Atlanta couple documents their daddy desires

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“Daddy” carries a pretty specific meaning for gay men. But Atlanta couple Doug Spicer and Brent Munster want to change that as they blog their way through adopting a child and raising a family.

“Modern Family” and “The New Normal” help portray gay families raising children on TV. And with Real Modern Dads, Spicer and Munster are chronicling their real-life journey to adoption in a conservative Southern state. So Project Q Atlanta chatted with the two men about the adoption process, what they’ve learned about each other and whether they hope for a boy or a girl.

So the blog went live on Sept. 18, 2013. What has the process been like for both of you?

Doug: It’s been a rollercoaster. We pretty much had to start off with a lot of workshop-type things with the agency and that kicked off the home study process, which took about four and a half months to complete. We had to do everything from an FBI and GBI check to paperwork beyond paperwork. We had to give details about our families and we even had to write autobiographies of our lives – pretty much an extensive background of your whole history. They even went as deep as checking into how our families raised us and disciplined us and …

Brent: … what our plan for discipline is and all of that. But, we found out at the end of February that we were finally approved and we went live and from there it’s been a waiting game.

It doesn’t sound like the waiting game is very much fun. What are you doing in the meantime?

Doug: We’ve just been writing on the blog. It’s been really good to find an adoptive parent community. Everyone gives you different advice about living your life normally and doing your thing and not putting your life on hold because it can just drive you crazy. So, that’s what we’re doing with the blog, just writing how we’re going week to week . In the beginning, we described each process as we were going through it and what we were feeling and how the process was going. You have your frustration days and you have your excited days. Basically today could be one thing and tomorrow we could get a call and our whole life could change.

Have you learned anything new about each other or even about yourselves through this process?

Brent: It forces you to talk about things, like the way you were disciplined as a child and what you think discipline is – things that you normally just don’t talk about.

Doug: Yes, Brent and I have been together for just about seven years in August but having a family was something that we discussed very early on because it was one of those things that we were both very passionate about. It’s one of those things that you want to make sure if you are going to invest your time in getting to know someone, if that is not even an option, then most likely we wouldn’t have been a match. We definitely knew how bad we both wanted to be dads and have a family. 

But it’s just like Brent said, diving in deep, we had to sit down with the agency and go through a few hours of an informational session where they were jamming us with questions. I got to learn more in depth about Brent’s family that I may not have necessarily known, from their background and history to family dynamics.

I remember saying when I was growing up, “Well I’m not doing that when I have kids.” Has this experience brought up moments like that?

Doug: I’ve always said from the beginning I would raise my child 100% different than my family did. They’re a little crazy. (laughs)

My parents were very lenient on us. We had complete freedom to do whatever we wanted. All three of us – I have a brother and a sister – we didn’t have curfews, we never got grounded, our parents pretty much gave us free reign to do whatever we wanted. They trusted us. Back then it was awesome. (laughs)

I definitely want to be little bit more disciplined and have a little bit more structure. I think Brent you were a little bit more structured than …

Brent: … I was definitely a little more structured but my parents trusted me a lot, and that was probably not a good thing at most times.

Doug: And you came out a lot earlier than I did.

Brent: Right.

So I am curious if adoption was the only route you considered or if not, why did you settle on adoption?

Brent: We looked into surrogacy but it just wasn’t for us. We both have families that come from adoption. For example, my brother is adopted and Doug, both of his parents are adopted, well one adopted through the family.

Doug: Yeah, my mother was adopted through family and my father was a full-fledged closed adoption. In looking, we both realized and decided on an open adoption. We definitely felt having two fathers, it was really important for us that our child knew their mother. This way we will have met the mother. Even if the mother doesn’t stay – it’s kind of like you do a contract at the beginning, once the birth mother chooses you, how you want the communication to be. They have the first year and then ages 2-18. It completely depends if it’s just emails or pictures or maybe visits once a year.

We just thought it was really important, even if the birth mother decided she didn’t want to have a relationship with the child, we will at least always know who the mother was. We will have met her. We could potentially be in the delivery room with her. It just allows us to have something, but hopefully we would love for them to be a part of our family as another extension. But it all depends on what the birth mother wants. We just felt that was very important for them to know their family history. We don’t ever want it to be hidden. No secrets, just an open, positive experience.

Was there any fear you’d have a harder time as a same-sex couple attracting birth mothers?

Brent: I think there are challenges with everyone who is adopting. You really just have to find someone who resonates with you in some way, shape or form. It’s one of the things we’ve talked about with the agency. Do gay males have a harder time adopting? And when they show you the statistics, it’s a little bit longer – maybe a month longer on average – but overall it doesn’t hurt you. Today you have shows like “Modern Family” that kind of make it cool. And that is what some of the birth mothers are thinking and you never know what they are thinking as well.

Doug: And there is an interesting fact that they told us as well, that I guess we didn’t really think about. When a birth mother chooses two males, it’s like they are not being replaced. I just found that very interesting. It makes absolute sense but I never would’ve thought of that.

Were there any surprises in terms of the legality of your adoption?

Doug: We can be chosen in any state, but in Georgia, unfortunately, we cannot adopt together. We have to do a second-parent adoption. We would love if we got a child in a state like California. Even though we don’t live there, we can still adopt together as a couple. It was a harsh reality check when we got our certificate that although we’re physically approved to adopt in the U.S., it could only have one of our names on it. That was a shocker and a hit to us. But it is what it is and we just stay positive about the whole thing and we know if we don’t get a child from a state that allows male couples to adopt, we will just petition for the second-parent adoption. And for Georgia, only certain counties will a judge even allow it. We have to live in – I think Fulton, or parts of DeKalb are the only two counties in Georgia that will really allow second-parent adoption for gay couples.

I was going to ask about the adoption certificate because I saw on the blog that only Brent’s name was on it.

Doug: I’m going to take a leave of absence from work, on a temporary basis, so we thought since Brent would be the income provider, we thought it would be best that he was on the adoption certificate.

Boy or girl? Has there been any discussion over a preferred sex of the baby?

Doug: Definitely we feel like we would know what to do with a boy better. (laughs) A little girl scares me but luckily my sister lives here and we are very close. It’s definitely scary to think of, but in the end we really just want a child and we don’t really have a preference.

Follow along the adoption process with Doug Spicer and Brent Munster on their blog, Real Modern Dads, and on Facebook.


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