Gay Dad Life

Yours Truly Mine

Dear birth mother,


Five years ago, on May 23, 2009, you went to Long Island College Hospital because you didn’t feel well. You were young, a single mother with an almost two-year-old daughter, living with your parents in Brooklyn. You knew you were pregnant, but you thought you had a couple more weeks before giving birth. It didn’t take long for a diagnosis: your water had broken two days before. A baby was delivered a half hour later. Apart from a little jaundice, for which he was briefly put on antibiotics, he was a healthy boy, even without any prenatal care.

Life was hard, so hard that you knew you couldn’t keep your newborn child. You knew this well before you gave birth, but you put off making alternative plans for the baby. You didn’t seek pre-natal care. Avoiding reality was a strong defense mechanism to avoid the pain.

So after giving birth, it was going to be foster care for your baby, until a doctor at the hospital suggested adoption.

Brian and I had been looking to adopt for a few years. A few months earlier, we had been in the process of adopting a six-month-old boy from upstate New York. We filled out all the paperwork. We met him, his mother and her boyfriend in person. There were some issues, the adoption agency told us, with the mother’s grandmother who wanted her to keep the baby, and the mother’s boyfriend who did not. After a while, the mother stopped communicating with the agency and with us, and we had no way to make contact with her. The adoption never took place. We never found out what happened to that boy. This pushed us to the front of the agency's waiting line, just in time for the birth of your child.

As was customary, we made a brochure for expectant birth mothers to give them an idea of the life their boy or girl would get with us. It contained our personal story in carefully calibrated language, with attractive full-color photos of us, our relatives, our apartment, our neighborhood and our dog. Why we wanted kids. How much we understood the birth mother’s plight.

You asked the adoption agency if there was a family available to adopt him, a family like your own. Black, Baptist. There wasn’t. You said that a loving family was your top concern. You didn’t need to see any of the brochures, you’d trust the adoption agency to make the best decision. “A same-sex couple?” the agency asked. You said fine.

On May 26, the day after Memorial Day, we received the agency’s phone call about the little boy in need of adoptive parents. We were over the moon. And completely unprepared. For two days we were busy buying baby stuff, reorganizing our apartment, calling relatives and friends, planning his bris (Jewish circumcision ceremony), and searching for a last-minute baby nurse or doula to help us out the first few days.

Two days later, while we were getting ready to take a taxi to LICH, I came up with the first name of Levi: a beautiful Hebrew name that sounded like my dad’s, Leo. Brian had always liked the name Parlow, his beloved Nana Sid’s maiden name. And suddenly, the baby boy had a name, or rather, four names: Levi Parlow Rosenberg-Van Gameren.

We chose his first and his middle names, and we gave him our hyphenated last names. There was a linguistic version of the Heisenberg principle at work: as soon as we named him, we changed how we perceived him. We changed how we perceived ourselves. In an instant, we had become fathers. We named the boy after my father, after Brian’s maternal grandmother, and most important, after ourselves. The boy had magically become our son.

The agency’s instructions for the transfer were very clear: we should wait in the hospital lobby, in an Au Bon Pain, but we were not to go upstairs to the nursery. Further instructions: bring an outfit for the boy, a blanket, a hat, a car seat, and a camera. The picture our attorney shared with us provided us with a first glimpse: a tiny black boy with an oversized head, puffy eyes, and sleek black hair. We also received a photo taken of you, your mother and your adorable daughter while you were still in the hospital. (The family resemblance between siblings is striking.)

Levi knows he’s been adopted. For him that means that Papa and Daddy, who had been hoping for a boy for years, took him home from the hospital where he was born, to make a family. But sometime soon I expect that Levi will have more questions. He has already wondered why his sisters have white bodies while his is brown. He knows that a baby grows in a woman’s belly. When those questions come, we’ll answer them truthfully, in a manner he can understand, continuing the narrative we have already begun. We’ll also tell him that he has a biological sister. I hope that he will have the chance to meet you and your daughter one day. I imagine Brian and I will be there as well. I already know what I’ll say to him: “Levi, I’d like you to meet your birth mother.” And to you I’ll say, “I’d like you to meet Levi Parlow Rosenberg-Van Gameren, our son.”

Ours Truly,

Ferd

Show Comments ()
Gay Dad Photo Essays

How Single Dads Are Celebrating Valentine's Day This Year

Valentine's Day is not just for lovers! We caught up with 8 single gay dads to see how they plan to celebrate Valentine's Day with this year.

Valentine's Day is not just for lovers; it's also a day to celebrate our loved ones. And that's exactly what these single dads are doing.

Within our community, GWK has a large group of admirable, active, and awesome (!) single dads and we want to honor them! On Valentine's Day, they and their kids celebrate their family unit in the sweetest possible ways. We asked the dads to share these moments with us, and, where possible, one of the most heartwarming things they've experienced with their kids on Valentine's Day to date.

Hear their stories below.

Keep reading...
Gay Dad Photo Essays

11 Gay Couples Share Secrets to Their Long-Term Relationships This Valentine's Day

This Valentine's Day, we spoke with 11 gay dad couples who've been together for almost a decade or longer to learn what's made their relationships last

You're the peanut butter to my jelly, the gin to my tonic, the strawberries to my cream, the Mr. to my Mr.!

Happy Valentine's Day folks! We're excited to celebrate this day of lurrrrvvve by featuring a few dads in our community who've been together for almost a decade or more! And they're ready to share their secrets to a successful relationship and parenting partnership.

Keep reading...
Gay Dad Life

"Worth Every Blood, Sweat, and Tear": Congrats to Gay Dads on Recent Births and Adoptions!

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!

Keep reading...
News

What's it Like to Be a Child of the 'Gayby Boom'?

