A two-day national forum for gay dads on all things parenting will be held in Melbourne in September.
The 2010 National Gay Dads Conference, hosted by Drummond Street Services, is the first of its kind to take a national focus and include all areas of parenting such as co-parenting, adoption, fostering and surrogacy.
Drummond Street Services family dispute resolution practitioner and gay dad James Christoffelsz told Sydney Star Observer the forum would allow dads to come together and share their experiences.
“It’s about celebrating fatherhood and it’s also about learning from each other,” Christoffelsz said.
“The thing with gay fatherhood is, it’s not a simple journey, and if you’ve come from a straight relationship it can be pretty tough going.
“If you’re co-parenting, often there are lots of issues and hurdles to get through … and for surrogate fathers there can be the financial and emotional hardship.”
Christoffelsz said the forum is about respecting families regardless of how they’re formed, and will provide prospective gay dads a unique chance to look at various ways to create a family.
“I remember when I first came out I had to sort of reconcile that I wouldn’t have kids, that was sort of the assumption I had, and there was nothing around as there is now about gay fatherhood and a chance to learn from others,” he said.
“What we want to get are guys thinking about fatherhood to come and see first hand what it’s like from people who have kids and also the options available.”
The forum will be a “smorgasbord” approach to parenting with sessions from legal advice, ‘how-to’ guides for surrogacy and fostering children, co-parenting do’s and don’ts, to advice on raising children. Tasmanian gay rights advocate Rodney Croome will be the keynote speaker.
Christoffelsz said men can find it more difficult to access help when faced with the different stages of raising children.
“I don’t think we’re as well organised to share information on that, you know, ‘my teenager is leaving home, how do I feel about?’, ‘my newborn is teething does anyone have tips?’, ‘my five-year-old is going to school for the time’,” he said.
“Women are well organised with mothers groups to talk about this, but men aren’t quite there.”
The forum will also mark the start of a new campaign Christoffelsz and other gay dads have started to amend Section 60H in the federal Family Law Act to recognise gay dads as parents.
info: The conference is on September 18 and 19 at Richmond Town Hall. Cost $45 per person. To book phone Zoe Stafford on 03 9663 6733.