Personal Essays by Gay Dads

"Two Daddies" Are Fighting to Make the U.K.'s Surrogacy Laws Modern and Safe

Surrogacy in the U.K. is bound by a law created in 1985.... and it badly in need of a makeover, say "Two Daddies"

We've had a busy old few months. Talulah recently turned 2 in October, and Katie made the big 14. Life in the Johnson-Ellis household has been far from dull.

Rewind to August and we receive an email asking us to give evidence at one of their "surrogacy evidence sessions," in view of the Surrogacy Law Reform. For those that aren't fully up to speed the UK currently is bound by the 1985 Surrogacy Act, which is in desperate need of a make over to say the least. So there's currently a group of people that come from a varied background - they may be surrogates, Intended Parents (IP's), Lawyers, Clinicians and other surrogacy experts from all corners of the globe. All with one one goal; to hopefully help drive forward and allow the UK Government to review the current laws, challenge them with a view to make the UK a more current and modern environment to create families without risk or challenge.


Obviously we acknowledged the email immediately, to help shape the future for other IP's is something we've always felt passionately about. Our role was to provide the MP's (members of parliament) and the APPG (All Party Parliamentary Group) our 'lived experience' as two fathers using the UK for our altruistic surrogacy journey, the challenges and obstacles. As we're also embarking on the journey again (and we're newly pregnant!) this was obviously of interest.

The purpose of the day was to give our account of our journey, the challenges and the positives, and also in the room were other parents, surrogates and professionals all keen to share their thoughts on UK surrogacy and the law reform. Tom Daley even gave his account as fathers through US surrogacy and where the laws differ. We had never been to the Houses of Parliament before, so this in itself was a real eye opener, to say we were excited was obviously an understatement. Just getting this far felt an honour and a privilege.

The mood inside the room was positive and friendly, we even met followers of our page that wanted to say 'hi' which was amazing. It was chaired by the MP Andrew Percy along with other MP's, and as you can understand the full details of the agenda are not allowed to be discussed. Whilst our group only had an hour, we covered a variety of topics and gave some heartfelt true accounts. Immediately after our session was another, all set to give true accounts of their experiences. My understanding was the day was a success, if only there was more time for that particular day.

So what happens next? I'd like to think that this will accelerate and the law reform will be debated in no time at all, and all the changes suggested will be auctioned, however realistically the UK is currently battling with a Brexit issue, and this is more than likely taking priority. That said, this year has been very active in terms of setting up this discussion groups and Andrew Percy seems very keen on championing change. The great news is that on 10th December High Court ruled that single persons are now able to obtain a parental order, just one of the over due changes needed in the UK. Therefore more change is surely on the horizon; it has to be.

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Gay Dad Life

Huge Congrats to New Dad, Andy Cohen!

Late Monday night, Emmy-winning reality TV producer and host, Andy Cohen, welcomed a son via surrogacy.

Late Monday night, Emmy-winning reality TV producer and host, Andy Cohen, welcomed a son via surrogacy.

"WOW! This is my son, Benjamin Allen Cohen. He is 9 lbs 2 ounces !! 20 inches !! Born at 6:35 pm, PT
He is named after my grandfather Ben Allen. I'm in love. And speechless. And eternally grateful to an incredible surrogate. And I'm a dad. Wow. ♥️🌈
"

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Change the World

Governor Cuomo Proposes Ending Ban on Surrogacy in New York

New York is currently just one out of four states to completely ban the practice of compensated surrogacy

New York's Governor, Andrew Cuomo, recently proposed a law that would permit compensated surrogacy for the first time in New York state. As the New York Post reports, a ban on the practice has been in place since 1992.

"New York's antiquated laws frankly are discriminatory against all couples struggling with fertility, same sex or otherwise," the Governor told The Post in a statement. "This measure rights this wrong and creates a new and long-overdue path for them to start families and also provide important legal protections for the parents-to-be and the women who decide to become surrogates."

This move is the latest in a slew of progressive policies backed by Governor Cuomo since Democrats in the state took control of the Legislature after the 2018 elections.

The law would bring New York in line with most states in the country. Currently, the state is one of only four (including Arizona, Michigan and Nebraska) that ban all compensated surrogacy contracts outright.Andrew Cuomo

New York State Senator Brad Hoylman, who is himself a gay dad through surrogacy, has introduced several bills over the years to legalize the practice.

"For the first time," the Senator said, "I'm seeing movement."

Read the whole article here.

Change the World

How "Easy" Is It, Really, for Gay Men to Become Dads?

It's never been easier for gay men to become dads, but a recent Washington Post article, which includes interviews with four gay parents, gives voice to some of the challenges that persist.

In recent weeks, with reports like this one in eWire.News, and famous gay dads gracing the cover of Parents Magazine for the first time, a perception is growing that it's now "easy" for gay men to be dads now. To examine this idea, Washington Post recently interviewed four gay men who have become fathers at some point in the past 10 years to examine their experiences. What they found is that, yes, it's easier than ever before for gay men to become dads. But we still face many more barriers than our straight counterparts.

