Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays From DADsquared..




Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Birthday to Remember





















There was a feeling in the air,
rather like the first cool breaths of Fall,
reminding one that there is a change on the way.

A kind of excitement that you can't quite put your finger on.
It's like everything all at once, 
big as the world yet subtle, small and snug in the palm of your hand. 

That's the way I feel when I'm truly happy, truly joyful.
And that's how I felt the day of my Sons first birthday.

365 days and nights of sleeplessness,
of fear, real or imagined.
Of colds and fevers of loving and learning,
and all things in-between.

Here we were on his first big glorious day and all I could think of was that I wanted it to to be the cherry on that year long cake.

I needed it to be a suitable celebration that would make that year proud. 
I wanted color and fanfare with millions of balloons overhead.
I wanted friends and family and children all gathered around.
I wanted a big cake for him to dig into,
and boxes and boxes for him to open with delight.

It was not long into that day before I was reminded that God does indeed laugh as we plan.

In the midst of it all,
the sights the sounds the colors and the smiles,
I glanced over towards my baby and noticed him still, motionless, amongst all my pre-arranged happiness.
His eyes were directly on mine and his arms were reaching ever so softly towards his Pappa and I.

He was happy yes, and oh so tired, but there was only one thing HE wanted or desired or needed,
and that was quite simply US.

My heart sank and my spirit was lifted as I swooped him up in my arms.
His Pappa and I held him snug and close.

My little one had taught me yet another lesson that day.
one of many in his short time here on Earth.

Plan less and hug more.


Namaste


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Thursday, November 29, 2012

DADsquared Interviews Co-Founder of Surrogaycy

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Rudy Rupak,
Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Surrogaycy (clever spelling!) and PlanetHospital.


Rudy and I discussed his companies origins, history and long term goals with respect to helping the gay community grow their families.

Not only did we delve into surrogacy in India but in Panama as well.

I hope you enjoy reading this interview as much as I did writing it.





Mr. Rupak





















DADsquared:
How and why did you start Surrogaycy?

Rudy Rupak:
In 2006, our founder did the first surrogacy overseas for a US couple.  After 3 successes, he was approached by a friend who was a gay couple and although they knew it was risky their desire for having a child was so strong they decided to go for it.  We stood by them.  Since then we have several hundred gay parents.

DS:
Many of my readers have been hearing a lot about surrogacy in India, are you working with any other countries as well?

RR:
We work with Panama however they do run about $25,000-$30,000 more than India

DS:  (fan question)
How would one actually go about becoming a surrogate? I have two children of my own already and would love to help another family, gay family, realize their dreams.

RR:
Surrogates must be thoroughly screened, including psychological, medical and family history. As you mentioned surrogates must have had a child/children before.  The surrogate must be willing to bear this child for a couple and be willing to sever all attachments to this baby once it is born based on the couples wishes.

DS:
How much does it cost to have a baby with Surrogaycy?

RR:
It depends on the scenario.  We customize all surrogacy plans around the clients specific needs.  Most often no two cases are alike.  Basic surrogacy can start at under $30,000 dollars not including an egg donor.

DS:
What is the process, sperm, eggs, surrogate?

RR:
One parent needs to be genetically linked to the baby in order to get a passport for the baby to leave the country.  The sperm donor can make a deposit in the US and have the sperm shipped to India, or the sperm donor can travel to India/Panama to make their sperm deposit.  Sperm can be safely shipped to India/Panama and so can embryos however we do not recommend shipping eggs to India/Panama as it greatly depletes the quality.  The egg donor would require stimulation before egg retrieval which can be done either in the US or India/Panama however it best to do the IVF process at same time as the egg retrieval.  The success rate is slightly higher doing a fresh transfer in India or Panama vs a frozen transfer.  Sperm and Egg Donors are available both in the US and in India/Panama.

DS:
What are the legal issues that a same gendered couple might face using a surrogate in a different country?

RR:
In India and Panama same sex relationships and marriages are not recognized, however it is not considered illegal.  Therefore, same sex couples who want to have children are labeled as single parents in order to make the exit process simple.  We encourage no communication with the client and surrogate until the baby is born and in the clients possession.  This way the client will not be put in a position of being pursuaded by the surrogate to provide more money or gifts.

DS:
How soon after birth can we bring our baby home?

RR:
First of all you are dealing with a newborn baby so you want to make sure the baby is healthy enough to travel.  Secondly is the exit process which includes a DNA swab to confirm there is a genetic link between the parent and the baby.  Once confirmation is received the embassy issues a passport for the baby to leave the country. When the client goes to India they already going to have a Visa in their passport but the baby will not.  Therefore we arrange for the client to go to the Exit Visa office to apply for a visa for the baby.  We recommend the client plans on staying in India for 4 weeks to be safe.

DS:
What sort of "in country" time would we be looking at?

RR:
Same as above.

DS:
How many visits? Duration of visits?

RR:
This will depend on if the client ships their embryos/sperm to India or if client does their deposit/egg retrieval in India.  If the client makes there deposit in India they would need to make two trips to India.  If the client makes their deposit in the US, this would only require one trip to India.

DS: 
What is your screening process for your surrogates?

RR:
All surrogates have had to have children before so we are able to know that they are able to carry a baby to term successfully.  The screening process includes full medical screening, family history and psychological testing.

DS:
Can we choose our surrogate or see a picture or have any contact?

