Personal Essays by Gay Dads

We Gained a Son Through Foster Care — He Didn't Lose his Family

Foster-adopt expert Trey Rabun writes a moving essay about his own experiences as a parent in the foster care system.

My husband, Phil, and I talked about having children since out first date over 11 years ago. Like many other gay dads, we waited to start the journey to become parents until we felt secure with our careers, finances, and home life. This meant we didn't start the partnering journey until 2016 when we were eight years into our relationship.

When we first met, I was completing my graduate studies in social work and subsequently started a career working in foster care and adoption. This made our decision to pursue foster care-adoption as our path to parenthood a fairly easy one. In fact, I can't recall us discussing other avenues to parenthood, but I'm sure we briefly discussed them before solidifying our decision to become foster parents.


We submitted the application to become foster parents around Christmas 2015 and were officially licensed in early 2016. We got licensed quicker than anticipated, so we went on hold to finish getting our lives ready for a child and to take our baby-moon trip to Europe!

We started to receive placement calls and e-mails in June 2016, and in July 2016 we were placed with a cute 15-month boy. After experiencing the crazy ride that is foster care, he would eventually become our forever son. I was planning to take three months of parent leave and Phil was going to take a few weeks off, but just as we were getting into our groove we got a call ten days into placement telling us the court ordered a move to a relative and that a social worker would be coming to our house in a few hours to pick him up. We were devastated and heartbroken…we had no idea you could fall in love with a child so quickly!! However, we knew that it was in Reggie's best interest to live with family and a relative he had lived with prior to us.

A few months later we ended up taking placement of 4-month-old baby who was with us for three months, before going back home to his parents. We knew early on this baby would be going back home, which made it a bit easier to plan for emotionally, but once again we were very sad to see him go after three months. However, we were able to get to know his parents and knew he was going back to a good situation, and we were genuinely happy for them. His parents even offered to write a reference for us when we did end up adopting, which was very touching and humbling.

We took a few months off from fostering to heal from having two sweet, little ones leave our home and had our trip to Palm Springs all booked when we received a call asking if we were interested in having Reggie return to our home. We immediately cancelled our trip and began preparing our home to welcome back the now-almost-two year old. This time, he was considered a long-term placement, and we quickly became the identified pre-adopt home if the state was unable to return him to his to parent(s), or find a relative interested in being an adoptive home.

Our son has Native American heritage so the Indian Child Welfare Act applied, which meant his tribe was continually seeking to find a tribal placement, but they ultimately couldn't find a viable home. After several conversations and an agreement with the tribe that we could keep our son connected to his culture, the tribal elders voted to approve us as the adoptive home for our child! This was yet another humbling moment in the journey.

It took about a year from the time parental rights were terminated until we finalized the adoption in June, 2019 of a now 4-year-old boy! The adoption occurred the Friday of Seattle's Pride which made for a fun weekend to celebrate family 😊 We have thoroughly enjoyed our almost three years of getting to love on Reggie. He is the silliest, kindest, and brightest kid in the world and we are truly lucky the universe brought us together! We look forward to a lifetime of guiding this awesome little person into adulthood and beyond.

It's no surprise that it was our goal to eventually adopt. But, we also became foster parents to help children return home and tried to keep this spirit at the center of what we did. Even though Reggie had very limited contact with his birth parents while in foster care, this spirit meant doing what we could to keep him connected to extended family members. Over the past few years we've gotten to know his grandma, aunts and cousins and we're proud to call them part of our family now, and vice versa. We've also recently met his birth dad and look forward to getting to know him over the years to come. And just because we get the honor of gaining a child, it doesn't mean little man has to lose his family. I'm sure it won't always be a smooth ride navigating these relationships, but it's worth it for Reggie to have these relationships and know his whole story. We hope to connect with maternal relatives at some point too. We take the responsibility very seriously to keep Reggie connected to his Native American heritage and plan to visit his the side of his family who lives out of state near the tribe's reservation.

Our biggest advice to other gay dads considering foster-to-adopt is to be patient and to focus on being there for children in the moment and not solely focus on the end goal of adoption. Between the paperwork and home study process, and potentially having multiple children placed in your home before adopting, the process can be very lengthy! It also comes with lots of ups and downs, but the ups far outweigh the downs. Having a child placed in your home and then reunify with family is one of the emotionally hardest things to experience, but there is light at the end of the tunnel and it ultimately brings you closer to your partner. We take great pride and fulfillment knowing we were able to support a family who is struggling and this feeling helps you get through the many unknowns as you wait to see what the permanency outcome will be for the child in your home!

We are keeping our foster license open, but taking a break from any placements through the end of year to enjoy our current family dynamic and figure out what future fostering journeys makes since for our family!



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Gay Dad Life

Why Limit Yourself to One Path to Parenthood? These Dads Pursed Two!

Pursuing foster care and surrogacy at the same time wasn't easy — but Travis and Jay learned important lessons about both along the way.

