By this point in his life, Glenn thought he’d be a dad, and a great, queer, dad at that considering the father figures he had growing up. But no… he’s not a father *in our Maury Povich voice*.... at least, not in the way he imagined being one. For now, he’s focused on taking care of his Legacy. In his first episode, Glenn Quentin explores what it means to be a queer dad through intimate and informative conversations with (you guessed it) queer dads.
DAD SEGMENTS Rich - 2:10 Javier - 10:06 Kayden - 14:15 Nathan - 22:15 Jaime + Eddie - 31:28
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Mentioned During Show:
The Dads (in order of appearance):
Rich: IG @iamrich_ny
Javier: IG @vidacoach_javi
Nathan: Site https://www.nathanyungerberg.com
Jaime: IG @thejaimeo
Glenn Quentin: Hey Brandon.
Brandon Nick: Hey.
Glenn: You wanna hear a dad joke?
Brandon: I love dad jokes!
Glenn: Okay. What did the man -
Brandon: Aww, hey pup!
Glenn: Alright so, you gotta be quiet though.
Brandon: You better get comfortable.
Glenn: Right… not on the table. Wow you are doing the most!
Brandon: Hey pup. Hey doggie woggie. Doggie kisses.
Glenn: Didn’t nobody ask for all that bro.
Glenn: I dare you. I dare you.
Glenn: So this is really what it’s like to have kids. You know what I mean, you can’t really, like, stop them. They’re gonna do what they wanna do. You can only nudge them in the direction, like to the floor. Aight, I got this. Let’s Get Back To Queer.
[Let’s Get Back To Queer theme music by Byrell the Great]
Glenn: Since I was a little baby playing house in kindergarten I knew I wanted to be a dad, probably because I’m a JR. I can still see the smile in my dad’s eyes when he would see me playing The original Sims game on the computer and ask if I was naming my character's son Glenn. I never did but it made him smile when I told him yes. I love my dad. I’m grateful to my grandfathers, uncles, coaches and male teachers I had to guide me in my youth. Now, walking firmly in my adulthood, a lot of my friends are responsible for the new little people of the world. My youngest brother and his wife recently had their first child last year and baby fever is a real thing. Being fluid, I’m pretty clear that becoming a father might differ from that of my role models. But I have a clear vision of how I’d be as a dad. A few years ago, I was entertaining the thought of starting the process of becoming a dad. So this episode is me simply exploring my curiosities around being a dad who’s queer by talking to other dads who are queer! So I started this journey off with a conversation with a friend of mine and had a lot of insight to offer.
Richard: So I'm rich. And, uh, you know, the biggest thing to know about me is that I am a dad and that's a title that I carry and enjoy the most. So I have a daughter who is coming up and going to be 14, which is wild. And she's about to start high school this upcoming September. And then I have my son, who's gonna be 12. And, um, you know, he's just a ball of joy. Um, so I have, you know, I don't have babies, but they're still my babies, but you know, they're not really bab- if I call them babies, they would have a fit. But yeah, those are my two babies.
So I would say at this stage, in my life being a dad for me is really important for me to be someone who's just investing in my kids holistically. You know, I think being a dad is being a dad. I think being queer is just a bonus.
It's always that thing of like, oh yeah, guys attractive. But I grew up in an environment that was very, uh, machismo, you know, I'm Latin- Puerto Rican, Latino. And, uh, the men in my family were very machismo. And, you know, I grew up around where, you know, the word gay was a bad thing, right? Like the, when thinking of a gay man or a man, like another man, or even like the idea of like, in our family, you know, like if you cry, they say, you know, stop crying like a girl. Um, and so this idea of like what masculinity was just, you know, being gay didn’t seemed like a reality, like that seemed like there was, you know, those people weren't me.
And so, um, because of that, I feel like a lot of, I, my time with being a dad and a husband early on was focused around, like, creating what this idea of success was. Right. Like what does the traditional family dynamic look like? And you know, what financially stable looks like and all these, you know, traditional things. Um, and then, you know, we started going to church.
Glenn: That’s Rich. We met a couple of years back when we both held office spaces at Brooklyn Commons. Rich was a christian because to him, Jesus felt like a good blueprint for being a father. Him and his then wife became pastors and eventually he had his own church. But he had a nagging unsettling feeling. So he listened in and started questioning it.