RR:
We encourage no communication with the client and surrogate until the baby is born and in the clients possession.  This way the client will not be put in a position of being pursuaded by the surrogate to provide more money or gifts.  The client will not be able to see pictures or choose their surrogate.  The clinics are experts when it comes to choosing surrogates. 

DS:
What sort of compensation do your surrogates receive?

RR:
The surrogates are financially compensated and what they receive in 9.5 months is equivalent to what a person would make in about 3 years.

DS:
Who handles their medical care during the pregnancy?

RR:
The doctors will oversee the medical care of the surrogates throughout the entire process.

DS:
Are attorneys fees included in the Surrogacy fees or are they extra?

RR:
The attorney fees are included for handling the contracts between the clinic and the surrogate as well as the client and the clinic/surrogate.  The attorney will also help in coordinating the documents for the exit visa.

DS:
What if the pregnancy doesn't take, what next?

RR:
Planet Hospital's surrogacy packages include a second frozen attempt at no additional charge assuming there are additional embryos remaining.

DS:
How many Gay Families have you helped to date.

RR:
Several Hundred

DADsquared:
Rudy, Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us and share some valuable information with our readers.

Rudy Rupak:
It was entirely my pleasure.


For more information on PlanetHospital or Surrogaycy simply click on the links.

Namaste

Follow us on FB @ DADsquared



Disclaimer:
The hiring of a surrogate is a personal and extremely important decision.
DADsquared has not worked with or knows of any individuals that have used either of Mr. Rupaks companies and therefore can not be held liable. 
We strongly recommend all parties to make extremely informed decisions, and as always consult with an attorney.






Saturday, October 20, 2012

Daddy's and Daycare's and Choices, Oh My!






















So our Son will be turning one in a few short weeks.

We have spent the last few months visiting daycares in our area.

Now if you had asked me two years ago if I would ever be the type of Dad fighting for a spot at a daycare,
or praying to get my Son on a waiting list,
or even willingly sitting for an "interview" with a school's director,
I would have answered with a resounding "HELL NO!" 

And yet here I am...
guilty as charged. 

We were able to quickly cross many off our list,
Didn't get a great vibe,
or hated the location,
or one too many references to a Holy Father who's name was neither Joel or Henry.

But once we narrowed down the field to our top three, things really started getting interesting.

I'm going to save some of the juicier details for later but I thought you'd get a kick out of knowing what finally helped us decide.

Was it the organic gardens the kids tended?
Nope.
Was it the Italian method of enriching our Son's mind?
Not entirely. 
Was it the networks of cameras that would enable me to watch his every move from any handheld device I own?
No. 
Was it the quantity of languages spoken at the facility?
No, Non, Nein. 

I'll tell you what it was.

Although his new school offers their own individualized versions of all of the above.
What clinched it for us was that after our second visit,
and after we had brought Ben in to get his opinion and to introduce him to his possible new caregivers, and after we had signed our lives away in forms and consents.

Yes, after all that, the schools director sheepishly and with obvious concerns not to offend asked us if we were a two Dad family.

Why yes, we replied.

To which she smiled and through her arms up in joy and said, 
Yay! We've always wanted one of those!!!!!!!! 





 Namaste


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Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Letter to my Son on his Daddies' Third Wedding Anniversary




our wedding day 10/10/09


To my dearest Benjamin,

I sit and write you this letter as I celebrate being married to your Papa for three years.

When I met that sweet man some seven years ago, I could have never imagined that today would not only mark our wedding day but also find us a mere 17 days away from your first birthday.

No my little angel, You and your Papa were wishes that I never thought God would grant me.

After we exchanged vows and put shiny rings on our fingers, we returned to our lives with a new understanding of Marriage rights and the fight that our Country was involved in regarding who deserved them and who did not.

By the time you are old enough to read this letter and truly grasp its message, the idea of marriage equality will probably seem silly to you.
Perhaps you have even read about this sad time in our Civil Rights Movement in your school books, assuming schools still use books.

Yes my love, today as I spin this tale for you there are indeed people in this world that don't believe your Daddies should have these shiny rings on our fingers, or our Marriage Certificate on the wall, or most devastatingly of all, have you in our lives.

We had to travel to another place to be married (Boston) because where we now call home (Florida) would not let us, It's illegal here.

All your family came with us and it was beautiful.
There was so much love in that room and we were so happy because there, in that wonderful place, a Reverend pronounced us a married couple.

During the ceremony he said that our union was bringing together two family traditions, two systems of roots in the hopes that a new family tree would become strong and fruitful.

It was almost like the Reverend knew that one day you would be coming into our lives.
And most probably, as you read these words, your brothers and sisters too.

When your Papas came home from that wonderful weekend we almost immediately began praying for you,
and dreaming of you,
and wanting for you.

At that time two men being fathers was not allowed in many states in this Country.
But each time a new door opened your Daddies held hands, took deep breaths and passed through knowing that each new possibility brought us closer to you.

Until finally you were here and you were ours.

I don't know if you know this but you were the first little baby in this town of ours to be adopted by two men, jointly.

I know that's no big deal to you now but when you were tiny it really was.

And because of you, other two daddy and two mommy families could have babies too.
You were, and are, very special my Son.

So when you read this you will understand that your Fathers had to break some barriers and move some mountains to be together, to be married.

