Gay Dad Family Stories

When Traditional Adoption Wouldn’t Work for This Tennessee Gay Couple, This Woman Stepped in to Help

A woman who had formed her own family through IVF after struggling with infertility not only offered this gay couple her extra embryos -- she offered to serve as their surrogate.

Justin and Matthew live in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and have been together for 11 years. They met through mutual friends and the first time Justin saw Matthew, he knew there something special about him. They both wanted children, and after almost 4 years of dating, they decided to begin their journey to parenthood.


Justin and Matthew Reed began with adoption at first but had no luck for many years. They found it difficult to find agencies willing to work with them, and when they looked into private adoption agencies across the country, the high cost and uncertain outcome was difficult for them to overcome. "We had friends who had several poor experiences with some of the more reputable agencies," added Justin, and this did nothing for their confidence when considering those agencies.

Justin (left) holding Henry, and Matthew

The couple also became licensed foster parents and were foster dads for some time, but ultimately agreed that it wasn't for them.

In May 2015, just when they had almost given up hope, a co-worker at the local university where Justin worked approached him. She had been privy to the challenges Justin and Matthew had faced and she came to Justin's office to speak with him. She shared with Justin her own IVF story. She was a mom of six kids, but had struggled with infertility after having her first born. Thankfully she became pregnant with the help of IVF and had triplets four years after her eldest. She then later had twin boys, naturally - a wonderful surprise. But she also disclosed to Justin that when she had gone through her own IVF journey, they had created additional embryos and she wanted Justin and Matthew to have access to them as her own family was complete.

Justin's mind was awhirl. He was amazed at how generous his co-worker was, but at the same time he didn't think Matthew would agree to it, and also, they wouldn't be able to afford a surrogate.

Justin, Henry and Matthew

But then his co-worker surprised him with an even more generous offer: she would be their surrogate.

"Okay, now there is no way this would happen," shared Justin, "So I thanked her emphatically for the offer and said I would talk it over with Matthew, which I knew he would never agree to."

But Matthew's response surprised Justin almost as much as his co-worker's offer. Matthew was in! "Well, I guess this is about the best possible situation," Matthew said, and Justin freaked out. By October 2015, they were pregnant!

Before the pregnancy took place, the couples attended therapy together. "The fertility center required us to attend therapy prior to agreeing to proceed," shared Matthew. "The board wanted to be sure that we all knew what we were getting into." The main goal of the therapy sessions were to discuss how the process would connect the two families and ensure that both sides understood the long-term impact this would have on both their existing families and their future child.

After being in the room for the implantation, at every doctor's appointment, and for the scheduled c-section, Justin and Matthew finally became dads to Henry on July 7, 2016. "Our whole experience was amazing," shared Justin.

Justin and Matthew see Henry's birth family periodically and will forever be grateful for the amazing gift they gave them. "Subsequent to Henry's birth, his birth mother was unexpectedly diagnosed with a brain tumor and has been undergoing treatment for the last 18 months," shared Matthew. As a result, organizing time together has been difficult but they talk to Henry about his birth family and show him pictures, something they will continue to do as he grows.

On January 18, 2017, the husbands – they were married in December 2015 as expectant dads – finalized the adoption of Henry.

Henry's adoption, January 2017

Justin and Matthew's path to fatherhood is difficult to define. They first tried adoption, then became foster parents for a brief time, and then experienced a surrogacy journey but are not related to Henry biologically. "So, while in the end it was a legal adoption, because of the DNA," said Justin, "really it was a surrogacy situation from the beginning, or I guess you could call it a planned adoption." Whatever you call it, this family was built by determination, generosity like no other, and a cast of big hearts.

Never more true, love most certainly makes a family.

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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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Gay Dad Family Stories

One Dad's Plan to 'Co-Parent Like Crazy' with His Future Husband and Ex-Wife

"I see my daughter being raised in such a loving home," said Nick. "She'll understand equality and love, and I hope I will instill those qualities in her so that she spreads it to others."

When we asked 30-year-old Nick from Fort Worth, Texas, about his path to fatherhood, he told us it was a long story and to get ready. Nick became a dad through a previous straight relationship and only came out a few years ago, but a lot has happened since then.

Growing up, Nick was raised with the belief that he should, one day, become a dad and have a family. He was brought up Catholic, and was taught that his only option to have a family was with a woman.

At first, he didn't question this belief, but he distinctly remembers the first moment when he realized he was attracted to men.