Richard: And I started wrestling with a lot of theology of, what, what does, it really say about, you know, things around homosexuality and that sort of stuff. There was just this idea of like, uh, you know, when you hear the church talk about the LGBTQ plus community, you know, it always felt like it was like a them versus us kind of thing. And I'm like, man, the church is really good at knowing what they're against.
But like, I can't hear what they're for.
I started having a lot of anxiety issues because of it. I'm like, man, something is just like, something is not matching up. Like I'm having these feelings that I feel like I'm suppressing, I'm have suppressed. And then I have like this, this person that I follow called Jesus and his theology is rubbing up completely against what I believe. And I started going to therapy, and I think through that experience really helped me realize like, oh man, like I'm not living my true self. Like that's the issue for me is that I'm not being able to, or walk in my truth and walk in my, my journey and really be who I am. And so I'm getting up on Sundays to preach to people about, you know, living freely and living vulnerably. And here I am like completely in bondage.
Glenn: After 12 years of marriage to his wife, they separated and he began to face his inner conflicts directly.
Richard: You know, now we're in a great place. Um, but you know, initially we didn't even tell the kids because I felt like there was so much transition happening of, like, them moving out and mom and dad divorcing. And so I didn't come out to them initially out the gate. One of the most important things we did with our kids when, even like with the initial separation that we put them in counseling. Because there was so much transition happening so fast, their kids, they don't have the answers, their new, their normal is literally flipped upside there. So, you know, it's one of those things that sometimes keeps me up, keeps me up at night as a dad.
The biggest thing I can think of, and this is cuz they shared this with me is like they felt abandoned, right? Like they felt abandoned because the dad and the life dynamic that they knew had changed, of like dad, you're choosing something else over your family. And you know, it felt to them, it felt like a choice. Um, but to me it felt like life or death.
Glenn: I feel a great warmth listening because I’m hearing that choosing self doesn’t equal neglecting others. Rich’s vulnerability becomes the new standard for his children and those that come after.
Richard: Probably a year and a half ago of like someone was like, hey, come on a podcast, talk about your life. I probably would've been like, oh hell no. Um, I think the thing that helps me now is that I watched, um, this thing called The Call To Courage by Brene brown and she talks about vulnerability. I think like even when I was a pastor, the vulnerability component for me was missing because there was like this narrative that I had to control around me and for me now I think being, you know, gay and coming out and being vulnerable is the most important thing in my life. Um, and I think that that was the biggest lesson for me in all of this is that like, man, you have to be vulnerable to like fully live who you are like, yes, you're gonna get hurt. You're gonna get disappointed. People aren’t gonna understand and accept. And that means even my kids. And that's hard. Cause as a dad, you're saying, you know, even I love you guys more than anything in this world and I'm willing to give up my life for you. Um, but it is important for me to still be vulnerable with you guys and live my truth. Even if you completely don't understand it or appreciate it at this age. Um, but I think vulnerability is the most important thing.
Glenn: This vulnerability is so important to him that it’s rubbed off on his son, which as you can imagine makes him a very proud dad.
Richard: Him being a brown boy, you know, and he's not a small boy, you know, he looks, you know, like a linebacker at, you know, almost 12 years old. And um, I think people see him and they are like, oh my gosh, he's so he's, there's something so soft about him and so gentle and he's able to articulate his emotions. So for me being a father who wasn't raised in that environment where it was easy for boys to express their emotion, um, that's a huge, huge, huge badge of honor for me. You know, something to be proud of for me of having a young brown boy, who's able to like, you know, express himself, be okay with being emotional, be okay with being physical, like still being 12 years old and wanting to walk down the street and hold his dad's hand, um, to me is like super proud. Yeah. Like, you know, comfortable in his skin.
Glenn Quentin: Beautiful. What advice um, would you give to another dad or, or a questioning dad? Um, or someone who's thinking about being a dad, but they are, they they're in the LGBTQ plus community?
