Personal Essays by Gay Dads

'TwoDadsU.K.' Bloggers Welcome Son!

The dads behind the popular blog TwoDadsU.K. tell us about the day the welcomed their son Duke to the family.

When Wes and I first met, I made a point of wanting to know if he wanted kids. I use the plural as I've always wanted a house full of children. Thankfully he did, and he already had a daughter when I met him back in 2012. Fast forward 7 years and we're now married and have two children of our own together.

Talulah has been the star of TwoDads.U.K since we started blogging about our UK Surrogacy journey when she was born in October 2016, her expressive facial expressions keep everyone entertained and the fact she's growing up in front of everyone is also interesting for others to see. It's also important that others see how we parent, the mistakes we make, and the similar issues we face as parents vs our straight counterparts. The feedback is glowing — in fact we very rarely receive negative comments from trolls, unlike some of our friends who have family accounts which is really sad.

So we decided to extend our family back in the summer of 2018, but after a failed transfer we took a 3 month rest, and our surrogate was ready to go again in December after a clinic change to the renowned surrogacy specialists, CRGH in London. On New Year's Eve we got the news that we were pregnant, and a smooth and trouble free pregnancy followed – we found out at 10 weeks that we were having a little boy, and shortly after we revealed this live on Facebook – which was a disaster as Talulah was a typical toddler and ruled to roost – much to my embarrassment.

We had an excellent pregnancy and the hospital were amazing. It was the same hospital and specialist team where Talulah was born - Burnley Women's and Newborn Centre. Since Talulah's arrival, the hospital management team have rewritten many policies around the care and support to Intended Parents (IPs) and surrogates based on our journey and feedback, which is a great move for the surrogacy and same-sex IP community. So this time our birthing plan ran smoothly and it was agreed at our 20-week scan that Wes and I could witness our son being born, as well as allowing our surrogate's husband in the theatre too. Something which many UK hospitals disallow, but this is something we're tackling to change — watch this space!

So on the 19th August we drove north from our home in Worcestershire to Lancashire and took our surrogate out for dinner to spend some quality time with her and reminisce – looking back since 2015 when we first met, appreciating our journey and exciting for the next chapter: a sibling for Talulah, and a son for us.

I was more nervous this time around as I had a better understanding of the risks of having a C-section. The fact we were in theatre again made me respect the surgery more this time, and the risks surrogates take for doing what they do. Before I knew it, it was 6am and we had to be up, out and at the hospital as our surrogate and her husband were arriving for 7am. We arrived onto the Ante Natal Ward, met her, chatted to our midwife and our consultant and before we knew it we were heading to the Birthing Suite, where our surrogate was being prepped for theatre by the amazing team.

The time came to put on our scrubs, a gorgeous peach tone oversized garment, not the most attractive outfit I've worn. Friends of mine would surely have a catalogue of trends I've displayed and failed at - my attempt at low crotch baggy jeans from 2006 comes close to this moment - and they looked similar too! We sat in a waiting room with other expectant dads, all looking like extras from Teletubbies with our peach blancmange colored garms. We waited for our name to be called to head to theatre; it felt an age, but was only around 20 mins. And then they called us, and we headed to Theatre 1, the same theatre Talulah was born in.

We entered the cool, chilled theatre, which was brightly lit, ablaze with staff and technology and bleeping sounds. I counted 16 staff from our consultant O&G to consultant anaesthetics, theatre practitioners, several midwives, a PICU nurse and a number of junior doctors and other healthcare professionals. Our surrogate lay there – suitable numb, screen down (as this time she wanted to see the baby being born), looking calm and beaming. Her husband went straight over to her, kissed her on the head and Wes and I gave her a wink and blew her a kiss too. At 09:14 'Knife to Skin' was recorded on the large white board, at 09:15 'Uterine Incision' was made, and then at 09:16, as if by magic, love and science our baby by entered the world, crying, with more hair than me and Wes put together and not looking happy with us all. Duke Johnson-Ellis 20/08/19 (we list the date different than in the US!)

