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Faces of Gay Foster Dads and Kids

Two dads and their three foster sons

There are almost half a million children in foster care in the United States alone. Many of these kids are hoping to find their forever family. In honor of National Adoption Month, we asked gay dads who adopted foster children to tell us about their families. We hope their words will inspire a new generation of gay men to create their families via the foster-adopt system.

Two foster dads with their sons dressed up in suits giving the thumbs up From Los Angeles, California: Dads Jason (left) and Eric, both 39, with their sons Justin (left), 10, and Kamil, 7

Jason and Eric

Jason and Eric welcomed Justin into their family when he was in second grade, and Kamil when he was in first.

Jason and Eric’s biggest struggle with the foster-adopt process:

“There are days and times when it’s hard. You will experience things and hear things and find yourself in situations and realities that don’t make sense or aren’t experiences you knew happened or could happen. Our only real struggle though was not always being able to control the process but instead having to sometimes just move forward, do what we felt was right and fight for whatever was in the best interest of our boys.”

Advice to future foster-adopt dads:

“DO IT! In all seriousness, we are so fortunate (and lucky) to have become the parents to these two wonderful boys and the sense of fulfillment we receive each and every day is beyond anything we could have ever imagined. Looking back, we realize the process has many steps that help prepare you for this amazing journey so it’s not like you just sign up and BAM – a child walks through your door! For us, having that time period of classes and home studies allowed us to process our experience and truly be ready when the time was right.”

Agency or social worker this family recommends:

“Extraordinary Families (formerly Southern California Foster Family and Adoption Agency) was a pioneer in creating families with same-sex parents through foster-adopt. Not only did this agency guide and support us through the certification process, but they have held our hand anytime we needed it and continue to be a part of our lives today.”

Collage of photos of two dads and their foster children From St. Louis, Missouri: Dads Bryan, 38, and Milton, 40, with their kids Harper, 4, and Hollis, 6

Bryan and Milton

Hollis was 5 days old when she went to live with her dads; Harper was 2 days old when he joined his forever family. Both adoptions were finalized after the kids had been with their two dads for approximately 15 months.

What Bryan and Milton wish they had known about the process before they started:

“I felt we were pretty prepared. Even though we knew we were informed, social workers are involved a lot. The child has a guardian ad litem and a social worker, you have a social worker, the biological parents (if they are involved) have social workers, etc. Communication is key. We were fortunate to have incredibly dedicated and caring support.”

Advice to future foster-adopt dads:

“Find a social worker who works for you. We went through a couple until we found one that was like family. Also, get a full understanding about the levels of legal risk. It was very comforting once I learned about it. I was very against foster-adopt until I learned about it.”

Agency or social worker this family recommends:

“In Connecticut (where we used to live), we were fortunate to work with Arlene Velazquez and Marybeth Kaczynski-Hill at the Department of Child and Family Services.”

Two dads and their three foster sons From San Diego, California: Dads Bryan, 42, and Liberty, 40, with their sons Gonzalo, 13, Oscar, 11, and Marcos, 9

Bryan and Liberty

The three boys are siblings with the same biological mother but were living in separate foster homes before they moved in with their two dads. The adoptions were finalized in May 2014.

What Bryan and Liberty did to prepare their home for their sons’ arrival:

“A lot! I could write a novel for this question. The county of San Diego has a very thorough system of classes to prepare you to adopt or to foster. To get ourselves and our home licensed to be a “foster/adoptive” family took approximately two years. We can’t say enough good things about these classes. Some were repetitive and did not apply because of the ages of our boys but in the end, we found them incredibly helpful. There were many classes taught by other adoptive/foster parents, and their insight was invaluable. The biggest take away from these classes for me was to ingrain in our boys that we will always love them no matter what, and to be kind and firm when parenting.”

This family’s biggest struggle regarding their foster-adopt process:

“Since we were adopting older children, there were many behavioral and psychological issues each of our boys were dealing with. ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), ODD (oppositional defiant disorder) and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), to name a few. These issues, along with their emotional survival mechanism of trying to get you to give up on them, like every other adult had in their life, was much more challenging than I would have ever imagined. I don’t want to sugarcoat the experience. The first year together tested every part of my being. The reason why I think we were able to get through the first year was due to my husband and me being on the same page and supporting each other unconditionally. Knowing we were both doing everything we could to make it through the day. Our middle son Oscar wanted to be loved so badly, but did not want to open his heart, only to have it broken again. For the first three months, every day Oscar would get home from school and try to hurt himself or us. My husband and I would take turns sitting in his room with him. He would spit in our faces, hit, scratch, bite, call us the worst things he could possibly think of (some of which were funny in retrospect). He would throw tantrums until he was drenched in sweat and would eventually break down after about three hours. He would then cry uncontrollably and just want to be held. You could see a freedom and relief in letting himself be loved.”