Richard: Yeah, um, I think the big, biggest thing is like drop any expectations you have of being a dad because it's um, like there's no, no one could have told me how good being a dad would be. Like everyone sat me down and told me that being a dad is hard being a dad is, you know, you gotta put yourself on the back burner and all this sort of stuff. But no one sat me down and said, there is no greater joy in the world and don't be afraid to be real with kids. Like we often wanna shield our kids and protect our kids from like hard things. And like kids are strong and they're re you know, they are super resilient. And so like, I, I wish like one of the things I wish I did better was like have more harder conversations with my kids about around this subject and not it be such a, like, zero to a hundred kind of thing.
You know, if you're a queer dad's thinking about, you know, coming out and, or, you know, you're struggling with those questions. I think like, you know, even like the question early on of like, how do you define being a queer dad? Like, those are questions that had like, oh my gosh, I'm be a gay dad now how, and for, for, for them, it was like, we just want dad for me, the biggest thing that taught me is like, just be who you've been like, you know? Yeah, you may be gay now, but like you are dad and that's all they want, is dad.
Glenn: Everything doesn’t always go as planned in parenthood. I thought when I started the journey of this episode that by now, I’d be in the process of welcoming a newborn in the next few months. But no, I am not a father. But, I recently became a pup dad to a beautiful pit mix named Legacy. I know, I know, a puppy and a human child are not the same thing but having responsibility for something outside of myself has increased my capacity for love. I’m learning patience on a new scale and finding different ways to communicate to get the results that I want. She reminds me to take it easy sometimes, remember to play, go outside and get a breath of fresh air. There’s so much new to take in daily. This highlights an important principle of life, go with the flow. I spoke with Javier who has some experience navigating detours of our expectations as fathers.
Javier: My father was like my, my role model, right? He was like, what a father is supposed to be. So with him, I was able to learn, uh, the value of hard work, the value of earning a dollar and, and stuff like that. So he, you know, he prepared me for what the world was, what was gonna bring. And I think he did a great job and I aspire to do that for my son as well.
Glenn: We met at a personal development workshop in 2018. Javier’s son is 27 years old, not much older than my younger brother. From what I understand, their relationship started off a little complicated. I’ll let him fill you in…
Javier: Uh, when I was a kid in high school, uh, his mom and I got together. And then after high school, I joined, I, I left home. I joined the Navy, and about five years in, into my Navy career, he was born.
She and I had differences over how we wanted to raise him. So she picked up and she left. Uh, and this was, I was living in Virginia at the time under, uh, under don't ask don't tell. So at the, at this point I'm still very much in the closet and stuff like that. Uh, and then she comes back and she outs me to everybody. She outs me to my family. She outs me to the Navy and, and all of this stuff. So we've had a lot of static. It was, it's been a battle back and forth the, for the, for the whole 20 years, uh, the good thing is that I was on very good terms with her mother. So the connection that I had with my son was basically due to the fact that my connection with my mother-in-law was so strong that I can send things to my mother-in-law and she would ensure that he would get them because there were times where I would send him stuff in the mail and he'd never see them.
So, uh, yeah, that was, that was kind of tough. And then when, uh, when he turned 20 years old, she basically drops him off on my doorstep and says, here he's yours from now on. You can have him not in those nice words, but, uh….
Glenn: What was it like building your relationship, um, with like this other human being who really like grew up, um, like outside of outside. Yeah.
Javier: For me, that's no brainer because I didn't, I didn't get that opportunity to, you know, to get that, to get his first steps. I didn't get to throw that first, you know, ball with him, uh, to listen to him utter his first words. I didn't get any of that. So when he came to live with me, of course it was all doors were open. Um, but no, the, um, creating the connection with him was, was super simple. We were, uh, we've been in, in con communication since the time he was 12. And that's basically the time when I came out to him. So he asked me the question. He was like, you know, so what's, you know, what's the deal what's going on? And so I, I kind of had a, I had to spell it out for him. And I knew it was a conversation that was gonna come up eventually in my lifetime. So I was prepared for it. And, uh, and he took it quite well, actually, you know, as a 12 year old, I was very surprised. Uh, he took it quite well and he was like, okay, I don't have a problem with it. You know? Uh, so from then on it, it became, it actually kind of became a, a bit of a joke only because he introduces himself to his new friends as, hi, my name is Xavier. And by the way, my dad is gay.
One of the things that I, that I'll say is if there is anybody who's considering becoming a parent, I mean, do so, do so. There's, there's nothing like the feeling of nurturing a life and, and being able to, you know, that that responsibility in and of itself is it's a blessing.
