photo of the author with his friend's adorable baby


I’m a Gay Millennial and I Want To Be a Father — But I Can’t

Apr 24, 2019

I’m 34 years old and I want a daughter more than anything.

I’m also gay, and the chances of me being chosen as the next vessel for a so-called immaculate conception are quite slim. But a boy can dream.

For me, the reasons for having a child are partly selfish: I want to do a better job than my parents.

Because my parents weren’t great role models, and I don’t mean this in a no-one-gets-along-with-their-parents-100-per-cent-of-the-time kind of way. I’m talking negligence, emotional and physical abuse, and fraud. The kind of relationship that requires a lot of therapy to sort out. And even with my many achievements in that regard, we’re still very much estranged.

Relevant Reading: What I Wish My Parents Had Said To Me When I Came Out as Gay

I'm Not My Parents

But more than showing myself that good parenting is indeed achievable by charting my own path, I want someone to love, and to read to at night in funny voices that make her laugh so hard she could explode. I want to teach her things, like how to read and write, and I want to expose her to things early, like contemporary art and a variety of foods. I’ll do my best with math and science, but I can barely calculate a tip at a restaurant.

I want to be the dad who says, “hey girl, we’re going to try something new for dinner tonight that isn’t chicken nuggets — you aren’t required to like it, but you are required to consider it.” I want to watch Mona Lisa Smile with her when she’s old enough, and I want to bug her because I know all the words. And when she’s really old enough, we will watch Heathers together, and I’ll let her have the red scrunchie (but because it’s my daughter, I’m hoping she actually wants blue). I wouldn’t mind if she were a goth child, either.

I don’t have a vision or mood board for how all this happens, because I know a child won’t manifest itself by just saying I want one.

Of course I know children can be lovable terrors, too, but I don’t have a child yet — let the dream be idyllic, and I’ll laugh about how wrong I was later. I also know I could get a fern, or a puppy, but spare me. 

Where to Start

I don’t have a vision or mood board for how all this happens, because I know a child won’t manifest itself by just saying I want one. So, I’ve looked into taking Daddies & Papas 2B, a class for prospective gay parents. I was even in a long-term relationship with a man who adopted as a single parent while we dated, and I even unofficially co-parented for quite some time. So, I’m planning through learning, which is akin to how heterosexual parents might read What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Only this is so much gayer because I don’t have a uterus. Fostering, adoption or surrogacy are my options. And I’m leaning toward adoption, because I want to give a girl who didn’t have a chance, a chance.

To adopt isn't super easy, though. There are very important safeguards to determining fit, which I support for obvious reasons. For a public adoption, there is an initial orientation with Children’s Aid Society, a home study (which consists of a skills assessment to determine readiness and home environment, and takes four to six interviews over three to eight months), the actual search for a match (this could take a while), a probation period of six months once you’ve found a child, CAS approval to finalize the adoption, and — finally — court finalization.

I have heard that "people in worse situations than you have kids, and they figure it out" and "if you want something bad enough, you find a way." I don't disagree, and I believe I would make an amazing dad, but I'd be lying if said I wasn't feeling some real road blocks. 

You'll Also Love: Our Family's Adoption Story

'Just Do It'

So, why don’t I just do it? Well, honestly, at this point in my life, I thought I’d be a year out from having a child. I thought I’d be ready. 

By 35, I had imagined being free of crushing student debt, but I’m nowhere close. By 35, I dreamed of the security a person achieves through hard work, but job uncertainty is nowadays one of those it’s-just-the-way-it-is life lessons older people — with job security and seniority — are always happy to dispense. By 35, I imagined I’d be with the man I would love forever, defying all the naysayers and sharers of divorce statistics.

Not to mention that it feels like most guys my age are looking for a Daddy, not to be a dad.

Alas, I’m single. Not to mention that it feels like most guys my age are looking for a Daddy, not to be a dad.

I also rent in Toronto, and in the last year I've been renovicted from one apartment and I was ousted from another because a landlord reinhabited. And while I know you can rent and raise a family, I worry about how all my moving will look to a person who has the power to determine viability.

And yet, even though my prospects seem, let’s say inconsistent, and I have so much “good debt” (we need to stop calling it that, this debt is oppressive) from receiving an education, all I can think about is how wonderful it could be to raise a daughter. And how awesome I'd be at it. 

The Illusion of Time and Money

One thing I’ve heard quite a bit is that I have time, which is both true and not true. I have time in the sense that I don’t have a rapidly diminishing supply of viable eggs, and there isn’t a biological clock ticking so loudly like the beating of the hideous heart. But I also don’t know how much time I have on earth, because no one truly does — and the time I have left, I want to spend it raising someone pretty special.

You might also expect me to have the “pink dollar” because I’m gay and single and employed, so I should have disposable income to spend on vacations and embellished clothing from a high-end department store. But I grew up poor — very poor. And I inherited the poverty cycle, and am only now in my thirties just barely creeping out of it. 

So, financially, I don’t feel ready. 

You'll Also Love: This is What a Parent Looks Like — Liesse on Life as a Single Parent

Two Incomes Are Better Than One

I’m open to meeting someone, because I'm a romantic. I haven’t yet, but that doesn’t mean I won’t. But...

While raising a kid may be easier with someone, no one should ever plan their future around phantom men. 

And that’s why it’s so hard. You can want something so badly, and your brain can’t decide to take the leap because it feels irrational. So you take small steps, like going on a waiting list for classes to learn how to be a gay dad. To prove to yourself that this will happen, but it might not happen on your timeline. You won't be 35, maybe you'll be 40 — and that's OK. And I understand it's a privilege to wait, but that doesn't make it any less hard to someone who wants it now. 

I'm the Veruca Salt of prospective gay dads. And before I fall through a trap door chasing a golden egg, take note: most millennials have more debt, won't retire comfortably and are being priced out of cities and having children. And frankly? That sucks.

While I figure out my life so I can potentially take care of another, I'll be the doting gay uncle to friends and family. It's not the same, but it's what's possible right now. And it's pretty darned great. 

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