Advice to future foster-adopt dads:

Just do it. For all the ups and downs of parenting, if I step back and look at where our boys lives were most likely headed just four years ago with no family to call their own, it was a bleak outlook. Now I look at them thriving, learning, growing, and generally happy kids (except when in trouble or doing homework). It’s amazing what a stable loving environment can do for a child. You don’t have to be a perfect person to be a parent, you just have to have the ability to love and be loved.”

Two dads posing with their foster daughter From Chicago, Illinois: Dads Bill, 50, and Jonathan, 52, with their daughter Victoria, 3

Bill and Jonathan

Victoria was 3 months old when she came to live with her two dads. Her adoption was finalized December 28.

Jonathan and Bill’s aha moment when they truly felt like a family for the first time:

“She was part of our family the minute she was carried in the front door. The first time she called me Daddy, I cried. The day our adoption was finalized wasn’t bad either.”

Advice to future foster-adopt dads:

“Foster-to-Adopt can be tough and you need the stomach for it. However, it is highly rewarding. We took a little girl out of a bad situation to give her love, stability and opportunity. There are a lot of kids in the system that need good homes and a safe environment. If you can do it, don’t hesitate. Being a parent will change your life.”

Agency or social worker this family recommends:

Children’s Home + Aid Chicago

Two dads and their three foster children posing all dressed up in shirts ties and dresses From Roswell, Georgia: Dads Barry, 51, and David, 45, with their children Leela, 14, James, 11, and Sabastian, 13

Barry and David

Leela, Sabastian and James moved into their forever home with their two dads two years ago.

What Barry and David did to prepare their home for their kids’ arrival:

“We were required by the state to go through home studies. We had to make modifications to our home including putting a locked iron gate on the wine cellar. I didn’t understand that because we were allowed to have beer in the refrigerator. Also modifications to our hot tub and many outlet covers, etc. Also background investigations were done and held up the process because I had to explain a traffic situation from almost 30 years ago. These background investigations and full medical were required from both of us and my 77-year-old mother who we also take care of and have living in our home. We also had to supply all medical records for all pets living in the home. The entire process was very invasive.”

A message to future foster-adopt dads:

“There are some great kids out there in really bad situations that need someone to intervene and give them hope.”

The important role their agency and social workers played:

“We have worked with a few people involved with this process that have become true friends that we and the kids will have in our lives forever. They are not people who started the process but instead were assigned to the case along the way. We were lucky and thankful to have their involvement. I do know that they are busy today helping other kids and those kids will foreverTwo dads posing with their foster sonbe better off for it.”

From Scottsdale, Arizona: Dads Billy, 32, and William, 32, with their son Deacon, 2

Billy and William

Deacon was born premature. His two dads met him for the first time when he was still in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit). After 97 days in the NICU, following two surgeries, Deacon was able to go home with his forever family. His adoption day is August 5, 2015.

What Billy and William did to prepare their home for their kids’ arrival:

“Because we knew Deacon was going to be in the hospital for a while, we spent a lot of time decorating his area in the NICU. Our first night that we met Deacon, his crib and area was very plain and his clothes had been donated by nurses. We immediately found a store that had preemie onesies, had blankets created and monogrammed, and brought in books and plush toys. Leaving the NICU required us to take a special CPR class, a car seat class, and a car seat test. Our biggest adjustment was having our baby taken off of all the monitors and trusting ourselves as parents to know what he needed.”

This family’s biggest struggle regarding their foster-adopt process:

“It was definitely the wait. The sleepless nights of worrying that the next day he may be taken from us. Explaining to receptionists, nurses, and doctors why his name was “Baby Boy.” The random comments about my wife or his mother.”

The moment when these dads truly felt like a family for the first time:

“Our aha moment was the night we met him in the NICU. Our social worker had set everything up so that the hospital knew we were coming. As we walked into the NICU, our nurse said, ‘Oh, you must be his dads.’ That was the first time we had been referred to as his dads and it felt right. We were his dads. He was our baby.”