Glenn: My conversation with Javi reminds me that the role of ‘Father’ never ends and it’s a conscious choice to stay connected. It also brought up some fears and stigmas that come with the territory of being different. I was diagnosed with HIV in 2015, and being poz has often made me question what fatherhood would look like for me. Mostly thinking on the additional precautions that would need to happen to protect my child from seroconverting. I believe parts of society have shifted for the best in their understanding around the infection that causes the virus HIV, but advocating for self and the wants and desires of our lives is a constant practice. As the next dad says, advocate for self. I got a chance to learn from Kayden, an educator and advocate for all dads, gay and straight, about his views on fatherhood as a transman. Heads up, Kayden was a bit occupied being a dad during our interview so you're gonna hear some commotion in the background.
Kayden: My definition of fatherhood would be, um, the same definition I would have of any parent. Um, I feel as though, um, when we talk about fatherhood versus motherhood, we're also talking, the distinction that a lot of people make has a lot to do with masculine and feminine qualities, right? So like thinking of, you know, we need a father to teach our son and a mother to teach my daughter. I am one of those people that I don't think that a father is incapable of teaching a daughter how to be a woman and a, or a, uh, mother is incapable of teaching a son. I don't think that those things are mutually exclusive. Can I have that? Thank you. Um, so for me, definition of fatherhood is being a parent, um, teaching instilling values into your child, allowing your child to grow and, um, develop their own personality and have autonomy over them their selves and allow them to be their full selves, um, all the time and kind, and being a protector, um, of your children, um, and always, all facets.
Glenn: Wow is there a difference between being a dad versus a queer dad?
Kayden: Yes. Um, the difference is the way the pressures that we have, because, you know, we're often looked at as, you know, incapable. You know, there's already a stigma on being a dad, right. Because especially being black and being a dad, um, because, you know, there's that cliche of black dads not being present. And there's like this round of applause for, um, for black dads who are present as though it's like an anomaly or something to that effect. When it comes to to being, queer you also have to consider, um, your blackness there. I feel like there's a lot of, um, unfair expectations, if you will, that are placed on us. And then everybody's always looking at us, looking to us, expecting us to, you know, raise, try to force our queerness or in my case, transness onto our kids. Um, so there's that part where we have to kind of like really be diligent and, um, you know, kind of standing up for ourselves and our kids and about the hate that they may, uh, face due to, you know, ignorance and things that people are instilling in their children.
Glenn: What was the process for you around? Um, I guess like the pregnancy and in childbirth?
Kayden: Um, the process, um, there was, there was no process. Uh, neither one of my kids were planned. I did not, I did not plan for either one of them. Um, my oldest, I had following top surgery, and then my youngest, I had her because I was, I didn't have, I moved didn't of access to hormones and, you know, things happened and here she was. You know, childbirth was, I, we just don't have enough time for that, but I will say that, it was filled with, um, a lot of me having to, um, advocate for myself and stand up for, and, you know, do a lot of pleasant, uh, cursing out and, you know, things of that nature.
Glenn: What, like, what's your biggest surprise about being a parent?
Kayden: My biggest surprise about being a parent is how much I actually lack patience. I'm gonna be, be honest. Um, I lack, I lack patience in a, in a lot of ways. Um, and it is a struggle daily, to remind myself that, you know, these little beings, this is their first time here. So they're going to make mistakes that, you know, I know are mistakes because I'm 35 years old, but they are still navigating the world. Um, and so it's my job as a parent to be as understanding and patient as I can.
Glenn: What’s the biggest advice you would give a queer dad?
Kayden: My biggest, um, advice would be don't let society dictate how you parent. A lot of examples that we see in society as of dads is, you know, cold and detached and a workaholic and always hypermasculine. It has to be kind of like the alpha male kind of situation. Don't be afraid to love on them and be soft and be gentle and, and show them that, you know, it's okay for men to have emotions and be emotional and be sensitive. And that sensitivity is not a weakness, it's a, it's a strength. Um, the whole kind of like man up narrative that we have, kind of try to get rid of that, um, and, and, and love your kids with your whole heart all the time.
Glenn: Okay, as an advocate for fathers and dads alike, what is your call to action right now?