That fight grew stronger and so much more meaningful in order to have you.

We didn't wait until the timing was better.
We didn't wait until our State said we could.
We didn't wait until the minority ruled, or the majority agreed.

We listened to our hearts and let nothing and no one stand in our way.
Nothing came between you and us, nothing.

Right now, at this moment in time we are trying to decide what type of schools are best for you.
We are also wondering if we should move our family to one of those places where we are legal and safer and more accepted.
It is a time of heavy thought and big decisions, all with you at it's core.

Right now, at this moment in time, you are trying to walk and talk, and you find all things wondrous and beautiful.
Even in a world that does not always share in your joy.

You make us happy beyond belief my beautiful Ben.


So I write to you today my Son, October 10, 2012, on our anniversary date because I want you to know how much I love you and your Papa.

The love that consumes this family is why the heavens moved and you both came my way.
Never forget that My Sweetheart, never.




Love,
Your Daddy





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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Soup, Salad, and a Lesson in Life.

In 1997 I looked into the eyes of a killer.


I was enjoying a few drinks with friends at this great little watering hole in Fort Lauderdale called Cathode Ray.
I had no way of knowing that the cute guy I was looking at across the bar would very soon take his own life.
But not until he had taken the lives of four other people, including fashion designer Gianni Versace.

You may remember Andrew Cunanin?

Andrew Cunanin

I have to say, he appeared very normal, sweet, attractive.
You never would have been able to guess what he was capable of.
Nor of the lives that would be lost at his hands.

I have often played that evening out in my mind.

I'm very big on eye contact, what happens the moment glances are exchanged.
The knolwledge that is passed, 
that tiny peek at the soul that it gives you.

Oddly, looking over at Andrew and he looking back at me was rather benign, uneventful and disappointing.

Rather like the look I got today, 15 years later, when I glanced into the eyes of a different time of monster, albeit one that had probably not yet taken a life.

This time it was a middle aged, mini van driving, mother of three.
The late 90's bar was replaced by a well lit California Pizza Kitchen
and the only thing I was now cruising for was a good salad.

But I digress!

My Husband and I had decided to go out on a nice lunch date.
I met him at the restaurant on a beautiful South Florida day when I was greeted with a lovely surprise.

This is what I saw,

Their car

Sweet huh?

Now considering what my family car stickers look like,

Our car

We obviously had a difference of opinion!

What a pair!

Now at first I will admit I was rather stunned,
but that quickly turned to my usual state of wonderment.
Why would anyone put that on their car?
Don't they realize what a hurtful statement that is?


My Husband quickly reminded me, because they want to and yes, they do.

Okay now, before any of the "Free Speech" peeps pipe in.
Please know that these images translate to "I hate Homosexuals and I support an organization that funds the very hate groups that would love nothing more than to destroy all that is sacred to me!"
plain and simple.
They also translate to "We teach bigotry and intolerance to our three lovely girls."

That, my friends is not Free, It comes with a big price tag that Is being paid for by our children, my children, her children.

I don't want to go into all the numbers here, although I love numbers, but the suicide rate for young gay people is five times higher than their heterosexual counterparts and with suicide being the third leading cause of death amongst young adults between the ages of 15-24, that is an astronomical number of LGBT kids taking their own lives.

Did you know that results show that roughly 20% of all LGBT teens have attempted suicide as compared to four percent of straight counterparts?

source: live science

Obviously environment plays a huge role in these figures, the worse the environment the higher the odds, and you know what?
These three girls are being raised in a very dangerous one.

Why you ask?

Well, statistics show that one out of every ten children is born gay, having said that, her family has nearly a one third chance of having a lesbian or bi-sexual daughter.

So tell me, where will that little girl go for support and acceptance when and if her time ever comes?
Her families views are not only (obviously) worn on their sleeves but on their mini van as well.
Do you believe they are cultivating an environment where she will feel safe to come out?
So sad for her, for them, for us all.

Now as we ate lunch I have to say I was consumed with trying to figure out who the van belonged to.
I spent 30 minutes, much to my Husbands disbelief, trying to find them.

I wanted to know just who they were? 
What they looked like?
What made them tick?

I finally decided on who I believed it was, as mentioned earlier, a middle aged woman eating alone a few tables away.
I don't know what gave her away, it was just a feeling I got.

She glanced my way a few times, probably wondering what I was looking at.

As she paid and headed towards the parking lot I held my breathe.

And sure enough the slipper fit the foot, the foot hit the pedal and she off she went.

At first I felt a bit victorious.
I mean out of all those people enjoying their meals I picked her.

But then It suddenly dawned on me,

I have to say, she appeared very normal, sweet, attractive.
You never would have been able to guess what she was capable of.
Nor of the lives that might be lost at her hands.

Oddly, looking over at her and she looking back at me was rather benign, uneventful and disappointing.

Sound Familiar?



Namaste



Authors note:
Now I know that for some of you, the idea of comparing a serial killer to that woman, that mother may appear to be a stretch, rather far fetched.
But children are dying, they are dying unnecessary deaths because of the unbelievable pain caused by the fear and isolation that is caused by being turned away by the only love they know, the only love they need, the love of their families.
That is a fact my dear readers. 
A terribly sad and horrific one, but a fact never the less.




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z

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Face 2 Face


At the event!















