Gay Dad Life

These Two Dads are Their Daughter's Biggest Advocates

Seattle dads Richard and Brian met while playing rugby in San Francisco. They married on May 9, 2010, and have been together for 14 years. Richard, a United States Coast Guard, and Brian, a rugby player, always wanted kids. In 2015 they adopted their daughter, Emerson, through open adoption.


Richard with Emerson in a carrier, and Brian. Whistler, December 2015

Choosing a Path

Although Richard and Brian did look at other paths to fatherhood, their first choice was always adoption.

"Neither of us felt any burning desire to have a biological child, and providing love and guidance to a child that was already in need appealed to us," explained Richard and Brian.

They researched the different types of adoption and agencies, and were excited when they discovered Open Adoption Family Services (OAFS) in the Pacific Northwest.

"They embodied values that drew us to work with them," said the dads. "They were pro-choice, inclusive, diverse, and their priorities were centered around the birth family's needs, which included open adoption."

Richard and Brian's wedding, September 2010

Lessons Learned

After deciding that adoption was their preferred path, Richard and Brian began to take their next steps, beginning a thorough vetting process that all prospective adoptive parents must go through in the state of Washington. At first, they were resentful of the perceived "hurdles" when they saw how easy it was for most of their straight friends to become parents. They were good people, successful at their careers and financially stable---why were there all these barriers? But then they became thankful for their rigorous training.

"Confronting these issues forced discussion that at times delved into both the vulnerable and revealing," explained the two dads. "Unexpectedly, we discovered more about each other than we had in the 10 years prior. At the end of the journey our desire to be parents was emboldened and our approach on how we would parent together in sync."

At the end of a year's worth of visits and interviews, Richard and Brian felt ready for fatherhood.

Emerson is born, January 2015

A Baby Needs a Family

When they were first notified that a birth mother had selected them for placement, the excitement was tempered by the higher-than-average chance that the newborn could have some developmental issues, both physical and mental disabilities. Even though the dads knew that many adoptions come with these risks, they had always dreamed of holding a healthy newborn.

Faced with this reality, they needed to ask themselves some very real questions: Were they capable of raising a child with special needs? Would one of them need to quit their jobs and stay home full time? What would they need to sacrifice? In hindsight, Richard and Brian believe these questions could seem selfish and petty, but they needed to face reality.

After a lot of discussion, advice from friends and family, and many sleepless nights, they concluded that this child was going to need parents regardless of her condition.

"We were the ones selected in part because we had financial and logistical resources to give her a good home and could provide additional help if she needed it," they explained.

The goal of adoption was not centered around Richard and Brian becoming fathers, it was to provide what was best for this child. With that in mind, they jumped in with both feet.

Hiking August 2016

Having a Daughter

Now 2 years on, the dads say Emerson matches or exceeds her peers in every measure.

"She's teaching us so much about what it means to raise a daughter," said the dads. "In some ways, she's a typical little girl. In others she's a complete outlier. She loves purple and Frozen. but lights up when she sees airplanes and trains. At bedtime, she wants her grey Audi R8 car and her baby doll."

Due to the current political climate, Richard and Brian are even more fiercely proud to be raising a confident, strong girl who will be empowered to speak her mind and defend her convictions.

"It is imperative and urgent to raise a girl who believes the opportunities available to her are the same as the 2-year-old boy down the street," said Richard and Brian. "We've become more aware of society's outlook of girls and women and we want to ensure even at the toddler stage, she doesn't feel limited by her gender or singled out for having two dads."

Backyard fun, June 2016

Open Adoption

Both Brian and Richard are very close with their own immediate and extended families. Brian grew up within 5 miles of all his relatives in a small Kentucky town, and Richard comes from a large Filipino family. Their love and support is hugely important to them, and they wanted to ensure Emerson felt that, too.

"Her 2-year-old mind comprehends and loves Mommy while at the same time understands Dadda and Daddy are raising her," Richard and Brian explained.

Emerson sees her birth mom nearly every other month, and Richard and Brian share photos weekly. They believe their daughter's birth mother benefits greatly from this relationship and has no worry about the status or security of Emerson.

"Emerson's relationship with her mother and her birth family is not a threat to her relationship with us," said the two dads. "Her mother chose us to raise her and we, in turn, feel responsible, to do our very best."

Veterans Day, November 2015

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Gay Dad Life

Broadway Performer's Surrogacy Journey Briefly Sidetracked — for One Very 'Wicked' Reason

"Broadway Husbands" Stephen and Bret explain the exciting reasons they had to hit pause on their surrogacy journey — but don't worry, they're back on track!

In the latest video of the Broadway Husbands sharing their path to fatherhood, Stephen and Bret explain their hiatus for the past 4 months. The couple have big news to share including a relocation, a job announcement, and the fact that they're getting ready to restart their journey (which they had to take a brief pause from since September).

Watch their video to find out their latest news.

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Gay Dad Life

Top 10 Reasons You Should Date a Gay Dad

Jay Turner lays out the top 10 reasons you should consider dating a single gay dad

We're gay dads. Many of us were married to women, and for various reasons we eventually found ourselves single and looking for companionship from another man. Life is a little more complicated for us because we have kids. But that shouldn't deter you from seeking a relationship with a gay dad. In fact, there are many reasons why we make better partners than men without children. We are generally more mature, responsible, and emotionally available. We are also better communicators.

