Update and Interview

As anticipated, I had a very busy summer working on a professional project. But, we did find time to go to Orlando to celebrate the kids’ birthdays, and visit my sister and her family in New Orleans.

We had a near miss with Hurricane Dorian last month that is making us have second thoughts about scheduling AJ and JJ’s bar mitzvahs for Labor Day weekend 2020. The kids are now back to school in 1st and 7th grade and doing well.

I recently gave an interview to Gareth Johnson for the LGBT website meanshappy.com (get it?). I answered some frequently asked questions about being gay dads through surrogacy, but also delved a bit into politics. You can read the whole interview here.

What It’s Like Adopting Our Kids Through Surrogacy

In various prior posts to our blog, we have discussed some of the reasons why we decided to pursue surrogacy to build our family, rather than through adoption.  In a particular post we also discussed how one of us having a genetic link to each of our kids matters, and how it doesn’t.  Essentially, it doesn’t in any way affect how we love and care for our kids, but it does matter in how our parental rights are legally recognized and accepted by society in general.

Recently, in effort to bolster legal protections for our kids, we each completed second parent adoptions of the twin set to which we are not biologically related.  We spent months working on this, and the experience helped us appreciate some of the challenges foster parents and parents through adoption face.

When we first told friends and family about our plans to have kids through surrogacy, some responded with the question of why we didn’t “just adopt”? At the time we suspected that adoption was not that simple, and now we know for a fact that it’s not.  We completed extensive paperwork and gathered all sorts of financial documentation to show that we were a stable home capable of raising children. We found the questions on the paperwork rather intrusive and struggled to answer some.  If our kids weren’t already with us, I would imagine that the way we answered some of these nebulous questions about our personalities might take on earth shattering significance.  We would fret that every answer would make or break our chance of being chosen to adopt a child!

After we submitted the paperwork, we had a social worker visit our home for a home study.  A home study is of course by definition intrusive.  Childless people hoping to adopt probably go to great lengths to make sure their homes are immaculate, and that everything is safe and baby-proofed to show how prepared they are.  Our challenge with two sets of twins (and a dog) already living in the house was a little different.  We had to make sure the social worker didn’t trip over anything and that the kids don’t injure themselves during the visit!

The cost of legal fees and the home study are significant.  I know that in private adoptions of newborns there are additional expenses.  Adoptions are still certainly less expensive than surrogacy, but the total cost can still put adoption out of reach for many.

I also know that parents seeking to adopt through the foster system are also required to attend parenting classes which pose an additional hurdle for many.

When we finally had our day in court, everything was taken care of quickly thanks to our diligent attorney.  The only hiccup was the judge taking a minute to understand that we were actually doing two adoptions at the same time.  We had heard that the judge likes to take pictures with the adopted kids, but we decided to have the kids keep their regular school routine and not attend.  Again, I imagine that the hearing would have much heavier emotional weight if we were adopting in the traditional sense.

So now we are a fully recognized, legal family of 6.  We only had a small taste of the challenges adoptive parents face, and it has given even us more respect for foster and adoptive parents everywhere.  Props!

Launch Day and Book Review

Today is the official launch day of Eric Rosswood’s new book, Journey to Same-Sex Parenthood.  I was able to receive an advance copy and wrote a glowing review for it on Amazon.  Of course, I am somewhat biased given the fact that I contributed our family story to this collection of personal stories about gay and lesbian parents.

With that said and having now read the entire book, I think Eric Rosswood did a marvelous job. I really do wish a book like this existed when Josh and I were originally considering our options for family building.

It is very well organized into five sections covering different paths to parenthood for same sex couples: Open Adoption, Foster Care, Surrogacy, Assisted Reproduction, and Co-Parenting. Each section includes multiple representative firsthand stories by gay and lesbian people that went through it themselves. Each story takes you on an emotional roller coaster toward parenthood that keeps your attention while at the same time informing you of the highs and lows that may occur along the way. I think that same sex couples hoping to have children will have better understanding of practical issues, but especially the emotional complexities that come with each approach after reading these personal stories. Other books may focus on a single approach, or read more like a clinical manual. This book is warm and intimate.