Kayden: Um, to celebrate dads, always. Celebrate dads as much as we celebrate moms. Um, yes, I know that, you know, the birth giver put in, quote unquote, more work for lack of better words. However, um, dads are important. Dads are an integral part of, um, a lot of kids' lives. And it is, you know, kind of daunting and a little unfair, if you ask me that, you know, fathers aren't celebrated more and uplifted more, unless they're, you know, like I said, seen as an anomaly or expected to fail as a father and when they're not, that's when they get, um, accolades and, and, and, and words of encouragement. Encourage dads and uplift us all the time, um, because it's necessary.
Glenn: If anyone is interested in learning more about transmasculine pregnancies, or pregnancies with trans people, Kayden offers several workshops, and you can follow him on instagram and learn more in our shownotes.
Coming up we explore different options for becoming a dad, and the joys of fatherhood, after the break.
Brandon: Hey, I got a joke. Why are sperm donations worth more than blood donations? Because they’re made by hand…. Okay, okay. Dad jokes aren’t my strong suit BUT speaking of donations, now is a great time to support Let’s Get Back To Queer. You can help me and my producers raise my baby, the podcast, by making a generous donation via buymeacoffee or through my CashApp or Venmo. But if you REALLY wanna be on some auntcle vibes, you can join our patreon today and get some exclusive perks in the process. Visit our website at letsgetbacktoqueer.com or check our show notes to donate right now. Thanks for your support, my baby appreciates it! Alright, back to the show.
Glenn Quentin: As a junior, sometimes I wonder what life would be like with a mini me the third running around, but being a dad isn’t always about procreating. I know there are a lot of kids looking for families. I wanted to know more about adoption so I reached out to writer Nathan Yungerberg to get his insight as someone who not only was adopted, but also has adopted two beautiful children.
Glenn Quentin: When you were making your decision to adopt, um, what was that process like?
Nathan: Oh my God. It was a lot. Um, I gotta look back and see if I was journaling about it because it was a really intense time. Uh, 90% of the people that I know, like family and friends were completely unsupportive and to the point of like naysayers, you know, and I found it to be really odd because I think for me in my own personal journey, making it to that point at age 48 as a gay Black man and like still being alive and having my own business and having survived in New York for, you know, 14 years, I was feeling really confident about where, where I was at in life.
But other people, I don't know if they were projecting their own fears onto me, or they saw me as something different than I did, but there was like three people that were like, their first response was like, oh, you're gonna be a great dad. You know, everyone else was like, oh, I don't know, are you sure you're gonna, you know, and I'm just like, so in retrospect though, I think it ended up being a positive experience because it was almost as if everything that they brought up was something that I had a fear of. So it was almost like I was facing myself, um, and looking into the mirror through these other people. And so it, it just reinforced the fact that once I got through that walked through that fire of, um, being barraged by questions and, and um, all the unsupportive people, I was like, oh, I still want to do it. You know?
And I think it's important for people, you know? Cause when, when you're gay, you know, it ain't just gonna happen, I always say. So it's gotta be really calculated. And it's like, you, you really need to know that you want to do it. So that while it was, it, it was frustrating while it was happening, um, I'm grateful for that experience with those people because it, yeah, it just solidified everything for me at the end of the road. Um, and it was, you know, it was exciting though, too, like just being able to like imagine kids laughing and playing in the next room and going to daycare to pick them up and you know, all of that kind of stuff. Um, it was fun.
Glenn: Um, in terms of like, I know you adopted both, uh, their like actual, like siblings, so are you in contact, uh, with their paternal mom? Um, what was like, what's that like for you?
Nathan: Well, just to clar, just to clarify too, I'm still fostering. Um, because in, so I went through the New York state program, which is foster to adopt, um, because there are several different ways and you can do a private adoption, which I just didn't have the finances for, um, or doing like surrogacy or whatnot.
Uh, so with the foster to adopt program, you know, these are children who are taken out of homes and um, put into the foster care system and, you know, it's geared towards, uh, reunification, but of course there's many situations where the children are never returned to the homes and then you're able to adopt them. It's just a really long process. So I'm still in the fostering phase.
