Gay Dad Life

The Loving Process Behind Our Open Adoption Plan

Our daughter came to us through open adoption and, while we know many more people today choose an open adoption vs a closed one, I thought it may be helpful to others just getting started to share why we thought this was the best route for our family.


Before we made any decisions, we consulted with our attorney to learn just how an open adoption worked, including insight on our birth mom's legal rights.

We knew that an open adoption would allow us to remain truthful and candid with our daughter about her origins, and that we would even be able to give her the opportunity to meet her birthparents once she became old enough and if she so desired.

Another important piece to consider: open adoption seems to be how most adoptions are arranged in the U.S. today. So an open adoption also meant that we'd likely be placed with a birthmother faster than if we opted for a closed adoption.

Once we were matched with our daughter's birthparents, we were able to sit down with them and the attorney to discuss some of the issues involved in open adoption:

First, we were able to confirm that AlliMae's birth parents were in complete agreement with us about the value of an open adoption. As you can imagine, this made us feel so excited about the journey we were about to undertake!

Interestingly, we found out that our birthmother was an adoptee herself. She's from Guatemala, but has no idea where her birth family is or how to even find them. We learned that this continues to be a very emotional topic for her, and she wanted to make sure that the baby she was giving birth to would not have to deal with the many unknowns about her bio family that she herself had to learn to live with.

Erik (left) and Douglas with Alli Mae. Photo credit: BSAphotography

Next, we had to agree on the terms of our open adoption.

We knew that we wanted a few visits in the first year for them to see the baby's growth in person. Throughout that first year we would also send updates thru text messages. After the first year the personal visits would end and instead we would continue to send them updates two or three times a year. In our minds, we already planned to be in touch each year during summer, around her birthday and again at Christmas time, important milestones that would make for a perfect time to provide these updates.

Douglas and I hoped our regular communications would ease any emotional pain our birthparents were already experiencing, or would no doubt experience in the years ahead. They acknowledged this plan was very suitable for them with smiles and tears in their eyes, which then brought tears to our eyes. It was a very tender moment for all of us and their interest in being kept updated on their birth daughter's life was clearly understood and appreciated by us.

During Alli Mae's first year we kept to all our promises and even provided a few additional personal visits that we were happy to accommodate. Some visits were with birthmother and her family, and others were with birthfather and his family. As you can imagine, these visits were emotional for us all.

Our first visit with the birthmother was an especially emotional experience. She was obviously sad and upset at the end of the visit, handing me a letter for me to read to Alli Mae one day. I could not fathom the pain she felt saying goodbye to the baby girl she gave birth to. All I could do was hug her tight and kiss her cheek, hopefully easing her suffering some by letting her know how grateful we were.

Both families brought Alli Mae gifts at different points through the first year, from clothes to jewelry to stuffed animals. At first, I always got sad looking at these gifts, but I soon came to realize that I needed to see the beauty in these gifts, and not the pain. Each stuffed animal Alli Mae received was a symbol of her birth family's love, which would always be with her, just as the love of her two fathers would always be with her.

We all developed a friendship through this. As we were sitting on our living room floor, the birthmother handed us a beautifully decorated photo album that was so thoughtfully crafted by her. Every page had pictures of both of the birthparents and their families with all of their likes and interests, hobbies, where they like to travel and details about their lives.

And then, on the last page there was a beautiful picture of Douglas and me. It was taken on the happiest day of our lives, the one we brought our beautiful baby girl home. It meant so much to me that she included us in this book. It made me cry then just as Im crying now.

The unlikely friendships that we made through this process and the love and appreciation we have for everyone involved is a beautiful feeling. I could not imagine our adoption any other way. I think about the birth families often and wish each member happiness and light every day of their lives. We will always be incredibly grateful to them for giving us our beautiful daughter and for the incredibly loving way in which our open adoption unfolded.

