, Pride has become commercialized. Some companies want my gay money, but others march and have a presence because one gay voice spoke up and asked why the company hasn't marched. I marched in the parade with my employer – who marched for the first time this year – because I started the conversation about why we hadn't marched before. My husband and I were present. We honored Stonewall. And praised Nina West. And we did it without carrying a bag with extra panties and a couple sippy cups.

Believe me, I get sharing the day with your children. With your family. But in my house, we live Pride every day. Two white dads caring for two black kids makes us walking billboards for equality, love, and acceptance. I don't need a day to celebrate my family with my children. We do it in the grocery store. We do it at preschool. We recognize our uniqueness and celebrate it. My children don't need a meltdown and a long walk to tell them about their history and their fathers' connection to the past.

Instead of worrying about where we would find lunch and, again, where the closest bathroom was, I saw beauty that took me by surprise – and I was able to be in the moment with it. Trans men waking boldly and bravely around only wearing only their bindings. Watching high school kids sitting in the grass, wearing crop tops and eating french fries, literally carefree looking up at the clouds. We experienced a community that was free and uninhibited, if just for one afternoon, where who you are isn't odd or something to be hidden. But rather something that is a definition of you and should be your reality 365 days a year.

I know that being gay and having kids can be overwhelming at times. We ask ourselves if we're representing our community adequately (or have we become too heteronormative?). If we have children of a different race, are we giving them the experiences they need to know who they are, as well as navigate that world with gay parents? Are we so embraced at school functions because of our contributions to community or are we a token family? And yes, I'll ask it, are we good enough for acceptance by all gay families, who as if we're single again, judge each other on wealth, looks, and status? No family is better than any other, and gay parents certainly have opportunities to be better towards one another.

Our Pride ended in a small fight while walking to the car, like all good Pride's should. But it wasn't about kids bickering, or kids getting upset they didn't get the right treat. It was about us centering ourselves in a community that isn't exactly welcoming in certain spaces to gay families other times of the year. It was about us catching up with our past while also seeing our collective future.

And the kids didn't seem to mind. They had fun with a babysitter and lived their Pride out loud when they shopped for daddy and papa gifts for Father's Day. That's our Pride. Maybe when the kids are older, and really get the meaning of Pride, we'll start marching together in solidarity. But for right now, daddies needed a little time alone to reconnect with their LGBT family. And while there may be too many beer ads and not enough voter registration tables, we celebrate visibility and love. And my husband and I had time together, reminding us of who we are, who our original family was, and how we will connect who we are now, and our children, with that family as it grows.

At the end of the day, we're all in it together. And my children will be enriched by the experience. Just not this year. This year, we fertilized our roots so that our branches can grow.

Antwon and Nate became dads through the foster care system. Nine months after becoming licensed, they received a call on a Tuesday, and two days later, their daughter moved in. "It was very quick," said Nate. "Honestly, it was more just shock and nervousness for me."

As new parents, Nate took unpaid leave for two weeks, before going back to work part-time. Antwon didn't receive any leave.

"It's definitely important to have time off to bond, but it's also important to be financially stable when you do it," said Antwon. "I don't think you should have to choose between staying financially afloat or showing your kid love... and I don't think anyone should have to make that choice."

Only 15% of dads in the U.S. have access to paid paternity leave. We want to change this.

Watch Nate and Antwon's video to find out how:

Sign the pledge: www.dovemencare.com/pledge

Like Antwon and Nate, we're helping Dove Men+Care advocate for paid paternity leave for *ALL* dads! Over the next three months, we will be sharing stories of gay dad families and their paternity leave experience. Our goal is to get 100,000 folks to sign the Paternity Leave Pledge.

Dove Men+Care has collected over 30,000 signatures on the Pledge for Paternity Leave in three short months, in a mission to champion and support new legislation for federally mandated paid leave laws in the U.S. With the conversation growing on Capitol Hill, Dove Men+Care will target key legislators to drive urgency behind paid paternity leave policy and provide a social proof in the form of real dad testimonials, expert research and signature support from families across the country.

Our goal is to help Dove Men+Care bring 100,000 signatures to key policymakers in Washington, D.C. for their Day of Action on the Hill, and drive urgency behind this issue.

If you believe *ALL* dads should receive paid paternity leave, sign the Paternity Leave Pledge.

Gay Dad Life

Gays With Kids Turns Five!

Wow! Time certainly flies when you're busy becoming the world's biggest online resource and magazine for gay, bi and trans dads!

As if we don't have enough going on this June (Stonewall's 50th anniversary! Father's Day! Taylor Swift rounding up all the gays in West Hollywood for her latest music video!) we're also celebrating another milestone here at Gays With Kids: we're officially turning five this month. (And we don't look a day over two, right?!)

To celebrate, we took a look back at some of our most popular essays, photos, news stories and more. What do you want to see us cover in the NEXT five years? Let us know at dads@gayswithkids.com


#10. The Hardest Part of Foster Care? The Wait, Say These Dads-to-Be

Several years ago, we brought you this article: The Hardest Part of Foster Care? The Wait, Say These Dads-to-Be. The article included a video of Antwon and Nate, who were in the midst of their process to become foster dads, which quickly became one of our most popular posts of all time. In this video, they shared how difficult it was waiting for "the" call from the agency letting them know their lives would be forever changed once a child came to live with them.

Want to see how the dads are getting on several years later? Check out this updated video here!

#9. Famous Gay Dads and Their Kids!

Our article, Famous Gay Dads and Their Kids, featuring well-known gay dads from Neil Patrick Harris to Ryan Murphy, quickly became one of our most popular. In the years since, as the ranks of gay dads has continued to grow, we've brought you MANY more stories of gay men in the limelight who are venturing into fatherhood. Check them all out here!

