Gay Dad Family Stories

Two Surrogates, Three Babies, and One Very Full House

With the help of two surrogates, these gay dads welcomed three babies into their lives in the span of two weeks

Many of us measure our lives in BC and AC stages: Before Children and After Children. And although older kids can be just as much work, not much can prepare you for the immediate upheaval of a baby. Now, multiple that by three… In Bjarke Damm and Lars Hansen's case, that's what happened. With the help of two surrogates, they became dads in the space of two weeks to three babies. After 17 years together, their family grew from two to five in a matter of days. Talk about upheaval! And how are the dads managing? Let's find out.


Bjarke and Lars

Danish dads Lars and Bjarke met in 2001 at a nightclub they both used to frequent. "All of a sudden he was there, standing alone with a beer in hand, and somehow I just knew instantly that he was the one," remembers Bjarke. This moment was the beginning of a wonderful love story. "We have been together ever since, and are still very much in love with each other."

Lars and Bjarke were married in May 2007, and spent the next 10 years fulfilling so many of their dreams such as traveling, establishing successful careers (Lars is a GP medical doctor and Bjarke is a PHD psychotherapist), hiking and camping in the wilderness, and spending lots of time with loved ones as well as raising their beloved pup, Joey. But children was always a dream that never strayed too far from the husbands' thoughts.

Bjarke with Nora, Anna and Lili, June 2018

For several year, Lars and Bjarke had considered surrogacy but they knew it wasn't a route without hurdles. As commercial surrogacy isn't legal in Denmark, they knew they'd have to go abroad, and then bring their child back into Denmark. This was going to be a huge issue as Denmark doesn't recognize the parents of surrogate children as the legal parents. "We had heard some scary stories of couples who were basically trapped in a foreign country with a newborn child," said Lars. "This, combined with the excessive costs involved, kept us hesitant about the whole thing, even though we longed so much to create our family."

With these seemingly insurmountable hurdles, Lars and Bjarke almost gave up hope. But just as they were ready to give up, they were approached by two very important women in their lives: Bjarke's sister and another close female friend, Danielle, who both offered to carry their children.

"Two wonderful women offered their help, we felt so lucky and so blessed," said Bjarke. Since Bjarke's sister and their friend were both Danes, the children would automatically become Danish citizens as well. The men were incredibly humbled by their loved ones' willingness to help them become dads and decided to continue their journey with both women.

Bjarke and Lars with their daughters, March 2018

Bjarke, Lars and their two surrogates all traveled to the US for the egg donation and transfers. In June 2017, Bjarke's sister became pregnant, and a month later Danielle became pregnant. A few weeks later, they discovered Danielle's egg had split and she was carrying identical twins. Everyone was thrilled!

In late January 2018, Anna was born, and in early February Lili and Nora joined their family. Since then, the dads' lives have been dramatically altered.

"The arrival of the girls has changed our life in a very fundamental way," explained Bjarke. "I have now been a stay-at-home dad for almost 10 months, without doing anything but taking care of the girls. But the funny thing is that it feels so right just staying at home." Before their daughters, Bjarke says he constantly thought about work, even in his free time. Now, his priority is his new role as "Far" - Danish for dad – and the experience has been liberating. "I have learned that there is something here that is so much more important – and in a way it sets me free."

Bjarke with his daughters

That isn't to say everything has been smooth sailing – they are dads to triplets after all! "There has been a couple of times where it has been so hard taking care of three infants at the same time, that we almost collapsed," said Bjarke, but somehow they've both found the strength to work through the rough patches. "These hard times have brought Lars and I even closer together, because sharing the responsibility of raising our three girls, we really have to rely on each other."

Due to Danish law, the dads are still not the legal parents of each others' biological children. In Denmark, the birth mother has to wait two-and-a-half years until she can pursue adoption. This means that Bjarke's sister and Danielle are still technically considered the biological mothers of the children, even though they had egg donation. (Danish law considers the woman who gives birth as the legal mother.) Lars and Bjarke have full custody of the children so this doesn't affect their day-to-day life, but they're looking forward to the day Lars can adopt the twins (Bjarke's biological children) and Bjarke can adopt Anna (Lar's biological daughter).

Both Bjarke and Lars would tell any other gay man considering fatherhood through surrogacy to "go for it," but they would advise that if a female friend or family member offers to help, that both parties have to consider it thoroughly. "In our case, everything went according to plan," said Lars. "Both of the women didn't have any problems giving the children to us - since as they explained, they never felt like they were giving away their own children - they were giving them back to their parents. So this is really important!"

Further down the road, the family of five see themselves moving somewhere outside of Copenhagen and living in a smaller village closer to nature. This might include a temporary relocation to Greenland for a job opportunity for Lars, and for the family to explore the wild nature of the northernmost country in the world.