My Husband and I were recently asked to speak at our Pride Center.
We were part of a series called Face 2 Face, Making our Families.
We shared during an evening dedicated to domestic and international adoptions for our LGBT community.

On the panel was our Family, giving insights on our private adoption.
There was a Gay family there who had adopted their son from Latvia.
There was an international adoption specialist who works with children from Russia and the Republic of the Congo.
And finally an adoption specialist who works within our Florida community.

It was indeed amazing to see a room full of Gay and Lesbian couples and individuals seeking information on how to grow their families.

There were also a good amount of State and County workers there to get a sense of what our little community was up to.

I even recognized one of the adoption specialist from Childnet, our version of DCF sitting in the back row.

They're attendance tells me that the rise of same-gendered adoptions is fixed on their radars.
If their bosses are sending them out to events like these, it could only mean that need to gain undersatnding of our movement, and quickly!

There were also some great "firsts" on that panel.

The couple that adopted from Latvia had to apply as only one single man.
Only when the adoption was finalized and after a certain amount of time could they file for a second parent adoption here in the States making them both daddies.

Latvia still has great issue with the idea of a male adopting, they hold strongly the old traditional value that only a mother should raise a child.

The single male adoption was the first ever out of Latvia.
How wonderful was that, and what a precident he set making way for more men, many Gay, to pursue Latvia as an option.

And as many of you know my Husband and I made history here in our county as the first same-gendered couple to jointly adopt a baby, two daddies on his birth certificate from the onset.
Also precedent setting, and paving the way for other couples, attorneys and judges to use our case to make their own.

We are very proud of that fact.

It was a great night.
Many of the questioned revolved around the financial concerns surrounding adoption.
Some of the big issues, as you may know, regarding international adoptions are the travel cost.
You more than likely have to be "in country" at least once to deal with all the paper work and the handing over of the child(ren).
These, in country, visits can be anywhere from one week to one month depending.

Domestic adoptions come with all their own sets of concerns and variables.
Details that we were more than happy to share with the group.

We had brought our Son with us and by the time the event ended it was well beyond his usual 7:30 bedtime.
Which as you parents know meant overtired and a complete refusal to go to sleep! :)

By the time my Husband and I prepared to close our eyes our thoughts finally drifted to the event..
What did you think, I asked him?
he said he thought we had helped some people realize that they could and would be parents.

Wow, I said, now that's really something huh?
Yes he said, it sure is!



Namaste


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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

awaking my little adventurer


The following post was written for Ergobaby, not to be used or duplicated without the authors consent.














Our Son Benjamin was born nearly 10 months ago.

Of all the things people told us,
the one thing that shook my existence was when we heard the following,
"Well I guess your traveling days are over for a while!" 

Shook my existence I tell ya!
You see, my Husband and I are adventurers, we climb pyramids, we explore distant worlds, we ride camels and we live for our next trip.

Pillow talk in our home revolves around things like the Taj Mahal or Machu Picchu or where we want to live next.

And that is why those words sat so heavily on us.

Because we were Dads now would that mean that the magic of Morocco or the secrets of the Incas could only be ours by going to Epcot Center when our boy was two or three years of age?

Well no, not us I say, and thanks to our Ergobaby Carrier we proved all the naysayers wrong.

We just returned from our first great adventure to Puerto Rico with Ben.
With our Ergo we wandered the depths of the amazing Caverns of Rio Camuy and we climbed the mystical trails of El Yunque Rainforest.




















With each step I took with Ben safe on my chest I learned so much more about him.

The sounds of the Rainforest possessed him.
He looked up at me every so often as if to keep himself from going too far into its magic.

When we reached the beautiful Mina Falls by way of the Big Tree Trail, Ben looked up at that great sight with pure wonder and joy.












He's a thinker, our boy, he looks at things differently than most babies his age.
He actually breathes things in and allows himself to sink into all new experiences.
Even when the rain came as we wandered I lifted his sleep hood and he calmly, safely and happily drifted off until the Sun rejoined us.












Thanks to his Dads' sense of adventure and to our Ergobaby Carrier, Ben is free.
He took flight, both literally and figuratively and got the first taste of his future.
All buckled in and ready to go!

We have a new mantra in our house...Have Ergo will travel!



Baby on Board

The following was written for It's Conceivable, and can not be used or duplicated without the authors consent.
















My Family and I just returned from a great adventure.
Were infamous for our travels you know.

We climb pyramids, ride a camel every so often, drink the water, and follow the locals.
We are far from wealthy, but believe travel to be meaningful to our souls.
We'll pinch a penny and brown bag it now and then in order to hit the skies.

Pillow talk in our home has always been about places and cultures.
Right now we are in the midst of planning where we will be as the Sun rises on my Fiftieth birth year.
I'm torn between the Taj Mahal or Machu Picchu, my Husband has an Indonesian temple in mind but hey, Its my birthday right?

I tell you all this so you can appreciate how we felt after our Son was born and people started saying horrible things like "Well I guess your traveling days are over for a while!" or "Disney World here you come!"

We smiled and nodded and literally felt our hearts silently sinking.

Well Our Son, Ben, just hit the ripe old age of nine months and to celebrate we hit something also, the airport.

It was destined, in an obvious act of defiance to all those people, the first thing we did when we had Ben's birth-certificate was to apply for his passport!

Even his passport photo has an air of curiosity about it.
As if he's thinking "What's out there Dads?" "Show me!"

