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Comparing lesbians or straight families with biological kids to gay men with adopted kids “could in theory make gay dads look worse,” Goldberg said.
But Goldberg said gay dads tend to have higher incomes than lesbian moms, and also tend to have good relations with the birth mothers of their adopted children. “They’re more OK with granting birth moms a special role in the family,” she said. “They don’t feel their role as parents is threatened.”
In Philadelphia, Greg Girdy and Paul Yorgey keep in contact with the birth mother of their adopted 4-year-old daughter, Bella. The mom attended a recent party celebrating Bella’s baptism.
The dads also can call on a host of other women in their extended families to serve as female role models. Yet they sometimes bridle at unsolicited advice.
“As two men, when we adopted, a lot of people think we need help, in a way that would never happen for a straight couple,” Girdy said. “Like Bella’s hair care, or what clothes she should wear. … We tend to get advice when we don’t need it or want it.”
In addition to Bella, the Girdy/Yorgey household includes two boys from the local foster-care system. The men expect to adopt a 7-month-old once some logistical matters are resolved, while the other boy, who’s nearly 5, may be returned soon to his mother.
“That’s one of the stresses we face,” said Girdy, a lawyer. “We’re two non-biological dads. Any time possible, the family court wants to reunify that kid with the mom, even if the mom shows no connection with the kid.”
Girdy and Yorgey have been a couple for 11 years, and married in March 2014, the same month that Bella’s adoption was completed. They had been talking about having kids since early in their relationship, but once they started the adoption process, it took four years before Bella joined the family.
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“When we were dating, we never referred to ourselves as a gay couple,” Girdy said. “But once we did adopt, we needed to show Bella we are proud of who we are, so when someone asks her who her parents are, she can proudly say, ‘I have two dads.'”
A similar brand of family pride has been on display at the U.S. Capitol since Rep. Jared Polis, a Colorado Democrat, and his partner, Marlon Reis, became dads. They have a 3½-year-old son, Caspian, and a 1-year-old daughter, Cora.
Polis said he and Reis face the same challenges as other parents – “There’s no gay way or straight way to change diapers in the middle of the night.”
However, he hopes his family might have some influence on House colleagues who have opposed legal recognition of same-sex couples. “Even the most conservative Republicans like to hold Cora or talk to Caspian when I bring them on the floor of the House,” Polis said.