Feature photo credit: BSAphotography

I would love for you to follow our family's journey on Instagram @nolapapa

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Gay Dad Life

Karamo Brown Co-Writes Children's Book with Son, Jason

The 'Queer Eye' star and his son named the story on a family mantra: You are Perfectly Designed

When his sons, Jason and Chris, were young, "Queer Eye" Star Karamo Brown repeated the same saying to them: "You are perfectly designed."

That mantra is now a Children's Book, cowritten by Karamo and his 22-year-old son, Jason, who used to come how and "say things like, 'I don't want to be me, I wish I was someone else, I wish I had a different life." As a parent, that "broke my heart," Karamo told Yahoo! Lifestyle. "I would say to him, 'You are blessed and you are perfect just the way you are,' as a reminder that you have been given so much and you should be appreciative and know that you're enough — I know that the world will try to tear you down, but if you can say to yourself, 'I am perfectly designed,' maybe it can quiet out some of those negative messages."

The illustrations, by Anoosha Syed, also make a point of displaying families of a variety of races and sexual orientations throughout the book.

Read more about Karamo's fascinating path to becoming a gay dad here, and then check out the video below that delves deeper into the inspiration behind "You Are Perfectly Designed," available on Amazon.



Gay Dad Life

The Suburban Gay Dad

Are you intimidated by the suburbs? This gay dad was — but then he moved there.

In a recent article for Yahoo! Lifestyle, Steve Jacobs says the thought of living in the suburbs as a gay dad "intimidated" him. But when he started fantasizing about garages, he began to question that notion. Any apprehension he had soon evaporated, he said, one winter morning while trying to navigate the snowy streets of New York City with a stroller.

While "pushing the stroller through snow banks and pools of slush with snowflakes stinging our faces," he wrote, "a vision came to me: I pictured us walking into a garage, hopping into a car, and arriving at a diner with 10 times less drama. This image planted the seed of moving to the 'burbs that I couldn't shake."

Soon, the family of four found a house in a town a half hour outside the city. "It had grass and a beautiful yard for our spirited kiddos. The schools were good. There were even good restaurants. The only red flag: Census data estimated only 0.1 percent of the population was gay male."

There were some "growing pains" while trying to make friends in this environment. "When we attended our first dinner party, within minutes the hostess went to the kitchen and the other wives followed her, while the husbands settled into the living room. Ira and I froze, looking at each other. In the city, our straight friends hadn't separated out like this for the evening. Should we stay with the dudes, exert our masculinity, and blow off the mom we liked? Or does one of us go with the wives and accept the personal branding that comes with that? We did a quick rock paper scissors in the foyer. Ira went with the wives."

But ultimately, "being a parent defined me more than I ever imagined it would," he wrote, and he settled in nicely to his new suburban life.

Have you had a similar adjustment, from city life to the suburbs? Tell us about it at dads@gayswithkids.com for an upcoming piece!

Gay Dad Life

"Fridays with Fitz": A New Kid's Book Based Upon the Son of These Two Dads

Tracey Wimperly, author of the new children's book, said she hopes to give a more honest portrayal of the role grandparents play in the lives of children.

Guest post Tracey Wimperly

I've recently written a children's picture book (aimed at 2-4 year olds) called "Fridays with Fitz: Fitz Goes to the Pool." Every Friday - when his two dads go to work - Fitz and his grandparents (my husband, Steve and I) head off on an adventure. Through the eyes of a curious and energetic 3 year old, even ordinary adventures, like riding the bus or foraging for fungus in the forest can be fun and magical.

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Raising Grounded Kids in Crazy Manhattan

When it comes to raising kids in Manhattan, Dr. Evan Goldstein lives by this lesson — less is more.