Our first Adventure with Ben was to Puerto Rico, but not the sandy beachy Puerto Rico you see on TV.
No our experience was far more interesting.

I'm fortunate enough to write for a couple of different sources, and as a gift we recently received a cool new baby carrier by Ergobaby, boy oh boy did that ever set our Son free.

We explored the magical Caverns of Rio Camuy, went deeper and deeper into those glorious, glistening, God given under ground temples that truly make you thankful to be alive.

My Son, nestled safely on my chest just sat silently as we wandered.
There was no fear in his eyes, no trepidation's, just a natural acceptance and awareness that he was somewhere special and that his Daddies were right there with him.

We also hiked high into the rainforest of El Yunque.
We chose the Big Tree Trail as it led to the beautiful La Mina Falls.

Once again, wearing my Son as we made our way through the forest was about as mystical an experience as one can have.

We walked in silence, the three of us, only stopping to marvel at the size of the ancient bamboo, and to occasionally think we could start to hear the Falls only to realize we were being fooled by secret little cascading brooks that had yet to appear on our path.

As we finally arrived to the Falls my Son once again amazed me, he looked up at the source of the thunderous sound and wiped his little face from the water that was softly splashing his face and began to smile, then laugh.

My Husband went for a dip in the Falls, Ben and I however were happy wetting our feet and simply taking it all in.

At that moment I was suddenly reminded of all the people who tried putting obstacles in the way of us being Fathers.
The ones that throw doubt your way, cast shadows that casually creep in when you close your eyes.

I also thought of those that warned us that traveling with a baby was so difficult, so not worth the expense and the effort.
Nearly impossible.

I thought of them all as my Family frolicked at the foot of an old and magical water fall in the Rainforest, a place that would have been home to the Taino Indians, a tribe that I actually decended from. (Thats another story for another day.)

I thought of them all and then simply did as my Son does,
I began to smile, and then to laugh!

Namaste






Friday, August 31, 2012

Dear John....























Dear John,

As in Elton John.

Sadly, this letter has been a long time coming.
And as difficult as It may be for all of us, I do believe it is for the best.

Elton, we have been through so much together but as we all know, things change.

It's uncanny how similar our lives have been,
well, excepting all your money, the music stuff, the homes with the flower arranging rooms, the royal stuff, your love of the ascots, your $100,000.00 surrogate bill and so on and so forth..

But other than all that stuff, we're nearly twins.
We both married the loves of our lives, and now we are both raising beautiful baby boys.
(I do hope that your Zachary and my Ben will still stay friends after all this settles.)

Now I will say you did one up us when you started flying all that breast milk from Z's birth mom to and fro but then again that's that money stuff and I guess paying 100 grand does have it's perks.

Our Bens a Gerber boy and a happy one at that.

Lest you say I'm sounding bitter, please know that we want nothing more than the best for you, David and sweet Zachary but, unfortunately your recent actions have made it difficult for me to remain quiet.

Elton, you just keep going on and on about how fearful your are for little Z. You keep expressing how having two Dads is going to assure him a life of bulling, homophobic taunting and discrimination.

source, express UK

Really Elton?

Thats like saying that Gwynth's little Apple will be teased by all her celebrity friend's kids in their cool Upper East side private schools. (or where ever cool is!)

Really Elton?

Where's that stiff upper you Brits are known for?

Really Elton?

You've said, "Zachary is going to face a difficult childhood because of attitudes to your unusual family set up."

You've said "He may struggle with bullies because he doesn't have a mummy."

Now Elton, I really have to ask, have you lost your mind?

When exactly will you and David need to search out daycares and schools that will be accepting of your family setup in order to protect your son?

When will you be hoping to get on a school's waiting list and fearful that your setup might loose you a spot?

When will you need to introduce yourselves to teachers and administrators in order to be sure they understand your family's language, who's Daddy? who's Pappa?

When will your celebrity, your notoriety, your money, your everything not assure your sons safety, even if by being bought.

Elton, your need to constantly express this "common mans" fear for the safety of your boy has started to really piss me off.

And thats why I think we should call it quits, Elton.

Your fears can't become ours, I mean if you can't protect yours, what chance do us regular folk have?

You get where I'm coming from?

Goodbye Elton, you'll be missed.


Namaste


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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Just an Ordinary Day

The Following post was written for www.itsconceivablenow.com 
Not to be reproduced without written consent by author






It was 5 days before our Wedding.

Soon guest would be arriving,
planes would need to be met,
hotels checked into
and hosting would begin.

My (then) Fiance and I had decided on a destination wedding.

Boston by choice,
The destination wedding part by necessity.
We still can't legally marry in our home state of Florida.

So there we were,
heading to Boston City Hall to apply for our marriage license.


Us















That thought, that concept, going to apply for a Marriage License,
had but stomach in more of a knot than our upcoming nuptials.

Growing up as a a Gay Man, I have often prepared myself to soften the sting of discrimination by playing it all out in my head first.

How would it go?
What might they say?
How would I react?
What words would I choose?

That's how I do it, that's how I've always done it!

So as we entered that great old building I prepared myself first with the security guard as we asked which way the Marriage license office was,
down the escalator to the left he said without even looking up.
Hmmm I thought, first crisis overted.






















Down we went,
Left we went,
and there it was, a simple window with a simple sign.