Tosca Langbert, who grew up with two dads, writes a piece for the Harvard Business Review about what it's like being among the first children of the "Gayby Boom" to come of age.

We've previously written about the pressure on LGBTQ parents to appear perfect, given that so many in the United States still feel out families shouldn't exist in the first place. And we know this pressure trickles down to our kids. But In an article for the Harvard Business Review titled 'The Gayby Boom Is Here to Stay," author Tosca Langbert eloquently writes, from her perspective, about the experience of beingone of the first children to come of age during an era when LGBTQ parenthood is far more commonplace. She and her two siblings, she notes, "were raised in a family that was an impossibility only decades ago."

In the article, Langbert said she knew from a young age that her family was different from those of most of her peers, who had one a father and a mother. But otherwise, she writes, she didn't feel like her family differed much. "Like any other parents, Dad sat in the carpool lane after school and taught us how to ride our bikes," she writes, "while Papa took us to the movies on the weekends and separated the whites from the colors."

Despite this mundanity, her family remained something to marvel at for much of her youth. When the family moved into a new neighborhood in 2006, it made the local newspaper, with a headline titled, "Gay Father Tests Tolerance in the Park Cities."

She and her siblings have spent much of their lives, she explained further, having to respond to the question: what's it like having two gay dads? For Langbert, there is only one correct response, which is: Amazing! "Any other response, even if simply accounting for a family's nuanced experience, might as well be an outright admission of failure on behalf of the entire LGBTQ community," she wrote.

Children of the 'Gayby Generation,' are also put in the position of having to come out on behalf of their parents, and "often with mixed results," she wrote. She gave the following anecdote as an example:

"My father was asked to step down from his leadership position in my brother's Boy Scout troop on account of his sexuality. Even though my siblings and I were only fourth graders at the time, we understood that our family was under strict scrutiny, and that even the slightest misstep could beget severe consequences for how competent our fathers were perceived as being. In the face of this pressure, the first generation of 'gaybies' recognized the importance of presenting their families as perfect; doing otherwise would only present ammunition to those already dubious about the rights of LGBTQ parents to raise children."

The entire article, which includes the perspectives of multiple now-grown kids that are part of the "Gayby generation," is well worth a read, which you can access here.


Politics

Utah Bill Would Allow Gay Men to Enter Surrogacy Contracts

Rep. Patrice Arent of Utah is sponsoring a bill that will remove a provision that currently prohibits gay men from entering into commercial surrogacy contracts in the state.

Though Utah is not one of the three states that currently prohibit commercial surrogacy contracts, the state's current policy does specifically exclude gay men from doing so. That may soon changed, however, thanks to a bill in the state's legislature that was unanimously voted out of a House Committee that would remove that restriction.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, a Democrat, was created in response to a ruling by the Utah Supreme Court this past August that found the ban on gay men unconstitutional.

Gay men have been excluded from legally entering surrogacy contracts due to a provision in the current law that requires medical evidence "that the intended mother is unable to bear a child or is unable to do so without unreasonable risk to her physical or mental health or to the unborn child," Rep. Arent told the Salt Lake Tribune — a requirement that clearly excludes gay male couples.

The state's original surrogacy law dates back to 2005, before same-sex marriage was legalized in the state, which accounts for the gendered language. Though the state's Supreme Court already ruled the provision unconstitutional, Rep Arent further told the Tribute that, "People do not look to Supreme Court opinions to figure out the law, they look to the code and the code should be constitutional."

Politics

Colorado Republicans Try and Fail to Outlaw LGBTQ Marriage and Adoption Rights

A bill introduced by four Republican state legislators in Colorado that would outlaw same-sex marriage and adoption rights was voted down.

The "Colorado Natural Marriage and Adoption Act," which would have outlawed gay marriage and adoption in the state of Colorado, was voted down in the state legislature this week. The bill was sponsored by Republican Rep. Stephen Humphrey and three of his conservative colleagues: Dave Williams, Shane Sandridge and Mark Baisley.

If enacted, the bill would have enforced "state law that marriage is between one man and one woman" and restrict "adoption of children by spouses in a marriage ... that consist of one man and one woman."

The bill, which had little chance of success, particularly in Colorado which has trended more progressive over the past several election cycles, was mostly symbolic, according to Sanridrge. "We all know this bill isn't gonna pass in this current left-wing environment," he told Colorado Public Radio. "It's to remind everyone, this is the ultimate way to conceive a child."

In a sign of how far we've come on the issue of LGBTQ marriage and parenting rights, most Republican legislators in the state did not endorse the bill.

Though the bill had little chance of passage, LGBTQ advocacy groups in the state are taking the threats seriously nonetheless. Daniel Ramos, director of the LGBTQ group One Colorado, told LGBTQ Nation that the bills were an attempt to return Colorado to its "hate status" of the 1990s, adding the aggressiveness of the measures were "a bit surprising."

Surrogacy for Gay Men

Dads Talk About Surrogacy Process in New Video for Northwest Surrogacy Center

The Northwest Surrogacy Center interviewed some of their gay dad clients for a video to celebrate their 25th anniversary of creating families through surrogacy!

Image: NWSC Clients

Last year, Northwest Surrogacy Center celebrated 25 years of helping parents realize their dreams. And they celebrated in style by inviting the families they've worked with over the past two and a half decades to join them!

At the party, they took the opportunity to film queer dads and dads-to-be, asking them a couple of questions: how did it feel holding your baby for the first time, and tell us about your relationship with your surrogate.

Watch the video below and get ready for the water works!

Keep reading...

Fatherhood, the gay way

Get the latest from Gays With Kids delivered to your inbox!

Follow Gays With Kids

Powered by RebelMouse