A military family of two dads, one in uniform, and their foster duaghter From Baltimore, Maryland: Dads Jon, 33, and Thomas, 35, with their daughters Charlotte, 14 months, and Anna, 15 months (not pictured)

Jon and Thomas

Jon and Thomas met Charlotte at the hospital when she was just 5 hours. Charlotte’s adoption was finalized in May 2016. They have another daughter, 15-month-old Anna, whom they brought home when she was 7 days old; her adoption is tentatively scheduled for early 2017.

What Jon and Thomas did to prepare their home for their daughters’ arrival:

“We started preparing more than two years prior to their arrival. We originally started this journey working directly with an attorney, but when the army moved us across the country (from California to Maryland) we started all over again with Baltimore City.”

What they wish they had known about the process before they started:

“We wish we had known how much easier in terms of the overall process it was going to be. The private adoption route was very difficult for us. After two failed adoptions, we were happy to start a process with a much more defined road map. That’s not to say foster-to-adopt is easy, but in our case it sure seemed that way.”

This family’s biggest struggle regarding their foster-adopt process:

“The most difficult part of the foster-adopt process has been the court system and working with biological parents who aren’t in the right state of mind to make meaningful decisions.”

Two foster dads holding their son outside. From League City, Texas: Dads Michael, 39, and Daniel, 30, with their son Kingston, 4

Michael and Daniel

These two dads welcomed Kingston into their home when he was 22 months old. After he had been in foster care for 514 days, Kingston’s adoption was finalized on November 20, 2015.

What Michael and Daniel did to prepare their home for Kingston’s arrival:

“Our placement specialist at DePelchin Children’s Center gave us about three hours to prepare for Kingston’s arrival! Our home was approved to foster children and young adults (0-18 years); we literally only had a bed, bedding, armoire, and a few bath supplies in our future child’s bedroom. We ran out to Target and purchased a few clean outfits, pajamas, a toothbrush and some toothpaste, a stuffed animal, diapers, children’s snacks and utensils and some other things just before our little one arrived.”

This family’s biggest struggle regarding their foster-adopt process:

“The uncertainty of it all was a huge burden. I really cannot stress how difficult life becomes when you completely fall in love with a child, know you’re their best hope, and have no idea whether or not they’ll stay.”

“Now, we understood our commitment as foster parents. We knew adoption should have been the furthest thing from our minds. That said, Child Protective Services did ask if we’d consider adopting at the start of our relationship – the seed was literally planted the hour Kingston arrived. As much as that seed was nurtured by our agency, family and friends, it was also discouraged and outright threatened by Kingston’s court-appointed attorney, Child Protective Services (at times), as well as our son’s birth mother’s family. The ride was definitely bumpy and difficult, but it also goes without saying that it was all totally worth it.”

Michael and Daniel’s aha moment when they truly felt like a family for the first time:

“My aha moment was definitely our adoption day. All of my uncertainty went out the door when the judge congratulated us and the courtroom erupted into applause. It was a fantastic feeling to not only be stress-free, but to be congratulated publicly. I was so proud standing next to both my husband and son.”

Agency or social worker this family recommends:

“If you’re in or around the Houston area, partner with DePelchin Children’s Center. DePelchin is a non-profit that is amazing, extremely supportive, and so well informed. They were instrumental in making our dream family a reality.”

Two foster dads posing with their son at an outside water fountain From Monterey, California: Dads Charles, 42, and Joaquin, 42, with sons Alexsander, 8, and Matthew, 4 (not pictured)

Joaquin and Charles

Joaquin and Charles welcomed Alexsander into their home the day before he turned 5 years old. His adoption was finalized in May 2014. The two dads are still fostering their second son Matthew whom they hope to adopt in spring 2017.

Joaquin and Charles’ “aha” moment when they truly felt like a family for the first time:

“I think for me it was when Alexsander decided to call me Dad, and Charles Daddy. I realized at that moment that I was now responsible for another being that was looking up to me, us. We became official that day.”