#8. The Story Behind America's Youngest Gay Dad

The Story Behind America's Youngest Gay Dad, which ran back in 2015, is also one of our most popular posts of all time! The post explores the story of Brian Mariano, who became a father with an ex-girlfriend while still in high school. "Everybody in my life is really supportive of me," he said. "If it's someone new and a friend mentions I'm a dad, they will stop. 'Wait, what? How are you a dad? You're gay.' It's like that 'Mean Girls' quote sometimes. You know – 'if you're from Africa, why are you white?'"

#7. When His Son Got a Tattoo, He Freaked Out. Then He Saw What it Was

This article, When His Son Got a Tattoo, He Freaked Out, definitely plucked the heartstrings of our readers! Which is why it's one of the most popular articles on our site of all time.

"Guess what dad I'm getting a tattoo," Richard's son, Jonathan, texted him. "Don't you dare," was Richard's response. But Jonathan went ahead with it anyway. At first, his dad "fumed." But then he found out what the tattoo was.

"So I got my first tattoo!!" Jonathan wrote on Facebook, of his roman numeral tattoo on his side. "This date is the day that my life changed. This is the day my dads adopted me. The greatest day in my life knowing that for the rest of my life I would finally have a loving family that loved me for me!" (Another one of our most popular posts is this photo essay of gay dads who explain the meaning behind their tattoos.)

#6. 8 Black Dads Share What Black History Month Means to Their Families

Last year, during February's Black History Month, we ran an article titled 8 Black Dads Share What Black History Month Means to Their Families. To create the post, we asked our community a simple question: as a Black gay dad, what does this month mean to you, your family, and your community? The answers we got back were reflective, poignant and deeply moving, which is why this article became one of our most-viewed ever.

Check out the story here.

#5. 19 Photos of Matt Dallas & Blue Hamilton That Will Make You Green with Parenting Envy

Ok the popularity of this article, 19 Photos of Matt Dallas & Blue Hamilton That Will Make You Green with Parenting Envy, doesn't need that much explanation. Gorgeous, talented, successful and good dads? What's not to love! Also check out this more recent post, Things Husbands (and Gay Dads) Do According to Matt Dallas and Blue Hamilton, which is also quickly climbing the ranks of our most popular!

#4. A Gay Dad's Message From His Heart to his Facebook Friends

This article, A Gay Dad's Message From the Heart to his Facebook Friends, by gay dad Michael Anderson, ran in the troubling aftermath of the 2016 Presidential election, when so many LGBTQ people, our allies, and other vulnerable communities looked (and continue to look) towards an uncertain future.

"Suddenly I don't feel secure anymore," Michael wrote. "Vice president-elect Pence has an extensive anti-gay record from supporting gay conversion therapy on kids that literally includes trying to (but failing to) electro-shock the gay out, to signing legislation in his state in 2013 to jail any same-sex couple who attempted to get a marriage certificate. All of the progress that we have made that gives my family a sense of belonging and security is very likely to be erased."

For more of our ongoing political coverage, including the 2020 race, check out these articles as well.

#3. Helping Gay Men Afford Adoption Through Sizable Grants

Our third most popular article, Helping Gay Men Afford Adoption Through Sizable Grants, features our good friends Help Us Adopt, an amazing non-profit organization that helps adoptive parents offset the substantial costs associated with the process. They are also dedicated to inclusivity, and are one of the few financial resources available for gay adoptive parents. Check out this great profile of their work!

#2. 9 Times Gay Dads Crushed Their Pregnancy Announcement Pics

Gay dads love a good photo opportunity. So obviously this photo essay of gay dad pregnancy announcement pics is high up on our list as well. This photo essay, 9 Times Gay Men Crushed Their Pregnancy Announcement Pics, is our second most popular. Check out this most recent roundup of pregnancy announcement pics, which is also climbing the

And Our MOST Viewed Article of All Time Is... 

Gay dads do Halloween right! So it's no surprise that this article, 13 Dads Giving You Major Family Halloween Costume Goals, is our most viewed of all time! And though Halloween may still be months away, why not prepare early with a look at some of our other most popular Halloween articles!

Gay Dads Snap Pics at the Pumpkin Patch
Nobody Does Halloween Like Neil Patrick Harris and Fam
31 Gay Dads Serving Major Halloween Costume Inspo (and Where to Get The Looks!)
Get Your DIY Skills On for Halloween, Dads!







THANK YOU!

Lastly, a big thank you to all of our readers! It's thanks to you that we now can claim the biggest online community of gay, bi, and trans dads in the world (not to mention two GLAAD award nominations ;) We can't wait to see what the next five years bring!

Change the World

How to Deal with "Dad Shaming"

In the latest episode of Daddy Squared, we take a deep dive into the issue of "dad shaming" with guest Jeremy Hooper of GLAAD

Almost every dad has suffered some unwanted criticism either on social media or in real life, from people who 'know better' about parenting. Dad shaming is a thing, parents tend to judge other parents, and it manifests itself both on social media and in real life, making dads just feel awful about themselves. As a follow-up to our Pride episode, we talk about the opposite of pride – shame. We brought on Jeremy Hooper, a writer and consultant for GLAAD, who has been dad-shamed before he even left the hospital with his newborn, to discuss dealing with dad shaming, 'momsplaining,' and other forms of criticism.

On the eve of publishing this episode we received an email from a person who chose to remain anonymous but made sure he let us know that he had heard one of us asking our kids not to touch every single item on the Starbucks counter and the way we talked to them made him 'concerned that we are beating our children.' Less than a year ago we confronted a mom who literally told us we're bad fathers because we didn't handle a parenting situation like she would. Dad shaming is everywhere, and it happens to almost all of us, and it hurts. Even if we pretend that it doesn't.

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