But for me it was so much more,
stepping up to that window with my future Husband was nothing short of a miracle.
A right so long fought for by my Gay and Lesbian Brothers and Sisters before me.
A right that we would now request and receive.























But how would that go?
Would the clerks treat us differently?
Would it be difficult?
What if they hold up our license with just days to go before our Wedding day?

As Joel and I approached the line we quickly noticed that there were 4 couples ahead of us.
Two Heterosexual,
one middled aged, holding hands.
The other, oh so young, and in love.
Behind them a Gay Couple,
behind then a Lesbian Couple,
and then, us!

When we finally reached the window and asked to apply, 
we were greeted with nothing special,
the clerk was as friendly as any city clerk can be, or is expected to be.


She handed us the application,
told us where to have a seat to complete them and what window to proceed to in order to pay, credit card or money orders only.





















When we returned in the 3 designated days to pick up our license we were met with the same nothingness,
the same ordinary treatment we had received originally.
We gave them our number and they gave us our license.

Nothing more, nothing less,
we were no more special nor different than anyone else.

And that was amazing!

My Husband still says It was the most ordinary he had ever felt in his, anything but ordinary Gay life.

To some that read this it may seem silly,
What's his point? 
What's with all this ordinary stuff?
But to others that have never been able to imagine a life where they were just treated normally, equally, with the same dispassionate, non batting of an eye, given to others,
this is a loving, yet firm reminder that what you seek is alive and well and hopefully just around your corner.


My Sis and Godson witnessing
our Marriage License

















So here's to being ordinary, in the most spectacular of ways!


Namaste

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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Excuse me Sir, are you his Mom?






















I've been meaning to touch on this subject for some time now,
Yet when I ask friends for input,
some agree are totally into it,
and others, not so much.

The topic?
Gay Men or Gay Fathers being referred to as Wives and Mommies.

Okay, not that anyone asked but here's my take.
Lets go back in time,
think housewives, as 1950's as that sounds.

Still conjures up the image of a well made up lovely apron-wearing beauty, right?
Standing by the door at 5:30,
martini in hand,
welcoming her hard working Husband home.

When Gay couples started becoming more visible,
much of society,
in order to be able to understand that relationship,
felt the need to place us in the same scenario described above.

And I'll just go ahead and say it,
many Gay men,
for the same reasons,
needing to be understood,
willingly accepted those roles.
The butch one, the femme one.
The more flamboyant of the two.
The Man, the Woman.

Don't we still to this day get the questions?
Who cooks and cleans in your relationship?
Which one of you is more like "the wife?"

















Now some men I ask simply accept those questions as normal and reply accordingly.
Others feel the need to clarify, to educate that they both share things equally.
Why would one "man"  be the more domestic and the other not?

I think we fall somewhere in between,
my Husband is a great cook,
he actually enjoys it and so he does it.

I on the other hand am a family recipe guy,
I take great pleasure in making my Mother's this or that, and so sometimes I cook.

Regarding cleaning, well we both hate it and so were lucky if that even gets done so I guess thats a check in both our columns.

Many Gay Couples we know are a lot like us,
both working and just helping each other make it through the day.

Today, with the growing numbers of Gay Men raising children we get the whole Mommy and Daddy thing too.

Which one are you more like?
The Mom or the Dad?

Who is the more Maternal one?
Paternal one?
Who is the disiplinarian?

You get where i'm going?


Now please understand I have written before about the fact that I Father the way I was Mothered,
I love my nurturing side, and if I had to pick which of us was more Motherly I'd probably say me,
and my husband would probably say him.

Proof that we are both, both.

Gender and Gender roles are a hot topic right now.
There are folks that refuse to identify with any.
There are parents raising children while trying to not assign one,
trying to avoid classify their kids.

There are many Same Gendered Parents completely blurring the lines of traditional roles, and I think that's pretty cool,
especially all those amazing stay at home Dads.

Hopefully with time,
society will stop trying to understand so much and simply accept.
Hopefully with time,
we can all break free from those societal confines, self imposed or not.

May be then some of my brothers in arms can hang up those proverbial aprons once and for all.

But for Gods sake, please keep those Martinis coming,
Daddy's thirsty!


Namaste

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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Please Call your Father!

The Following post was written exclusively for:
http://itsconceivablenow.com/
Not to be reproduced without consent from author.
























*now*
Please call your father!
That's how my Fathers Day began, my first Fathers Day.
With my husband telling me I should call my Dad.
My Parents divorced when I was a baby, my Father was an absent figure for most of my adult life.
In his true fashion he would pop in now and then and attempt Fatherhood,
but never that well,
and never for that long.
I grew into the man I am without him,
and that's always been fine with me.



*then*
October 27th 2011 was the most important day of my life,
even more important than the day I married my Husband.
That day in itself was magical but nothing compares to the day our Son was born.
We had been introduced to a young woman who at 6 months pregnant had decided she did not want to keep her child.
At 5 months she had attempted to terminate her pregnancy,
however,
not realizing how far along she actually was,
she was unsuccessful.
When I look at our boy and imagine her waiting in the clinic to end his life my heart aches,
I cry,
I hold him,
and I thank God.



