Voices of Equality: Christian and Matt's Journey To Parenthood

  • Ashley Nackos
  • June 10, 2024

Christian is on the marketing team here at DockATot and while he has previously shared his adoption story on our blog here, he’s back in the hot seat and has brought along his husband, Matt, to pull the curtain back even further on their coming out stories and how they became, ‘Dad’ and ‘Papa’ to an adorable toddler.  


Q: It’s so fun to have you both here together! Okay, let’s start with your coming out stories? Matt, want to go first? 

Matt: "Yes! Believe it or not, it wasn’t until college that I realized I was gay. I was the youngest of 4 boys and grew up in a very conservative Italian American household. I was very involved in “masculine” activities growing up alongside my three older brothers. When I got to college, things started to change and before I knew it I was in what would be a 7-year relationship with a man. I didn’t even tell my parents about my relationship until several years into it because it didn’t feel like they needed to know."

Christian: "I didn’t know it, but I’ve been so gay my whole life. My parents knew long before I did. I grew up doing theater, ballet, dance and showed a lot of stereotypical tendencies early on. I think it was hard for me to associate with gay as I hadn’t known anyone gay, there wasn’t any media representation (other than with negative connotation) and I didn’t feel like I was “one of them.” I did my undergrad in Montreal and happened to move there on the day of their pride parade. I had never seen so many different types of LGBTQ people, ranging from cowboys to bikers to athletes to drag queens and beyond. And, while I still didn’t necessarily associate with any of those, I suddenly started to think that maybe I was gay if there were indeed all these different varieties. 

By the time I had the courage to bring it up to my parents, it was a non-shocker and probably more of a relief that we could all talk about it openly. Their first reaction was about preventative care and aids, then sad they might not get grandchildren from me, and finally worried that the world would be mean to me. I explained to them that I felt more empowered than ever to stand up for myself because I finally was comfortable in my own skin.  

Mom leaned into it and felt it was almost trendy to have a gay son. Dad took a bit longer to open up about it, but my mom tells a story about him referencing at a Christmas party that he had a gay son that was just a couple of years in and felt like a turning point."


Q: So sweet. Okay, so how did you two meet? 

Matt: "The old fashioned way - we met at a gay bar near my apartment where I’d sometimes pop on my way home from work. They had this patio with pool tables and Christian walked up to me and asked me to come be his partner for playing doubles in pool. At the end of the evening, we exchanged numbers, and the rest is history. "

Christian: "I had gotten so into my career and didn’t have time to waste on dating anymore. I knew I needed to try something different and only if someone complimented my life then I was open to it. I rarely went out on a “school night” but happened to be at the watering hole entertaining a friend who was visiting from out of town and was headed out the next morning. As as Matt says... the rest is history."

Q: Well, what happened next?! And when did you decide to pursue a family together? 

Christian: "Things were really easy so we moved pretty quickly with our relationship – in fact, we moved in together after barely a few months of dating. I don’t remember the exact conversation about having children but I remember I was pretty upfront about it from the beginning. Even before I met Matt, I had already started looking into adoption solo, so it was something I brought up early on."

Matt: "I knew he was the one right off the bat. I even called my mom and told her right after we met. We kept busy, traveled, bought a house, and then Christian started working in the baby industry and the baby fever came on strong."

Christian: "It’s true. And I felt like I was getting the cliff-notes of all things baby and how to be a parent. It got us really excited to be parents."  

Q: So, what were next steps after you had aligned on having a baby? 

Matt: "We decided to pursue adoption, mostly based on cost, and went through an agency that specialized in LGBTQ+ adoptions. We interviewed a handful of others, but so many felt too much like a business and less like they were in it for the families and babies. "

Christian: "There are also a lot of nuances specific to LGBTQ families and adoption, including several states that did not allow or made it more difficult for gay couples to adopt. And, many of the state-funded or religious based adoption resources were not available to us because we were same sex."  

Q: Did you run into any hiccups or unexpected situations? 

Matt: "A lot, but we can leave those details in the other blog about our adoption story. But, deing two gay married men in Missouri was an interesting experience and we got a lot of looks and chatter. We have to say that the NICU staff treated like royalty. They were so lovely and continually praising us for being so present and ready to parent our little NICU warrior."

Christian: "Not specific to our adoption, but there is a general narrative around who is having babies and giving them up for adoption- some girl who got knocked up after drinking at a party or folks who aren’t being responsible. 

Through the process and the many expecting mothers we matched with, we learned that that’s such a small minority and so often these mothers are products of a cyclical life of poverty, foster care, and adoption themselves.  

Our daughter’s birth mom was a perfect example, who had been taken away from her mother by social services, eventually adopted out of foster care, kicked out of that home and sought out her birth mom who introduced her to narcotics as a teenager. During our “courting” process with her, we went to a narcotics anonymous meeting with her and heard so many similar stories. Many applauded her for choosing an open adoption because it would allow her to keep in touch with our daughter where many had lost that opportunity."

Q: What did you find helpful as you started your parenthood journey as a LGBTQIA+ family? Are there any resources you’d recommend? 

Christian: "It was helpful for me to connect with another couple who had been through the process. Not necessarily the ones who were currently going through it because each story is so unique, but parents who had seen it through and had a successful adoption. That family had also experienced a really devasting failed adoption and were very helpful in helping us heal after our first failed placement.  

For us, inclusivity is very important in our household. It’s really important to us that the books we read to our daughter reflect people and families of all different shapes, colors and orientations."

Matt: "There are also so many different organizations, both nationally and locally, that help families like ours create community. I’d encourage families to explore their local LGBTQ community centers and engage with PFLAG groups, etc.

Q: What were some of the challenges or unexpected things that have come up in parenting as two dads?

Christian: "As someone who’s worked in the baby industry for quite a few years, I felt like I had read (or even researched and written) on every parenting topic, but there were a few surprises.  

As a two-dad family, you’d be shocked how few men’s restrooms have changing tables. Not only is this challenging for us, but it’s a frustrating narrative that women should assume primary responsibility for diaper changes. We need to do better here, not just for us, but for equity in parenting roles."  

Matt: "No one told us we needed a nursing pillow. And no one really talks about feeding support and men (or any other caregivers who feed). We bunched up pillows and had our arms fall numb like so many, but it wasn’t until I started working at DockATot and spent a lot of time with our nursing pillow that I realized what a god send it would have been to have that kind of support."

Christian: "We've also had to be really introspective about gender roles and reversing our own internal biases about what mommies and daddies do. In the beginning it was really important for us to split all responsibilities 50/50, alternating who would wake up each 3 hours when we first brought our premi home, changing diapers, etc. In the long run it has really served our relationship well and I think (hope) it sets a good example for our daughter."

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