This family’s biggest struggle regarding their foster-adopt process:

“A month before getting the call about Alexsander, we had received word of another foster child that was seeking placement. After receiving more information about the child, we knew it would be a perfect fit. We got super excited and began to announce to close friends and family about what could be in store. After discussing it further with our social worker we found out that the child’s temporary foster mom highly recommended that the boy would benefit better in a traditional mom and dad home/family. We were naturally disappointed and we agreed to be more reserved about being optimistic about future calls.”

Advice to any gay dad-to-be considering foster-adopt:

“We encourage anyone who has questions about fostering or adopting to find to their local adoption agencies and attend an adoption orientation. We attended one through the county and the other through Kinship Center.”

Agency or social worker this family recommends:

“The adoption agency we went through was Kinship Center in Salinas, California. We highly recommend speaking to Chandra Allen if anyone has any questions. Chandra is currently working with us on adopting our second child.”

Collage of three photos of a single foster dad posing with his five children From Indianapolis, Indiana: Dad Craig, 56 with his kids Ashley, 26, Alex, 25, Travis, 24, Andrew, 23, Michael, 22, and Brandon, 21


Brandon, Michael and Andrew were 3, 4 and 5 years old respectively when they were welcomed into their forever home in 1998. They are biological siblings. Their sister joined them two years later when she was 10 years old. Craig fostered-to-adopt sibling brothers Travis and Alex in 2001. They were 9 and 10 years of age at the time. Both siblings groups were never intended to be reunited with their biological parents, so Craig was able to adopt his children very quickly.

What Craig wishes he had known about the process before he started:

“All of my kids had a history before me. I not only had to respect their early years in life, but I also had to embrace their past and keep their memories alive. My children’s severed connection with their birth family became a huge challenge during adolescence.”

Craig’s biggest struggle regarding his foster-adopt process:

“I was too consumed with “saving” my children and starting fresh as a new family. Once I realized that I couldn’t change my children and make my interests their own, a whole new world opened. As I stepped outside of my comfort zone, I learned many new things from all my children. Each had unique gifts.”

Craig’s message to future foster-adopt dads:

“Many of the kids in foster care come with past baggage. They desperately need love but will push buttons until they are certain that their father(s) really care. Periods of incredible joy may be met with a day of backsliding. On those long days, patience is the guiding force. One slip of a father’s tongue will be long remembered and can easily erode the trust that he worked so hard to build.”

Two foster dads and their sons dressed in shirts and ties From Lilburn, Georgia: Dads Gary, 53, and Michael 52, with Brendyn, 9, and Alexander, 8

Gary and Michael

Brendyn and Alexander are biological brothers. They moved into their forever home with their dads when they were 8 and 7, respectively. Their adoption was finalized September 8, 2016.

What Gary and Michael wish they had known about the process before they started:

“The length of time it takes and all the amount of visitors we would have in the home.”

Gary and Michael’s aha moment when they truly felt like a family for the first time:

“The day we finalized the adoption in the judge’s chamber and the boys were given their new last names.”

Agency or social worker this family recommends:

“We worked with Families First in Atlanta, Georgia.”

Two foster dads holding their son and celebrating adoption day with the judge in the courtroom From Seattle, Washington: Dads Troy-Skott, 49, and JR, 45, with their son Travis, 5

Troy-Skott and JR

Travis was 2 months old when he joined his dads. His adoption was finalized July 9, 2013.

What Troy-Skott and JR did to prepare their home for Travis’ arrival:

“We received a phone call in the morning asking if we would be foster parents to 2-month-old Travis. We agreed and went absolutely nuts procuring a crib, car seat, diapers, changing table, clothing, bottles, etc. all before we picked him up three hours later. My cousin was just about to give birth, so thankfully we were able to raid her home of many of the things we immediately needed. I went through Target like a mad person, frantically throwing anything baby-related into a shopping cart as fast as I could run.”

This family’s biggest struggle regarding their foster-adopt process:

“Our biggest struggle began after Travis had been in our care as foster parents for almost two years. At that time, biological family surfaced and DSHS decided to recommend Travis leaving our family and be placed with them. We worked day and night for almost a year, using every possible resource we could find to change the direction of DSHS. In the end, we won this battle. It was certainly the hardest and most heartbreaking time in our lives.”

Their message to future foster-adopt dads:

“Although our journey through foster-adopt was very traumatic, there are so many children who are in need of a forever family. I would encourage anyone to be a foster parent and advocate for that child with every ounce of your being.”