Our surrogate's husband took the most powerful photograph which is Time Magazine worthy in my opinion, it captures the emotions perfectly. To us, it captions 'Love through Surrogacy'.

Weighing 7lbs and 4.5oz our son, Duke Johnson-Ellis was here and was safe and well with a great set of lungs on him too. I (Michael) cut the cord after a delayed period where he lay in a towel right on our surrogate's chest, just as she wanted (she didn't do this with Talulah and she regretted not seeing her more at the birth), he was sucking his thumb and seemed quite content. Once the cord was cut the staff brought him to Wes and I and we observed his checks and they gave him his vitamin K injection. He was perfect.

Our midwife then got our room prepared for us on the birthing suite, and there we took him for our first precious moments together, having skin-to-skin, holding him tight - both crying with sheer happiness – our hearts had grown a little more and Duke has his own reserved space, right alongside Katie and Talulah. It's like he's always been with us, holding him for those first precious minutes felt silent, feeling his warm body on my chest and his tiny heart pounding onto mine creating our own new rhythm – it was magical.

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Just Like Dad: Ways My Kids and I Are Alike

Joseph Sadusky recounts the ways he and his adopted sons are cut from the same cloth.

Editor's Note: This is the third in a series of excerpts from Joseph Sadusky's new book, Magic Lessons: Celebratory and Cautionary Tales about Life as a (Single, Gay, Transracially Adoptive) Dad. The book contains many stories about my life as a dad, as well as lessons learned, and we're excited to share several excerpts from the the book over the course of the next few months. Read previous installments here!

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

How to Survive a Midlife Crisis (A Guide for Gay Dads)

Turns out David Blacker is, in fact, experiencing a midlife crisis — according to the very official results of a Buzzfeed quiz

Today I took one of those Buzzfeed-like quizzes to determine whether or not I am having a midlife crisis. I know what you're thinking. How can 29 be considered mid-life? God bless you, but I'm actually 35. Fine, 41. The Buzzfeed results — granted, we're not talking a true clinical assessment here — implied that I am, in fact, showing symptoms of a midlife crisis. But instead of shopping for a new sports car, I'm looking around for something else.

Problem is, I don't quite know what that is yet.

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

The Visits: A Gay Dad's First Encounters with his Future son

Joseph Sadusky's second excerpt from his book, Magic Lessons.

Editor's Note: This is the second in a series of excerpts from Joseph Sadusky's new book, Magic Lessons: Celebratory and Cautionary Tales about Life as a (Single, Gay, Transracially Adoptive) Dad. The book contains many stories about my life as a dad, as well as lessons learned, and we're excited to share several excerpts from the the book over the course of the next few months. Read the first installment here!

As you may recall, the binder where I found my kids was the one for my local county. This was great news, because it meant less of a physical transition for them. Or so I thought.

What I found out, after my worker (Heather) connected with theirs (Amy), was that they actually lived in a little town about four hours away from my town. Even though the boys were wards of my county, Amy had, a couple of years earlier, found the best placement with Ms. Reed, a grandmotherly type who was doing foster care in a tiny—like, one-main-street tiny—town way down in the valley. So much for best-laid plans.

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Gay Dad Family Stories

These Dads Had 'Twins' — Just Four Months Apart

Angel and Dan's wanted twins, without the complications of a twin pregnancy — so they worked with two separate surrogates at once.

If you have ever been out late on a Saturday night, you may have high hopes of meeting a handsome stranger, but you probably wouldn't expect to meet your future husband. Angel Mario Martinez Garcia, 45, surely didn't when, five years ago on a very early Saturday morning in Barcelona, he casually approached Dan's Mouquet, 40, and asked him, over many gin and tonics, what he wanted out of life. The nightlife setting notwithstanding, Dan's told Angel he ultimately wanted a quiet life, with a partner and children.

