Personal Essays by Gay Dads

The Day We Became Dads

"Too much to process," says Mark about the day he first became a dad. "Not enough time!"

Hanging jaws, eyes wide open. Time stood still as we tried to gather our thoughts. At the same time it felt as if we had been picked up from our mundane day-to-day dealings and thrown into the future we always wanted. Too much to process and not nearly enough time!


The next few weeks could become the best and most memorable weeks of our lives. Or they could be our worst. "Nothing is set in stone", we kept telling ourselves.

We had been in the adoption process for about two years. Just a week ago, we were contacted by an amazing women -pregnant- who wanted to place her child with us. We drove 10 hours, to Atlanta, to meet her and her parents. Everything looked amazing, and we realized that we could possibly be parents in just a few days.

We got back from Georgia on a Sunday afternoon. First thing on our agenda, sit down and figure out what we needed to get/do/prepare. My mother-in-law was coming on Tuesday to help set up the nursery. We needed to paint the walls, set up the crib... wait... we needed a crib!

My husband and I had to go to work and let people know that we needed to take time off because we were going to be parents. At first, we thought the baby could come that Tuesday. We then received confirmation that the baby's birthmom wouldn't be induced until Saturday afternoon. That gave us five days. The shortest pregnancy ever!

It was at that point that we decided to take the jump... all the way. We'd either be as excited (and prepared) as possible when this kid came, or we'd crash and burn if the birthmother changed her mind.

Even though we were cautiously optimistic at first, everyone else was extremely happy. People congratulated us, asked us about how we'd parent, and told us to prepare for sleepless nights. It was completely impossible to guard our emotions anymore. We decided to enjoy the process to the fullest and risk getting hurt. As Kelly Clarkson (and Nietzsche) said, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Right?

We decided to leave Friday night and spend the night halfway to Atlanta. At 8am on Saturday my phone rang. We were getting ready to leave when we got the call. They were at the hospital. Not sure how fast things could progress, they told us to come as quick as possible. We still had four hours to go!

The day Mark (left) and Leo (right) became dads; the day Zoe was born

We didn't have breakfast. We threw everything in the car and tried not to speed. Birth grandma kept us updated. You would have thought these four hours went by slow, since we were in such a hurry to get there. But they felt like 30 mins. Our minds were racing. There wasn't even time to look at the clock. I tested my body's limits skipping bathroom breaks, which was good training for caring for a newborn.

We arrived at the Hospital. What a feeling!! Our baby was coming!! Everything was ok. Now we just had to wait.

Birth grandma bought us a little stuffed sheep to hold so that it would get our scent. We'd leave it with the baby in the nursery. What a beautiful gesture! The sheep ended being used as a stress ball… very useful!

Labor went as it often does. An hour passed… then another… then another… and still no baby. Birthmom had warned us that she would curse us out at some point. She lived up to that promise, rightfully so.

Then it was nighttime, and the doctor said not to expect anything before midnight. We went to the hotel to lay down for a couple hours. I don't konw how we managed to sleep!

We got back to the hospital at midnight, but there was no movement. Back to the hotel and back to the hospital at 3am. Same thing. One more trip to the hotel and back. 6am. Finally, the doctor decided on a C-section.

Leo, Zoe and Mark's first family Christmas

It took a while until everything was set up... we just waited and waited. Poor birthmom was in so much pain. Finally, she was rolled into the OR as we stayed in the waiting area. We cried a little, but mostly we just paced.

Two nurses came out. We looked at them with big question marks in our faces. "The baby poops well!" one yelled. Hmm... so everything is ok??

Birth grandma came running. She asked for our phones and ran back.

OK... good sign!

Then we were called in. We were handed the most beautiful baby that ever existed. Birth grandma recorded us. We cried. I huged the birthmom. I couldn't stop crying. She changed our lives forever. We were all emotional wrecks! It was wonderful.

We called her Zoe.

2017 March for Science, Washington, D.C.

The baby couldn't cross state lines with us until the paperwork came through, which happened two weeks later. We stayed at the birth grandparents' house, which also turned out really well.

Throughout the day, Zoe was being held by her new family and her birth family. Everyone came together to create the best life we knew for her.

One last very emotional moment was when we left the birth family's house. We saw them part with Zoe, which broke our hearts. At the same time, here we were... a family of three. More tears.

We did it. Our dream was no longer a dream. It came to life and had a name: Zoe.

Zoe means Life.

Leo, Zoe and Mark

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