"At around age 14, I remember getting in trouble in class and was sent to sit in the hallway and this guy came walking down the hallway and I thought, 'Oh, he's cute.'" After pondering that thought for a while, Nick began to look at other guys and soon realized that he was attracted to guys. "I never asked my parents, or any religious figures from church, about these thoughts that were rapidly swimming around my head—even when I was supposed to confess my sins in confession at church. I was terrified that the Father of the church would tell my parents and I'd be exiled or forced into being straight."

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Gay Dad Family Stories

One Single Gay Dad's Trailblazing Path to Parenthood Via Surrogacy

20 years ago, Gene became the first single gay man to work with Circle Surrogacy in order to become a dad — trailblazing a path for many others since.

This article is part of our family feature series with Circle Surrogacy, a surrogacy agency that has been helping LGBTQ+ singles and couples realize their dream of parenthood for the past 20 years.

"I think I was pretty naïve, I guess," chuckled Gene, one of the first single gay dads to work with Circle Surrogacy over 19 years ago. "I just had made a decision and went out and did it, and wasn't really thinking about how difficult it might be or what other people thought, being first at doing something."

So how did Gene hear about surrogacy as an option for single gay men? Well, it began with Gene flipping through a bar magazine. He recalls seeing an ad about a woman providing a service to connect gay men with lesbians in platonic co-parenting relationships. While he started down that path, working with the founder, Jennifer, he remembers thinking, "What if I meet someone? What if I want to move? It would create all these complications."

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Diary of a Newly Out Gay Dad

A Newly Out Gay Dad Feels 'Demoted' After Divorce

Cameron Call showed up to his first family Thanksgiving since coming out and getting a divorce — and struggles to find himself "stuck with the singles."

Cameron Call, who came out in summer 2019, has generously agreed to chronicle his coming out journey for Gays With Kids over the next several months — the highs, lows and everything in between. Read his first article here.

Denial is an interesting thing. It's easy to think you're potentially above it, avoiding it, assume it doesn't apply to you because you'd NEVER do that, or maybe you're just simply avoiding it altogether. After finally coming out, I liked to think that I was done denying anything from now on. But unfortunately that's not the case.

And this fact became very clear to me over Thanksgiving.

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Resources

New Report Details the 'Price of Parenthood' for LGBTQ People

A new report by the Family Equality Council takes a deep dive into the current state of cost for becoming a parent as an LGBTQ person

Parenthood is expensive. But parenthood while queer is still prohibitively costly for so many segments of the LGBTQ community interested in pursuing a family, according to a new repot by the Family Equality Council, titled, "Building LGBTQ+ Families: The Price of Parenthood."

Among the more interesting findings was this one: the cost of family planning is relatively similar for all LGBTQ people, regardless of income level. This shows "that the desire to have children exists regardless of financial security," the report's authors conclude.

Research for the report was conducted through an online survey of 500 LGBTQ adults over the age of 18, and was conducted between July 11-18, 2018. For comparison, the survey also included 1,004 adults who did not identify as LGBTQ.

Other interesting findings of the report include:

  • 29% of all LGBTQ+ respondents reported an annual household income under $25,000 compared to 22% of non-LGBTQ+ respondents.
  • 33% of black LGBTQ+ respondents, 32% of female-identified LGBTQ+ respondents, and 31% of trans/gender non-conforming LGBTQ+ respondents reported annual household incomes below $25,000.
  • Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have volunteered to participate in online surveys and polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to multiple sources of error, including, but not limited to sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, and error associated with question-wording and response options.29% of all LGBTQ+ respondents reported an annual household income under $25,000 compared to 22% of non-LGBTQ+ respondents.
  • 33% of black LGBTQ+ respondents, 32% of female-identified LGBTQ+ respondents, and 31% of trans/gender non-conforming LGBTQ+ respondents reported annual household incomes below $25,000.
  • Regardless of annual household income, 45-53% of LGBTQ+ millennials are planning to become parents for the first time or add another child to their family. Those making less than $25,000 a year are considering becoming parents at very similar rates as those making over $100,000.
  • Data from the Family Building Survey reveals that LGBTQ+ households making over $100,000 annually are considering the full range of paths to parenthood, from surrogacy and private adoption to foster care and IVF. The most popular options under consideration in this income bracket are private adoption (74% are considering), foster care (42%), and IVF or reciprocal IVF (21%). At the other end of the economic spectrum, for LGBTQ+ individuals in households making less than $25,000 annually, the most commonly considered paths to parenthood are intercourse (35% are considering), foster care (30%), and adoption (23%).

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 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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Fatherhood, the gay way

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