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Gestational Surrogacy Legalized in New York State

The Child-Parent Security Act, which legalizes commercial surrogacy in New York State, was included in the 2020 New York State Budget signed by Governor Cuomo

Yesterday, a years-long battle about the state of compensated gestational surrogacy came to an end in New York when the Governor signed into a law the Child-Parent Security Act in the 2020 as part of the state budget.

The effort stalled last year after opponents, including several Democrats, successfully argued that the bill didn't go far enough to protect women who serve as surrogates — even though it included a surrogate "bill of rights," the first of its kind in the country, aimed at ensuring protections.

"Millions of New Yorkers need assistance building their families — people struggling with infertility, cancer survivors impacted by treatment, and members of the LGBTQ+ community," the Family Equality Council said in a statement about the victory. "For many, surrogacy is a critically important option. For others, it is the only option. Passage of the Child-Parent Security Act is a massive step forward in providing paths to parenthood for New Yorkers who use reproductive technology, and creates a 'surrogate's bill of rights' that will set a new standard for protecting surrogates nationwide."

Opponents, led by Senator Liz Krueger, had once again attempted to torpedo legalization efforts this year by introducing a second bill that would legalize surrogacy in New York, but also make it the most restrictive state in the country to do so. "A bill that complicates the legal proceedings for the parents and potentially allows them to lose their genetic child is truly unfortunate," said Sam Hyde, President of Circle Surrogacy, referencing to the bill's 8-day waiting period. He also took issue with the bills underlying assumptions about why women decide to serve as a surrogate. The added restrictions imply that "they're entering into these arrangements without full forethought and consideration of the intended parents that they're partnering with," he said.

The bill was sponsored by State Senator Brad Hoylman, an out gay man who became a father via surrogacy, and Assemblymember Amy Paulin, who has been public with her experiences with infertility.

"My husband and I had our two daughters through surrogacy," Holyman told Gay City News. "But we had to travel 3,000 miles away to California in order to do it. As a gay dad, I'm thrilled parents like us and people struggling with infertility will finally have the chance to create their own families through surrogacy here in New York."

"This law will [give intended parents] the opportunity to have a family in New York and not travel around the country, incurring exorbitant costs simply because they want to be parents," Paulin said for her part. It will "bring New York law in line with the needs of modern families."

Expert Advice

4 Tips for Single Gay Dads Raising Daughters

Here are some ways to create a safe space for your daughter to discover who she is, with you by her side.

There's nothing quite like father-daughter relationships, and when it comes to single dads, your little girl likely holds a very special place in your heart. From the moment she's born, it's as if you can see every moment of her life in front of you, from her first steps to walking her down the aisle at her wedding. You'll be the first man she'll know and talk to, and you'll be her biggest example of what a loving man looks like. She'll come to you for advice on how to navigate challenges, be independent, treat others and grow into herself.

Your relationship with your daughter may be shaped by your personal history, whether you've been through a difficult divorce or breakup, you've transitioned out of a straight relationship, or you made the courageous decision to pursue surrogacy on your own. Whatever your situation is, studies have shown that children with involved fathers excel more in school and have fewer behavioral issues in adolescence.

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Change the World

After Suffering a Violent Homophobic Attack, This Gay Dad Turned to Advocacy

After Rene suffered a brutal homophobic attack that left him hospitalized, he and his family have turned to advocacy to heal

Guest post written by Rene and Nejc

We are Rene (35) and Nejc (29) and we come from Slovenia, Europe. I was an avid athlete, a Judoist, but now I am an LGBT activist and Nejc is a writer, who published a gay autobiography called Prepovedano. He was also a participant in a reality show in Slovenia (Bar) and he is an LGBT activist too. Nejc and I met by a mere coincidence on Facebook, and already after the first phone call we realized that we are made for each other. Nejc and I have been together as couple almost one year. We think we have been joined by some energy, as we have both experienced a lot of bad things with previous relationships and now we wish to create and shape our common path.

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