Whatever the future has in store for these dads, they feel immensely fortunate for those who helped and supported their dream of fatherhood. "We are surrounded by love, and without the two women helping us create the family, we'd always wanted - we probably wouldn't have had any children today. Because at the time they offered, we basically had given up hope. So this is really a miracle!!

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Politics

Utah Court Rules Gay Couples Can't Be Excluded From Surrogacy Contracts

The Utah Supreme Court found in favor of a gay couple attempting to enter into a surrogacy contract.

DRAKE BUSATH/ UTCOURTS.GOV

Earlier this month, the Utah Supreme Court ruled that a same-sex couples can't be excluded from entering into enforceable surrogacy contracts, and sent a case concerning a gay male couple back to trial court to approve their petition for a surrogacy arrangement.

As reported in Gay City News, the case concerns Utah's 2005 law on surrogacy, which was enacted prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage in the state. As a result, the content of the law is gendered, saying that surrogacy contracts should only be enforceable if the "intended mother" is unable to bear a child. When a gay couple approached District Judge Jeffrey C. Wilcox to enter into a surrogacy arrangement, he denied them, arguing that the state's law only concerned opposite sex couples.

"This opinion is an important contribution to the growing body of cases adopting a broad construction of the precedent created by Obergefell v. Hodges and the Supreme Court's subsequent decision in Pavan v. Smith," according to GCN. "It's also worth noting that same-sex couples in Utah now enjoy a right denied them here in New York, where compensated gestational surrogacy contracts remain illegal for all couples."

Read the full article here.

Politics

Gay Russian Dads Forced to Flee Moscow

Fearing the Russian government might take their adopted kids into custody because of their sexual orientation, Andrei Vaganov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev fled Moscow

A married couple in Russia, with two adopted children, were just forced the flee their home in Moscow for fear that the authorities would take their children away, according to German news site Deutsche Welle.

Trouble started last month after investigators in Russia opened a criminal inquiry into the proceedings that had allowed the gay couple, Andrei Vaganov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev, to legally adopt the two boys —adoption by LGBTQ people in Russia has typically not been recognized. The government became aware of the adoption proceedings after the gay couple brought their 12-year-old son to the hospital, who was complaining of a stomachache. The boy was fine, but after he mentioned offhand that he was adopted and lived with two fathers, the doctor called the police.

Andrei and Yevgeny granted an interview with Deutsche Welle after escaping Moscow, but on the advice of their lawyers have yet to disclose where they are currently located. Here is a quick recap of that conversation:

"In connection with the 'propaganda of non-traditional values,' the state representatives are accused of having neglected their duty of supervision," Andrei said, when asked to explain on what basis the Russian government might take his children into custody. "This means that lesbian couples could even have their biological children taken away because, through their lifestyle choices, they propagate "certain values."

Yevgeny also explained the events that led to the couple's harrowing escape "I was alone in Moscow at that time. A week after Andrei and the children had left the country, there was a knock on my door, but nobody called 'police, open up.' After half an hour the violent knocking stopped. My parents' home was searched. They were looking for the children and our Danish marriage certificate because we got married in Denmark in 2016. My friends then got me out of the country."

Read the full interview here.

Gay Dad Life

New Zealand Member of Parliament Becomes First-Time Gay Dad

Tāmati Coffey, a member of New Zealand's Parliament, just welcomed a son with his husband Tim Smith.

New Zealand Labour MP (Member of Parliament) Tāmati Coffey and his husband Tim Smith became first-time dads on July 10, 2019 when they welcomed their son Tūtānekai Smith-Coffey via surrogate. Needless to say, the dads are overjoyed to finally become parents.

Tāmati, MP for the Waiariki electorate and former TV weatherman, and his husband Tim, a former music teacher from Northern England, had a civil union in 2011 and have been together 10 years. Fatherhood had been "a long time coming," Tāmati had said when he announced that he and Tim were expecting at Auckland's Big Gay Out.

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Popular

'Our Family is Complete': Congrats to Gay Dads on Their Recent Births and Adoptions!

Join us in congratulating all of the gay men in our community whose families grew recently!

Wishing all of these gay dads congratulations on their exciting news this month. From becoming first-time dads to finalizing adoptions, congrats to everyone in our community on their wonderful news!

Circle Surrogacy is the proud sponsor of this month's congrats post. They were founded in 1995 on the belief that everyone should have the opportunity to be a parent. "For over 20 years we've helped LGBTQ+ couples and singles around the world fulfill their dreams of parenthood. We've helped bring more than 1,900 babies into this world... and counting!"

Congratulations to Andrew and Edward on finalizing the adoptions of their twins!

For Andrew and Edward, their foster parent training plus home study took about a year. "We had a brief placement of twin girls that were four years old two months after we had been approved," said Andrew. "Then we took a break as it was a difficult process, the 'loss' aspect, when that placement ended."

