Adoption has been an option for same-sex couples for years now, but stereotypes about who and what makes a family persist. In this article, a gay adoptive dad shares some thoughts on the unique joys and challenges of being part of a two-dad family.

Family: a dream come true

If you’d asked me at the age of 18 what challenges I might face in building a family, I would have answered “I don’t know.” I’ve always wanted to be a husband and parent. When I was first coming out of the closet almost 20 years ago, however, same-sex marriage was illegal and I’d never heard of a same-sex couple adopting a child.

Thankfully times changed and I was able to build a family with my caring, thoughtful husband and two beautiful children in the heart of the Okanagan. We have a dog, two cats, a rabbit, and a tank full of fish. Our lives are filled with preschool crafts, camping trips, family get-togethers, and days at the water park. I am forever grateful to the Ministry of Children and Family Development and to our supportive family, friends, and community, all of whom made this possible.

Society has begun to normalize non-traditional families and as a dad I’ve been met almost exclusively with curiosity and questions rather than shock and disdain. One of the most challenging aspects of fatherhood has been trying to break free from gender bias. Expectations of what dads do and don’t do are still ingrained in our society.

“You’re giving mommy a break, how cute!”

When my husband and I are out in the community, we frequently hear comments like “You’re giving mommy a break today, how cute!” or “Look, the dads are babysitting the kids for the mommies!” The assumption still seems to be that moms are the caregivers and dads are the financial providers. I don’t take offense at comments that are meant without malice, but it does seem strange that fathers are still expected to shoulder less of the child rearing. The persistence of these gender-based stereotypes shows that in some ways our culture’s expectations lag behind reality. More and more often, families are breaking these predetermined molds. Single-parent families, same-sex families, and other non-traditional families are everywhere. Dads are taking on more caregiving and moms are working. In my opinion, all of these parental duties are privileges that every parent has the right to experience.

I’m thankful that my children have two loving parents, and that each of us shares the roles of nurturer, playmate, disciplinarian, nurse, and more. In our family we don’t have any predetermined gender-based roles, and because of this we are free to do what we feel is important or what we’re good at. I enjoy having a clean house, and my husband loves to create amazing meals, so each of us tends to take on those particular responsibilities. We both love spending time as a family and cherish the adventures we have with our children.

Our lives are blissfully normal- something that, at the age of 18, I never thought that I would get to experience.