Agency or social worker this family recommends:

Amara Parenting, 5907 Martin Luther King Jr. Way South, Seattle WA 98118. Phone: 206-260-1700

two gay foster dads posing with their three children at a pumpkin patch From Youngsville, Louisiana: Dads Nick, 35, and Adam, 33, with Madison, 2, Elijah, almost 2, and Noah, 5 months

Nick and Adam

Nick and Adam welcomed Elijah into his forever home when he was 2 months old; Madison arrived when she was 5 months old; Noah came to Nick and Adam when he was just 3 days old. Elijah’s adoption was finalized this month; Madison’s petition has been filed with the courts so they’re awaiting an adoption date, and Noah’s parental rights are scheduled to be terminated at the end of the year and his adoption should be finalized in March.

What Nick and Adam wish they had known about the process before they started:

“We did a lot of research before deciding to go the route of foster-to-adopt so there wasn’t a lot of surprises. One thing that I think that no one can be prepared for is having to go to the agency weekly for parental visitation of the children. Sure, you know you are going to have to do it (if the parents even show up), but actually having to converse with these parents in the waiting room knowing the circumstances as to why the child came into foster care all while trying to be polite is a nightmare!”

A message to future foster-adopt dads:

“Your child is out there! Don’t give up. It was three months after we were certified as a foster/adoptive family before we got our little boy! The children that need a home are plentiful. We said one, maybe two children and here we are with three! If you want a family but do not want to deal with harsh adoption agencies or lengthy surrogacy ‘hunting’ and costs, this is the best way to go!”

Agency or social worker this family recommends:

“Lafayette Parish DCFS is amazing! They work with you to get you the placement you desire! We told them infant to 2 years old, maybe siblings, prefer white (but open to other races) and we want to adopt. We got our boy and girl and then her biological brother! I actually had to tell them to quit calling me because they were trying to give us more babies!”

Collage of two photos.  One of two dads and their foster children in superman costumes. the other at a large family gathering From Scottsdale, Arizona: Dads Jeffrey, 42, and Scott, 42, with their kids Carley, 4, and Jacob, 3

Jeffrey and Scott

Carley and Jacob are siblings, less than a year apart in age. They were adopted together in July 2016.

Jeffrey and Scott on adopting a sibling group:

“We are foster-adopt dads (dad & daddy) to a sibling group. We feel so fortunate to have been matched and selected to be their parents among many families who expressed interest. Our kids are so close in age it feels a bit like having twins. We encourage all foster-adopt dads-to-be to strongly consider a sibling group, in our case double the work but absolutely double the joy they have brought to our family.”

This family’s biggest struggle regarding their foster-adopt process:

“Our biggest struggle was preparing our family and friends for our adoption. Grandparents (our parents) are super excited and do not always understand the need to go slow when developing a relationship with the kids. At times our family didn’t understand why we were so cautious and measured with introductions. Family and friends don’t always know proper adoption etiquette and ask questions about the children’s past and background and sometimes express feelings of sorrow for the fact that the kids were removed from their bio families. We have taught our family that we focus on the children’s future and not their past as we chose not to share any details about our children’s background. It is important to be patient with and teach our families and friends about foster care and adoption and what is appropriate: set boundaries with information sharing and prepare them in advance for what they can expect and how and when they can be involved. We had the benefit of learning about all of this in our PS-MAPP courses and we sometime wish that we would have learned more about how to prepare family and friends or that a course was offered specifically for extended family members to attend.”

Jeffrey and Scott on their relationship with their children’s previous foster family:

“We developed an amazing partnership with the children’s former foster family who played an instrumental role in ensuring a successful transition for our toddlers. Despite our many differences – us being a same-sex married couple and them a very conservative Christian family – we all agreed to put our personal differences aside and maintain our collective focus on the best interests of our children. Fast forward 11 months, we have recently reintroduced our children to their former foster family as uncle, aunt and cousins and we have all become great friends.”

Agency or social worker this family recommends:

“AASK-AZ (Aid to Adoption of Special Kids) was our licensing agency and Kristen Bruce was our family specialist. This agency is completely committed to providing the best education and resources along with a commitment and support to their families. We highly recommend Kristen and AASK.”

Two dads with their foster sons in matching black shirts and ties From Spokane, Washington: Dads Jeffery and Scott with their sons

To help find your path to fatherhood through gay foster care, surrogacy, or adoption, check out the GWK Academy.

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