*now*
I am not calling my Dad, I tell my Husband.
I have never called him on Fathers Day,
why should I start now?
Well because you're a Dad now,
a statement he gently breaths as he leaves the room.
I'm a Father now,
hmmm those words still stun me and yet warm me all at once.
I had rekindled a relationship with my Dad just a couple of short  years ago.
We actually took a flight to my homeland of Puerto Rico to spend some time with him.
It had been the first time I had seen him in nearly 25 years.
It was lovely and comfortable and simple.
At 74 my father is no longer the absent man I had longed for.
He was now just a sweet old man that had suffered at his own hands for far too long.
At this point in my life there are things I still can't share about that visit,
but suffice it to say, had my Father had the luxury of living his life truthfully,
I would not be here to tell this story.




Author and Dad reunited






















*then*
His birth was not without concern.
His Birthmothers water had broken unbeknownst to her.
His heart rate had dropped so low that an emergency C-section was ordered or the baby could die.
We got a call that sunny afternoon,
one month before our expected due date,
that our Son was coming that day, at 1:00 pm to be exact.
Boy, what a pair we were,
canceling our day,
picking up our foster baby from daycare,
making hysterical calls to family and friends,
and running to meet our attorney at the hospital.
It's all a blur right now,
I remember the nurse asking "which one of you two Daddies wants to go into the delivery room?"
some how or another It was decided that it would be me.
Then I heard her ask  "what's the baby's name?"
Omg, his name!
We thought we had a whole month left,
sure we had a short list but we hadn't decided.
I looked at my Husband and I said since I'm going in for the birth, you pick.
Benjamin, he said,
can he be Benjamin?
I looked at him and said are you sure?
And then,
just then, as I saw his tears gently roll down his face I knew how sure he was.
I turned to the nurse and declared our sons name is Ben.




Getting ready to go in






















*now*
You know Joel,
I really just don't feel the need to call my Father,
especially today, especially on Fathers day.
I wasn't being petty or resentful, I truly don't hold anything against my father,
he made decisions 40 some odd years ago that were right for him.
The truths he shared with us on that fateful visit for all intents and purposes gave him a free get out of jail card,
a victim of society,
jailed by his own fears, his own realities.
You can never blame a man for being true to himself,
and my father was, is,  nothing if not true to himself.
We got home around 7 from a full day out with our Son, it was the perfect first Fathers day and although my husband had hoped all day that I would call my Dad, I had not.
I was rocking my Son to sleep when the phone rang.
I reached for it without waking Ben when I heard my Father's voice on the other end.
Hello son he said,
It's me, your Dad,
I hope im not calling at a bad time,
I was just calling to wish you a Happy Fathers Day.
No Dad,
perfect timing I said.
I meant to call,
Happy Fathers Day to you too!


Hmmmm... Life and it's sweet sweet ironies.



Namaste


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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Lions and Tigers and Daddies, Oh My!

We woke up this 4th of July wondering what great adventures we could have that day.
We are nothing if not an adventurous family!

With Ben just 8 months old we knew the late night fireworks were probably not going to be in our cards.
And if his reaction to the recent pride parade's loud sounds was any indication,
we were much better off quietly at home anyway.

THE ZOO!
I thought to myself.
The Husband agreed,
and so an adventure had begun!

We lathered Ben up with Sunscreen and pulled out his newest Hat!





















We packed everything up that we needed for the day and headed off to Zoo Miami.






















We quickly realized that the sights and sounds of the Zoo and it's 6 million visitors,
(okay I stretch the truth slightly but we were obviously not the only ones that thought the Zoo on the 4th was the place to be!)
Was going to be a lot for Ben to take in.

He did however love the Camels,

Daddy and Ben

























And he really loved the giant Lizard,

Ben and Papa





















The heat and the crowds kept our pace quite slow,
luckily the Zoo's speed limit was spot on!























We had hoped that this would be one of those new big experiences for Ben.
We thought he would ooh and ah over all the marvelous creatures we were going to introduce him to,























We thought that he would recognize some of these new friends from the books and story's he is so lovingly read.

But it turned out he he only had eyes for two very familiar, hairy, sweaty and smelly mammals,
























His Daddy and his Papa,
and that was just perfect with us!







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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Author, Claudia Eicker-Harris, on Cute Mice, Being a Mom and the LGBT Climate in South Africa

We spend a lot time looking for great Gay Friendly Kids books to share with our readers.

How excited are we to not just write about a sweet book,
but its author as well!

We Got personal with Claudia Eicker-Harris,

Please enjoy our Interview with a proud Lesbian Mom,  Author and Pioneer!



Author, Claudia Eicker-Harris






















DADsquared
What is the current climate in South Africa for LGBT citizens?

Claudia Eiker-Harris
On one hand we are extremely lucky. We have one of the most liberal and accepting constitutions in the world. South Africa was the fifth country in the world to legalise same-sex marriages. We are the first (and only I believe, although I stand to be corrected) country in Africa to legalise same-sex marriages. We can walk hand-in-hand through shopping malls and down the street, in most areas. We can adopt children and have children by using donor sperm and surrogates. On the other hand there are still dreadful hate crimes being committed against the LGBT community, specifically in the townships and rural areas where education is limited and ignorance is rife. Unfortunately, prejudice still prevails in many cultures. Corrective rape is a scourge which continues to go largely unreported. From a personal perspective, I have been very lucky and my wife and I have hardly ever experienced any issues.

D.S.
What kind of social and political changes have you seen over the last ten years?

