TNF: Tell me about your family. Are you married? Do you have kids?
DOUG: I was born and raised in Hawaii and Bill is from the Maryland/DC area. We couldn’t have had more opposite childhoods — I’m from a big family, he’s an only child, we grew up on opposite sides of the country, I was baptized a Mormon and he went to Catholic school through college. We are certainly more different than we are the same — but that is what makes our relationship so much fun. We are always learning from each other. We’ve been together over 18 years, so we kind of feel like we are married already…though very happy that the United States are finally coming around and striking down bans of gay marriages. We got our civil union right before our daughter was born in May 2012. She is now 2 years old. We tried for many years to have a child, and weren’t successful with a variety of procedures (IVF, traditional surrogacy, etc), but then found someone who was very knowledgeable and had been a traditional surrogate before, and it worked like a charm.
TNF: How did you meet your partner? What do your children call you?
We met through a mutual friend. I remember seeing Bill across the room and thought “I need to meet him…he’s the guy for me…” And Bill I guess thought the same thing, because we spent the entire night together and almost every day after that until we decided to seriously date. Though I always laugh because he totally held out and made me wait two years before we moved in together. Bill is very traditional. I am the spontaneous, crazy one…if you want to call moving in together after a few months of dating crazy. Our daughter calls me Papa and my partner Daddy. At 2 years old she seems to be getting it so….so far, so good.
TNF: Do you feel different from other families? If so, how so?
I think the only time we feel different is when we are not in our circle of friends. But we have been lucky because even outside of this bubble of support, most people have been very happy for us. I think it helps to have a smiling, happy little girl in your arms. Babies are the ultimate diffuser of differences. They’re like puppies.
TNF: Where do you live? Is it tough being a gay couple where you live? Do you feel accepted?
We live in Manoa Valley, which is in Honolulu, Hawaii. It’s not hard being gay in Hawaii. Most people are very tolerant. We have been very fortunate to have a huge network of supportive friends and family, and that has made the world of difference and will make a world of difference as our daughter grows up.
TNF: What has having a family meant to you?
Even though our daughter is biologically connected to me, I feel there are all kinds of families. I am a member of a Gay Fathers group on Facebook and it has over 5,000 members and it is a cornucopia of blended families. I love it. Every one has a story about how they became a family, ours was long and hard and took nearly 8 years. We threw out the master plan, started over with new surrogates, spent more money than we wanted to, traveled around the world, but in the end, the most important thing is that we never gave up, and here we are as a family. And this family isn’t just me, my partner and my daughter. It’s our surrogate (who is biologically her mother, and we maintain a very close relationship with her), it is our surrogate’s daughter (who is our daughter’s half-sister), it’s the previous couple who our surrogate worked with and their daughter, who are, of course, half sisters as well. And not to mention all of our families, and friends. It’s an amazing network of people that I wouldn’t change for the world. We feel very blessed and lucky to have serendipitously created this in our lives. It’s cliche, but it’s true. It truly takes a village.
Thank you for sharing your beautiful family!