Glenn: Uh, well, even just talking about that, like, so in the fostering process, um, and like, this is new information for me, like with the idea that if you know their ideas that is for reunification, um, if that was to come up, um, you know, like your, your, you’re dad right now, what would that be like? You know, if mom wanted, you know, to have them back, you know,
Nathan: Well, I'm at, I'm so far along now that it’s 99.9%, um, it's not gonna happen just because of the circumstances for my case. But it's a really good question, cuz if anyone decides they want to take this avenue, because it's like, you don't have to pay anything and they, they give you money and they give you all these, you know, support things and whatnot, including paying for daycare, which is amazing. Um, but it's a, it's I say it's like a crap shoot because you don't know when you're getting into it, what's gonna happen. You know?
And it, so what I had decided for myself when I started with my daughter, cuz she was two weeks old when she came and everybody, everyone's always got something to say, you know? And so everyone was like, oh, don't get emotionally invested and don't get too connected. And I'm like, what am I gonna do? Like put the baby in the closet and like slide food under the door, you know, like I'm a human being and I have a heart. And so my, my, my theory on the whole thing was that I am a grown I'm as grown as grown can be, you know, when you're at this stage in life. And so I've gone through so many different emotional experiences in my life and I know how to navigate through emotional discord, et cetera. So I thought I'm just gonna jump in head first and I’m gonna open my heart. And I'm just gonna be the loving person that I would be if this was like a natural, you know, born child.
And if she has to go back, then it will probably be like a death, is what I kind of like equated it to. But you know, life goes on, you know, and, and if course it's not emotionally gonna feel good, but that's the thing that I think a lot of people forget when they're considering or talking or speaking about these things, is that, um, or speaking on people's situations like people speaking about mine, is it's always, it, their first thing is always about like, oh, it's gonna be emotionally challenging or it's gonna be painful. And I'm like, but life is challenging and life is painful. So yeah.
You know, I'm not expecting that if, if her mom got all the things done, she was supposed to and takes her back, that I'm gonna be jumping for joy and like running through a field of flowers, like of course it's gonna be devastating. But it's A, it's not gonna kill me, and B people do it all the time, you know? Um, and so that was how I thought. So I really focused on being in the moment and I was really good at not projecting into the future and fantasizing about those kinda things either way. Cuz I figured that especially if I started fantasizing about where we're at now, actually in the process with my daughter where we're very close to adoption, um, and then it didn't work out. I would be devastated.
Glenn: Um, uh, what words of advice would you share, um, with someone who is thinking about fostering a child, um, and moving towards adoption?
Nathan: I think most importantly is just like, educate yourself. The system can be like a crazy, um, beast that just doesn't seem to have any, uh, direction to it. And so it's, you know, there are really good things about the New York state system, but then there are a lot of things that can leave you just banging your head against the wall. And so I think it's really important to just educate yourself as much as possible. Um, all, all of the agencies that are in, in New York state, I don't know about other states, but in New York state, uh, in New York City have orientations that are like an hour long, that I think they're virtual now that anybody can do. So you can get an idea of what it entails and ask a bunch of questions, and always just ask like a ton of questions, because one of the things that I learned from doing this is that again, that word advocate, like you have to do that for yourself all the time, because it's a massive system and there are a lot of kinks in the system. And so you just always have to be looking out for yourself, um, and going above and beyond to ask the questions that you want to get answered.
And then I think second to that, you know, just be open minded because you can't go into this type of a setup with too rigid of an, thinking of what it is that the outcome is gonna be. I felt victim to that too, cuz I was like, I want a boy and he's gonna be, you know, 1, 2, 5, and I only want a child that’s legally free, meaning that the parental rights have been terminated. And then, you know, a friend came one day that was, is really intuitive. And he was in the nursery. This was before I, I, I knew what child was coming and he said, I think that they're gonna bring you a girl. And I'm like, no, I don't want a girl.
And sure enough, um, a couple weeks later they call and they had a, a, a newborn girl and I was like, okay, I see what you're doing. You know? So you gotta be flexible and open, you know?
Glenn: Before speaking with Nathan I hadn’t really given a lot of thought into adoption because I was rooted in my idea of a child sharing my blood line. If that is something that remains important to me, then surrogacy is another option to consider. I spoke with Jaime and Eddie, a couple that I look up to as role models in fatherhood for their care and craft in creating the life that they want as queer dads. Jaime starts us off.
