I’m Gonna Be a Dad! My Journey Toward Becoming a (Gay) Known Donor

Here’s a post I never thought I’d write. It’s something I’ve been thinking about the past few months, and the time feels right to say: I’m gonna be a dad!

I still can’t believe it – it happened so fast. The little bean is currently ~13 weeks along, so we’ve made it to the second trimester. It’ll be born in late August/early September.

Our arrangement is unorthodox, as in – not the norm. I’ll be known as the father, and its moms (yes, plural) will be the primary caregivers.

I’m learning there isn’t a script for this. So we have to communicate, communicate, communicate.

I know in my heart the child will be surrounded by love in a supportive, capable household.

I really thought this would never happen for me. But now it is. I say that with much amazement.

gay known donor

The photo that stopped my heart and changed everything

Here’s how it came to be.

Becoming a known donor

So I’m basically a sperm donor. After talking and thinking about it for a while (like 3 months), I decided to go for it.

They’ve prepared long to welcome a baby into their home. When I saw how much effort they put into their lives, and themselves, it felt so very right.

They believe every child has a right to know its lineage and family history, which is where the “known” part comes into play. Because I’ll be able to get photos, visit on occasion, and evolve through this process. We’ll all have to navigate this together and support each other – that’s the only way it will work.

It was important to them to find a gay donor – for so many reasons. Because of what it represents. Because it’s important to examine how LGBT people can start families. And because hello, we’re awesome. 😎

After tracking cycles for months, we pegged a timeframe. And I used airline miles to fly up and spend a weekend (but it seems chintzy to even mention that).

The actual “donating” didn’t take long. It was all the other time spent that was so magical.

We wondered aloud. Talked about our childhoods. Made sex jokes because… I mean, it’s unavoidable given the subject, and they’re reliably hilarious. And agreed to remain connected through this whole experience. Which is basically… forever.

So it’s not a decision I made lightly. It aligned. I did my thing. They did theirs. And I thought maybe I’d see them in 28 more days – or maybe not. Or maybe not. Wow.

I flew home with a knot of emotion in the pit of my stomach. When I got off the plane in Austin, it felt like everything had already shifted. What if it already happened? What if they’re gonna be moms? And me, a dad?

The next few weeks were brutal to get through. I couldn’t write. Think. I exercised a lot. Drank too much. I existed only for the news because I had this feeling. This unknown, unknowable, impossible to place feeling – several of them – I’d never had before.

The news breaks

She called. I had just laid down. I knew it was about that time. “It took,” she said. It… took? Holy… crap!

“This is one of those life-changing phone calls, isn’t it? The ones you only get a few times in your whole life?”

“Mmhmmm.” As excited as I was – we all were – we knew the first 12 weeks are the most sensitive time. A lot can happen. So began the march toward the 12-week mark. After that, it would most likely become a full-term pregnancy.

a man wearing a blue hat

The night I found out, I looked like this

It was a huge step – but still Step 0 of… millions. I was excited. Mind racing. So many questions and concerns and just – everything.

I took a walk to process.

a bright moon in the sky

There was a full moon that night, beaming down from a brightly lit sky

I still remember how the air felt – suddenly so new – and the moon and the cars passing and all of it. I was going to be someone’s dad. To a new little soul that was already growing.

Before I fell asleep, I checked Astrology Zone. I dunno why. But…

a screenshot of a phone

Ya got that right

I had to laugh. How did I fall asleep that night? I don’t think I slept at all. Just that weird, hazy half-sleep when your heart never slows down.

12 weeks

It all happened to her, like it always does. The fatigue, the nausea, the weird beef cravings. 😹

I knew I was powerless to help. I just have to stand by and watch it all develop. What could I do – could anyone do? It’s a unique feeling for me that contains desperation and hopelessness and futility and is impossible to pinpoint. I suppose so many have felt this before, and here I am – the next in line to feel it.

I wanted all the details, but wanted her to rest. It’s growing like wildfire in there and taking everything for her to make it to happen. I’ve been caught in strange states where I can feel my entire brain and chemistry and hormones changing and updating. I feel like a protective papa bear now. Or a ferocious wolf. 🐺🏠

Finally, 12 weeks came. It has a strong, fast heartbeat. A little face. Hands. A baby head.

a ultrasound of a baby

Look at it go!

And as excited as I am about the journey, I can’t wait for them to become moms to this new being. For all of it. It’s going to be so beautiful. A lot will happen along the way, I’m sure.

For now, as we enter the second trimester, we can prepare better for the delivery this summer. And I’ve finally gotten back on my normal routine. I know it’s been quiet around here (on the blog). It’s been a lot to process. Even though I know it cognitively, I still sorta can’t believe it.

But that’s how it goes, right? Again, there’s no script. I just have to feel my way through this. But I trust it, and existing as I am is enough right now.

Bottom line

It’s an incredible honor to participate in this creation. There will doubtlessly be hundreds of discussions and lots of recalibrating. But for now, I’m beginning to embrace a new role as a father to a new human.

I didn’t think it would go so quickly – it worked on the first try. I was prepared for that, but still… 😲

So far, so good. The little bean is growing and I’ll be there soon for the midpoint ultrasound. It’s still abstract in my mind. I’m sure it will be for a while. Maybe even until it actually arrives.

We joined forces to make this, to make them moms – and I’ll be known as the bio dad as soon as it develops to that level of understanding and questioning. It’s a new journey for me – and for all of us. And while it won’t materially affect my life all that much, it’s certainly changed my heart. My capacity has already grown by bounds.

I’ve always had writing and this space to process my thoughts and I’m currently in “shout it from the rooftops” mode. So I’m turning to it now to say: it’s happening!

Thank you for sharing this moment. I’ll attempt to get back to “regular programming” but maybe for a bit longer – I’ll be in new baby land. I can’t wait to share more. For now, I wait in this feeling, in amazement and wonder. New life has me thinking so many unexpected thoughts, reflecting, healing, and imagining the future.

And love, so much love.

-H. 💙

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About Harlan

Just a dude living in Memphis, traveling, and working toward financial independence.

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  1. Congratulations Harlan. It takes a special person to do what you have done. It will change your life forever.

  2. Congrats! This is so sweet and thanks for sharing your experience. The baby is lucky to have so many supportive families.

  3. CONGRATULATIONS!!! Thank you for sharing! Brought tears to my eyes since I chose not to have kids. I know you will love your baby with all your heart. Thank you.

  4. Harlan,
    Congratulations. I’ve been an avid reader probably since the beginning and I still remember your posts here in NY. Parenthood has ups and downs and I am sure you are going to be a great father. Enjoy the ride.

    • Thank you so much, Tania! Wow, that’s amazing – how crazy life is. It will surely be an entirely new journey. Thank you for following along and for the nice note. I truly appreciate it.

  5. Holy cow, Harlan! This is so exciting! I can’t wait to see the amazing dad you’ll be. (I guess this means we won’t be seeing you at FinCon this year? For the best reason!)

    • Thank you, Amy! It’s due around 9/2 so FinCon might not be possible this year. I’ll keep my ticket just in case – if anything, maybe I could make the last couple of days. But yes, so so excited and can’t wait for the journey ahead!

  6. I’d love to see you but you can’t be in 2 places at the same time. Maybe we can meet up another place in the world? We’re in Merida in 2 weeks if you wanna join us there!

    Do the moms live in Texas? Were you friends beforehand?

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