There are several lessons that we all learn as we continue to age on this wacky place called earth. But I learned one of life's most important nuggets my first year of medical school, and it has never left me. I remember this one night in particular—it was late, and I had been studying when I realized I forgot an important book in the stacks of the library. Thankfully, a janitor opened the locked door and allowed me to retrieve my belongings. I remember it took him a while to open the locked section that I needed to enter, as he had so many dangling keys on his keychain. He responded to me gazing at the lock by saying, "Son, I may only be a janitor without any education beyond high school, but I have seen medical student after student enter this school for the past 25 years. Can I give you some advice?" "Of course," I said. "Do you see all these keys on this keychain?" he said. "Every single one holds a new responsibility. Less keys, less responsibility. Less is more! Remember that my friend." And with that, he was gone.

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Change the World

11 Family Stories That Show the Depth of the Adoption Experience for Gay Men

November is National Adoption Awareness Month! To celebrate, we've curated some adoption stories that show the true depth and breath of the adoption experience for gay men.

November is National Adoption Awareness Month! And few people are more aware of the importance of lifting up and celebrating adoption in this country than the LGBTQ community. According to the Williams Institute, 21% of same-sex couples are raising adopted children compared to just 3% of different-sex couples. Despite the fact that we are a crucial part of the support system for children needing loving homes, we are currently facing an administration that is trying to make it legal for foster care and adoption agencies to discriminate against us on the basis of religion.

To help celebrate National Adoption Awareness Month, and demonstrate that religious beliefs should in never trump the ability for a loving LGBTQ family to welcome children into their home, we've rounded up several family stories that show the true depth and breath of the adoption experience — men who never planned to become dads, and woke up one day to find themselves responsible for little ones. Men who always wanted to become dads, and suffered through years of failed placements before finally making their dreams come true. Single men, who realized they were strong enough to adopt on their own. And men who adopted older children through the foster care system.

These are just a few of the inspiring stories of gay, bi and trans adoptive dads — we are literally sitting on a treasure trove of them. And, no doubt, there are countless more headed your way in the months to come.

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Popular

"We're Dads, the Greatest Thing We've Ever Been": Congrats to Gay Men Whose Families Recently Grew!

Wishing all of these gay dads whose families expanded a lifetime of happiness! Congrats to everyone in our community on their recent births and adoptions!

Gay men go through a lot of ups and downs on the path to parenthood. It can be one of the most emotionally draining times in our lives. But as each of these families who are celebrating births and adoptions this month agree: it's worth every hardship.

Congrats to the dads whose families grew this month!

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News

United Nations Calls on Cambodia to End Criminalization of Surrogates

Cambodia's 2016 law criminalizes surrogacy — and requires women who work as surrogate to raise the children they conceived for intended parents as their own.

Last Friday, the United Nations Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) reiterated its support to end the harassment and criminalization of surrogates in Cambodia, according to Voice of America.

The report issued by CEDAW recognized growing international criticism of the unregulated practice of surrogacy around the world, which often leads to the exploitation of women who work as surrogates. However, since surrogacy became illegal in Cambodia, over 60 women working as surrogates — the very people put in danger of exploitation — have been arrested and subjected to criminal proceedings. The women were only released according to VOA, under the condition of raising the surrogate children until they are 18.

"The Committee is particularly concerned that such an obligation creates an additional financial and emotional burden on women who are in precarious situations, which led them to act as surrogates in the first place," the report reads, "and that they face discrimination and stigma from their families and communities for having acted as surrogates."

CEDAW called on the Cambodian government to repeal the October 2016 law — particularly the requirement of raising the children they conceived for other intended parents as their own. This punishment is particularly onerous given that many of these women entered surrogacy arrangement against their will, said Chak Sopheap, Executive Director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, speaking to VOA.

"Surrogate women in Cambodia are likely to be at the sharp end of various economic and political hardships that caused them to make the decision to become a surrogate," she told VOA in an email. "We have seen, over the past year, women surrogates raided, charged with human trafficking, and detained, with no transparency from the authorities as to their wellbeing or that of the children they have given birth to."

Read more about this story here.

Fatherhood, the gay way

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