Here are the top ten reasons why you should date a gay dad:

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Gay Dad Life

Karamo Brown Co-Writes Children's Book with Son, Jason

The 'Queer Eye' star and his son named the story on a family mantra: You are Perfectly Designed

When his sons, Jason and Chris, were young, "Queer Eye" Star Karamo Brown repeated the same saying to them: "You are perfectly designed."

That mantra is now a Children's Book, cowritten by Karamo and his 22-year-old son, Jason, who used to come how and "say things like, 'I don't want to be me, I wish I was someone else, I wish I had a different life." As a parent, that "broke my heart," Karamo told Yahoo! Lifestyle. "I would say to him, 'You are blessed and you are perfect just the way you are,' as a reminder that you have been given so much and you should be appreciative and know that you're enough — I know that the world will try to tear you down, but if you can say to yourself, 'I am perfectly designed,' maybe it can quiet out some of those negative messages."

The illustrations, by Anoosha Syed, also make a point of displaying families of a variety of races and sexual orientations throughout the book.

Read more about Karamo's fascinating path to becoming a gay dad here, and then check out the video below that delves deeper into the inspiration behind "You Are Perfectly Designed," available on Amazon.



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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Gay Dad Family Stories

These Gay Dads Lost Everything After Hurricane Dorian — Except Hope

The couple, who live in "Hope Town" in the Bahamas, lost everything after suffering a direct hit from Hurricane Dorian this past summer.

Max Bethel-Jones, 52, had traveled to more than 120 countries over the last 30 years working with the United Nations, but had never been to the Bahamas — in 2015, he decided to apply for a private teaching job as a special needs teacher in Freeport on the island of Grand Bahama.

Just weeks after his arrival, he'd get a whole lot more than another pin in his map of visited countries when he attended a social event at Freeport Rugby. "My object was to ogle the local male talent but several women had other ideas," he said. One woman was particularly insistent, he said, but after a couple of drinks she got the hint that he batted for the other rugby team. "She promptly told me there was someone I should meet."

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News

Gay Dads Told One Must Identify as 'Mother' to Enroll in Daycare

The Israeli gay dads told one must identify as mother — like a "normal couple" — in order to receive financial assistance for daycare.

Israeli dads Guy Sadak Shoham and Chai Aviv Shoham were trying to enroll their two-year-old twins in daycare when they were told by a government official that one would need to identify as the "mother" in order to be cleared.

According to Out Magazine, the couple was attempting to apply for financial aid to help pay for the costs of preschool when a government bureaucrat called them to discuss their eligibility.

"I understand that you are both fathers and understand that you both run a shared household, but there is always the one who is more dominant, who is more the mother," the government said, according to an interview on the Israel site Ynet (translated by Out Magazine). "I am just asking for a written statement in your hand which of you is the mother. From the point of view of the work, which works less than the father. Like a normal couple."

The official, apparently, said she was beholden to rules set for in the Ministry of Economy.

"It is mostly sad and a little disturbing," one of the dads told Ynet. "These are concepts that we consider the past. We do not necessarily come up with allegations against this representative, she is ultimately subject to the guidelines and as she said, they are the state. It is also sad that the state's definition of a mother is someone who works less and is at home with the children, and that we must choose which of us meets that definition."

The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, fortunately, issued an apology following the incident, and promised to update its protocols. "We will emphasize that the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs practices explicitly treat all types of families and grant equal rights to all," the ministry wrote in a statement, an apology that was called "insufficient" by Ohad Hizki, the director-general of the National LGBT Task Force.

"The Ministry of Labor and Welfare must sharpen its procedures immediately to prevent recurrence of cases of this kind, as other public organizations have been able to do," he said.

Read more about this story on Out Magazine.

News

World's First Sperm Bank Opens for HIV Positive Donors

Sperm Positive, started by three non-profits in New Zealand, hopes to end stigma surrounding HIV and parenthood

"Our donors have so much to give," say the promotional materials of a new sperm bank. "But they can't give you HIV."

The new sperm bank, Sperm Positive, launched on World Aids Day this year by three non-profits as a way to fight stigma surrounding HIV and parenthood. For years, scientists have known that those living with an undetectable level of HIV in their blood thanks to antiretroviral treatments can't transmit the virus through sex or childbirth. Yet discrimination and stigma persists.

The sperm bank exists online only, but will connect donors and those seeking donations with fertility banks once a connection is made on their site. Sperm Positive was started by three New Zealand non-profits — Body Positive, the New Zealand Aids Foundation and Positive Women Inc. — who hope the project will help disseminate science-backed education and information about HIV and parenthood.

Already, three HIV positive men have signed up to serve as donors, including Damien Rule-Neal who spoke to the NZ Herald about his reasons for getting involved in the project. "I want people to know life doesn't stop after being diagnosed with HIV and that it is safe to have children if you're on treatment," he told the Herald. "I've experienced a lot of stigma living with HIV, both at work and in my personal life that has come from people being misinformed about the virus."

We applaud the effort all around! To read more about our own efforts to end the stigma surround HIV and parenthood, check out our recent round-up of family profiles, resources, and expert advice that celebrate the experience of gay dads living with HIV here.

Fatherhood, the gay way

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