For the detail oriented, the end of the book comes complete with multiple appendices that comment on legal issues, benefits and challenges, and questions to ask yourself when considering each of the five different paths to parenthood.

I encourage any gay or lesbian couples interested in pursuing parenthood to check this book out today!

12095150_10154015731424483_6367413533586476409_o WP_20160212_005 WP_20160212_007

Solidarity

My New Year wish for 2016 would probably be for solidarity among LGBT moms and dads of different stripes.

Parents in general are probably familiar with a phenomenon I call “competitive parenting.”  Because of their love for their children and a deep desire to do their best as parents, people often subscribe to different philosophies and methods: attachment parenting, free range kids, cloth diapers, etc.  Furthermore, insecurities about whether they are actually making the best choices for their own children sometimes leads them to go from self-affirmation to putting down other parents in order to make themselves feel superior.  This can be as subtle as singing the praises of a gluten-free kid diet in mixed company, and as extreme as telling formula-feeding moms that they are depriving their babies.  I find this competitiveness to be the best mom or dad unnecessary.  We are all in this together, we all love our children, we are all trying our best, and we really shouldn’t have to prove ourselves to anybody.  We have more in common than there are differences to be found.  Solidarity!

LGBT moms and dads in our unusual situation often struggle with even more insecurity because of feeling judged by society as a whole.  In attempt to prove themselves just as good, competitive LGBT parents grapple with how we raise our kids, as well as the manner in which we built our family in the first place.  Over the past few years, interacting with LGBT parents on social media, I have found some mutual support in these groups, but a lot of division as well.  I can easily dismiss hateful comments from outsiders, who know nothing about my circumstance, as ignorant.  When other gay dads talk about fostering and adoption as a more moral path to parenthood, or even suggest that commercial gestational surrogacy is selfish and exploits women, it really bothers me.  I also dislike when I see other gay dads through surrogacy turn up their noses at the idea of fostering or adopting kids.

Rather than putting each other down, we should be lifting each other up together.  We are all in this together, because society does not distinguish between gay dads through adoption, surrogacy, co-parenting and previous relationships.  We’re just perceived as gay dads.  We all love our children equally regardless of how they came to be in our care.  We are all doing what we think is best for our own families, because the truth is that there are merits and drawbacks to any family-building approach.  Josh and I have already discussed in previous posts how we carefully navigated surrogacy twice in effort to ensure, as much as possible, positive outcomes for all parties involved.  We have complete respect for gay dads who foster and adopt.  After considering that path ourselves, we decided to pursue surrogacy instead for very specific reasons.  The best way to have and raise kids in one’s own case is not necessarily the best nor the most feasible path to parenthood for others.  There should be more solidarity than divisiveness, because LGBT parents have more in common than differences.

In closing, I would just like to mention that Eric Rosswood’s upcoming book, “Journey to Same-Sex Parenthood: First Hand Advice, Tips and Stories From Lesbian and Gay Couples” takes a unified and balanced look at these varied ways same sex-couples become parents.  We are very happy to have contributed our personal family story to the section on surrogacy, and we are excited to read other family stories about assisted reproduction, fostering, adoption, co-parenting and more.  We hope prospective LGBT parents will find this resource informative and helpful in deciding their own best path to parenthood.  The book is available for pre-order on Amazon now.  Check it out!

Coming March 2016

Coming March 2016

Journey to Same-Sex Parenthood

Coming March 2016

Coming March 2016

We are excited to share our family story in an upcoming book by Eric Rosswood to be published in March of 2016!  “Journey to Same-Sex Parenthood: First Hand Advice, Tips and Stories From Lesbian and Gay Couples” is organized into five sections describing these different paths to parenthood for same sex couples: Adoption, Foster Care, Assisted Reproduction, Surrogacy and Co-Parenting.  We contributed our family story to the part on surrogacy.  Each section includes personal stories like ours as well as an appendix with legal issues and questions to ask before pursuing each family building approach.  We are excited to read other family stories and think prospective LGBT parents will find this resource informative and inspirational.  The book is available for pre-order on Amazon now.  Check it out!