Jaime: We, we, um, talked about it since our first day, you know, we talked about parenting and, and kind of what that might look like, how many kids we might want, et cetera. Um, but things did not start to get, uh, real until, um, maybe, well, was it November of 2018 going to a conference called the men having babies conference in New York city.
Glenn: Men Having Babies is a non profit that offers workshops, seminars and additional support to gay fathers across the US and other major cities around the world. The surrogacy expo they went to offered in-depth panels on insurance, budgeting and other logistics to help them prepare.
Jaime: Um, so it was a really, really formative conference where, where we, uh, actually, uh, met and, um, ultimately ended up working with, um, the doctor that, that would be worked with Dr. Said Daneshmand, um, at the San Diego fertility center, um, at that conference. So it, it, it was, uh, basically our starting point, um, that was where things really got, got real, um, where we had names and numbers and agency names, um, for the people that we wanted to work with.
Glenn: Fast forward to a year later and they decided it was time…
Eddie: Just kind of where we are in our lives. Um, this is the right time for us to go ahead and pursue, um, building, you know, the process of building our family. And we knew it was gonna take some time, you know, it takes on average a year and a half to two years, um, to a form of family, uh, through surrogacy. And so we, we expected that kind of lengthy process. And so we were like, well, we'll just get started. We'll just start looking for an egg donor. And, and so we thought that this would be relatively difficult. There aren't as many, um, available, mixed race donors, for sure, but also just minority donors are not, um, as prevalent in the process.
And we had kind of, um, some specifics, right, where, you know, Jaime is, um, a first generation, Mexican American, and, um, I'm an African American. Um, and we wanted an egg donor, um, who shared that ethnic and cultural, um, reality, right? So we were looking for a mixed race donor, um, who, you know, uh, father or mother was black, African American and whose corresponding, uh, parent was, um, at least of Latin descent.
Glenn: Given the history with the medical industry and Black women, it doesn’t surprise me that Jaime and Eddie could have a hard time looking for a donor. There’s a lot of reasons why Black people in general don’t or can’t go the surrogacy route as donors or as intended parents, from our history and distrust with the medical industry, lack of visibility, lack of accessible training services, bias and discrimination, and socio-economic gaps, because surrogacy is expensive. And for the people of color who can afford it, like Jaime and Eddie, finding a donor who looks like you could be like looking for a needle in a haystack. But good fortune was on their side one night.
Eddie: Jaime started looking, I was cooking dinner, um, after some meetings. And, um, and he goes, you should look at this profile. This donor is like, perfect. And, and I, and I, and my usual reserve, um, let's not get too excited nature, said, you know, okay, let's look at it. So we sat down, we looked at the profile together. She was perfect. You know, she obviously was a very smart woman. We, um, we got a chance she had, there was a video on the profile, so we could kind of hear her talk and get someone for sense of her personality. I think that night, or the next morning we sent email to the agency that was representing her, uh, lo and behold, kind of the first profile we really got excited about, um, ended up being our egg donor that is, um, very uncommon. I'll say, um, usually folks go through iterations or, you know, kind of, and some even have to hire out kind of like an egg donor kind of hunting agency to find the right owner. So, um, we were, um, graced with serendipity in the process.
Jaime: Yeah. So the, a lot happened that day or that, that night in, um, in May of 2019. And so we emailed, uh, um, all three of the pieces you need to, um, to go through the process of surrogacy. You, you know, you need to have your, uh, embryos created, you need to, uh, have your doctor selected and you need to have your surrogate. Um, and so we go through the process of creating a, um, what's called a share profile. Um, and so we, uh, pretty much, uh, answered a couple questions, we sent in a few pictures. And so, uh, the way that process works, the surrogacy piece, um, unlike the egg donor piece, um, the initial, um, I guess, screening or selection is done by the potential surrogate. Um, and so unlike the egg donor, where we went through, uh, databases and kind of picked the egg donor, um, once you get to the surrogacy piece, um, at least working with, uh, the agency that we worked with, the surrogate gets sort of the first call to say, hey, I see this couple's profile. I want to, um, set up a call and see if it's a good match. Um, so we ended up having a FaceTime call with our, uh, then potential surrogate and her husband, um, and the call went great. We loved them. Um, the energy was, was great. The expectations were clear, um, and that's who we ended up working with.
