When prospective same-sex parents have questions, new website offers answers
When Cooper Smith and his partner Todd Koch decided to make their two of a kind into a full house, they began looking into adoption. The system was a minefield of arcane rules and strategies exacerbated by being gay parents.
Two years later, they found themselves a family of two daddies and an equal number of children, both now barely a year old. Throughout the process, the couple had questions and found their answers in random places.
So Smith got an idea.
"There was stuff online, but from all over," Smith says. "We tried to find more information to put our minds at ease. That’s what I wanted to create with this website."
Thus was born a set of twins of sort — the matching websites TwoDaddiesOneLove.com and TwoMommiesOneLove.com. The sites were designed to help those same-sex couples looking into getting in the family way. They both actually lead to one site with one mission — "to bring together gay mommies and daddies to help support each other in raising our next generation," according to Smith. Think of them as clearinghouses of information mixed with the social network aspect of Facebook.
"The number one goal is simply connecting gay and lesbian parents to each other and to those looking to adopt," Smith says. "With the social media part up, people can now talk to each other and plan events and share information. We make sure we have information on the three main ways gay people can build a family: Private adoption [the route taken by Smith and Koch], foster adoption and surrogacy. Plus, we’ll add links to news and websites of companies that helped other couples."
This isn’t Smith’s first time at the parental site rodeo. The site’s first launch last summer buckled due to spammers. The interest was there, however, with more than 60 members signed up for the free site based solely on word-of-mouth. Now that the site is on a more stable host, half of those original members have already signed back up.
Smith knew the response would be good but what surprised him was the actual number of gay families in the North Texas region. Helming his own public relations company, Smith has met lots of people over the years in the community. But when the families set up a brunch event, he was surprised to come across some people he hadn’t met before.
"There were seven couples with kids," he says. "People drove in from Allen and Arlington and I had not met a single one before. For all these people to show up that I hadn’t known before was just great."
Smith discovered that Dallas has a high concentration of gay and lesbian couples with kids, and there’s growing interest from those wanting to start families. While Smith is doing his own thing with his website, he’s also become involved with the Human Rights Campaign’s newest family initiatives — and Dallas will the be the campaign’s place to pilot the program.
"There is this huge family environment in Dallas," Smith says. "Plus, all the new big things for the HRC come through Dallas. I’m on a committee for that family initiative here because I want to help and offer anything I can do."
Despite all his good intentions and strides in providing a resource, he isn’t planning for this endeavor to take over his life. He has a few things higher on the list to take care of — his son Mason and his daughter Claire.
"The goal for this has not been about numbers," he says. "This is a side project and not the highest thing on my to-do list. But the kids are a bit easier to deal with. My daughter is nearly 15 months old and my son is a year old. They are just as much a handful, but they also have more patience."
With all he has going, Smith is living the family dream — it would seem.
"I got two kids under 16 months. If that’s the case, then please wake me up!"
Visit TwoMommiesOneLove.com or TwoDaddiesOneLove.com for more information.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 14, 2010.