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My Life With... Two Dads

Alex, 16, is just one of the almost 300,000 kids being raised by same-sex couples in the U.S. Here’s what he wants you to know about his life with the parents he calls Dad and Papa—and why he wouldn’t have it any other way.

If you came over to my house for dinner, you’d probably notice several things. First, you’d notice there was great music playing. Second, you’d notice that we like to cook— homemade pizza is our specialty. Third, you’d probably notice that I have two fathers: I call them Papa and Dad, and together, we make a family.

My name is Alex, and my life is like most teens’ lives, with the exception that I’m one of the approximately 300,000 kids in the U.S. with same-sex parents. To me, having two dads is totally normal, but I know some people might have questions. (Trust me, I’ve heard them all.) Read on to learn more about me and my dads—and what I wish people knew about families like ours.

Becoming a Family

My dads adopted me from Guatemala when I was a baby. When I was 4, same-sex marriage became legal in Washington, D.C., near where we live, so they got married. The following year, they had a big party in Hawaii, where Dad is from. I helped with things like taking photos for a slideshow and choosing a song for my dads’ first dance. To me, that trip was an ordinary vacation with a fun twist. I didn’t realize how big of a deal it was.

Alex with Papa

Facing Questions

Growing up, I knew that other families looked different than mine, but I didn’t think about why until I started school. I remember being at an open house for kindergarten, and everyone else had a mom and a dad. The other kids asked me, “Do you have a mom?” When I said no, they said, “So how’d you get here?” When I told my dads what the kids said, they explained to me that all families are different. Since then, I feel like people have gotten used to seeing same-sex families. There are gay parents on Modern Family, Friends, Glee—even on My Little Pony ! These days, the way I react to questions depends on the person asking. If they keep asking the same things, I might get frustrated and say, “Whatever.” But if they give me the impression that they actually want to learn about my life, then I’m always happy to talk about it.

Alex at his dads' wedding.

Life at School

I’ve had some teachers who really helped me feel included. For example, my third-grade teacher would give me a coloring book so I wouldn’t feel left out while the other kids made stuff for their moms for Mother’s Day. Then for Father’s Day, she would give me two sets of art supplies so I could make things for both my dads. I really appreciated that. Other teachers were less sensitive—they’d refer to my “mom and dad,” even though they knew I had two dads, or on Mother’s Day, they’d pass out art supplies but skip me. I know they did it because I don’t have a mom, but it would have felt nice if they’d thought of a way to include me.

Life at Home

There’s a stereotype that gay people are the life of the party, so sometimes people assume my house is really fun—like there must be a lot of loud music and flashing lights, like a club. But we’re pretty calm. We do listen to a lot of music, but we also watch movies. On Saturdays, Dad cleans the house, and Papa might be working. On Sundays, we might go out to lunch or visit family. I don’t think that having two dads is any different from having any other type of parents.

 There are approximately 300,000 kids in the United States with same-sex parents.

Family Pride

Having gay parents has probably opened my eyes to different issues than other kids may have been exposed to. The fight for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual, queer) rights feels normal for me. For example, I try to be sensitive to people’s pronouns because I know how important they can be (my pronouns are he/him). And every June, Dad,

Papa, and I march in the Pride parade in Washington, D.C. It’s really fun. But I realize that people with heterosexual parents may not be as involved with LGBTQ rights because they don’t affect them the same way they affects us.

My Hope for the Future

Our community feels very accepting of people who identify as LGBTQ, but I know that that’s not the case for everyone. My dads have pointed out to me that sometimes we forget how different we seem to some people, because our life is just our life. It doesn’t seem different to us. My hope for the future is that all types of families become more visible so people can see that a family is just a family.

If you have a gay parent or want to learn more about kids of gay parents, check out colage.org, an organization for kids with LGBTQ caregivers.

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