The surrogacy process, um, uh, took some time. So we, we didn't actually match with our surrogate till, uh, what was it, February of 2020? And so it wasn't up until what August of 2020 that we ended up traveling back to San Diego, um, for, or the embryo transfer.
Glenn: The embryo transfer happened at the height of the pandemic. Jaime and Eddie tell me they weren’t sure if they’d be able to be with their surrogate because of quarantine and social distancing.
Jaime: Regardless, we wanted to be there with our surrogate that day and, and, um, be a, a, a support system. So we ended up traveling and, um, we, we were able to FaceTime, um, in the facility while our surrogate, uh, went through the process of embryo transfer. Um, and that's, that's where, um, it, it kind of just took off, um, we were successful with that first embryo transfer, thankfully. Um, and that's how we ultimately ended up with, uh, Theodore.
Glenn: Theodore is blessed to have such loving fathers. And they’re blessed to have Theo. Everything happened the way it was supposed to. Eddie and Jaime reflect on their experience of turning their dream family into a reality. Here’s Eddie...
Eddie: I think there's something very grounding about, um, life at the beginning, right? So you, you, you bring a baby home from the hospital in our case, 24 hours afterwards, we get 'em home and then we're doing the round, the clock feedings, and, you know, we're not really sleeping and they don't tell you this, but babies make tons of noise when they're sleep. They're just like gurgling and like cooing. And you're, you know, you always think they're like choking or dying. So you're as first time parents, you have no idea what's going on. So you're anxious the whole time, so you're not sleeping. You're hoping that you're doing a good, good job taking care of the baby. And, you know, you're, so you're just perpetually up, you know, 72 hours of that kind of haze is, can be pretty taxing. And you know, about three days in, as like I had taken the shift, I was feeding him and at like 7:00 AM more like the third morning, and he just started like randomly smiling.
And so I wake high may up and was like, look, get up, get up, get up, like you know he’s smiling. And, um, and we kind of both shared this like moment of, you know, um, where I think all of this tiredness kind of melted away. And I thought to myself, that mother nature is really good at keeping babies alive.
Jaime: Now that he's here. I think my, my reflection has been, um, thinking about, um, the village that, that is taken, um, to, to get our son here. I think, you know, we, we hear a lot about it takes the village to raise a child and, you know, we, we're very, um, grateful and lucky to, to have a really strong support system, um, and network of friends and family. But, um, it really took a village, uh, to get through creation, to, you know, to get through that process. Like Ed said, it, it, it can take a long time. Um, it, it took two years and for us, everything, every step of the way went the way it should have and feeling very, um, grateful for the people that were involved along the way. Um, just, just to get, uh, Theo to, to, to the world, you know, from, from the egg donor, to the surrogate, to the attorneys you work with to the nursing staff, you know, there, there there's so many people that you encounter along the way, and, um, trusting so many different people along the way to do so many different things. Right. And so we, so we got lucky, um, but there was, uh, lots of kindness and, and care along the way, not just between the two of us, um, but from a, um, a very strong village um, and that's kinda been my reflection lately.
Glenn: Most babies take about 9 months to be born from conception, but for Jaime and Eddie, Theodore was conceived back in 2018 when they walked out of that Men Having Babies Expo.
Glenn Quentin: Talking to all these dads has been powerful, grounded, and beautiful. I’m walking away with more pathways in the journey of fatherhood and am confident that we only need to reach out and ask questions to get answers to the things that light the flames of our curiosity. I’m reminded that being a dad looks different for everybody, but showing up is what’s most important in fatherhood. That being honest and vulnerable to the ones we care for makes all the difference in having a fulfilled life. Also remembering to stay open because that’s the real beauty of life. Everything we do in life is a choice and those choices create the world in which we all live through. I know I’ll make a great dad in the future, whenever that comes but for now I’ll just take care of my Legacy.
Brandon Nick: That’s our show. Thanks to all our dads in today's episode. And shoutout to all the queer fathers, hell all the queer parents out there raising the next generation of little humans. I can’t wait to bring some lil Black babies into this world!
This episode was produced by Glenn Quentin woo hoo, shoutout to your first episode! And edited by myself, Brandon Nick; with sound mixing and design by Evan Joseph. Please be sure to donate! Aight, catch y’all at the next episode, bye!