None of these barriers will be news to any gay man who has become a father. But it's helpful that major publications like the Washington Post are now starting to recognize and give voice to them.

The first "finding" from their conversations is that gay men need more "money in the bank" that straight people. With the exception of adoption through foster care, "the financial costs are often tantamount to buying a car or even a house outright," the author notes.

The article also notes that gay men--and fathers in general--are given less paternity leave in the United States on average than many other countries. One of the dads interviewed for the piece, who adopted his sone through foster care, said he could only afford to take two weeks of paternity leave, which was " too short," he said. His son "struggled to see me as the paternal figure — I was just the guy who went to work and came home from work later. That's a struggle for most dads whether gay or straight — but I wish I had gotten more time just to bond with him."

Gay dads also must do more "emotional heavy lifting," the author notes, noting that many attend therapy for many months before taking the plunge. "We don't come to parenting by accident," another dad interviewed in the piece said. "We come to it by way of a lot of money, and with great intentionality. That is the commonality among gay dads with children."

A final common experience to many of the gay dads interviewed in the piece were annoyances dealing with strangers. "The thing that has been the most difficult are strangers who don't understand," one of the dads said. "They see us out with our son and we don't fit into their little box of what a family looks like. I've been asked whether Jeffrey and I mixed our sperm together in a cup. And that's rude, but as our son gets older, he is being shaped by a certain narrative about who he is."

Read the whole article here.

Change the World

Breaking with Older Generations,  Most LGBTQ Millenials Say They Want Kids

According to new research by the Family Equality Council, the number of LGBTQ parents is expected to rise dramatically in the coming years

According to the LGBTQ Family Building Survey, recently released by the Family Equality Council, the majority of young LGBTQ say they are interested in becoming parent. This marks a dramatic shift when compared with the attitudes of older generations.

Among the survey's findings:

  • 63% of LGBTQ Millennials (aged 18-35) are considering expanding their families, either becoming parents for the first time, or by having more children
  • 48% of LGBTQ Millennials are actively planning to grow their families, compared to 55% of non-LGBTQ Millennials, a gap that has narrowed significantly in comparison to older generations
  • 63% of LGBTQ people planning families expect to use assisted reproductive technology, foster care, or adoption to become parents, a significant shift away from older generations of LGBTQ parents for whom the majority of children were conceived through intercourse.

Despite the expected increase in LGBTQ parents, most providers, they note, "do not typically receive training about the unique needs of the LGBTQ community; forms and computer systems are not developed with LGBTQ families in mind; insurance policies are rarely created to meet the needs of LGBTQ family building; and discrimination against LGBTQ prospective parents by agencies and providers remains widespread."

The Family Equality Council goes on to recommend that family building providers "from reproductive endocrinologists and obstetricians to neonatal social workers, family law practitioners, and child welfare workers" begin preparing now to welcome future LGBTQ parents.

Read the full report here.

Change the World

Gay Dads More 'Equitable' in Parenting Roles Than Straight Dads, Says New Study

Unmoored by gender roles, gay dads take equal parts in being "playmates, caregivers, protectors, role models, morality guides,

A new study conducted by Éric Feugé from the Université du Québec à Montréal observed 46 families, made up of 92 gay dads and their 46 children over a period of seven years.

The study, which Feugé says is the first of its kind, analyzed the roles gay dads take in raising their kids and found the way they parent is 'very equitable'.

'We learned that gay fathers' sharing of tasks is very equitable,' the researcher told the Montreal Gazette, who added there was a "high degree of engagement" by both gay dads in all types of parental roles. "What's really interesting is that they don't conform to roles of conventional fathers. They were able to redefine and propose new models of cultural notions of paternity and masculinity."

Unmoored by gender roles, gay dads take equal parts in being "playmates, caregivers, protectors, role models, morality guides,' the author said.

Read the full review of the research here.

Change the World

Don't F*ck With This F*g

After a homophobic encounter on the subway, BJ questions what the right response is, in an era of increasing vocal rightwing activists

On February 1, 2019, Frank and I went out on a date night, something we haven't done in a while. Our son was sleeping over at his grandparents for the night and we made plans with our friends to meet them for dinner downtown. We decided to save some money and take the subway into town instead of taking a taxi.

We boarded the subway and sat down opposite a couple, a man and woman. I noticed they looked at us as we boarded the train and began whispering to each other. Frank and I were talking to each other when I heard the man uttering under his breath, "F*$%ing faggots."

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Gay Dad Life

14 Gay Dad Families Show Their Love This Valentine's Day

These pics of gay dads smooching will warm the hearts of even the biggest V-Day skeptics

You might quietly (or loudly) oppose the commercialism and celebration of Valentine's Day, but let's just take a moment and rejoice in these beautiful signs of affection, shared between 14 awesome two-dad families. Cynicism gone? Good.

Happy Valentine's Day, dads! We hope you have a lovely day with your kids, your significant other, and / or friends. Because who doesn't love love!?!

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