C.E.H
Since we had our first democratic elections, there has been a visible social shift. Interracial relationships are more common and more accepted as are homosexual relationships. Previously disadvantaged individuals are being empowered more and more with women and black people becoming very visible in positions of power. Unfortunately it seems that the government sometimes falls into the trap of an eye-for-an-eye and there are also times when corruption overshadows the many positive moves that have been made over the years. Altogether though, we are an extremely accepting and liberal society and our children are growing up with an incredible sense of inclusion which I think will stand them in good stead as they go out into the world.

D.S.
US President Obama recently affirmed his support for Gay Marriage. His declaration has been dubbed by some, 'the shot heard around the world.' Did you LGBT residents in SA have a large emotional reaction to his stance?

C.E.H.
Absolutely. Facebook and Twitter were abuzz with the news. The more we are accepted on a global level, the more likely that acceptance is bound to filter through to other societies and the rest of our continent.

D.S.
How was the reception of your family and friends to you and your partner deciding to have a daughter?

C.E.H.
They were thrilled. Of course there were words of wisdom with regards to the difficulties that she would experience having to explain why she didn’t have a dad and had two moms instead and I deal with that in the response to the next question. We did see a psychologist about how we would deal with the future tricky situations to ensure that all of our family members were absolutely comfortable that we had taken all the right steps to prepare ourselves. Since day one, though, both of our families have been totally besotted with Eva and we have even had situations where, at grandparents day at school, she has had to share her four grandparents with children who don’t have any. Each set of grandparents has their afternoon with her every week and it’s the highlight of their (and I suspect, her) week!

D.S.
Has your daughter experienced any taunting or bullying because she has two moms?

C.E.H.
Back to your previous question and how it relates here – the warning from our parents that she may end up in some difficult situations has, to some extent, manifested and, now that Eva is five, we are starting to see their words of wisdom become a reality. There hasn’t been any intentional taunting, but children aren’t very tactful so they say things like ‘that’s weird!’ when they find out that Eva has two moms. Eva is amazing though and she handles every situation beautifully. In that particular instance (when the child said ‘that’s weird’), she just laughed and said, ‘no it’s not, it’s just normal.’ I thought she was going to say, ‘no it’s not, it’s just different.’ I would have been proud then, but I was even more proud of the response that she did give! Actually, the response I’ve heard most often from children when Eva tells them that she has two moms is, ‘Aw, you’re so lucky! I wish I had two moms’ (no offence dads!). We feel privileged to be able to educate the children and adults with whom our daughter interacts as to the fact that our lives are no different to theirs. I think this is what inspired me to write specifically LGBT orientated children’s books – they’re more for ‘normal’ families than they are for ‘alternative’ families! Once we’ve managed to create a shift in perception, we are half way there. I love seeing my daughter’s friends ‘click over’ when they realise that her two moms are the equivalent to their mom and dad and that she is just as normal as they are!























D.S.
Let's shift gears and talk about your newest work, Freddy and Frieda's Traveling Tales: Meet the Families, What would you say most inspired the characters Freddy and Frieda?

C.E.H
Funnily enough the book started off with a character called Pat the Pack Rat. But, on the very astute advice of my publishers, Pat became two mice. In this way I could represent both genders and the mice would, in the future, have each other to interact with. Also, mice are better received by the public. It was important that the characters weren’t geographically limited. They had to be able to speak about children from all over the world so as to be as inclusive as possible. In future books we will see how this advantage also helps children to learn a bit more about other cultures and traditions.

D.S.
What makes Freddy and Frieda unique?

C.E.H.
The book and the series is totally inclusive. There are no holy cows here. It will certainly be controversial in some circles and it will definitely make children ask questions that might make parents feel a little challenged and even uncomfortable. I think what makes it unique is that it tells it like it is – in no uncertain terms. It is very simple and very straightforward, which I think is what our world needs right now. We live in complicated times and a little bit of simplicity goes a long way.

D.S.
What are your hopes for Freddy & Frieda?

C.E.H.
I want Freddy and Frieda to free the minds of people around the world. I want the series to make children in every situation feel special at the same time as feeling normal. I want the children who meet Freddy and Frieda on the pages of these books to feel that they are understood and to feel confident to say ‘it’s not weird, it’s just normal’ when they are challenged about their situation. I think that, almost more than that, I want children and adults in ‘normal’ families to know that it’s okay to ask questions and it’s okay to be accepting. I want them to know that it’s okay to live in a world where, as long as children are loved, it doesn’t matter what their family portrait looks like.

D.S.
Will there be more books from you in the future?

C.E.H.
Yes, certainly. Writing children’s books is my life now. Freddy and Frieda have four more stories to tell. They will deal with disabilities, learning difficulties, social status and adoption. They are set in various countries around the world. I also have a book out called “Morty and the Selfish Elf.” It’s about helping children to understand that beauty comes from within. It can be purchased on Kindle or, in hard copy, by emailing me on
www.claudia@creativedirections.co.za

D.S.
How can readers and their parents keep up with you on the web?
Where can your book be purchased?

C.E.H.
Readers can order “Freddy and Frieda’s Traveling Tales: Meet the Families” on www.myfamilyproducts.net as well as via Barnes and Noble and Kindle. My author site will soon be live on www.claudiaeicker-harris.com Thank you so much for the opportunity to be on your blog, I truly appreciate it

D.S. 
We thank you!
Namaste





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