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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Race

How a White Gay Dad Discusses Racial Issues with his Black Sons

In light of the recent killing of George Floyd by the hands of police in Minneapolis, Joseph Sadusky shares two excerpts from his book that deal directly with issues around raising black sons.

Editor's Note: In light of George Floyd's death, this month, author Joseph Sadusky — who has been sharing excerpts from his book Magic Lessons: Celebratory and Cautionary Tales about Life as a (Single, Gay, Transracially Adoptive) Dad each month —will share two posts that deal directly with issues around raising black sons. This is the first, titled "White," which looks at general questions that come up for a white dad raising black boys. Read previous installments here.

It may be presumptuous for a Caucasian gay man to claim to feel terrified and heartsick at the shooting of Trayvon Martin. But upon hearing the news that day in 2012, this is exactly how I felt.

The horrible truth is that there are many incidents of racial violence toward black males that I could use as starting points for this topic. But the specific case of Trayvon Martin—whose only crime was being a young black male wearing a hoodie, walking in a neighborhood where he had a home—has a particular resonance for me. Whatever the legalities of George Zimmerman using a gun to "stand his ground" if he felt his life was threatened, the simple truth is that he chose—against the direction of law enforcement, whom he contacted for support—to follow an African American male who had every right to be walking those neighborhood streets, however "thug" he might appear.

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Become a Gay Dad

Curious About Covid 19's Impact on Foster Care and Adoption?

Leading industry experts answer questions from queer men about the impact of Covid-19 on the adoption and foster care processes.

Recently, GWK hosted a series of free webinars with leading experts led by industry experts in the fields of adoption and foster care to learn about up-to-date insights on how the coronavirus affects family building. The presentations left lots of room for audience Q&A, to allow participants to get their individual questions answered — there were some common questions raised during each webinar, however, so we've put together a quick video of our experts answering some of the top concerns from queer men interested in pursuing surrogacy.

Our team of experts include:

Have other questions about the impact of the coronavirus on adoption or foster care that you'd like our experts to answer? Be sure to email us at dads@gayswithkids.com.

Surrogacy for Gay Men

Top 5 Questions About Covid-19's Impact On Surrogacy

Leading industry experts answer questions from queer men about the impact of Covid-19 on the surrogacy process.

Recently, GWK hosted a series of free webinars with leading experts led by industry experts in the field of surrogacy to learn about up-to-date insights on how the coronavirus affects family building. The presentations left lots of room for audience Q&A, to allow participants to get their individual questions answered — there were some common questions raised during each webinar, however, so we've put together a quick video of our experts answering some of the top concerns from queer men interested in pursuing surrogacy.

Our team of experts include:

Have other questions about the impact of the coronavirus on surrogacy that you'd like our experts to answer? Be sure to email us at dads@gayswithkids.com.

Here is a breakdown of the Top 5 Questions About Covid 19's Impact On Surrogacy. These are highlights taken from our live webinar series we held featuring: G...

Transracial Families Series

How These Dads Address White Privilege within Their Transracial Family

The "white savior" complex is real, said Andrew and Don, who are raising two Black children.

Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of ongoing posts exploring issues related to transracial families headed by gay, bi and trans men. Interested in being featured as part of the series? Email us at dads@gayswithkids.com

Andrew Kohn, 40, and his husband Donald (Don) Jones, 47, together 13 years, are two white dads raising two Black children in Columbus, Ohio. Do they stick out? Sure. Have they encountered racism? They say they haven't. "I keep waiting for the moment so that I can become my best Julia Sugarbaker," said Andrew. "I think because we're a gay couple with Black kids, we're the other-other and people don't really say things to us. We have never had people touch our kids hair or do something that was inappropriate."

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Children's Books

New LGBTQ-Inclusive Children's Book Asks: What Makes a Family?

A new children's book by Seamus Kirst follows a young girl's journey of emotional discovery after she is asked which of her two dads is her "real dad."

Editor's note: This is a guest post from Seamus Kirst, author of the new LGBTQ-inclusive children's book "Papa, Daddy, Riley."

Throughout my life, I have discovered that reading provides an almost miraculous way of changing the way I think.

There is no medium that better offers insight into the perceptions, feelings and humanity of someone who is different from us. Through reading we become empathetic. Through reading we evolve. I have often emerged from reading a book, and felt like I was changed. In that, even in this digital age, I know I am not alone.

As children, reading shapes how we see the world. The characters, places, and stories we come to love in our books inform us as to what life might offer us as we grow up, and our world begins to expand beyond our own backyards.

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Gay Dad Photo Essays

Interested in Foster Care? These Amazing Dads Have Some Advice

As National Foster Care Month comes to a close, we rounded up some amazing examples of gay men serving as foster care dads, helping provide kids with a bright future.

Every May in the United States, we celebrate National Foster Care Month. With over 437,000 children and youth in foster care, it's our honor to take a look at some of the awesome dads in our community who are opening their hearts and their homes, and providing these kids with a bright future.

Thinking about becoming a foster parent? Check out these resources here, and visit AdoptUSKids.

Meet the Foster Dads!

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Transracial Families Series

This Transracial Family Relies on a 'Support Group' of African American Women

Puerto Rican dads Ferdinand and Manuel are raising a daughter of Jamaican descent — and love to find ways to celebrate their family's diversity

Our second feature in our transracial family series. Read the first one here.

Ferdinand Ortiz, 39, and his husband Manuel Gonzalez, 38, have been together for 7 years. In 2017, they became foster dads when they brought their daughter, Mia Valentina, home from the hospital. She was just three days old at the time. On December 13, 2018, her adoption was finalized.

Mia is of Jamaican and African American heritage, and her dads are both Puerto Rican. When Manuel and Ferdinand began their parenting journey through the foster care system, they received specific training on how to be the parents of a child whose race and culture was different from their own. "We learned that it's important to celebrate our child's culture and surround ourselves with people who can help her be proud of her culture." However, as helpful as this training was, the dads agreed that it would've been beneficial to hear from other transracial families and the type of challenges that they faced.

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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