Then on March 15, 2017, their case worker sent them information about two little babies - a boy and a girl - that were still in the NICU and only nine days old. "It was a foster case with an uncertain future, but we decided those little babies needed us!" They dads took a leap of faith and on July 10 this year, their twins' adoptions were finalized. Andrew and Edward have a wonderful bond with the paternal grandmother as well as a special relationship with the twins' father. "We all love these twins, and the more love they have the better their lives will be."

"Adoption is one of those experiences where one side experiences incredible joy while the other side experiences incredible loss," continued Andrew. "We are grateful to experience this joy knowing that biological family members are happy for us to experience that joy."

Congratulations to this Mt Airy, Philadelphia, forever family of four!

Congratulations to Sean and Thomas on finalizing the adoptions of their twins!

Together 15 years, London couple Sean and Thomas recently finalized the adoption of their twins.

"About 3 years ago we started meeting adoption agencies and were approved as prospective adopters the following spring," shared Thomas. "We were anticipating a long wait, but quite quickly were matched with our twins. At the time they were nearly five."

After a fairly long transition period for everyone to get settled in, the adoption was formalized the day after Father's Day. "Two years after matching, at times it seems like the kids have been with us forever and other times a blink of an eye. But it is certainly the most life-changing, transformative experience and we cannot imagine life without them. It's wonderful that our family is now official!"

Congratulations to Phillip and Clinton on the birth of their daughter Madison!

Little Madison joined her dads on July 1, 2019, after coming into the world via surrogate.

"I caught Madison as she was born," said Phillip. "I have never felt such an exhilarating rush in my entire life! We were genuinely in love at first sight!"

Now that we Phillip and Clinton are dads, they say they feel a "sense of wholeness" in their lives! "We have a new motivation and purpose in life! It's truly the greatest blessing!"

These new dads and the apple of their eye live in Texas.

Congratulations to Michael and Tyler on the birth of their twins, Elliot and Oliver!

Herriman, Utah, couple Michael and Tyler have been together for 9 years, and married for 3. "In the beginning of our relationship we knew how important family was and how much we wanted to be dads," said Micheal. "After we got married we met with a couple surrogacy agencies and were advised to meet with an IVF clinic before proceeding. In doing so, we found that going through a surrogacy journey independently was very possible."

So the dads decided to shift gears and work in that direction, booking a follow up appointment with the clinic. "We met with their 3rd party coordinator over the surrogate process and she did not have any inquiries of any surrogates." Serendipitously, and unbeknownst to the husbands at the time, their future surrogate made an appointment to talk about being a gestational carrier for a same-sex couple. "The next day we got the unexpected call that someone was interested and open to meet. From there the rest was history as we continued with the surrogacy process."

Over a year later, the dads welcomed their two sons. "The first time we got to hold the boys, it felt so natural to us, as if nothing else in the world existed and time stood still as we got lost in the moment."

Congratulations to Adam and Josh on finalizing the adoption of their daughter!

Adam and Josh got engaged on Good Morning America on Valentines Day, and welcomed their Christmas miracle baby into their lives on December 26th. On July 12 this year, they celebrated becoming a forever family of three.

"For an event that always seemed like it would be the end of our adoption journey, Baby K's Finalization Day felt more like the beginning of a greater adventure," shared Adam. "Since day one, Baby K was always loved and 100% part of our family, but we are so filled with joy to see this day come and make it officially official. We cannot wait to spend the rest of our lives not only watching Baby K grow and develop, but also to see the two of us learn and grow in this new role as parents."

Congrats to these Dallas dads!

Congratulations to Dan and Martin on the birth of their son Herman! 

Copenhagen couple Dan and Martin welcomed their second child through surrogacy on July 11 this year in Florida, USA. Herman joins big sister Ellen, born March 1, 2015, in Vermont via surrogacy. Here's a little more.

"Two amazing American women and their families took us in as their own and we're forever bonded," said Dan about their path to fatherhood experience. "It has been an amazing journey with both of them, our family is complete."

Congrats to the Danish family!

This post is sponsored by Circle Surrogacy

Circle was founded in 1995 on the belief that everyone should have the opportunity to be a parent. To this day, that belief is at the core of everything we do. For over 20 years we've helped straight and LGBTQ+ couples and singles around the world fulfill their dreams of parenthood. We've helped bring more than 1,900 babies into this world... and counting!

We're an agency comprised of social workers and lawyers, accountants and outreach associates, and program managers and coordinators; but, more importantly, we're an agency made up of parents, surrogates and egg donors, who are passionate about helping people build their families, and invested in each and every journey.

Circle is proud to have helped so many gay families achieve their dreams of becoming parents. Together, we make parenthood possible.®

News

Ed Smart, Father of Kidnapping Victim Elizabeth Smart, Comes Out as Gay

In coming his coming out letter, Ed Smart, a Mormon, condemned the church for their "ridicule, shunning, rejection and outright humiliation" of LGBTQ individuals.

