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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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

New York Will Fight 'Repugnant' Trump Rule on Adoption, Says Cuomo

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York promises legal action of the Trump administration moves ahead with plans to allow discrimination against LGBTQ adoptive and foster parents

Last week, the Trump administration announced plans to allow adoption and foster care agencies to discriminate against prospective LGBTQ parents — but he may face a legal fight from (former) hometown. In a tweet, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York said the proposed move "isn't just discriminatory and repugnant to our values,— it's also heartless and dumb as it would deny countless children a loving family and a safe place to call home." If the proposal moves forward, he continued. "we'll take legal action to stop it.

Governor Cuomo's office followed up the tweet with a lengthier statement posted to their website:

Once again the Trump administration is attacking the hard-earned rights and protections of the LGBTQ community, this time proposing a new measure that would give foster care and adoption agencies license to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Trump's proposal isn't just discriminatory and repugnant to our values — it's also heartless and dumb as it would deny countless children a loving family and a safe place to call home. If he moves forward with this rule, we'll take legal action to stop it.

No matter what happens in Washington, New York State is and will continue to be a beacon of equality in this country. Our Human Rights Law and adoption regulations expressly prohibit discrimination against the LGBTQ community, including when it comes to adoption. I encourage any LGBTQ New Yorker who feels they are a victim of this discrimination to contact the State Division of Human Rights for assistance.

Our message to the Trump administration is simple: there is no place for hate in New York or in our nation, and we will not allow this noxious proposal to stop LGBTQ New Yorkers from becoming parents or providing care to children in need.

What to Buy

Shop with a Purpose with Our 2019 Holiday Gift Guide

Want to find amazing gift ideas while *also* supporting LGBTQ-owned and allied businesses? Look no further than our 2019 holiday gift guide!

'Tis the season to show loved ones you care. And what better way to show you care, by also supported our LGBTQ+ community and allies whilst doing it! Shop (LGBTQ+) smart with these great suggestions below.

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Diary of a Newly Out Gay Dad

A Newly Out Gay Dad Feels 'Demoted' After Divorce

Cameron Call showed up to his first family Thanksgiving since coming out and getting a divorce — and struggles to find himself "stuck with the singles."

Cameron Call, who came out in summer 2019, has generously agreed to chronicle his coming out journey for Gays With Kids over the next several months — the highs, lows and everything in between. Read his first article here.

Denial is an interesting thing. It's easy to think you're potentially above it, avoiding it, assume it doesn't apply to you because you'd NEVER do that, or maybe you're just simply avoiding it altogether. After finally coming out, I liked to think that I was done denying anything from now on. But unfortunately that's not the case.

And this fact became very clear to me over Thanksgiving.

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Resources

New Report Details the 'Price of Parenthood' for LGBTQ People

A new report by the Family Equality Council takes a deep dive into the current state of cost for becoming a parent as an LGBTQ person

Parenthood is expensive. But parenthood while queer is still prohibitively costly for so many segments of the LGBTQ community interested in pursuing a family, according to a new repot by the Family Equality Council, titled, "Building LGBTQ+ Families: The Price of Parenthood."

Among the more interesting findings was this one: the cost of family planning is relatively similar for all LGBTQ people, regardless of income level. This shows "that the desire to have children exists regardless of financial security," the report's authors conclude.

Research for the report was conducted through an online survey of 500 LGBTQ adults over the age of 18, and was conducted between July 11-18, 2018. For comparison, the survey also included 1,004 adults who did not identify as LGBTQ.

Other interesting findings of the report include:

  • 29% of all LGBTQ+ respondents reported an annual household income under $25,000 compared to 22% of non-LGBTQ+ respondents.
  • 33% of black LGBTQ+ respondents, 32% of female-identified LGBTQ+ respondents, and 31% of trans/gender non-conforming LGBTQ+ respondents reported annual household incomes below $25,000.
  • Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have volunteered to participate in online surveys and polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to multiple sources of error, including, but not limited to sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, and error associated with question-wording and response options.29% of all LGBTQ+ respondents reported an annual household income under $25,000 compared to 22% of non-LGBTQ+ respondents.
  • 33% of black LGBTQ+ respondents, 32% of female-identified LGBTQ+ respondents, and 31% of trans/gender non-conforming LGBTQ+ respondents reported annual household incomes below $25,000.
  • Regardless of annual household income, 45-53% of LGBTQ+ millennials are planning to become parents for the first time or add another child to their family. Those making less than $25,000 a year are considering becoming parents at very similar rates as those making over $100,000.
  • Data from the Family Building Survey reveals that LGBTQ+ households making over $100,000 annually are considering the full range of paths to parenthood, from surrogacy and private adoption to foster care and IVF. The most popular options under consideration in this income bracket are private adoption (74% are considering), foster care (42%), and IVF or reciprocal IVF (21%). At the other end of the economic spectrum, for LGBTQ+ individuals in households making less than $25,000 annually, the most commonly considered paths to parenthood are intercourse (35% are considering), foster care (30%), and adoption (23%).

What to Buy

A Gift Guide for LGBTQ Inclusive Children's Books

Need some ideas for good LGBTQ-inclusive children's books? Look no further than our gift guide!

Every year we see more books released that feature our families, and we're here for it! We're especially excited for the day when diverse and LGBTQ+ inclusive books are less of "the odd one out" and rather considered part of every kids' everyday literacy.

To help us reach that day, we need to keep supporting our community and allies who write these stories. So here's a list of some of the great books that need to be in your library, and gifts to the other kids in your lives.

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