Travis, 36, and Jay, 29, met nine years ago in a gay bar in Riverside, California. Both work in the medical device industry and in June 2018, they were married in front of friends and family, and their 19-day-old son through foster care.

To say June 2018 was a big month for Travis and Jay would be an understatement. They became first-time dads to four-day-old Kathan, and solidified their union with marriage. When the wedding part was over, the new dads were able to focus all their attention on their new family. It had been almost 18 months since they began the process of becoming foster parents till they were matched, and while they were waiting, they began to get anxious.

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

A Gay Dad Speaks Out Against Trump's Attempts to Discriminate Against LGBTQ Adoptive Parents

Any business that accepts federal funding must NOT DISCRIMINATE says adoptive dad Erik Alexander.

Four years ago we received the phone call that changed our lives forever. We were told that in our own city of New Orleans, there was a newborn baby that needed a forever home. What we were told by the agency would likely take five or more years took mere weeks. We frantically started putting together her nursery and planning for her arrival. She was born 10 weeks early and needed to stay in the NICU to grow and gain her strength and weight before she was released. She was so tiny and delicate. We were almost afraid to hold her in the beginning because of how fragile she was.

Finally, the day arrived that we were able to bring her home and we were thrust into overdrive. We prepared by reading all the baby books and watching the videos, but all that goes out the window when you have a baby in your arms. Our little baby had trouble digesting her formula due to her prematurity. The look in her eyes due to the pain she felt broke our hearts. We felt helpless! All we could do was just try to make sure to do everything on our end to help alleviate any pain she may encounter while feeding her. It was terrible. We would hold her for hours trying to console our hurting baby girl. I remember thinking to myself while she was crying that I would do anything to make her feel better.

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Expert Advice

Your Foster Questions Answered by a Foster Expert and Foster-Adopt Dad

We asked our Instagram community to send us their questions about becoming a foster dad — and Amara's Foster Care Services Supervisor Trey Rabun responded.

Dad Trey Rabun (read his story here) recently shared his experience as a foster Expert and a foster dad with our Instagram community via a question and answer session.

Read Trey's responses below.

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News

Indiana Court Says Couples Using Sperm Donors​ Can Both Be Listed on Birth Certificate — But Ruling Excludes Male Couples

The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in the case, a major victory for LGBTQ parents — but the Attorney General may appeal to the Supreme Court.

On Friday, a US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling from a lower court that said that both parents in a same-sex relationship are entitled to be listed on the birth certificate — previously, the state of Indiana had required the non-biological parent within a same-sex relationship using assisted reproductive technologies to adopt their child after the birth in order to get her or his name listed on the birth certificate, a lengthy and expensive process not required of straight couples in the same situation.

It's a double standard LGBTQ parents have long been subjected to in many states across the country. So this represent a major win. As reported by CNN, this ruling "takes a lot of weight off" the shoulders of LGBTQ parents, said Karen Celestino-Horseman, a lawyer representing one of the couples in the case. "They've been living as families and wondering if this was going to tear them apart."

The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals deliberated the case, according to CNN, for more than two and a half years, which is one of the longest in the court's history.

However, because all the plaintiffs in the case involved female same-sex couples using sperm donors, the ruling left open the similar question of parenting rights with respect to male couples. Indiana's Attorney General, moreover, may also appeal the case to the Supreme Court.

We'll be following the case closely and be sure to keep you up to date. For more on this recent decision, read CNN's article here.

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So, what effect does this have on our children? Does it unintentionally cause us to be more jaded with our interactions involving others? For some the answer may be a resounding "no." But as we look deeper into the situation, we often find that through survival our interactions with others have changed and we may not even realize exactly how much we are projecting on those around us.

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After Cameron Call, a chiropractor, came out to his family this past year, he knew he had one more step to take — he had to come out to his patients

Fear is an interesting thing. It motivates when it shouldn't, shows at inconvenient times, and is the author of stories that do nothing but hold us back. I would argue though, too, that fear has some good qualities. I believe it helps us to feel. And I think it can be a great teacher as we learn to recognize and face it.

For years fear prevented me from embracing my truth and accepting a large part of who I am. I know I am not alone in that regard. But for so long my fear convinced me that I was. Fear is what kept me from ever telling my parents or anyone growing up that I am gay. Fear mingled with strong religious teachings, embraced at a young age, which led me to believe that I could cure myself of my attractions to the same gender. And fear is a part of what kept me in my marriage to a woman for over ten years.

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

A Gay Dad Gains Clarity After a Health Scare

A recent health scare helped give Erik Alexander clarity.

Sometimes fear can cripple the mind and hinder ones judgement. Having children of my own, I have come to grips with accepting the things I cannot change and learned to take action when there is no other choice. When it comes to my own personal health, the future and well being of my family gives me all the clarity I need to make the right decision about any kind of health scare.

This episode is dedicated to all the parents out there that are going through or have gone through similar situations.

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