In a post on Facebook, Ed Smart, father of kidnapping survivor Elizabeth Smart, came out as gay. He also discussed his strained relationship with his Mormon faith, claiming he felt he didn't feel comfortable living as an openly gay man in a church with a difficult history with respect to its LGBTQ members. He and his wife, Lois, have filed for divorce.

"This is one of the hardest letters I have ever written," he began the letter. "Hard because I am finally acknowledging a part of me that I have struggled with most of my life and never wanted to accept, but I must be true and honest with myself." He went on to acknowledged a new set of challenges facing he and his family as they navigate a divorce and his coming out — in the public eye, no less — but concluded, ultimately, that it's a "huge relief" to be "honest and truthful about my orientation."

He went on to condemn The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for their "ridicule, shunning, rejection and outright humiliation" of LGBTQ individuals. "I didn't want to face the feelings I fought so hard to suppress, and didn't want to reach out and tell those being ostracized that I too am numbered among them. But I cannot do that any longer."

In an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune, Ed Smart further discussed his reasons for coming out now, as a 64-year-old man.

"I mean, I knew that it would probably come out at some point, just because people can't leave things alone. I did anticipate that it would happen at some time, but my intention in writing it was to try to let my friends and family know, you know my extended family ... know where things were. So, you know, I was really concerned about how the rumor mill starts," he told the paper. "I knew that at some point in time, that would come out," he elaborated. "I didn't know when it would come out, and so I would rather have it come out the way that it did versus having some rumors going around, and you know the crazy way things can get twisted."

In 2002, Ed Smart's daughter Elizabeth was abducted at knife point by a married couple from her bedroom in Salt Lake City, Utah. She suffered physical and sexual abuse at the couple's hands, for nine months, until she was finally rescued by police. During the ordeal, papers — including the Salt Lake Tribute — speculated about Ed Smart's sexual orientation based on some fabricated information sold to the paper by tabloids like the National Enquirer. (The Enquirer retracted the story, and the reporters at the Tribute were ultimately fired.)

"I think that in April I started feeling like I needed to prepare something," Smart told the Tribute. "Because during Elizabeth's ordeal, there were things said, and it wasn't what I wanted to say, and I was not going to allow that to happen again."

As to how his family has taken the news, Smart said they've been "very kind" to him. "I think it was very difficult to have this kind of come out of the blue. I don't think any of them knew I was struggling with this, so it was something they were, if you want to call it, blindsided by. I totally get that. They've really been very wonderful."

Congrats to Ed Smart on making the difficult decision to live his truth. Read his full letter here and his interview with the Tribute here.

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

"Rollercoaster and Sons," Explores the Journey of One Single Gay Dad Through the Foster-Adopt System

When it comes to the foster-adopt system, "there is no roadmap," said single gay dad Chase Turner

Guest post written by Chase Turner

Many of us thought long and hard about what avenues were best to pursue being a dad. For me, fostering to adoption was the selected road. There is no roadmap here, many things that came my way were learned by doing. Along the way, I started wishing I had a better support group or people who could understand what it's like to be gay and attempting to adopt. Often we (people who are LGBT) feel scrutinized and judged for choices that the majority makes but for us there is pushback. Once my adoption was complete, I felt it was necessary that I put pen to paper and write this story, from a gay male perspective.

My goal was to provide a voice in the space of foster care and adoption where there is a void. Additionally, I wanted to provide an authentic look at all facets of the process, from the kids, to the obstacles and challenges that happened within my personal life. I do hope you enjoy and more importantly can relate or prepare yourself for a similar journey.

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Fun

Gay Dad Penguins Strike Again! This Time in Berlin Zoo

The latest male penguins to care for an egg together are Skipper and Ping in the Berlin Zoo.

First, there was Roy and Silo — the two male penguins in the Central Park Zoo that served as inspiration for the famous children's book And Tango Makes Three. Then Magin Sphen got together in Sydney, where aquarium keepers gave the cocks (Calm down, that's what a male penguin is called!) a foster egg to care for.

And now, please welcome Skipper and Ping in Berlin to the latest list of gay dad penguins! As soon as the two emperor penguins arrived at the city's zoo, they set about trying to start a family, said Berlin Zoo spokesman Maximilian Jaege to DPA news.

"They kept trying to hatch fish and stones," Jaeger said.

So the zookeepers loaned the penguins an egg from a female penguin, who is apparently uninterested in hatching eggs on her own, according to the BBC.

Unsurprisingly, the gay penguins are killing it as parents. "The two male penguins are acting like exemplary parents, taking turns to warm the egg," Jaeger said,

Read the whole article on DPA here.

Fatherhood, the gay way

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