So tell me and ill start with you, lewis tell me what is the best thing about fatherhood? I i think that you get the opportunity to uh be better to your children than youve, probably experienced yourself. One of the big ways that i have um as being a father is that i get to see a replication of myself uh and my children, and i also get to um guide them in a way as to where ive been down the quarters of time and Down the hallway of life a little further than they have its, not that they always listen to me um, but it does feel good to be able to just give them some transferable principles that i may or may not have picked up by my father. I love that um dr tolston. Well, first of all, one of your kids has already written a book and uh theyre, not even adults yet, but i want you to tell us the most challenging thing about being a father. Okay, the best thing i was going to say is entertainment, because you know kids can be funny. The most challenging thing i think is is, is that point of departure, uh and when you realize that you cant mold them into your image, and you have to appreciate them for the amazing person that they are, that they are becoming uh, which is completely distinct from Who you are uh so so that that can be a challenge at first, but once you recognize that uh, the individual that they are becoming, can be greater than you uh.
It becomes one of those joys, yeah yeah. I can see that being a challenge and a joy actually um brian, you are instrumental in helping um fathers adopt children or people in the lgbtq community. Adopt children um tell us about that, and is it more because adoption is just challenging anyway. Um, our executive producer, um, adopted a child, have many friends who um are adopted parents, so how is it doing it specifically for the lgbtq community sure so first thanks its great to be here, um ill tell you. There are actually several different paths of fatherhood that we can. Most of us can choose to take so my husband, i created our family through a combination of adoption and surrogacy um, and so i you know when we did this. It was uh 12 13 years ago. There were no resources whatsoever out there to help out and we had to figure it all out on our own um and top of that you know we had. We thought we were going to adopt a baby boy, but it didnt end up happening three months into it. So then we signed up to become doctors, surrogacy im hiv positive, so we had to figure out how we could make that all work out. I have been for over 30 years, so no one knows both of me just how complicated i pass a fatherhood up for gay men, which is why we launched gays with kids and a few months ago we actually launched something called gwk academy where we walk you Through all your options and then once you figure out what the best path to fatherhood is for your family would take you step by step through every process.
I love that um. I want to get into uh lewis, with you um there are. There are a lot of challenges with fatherhood, but one thing you and i were mrs obamas uh culture – democracy panel together this past weekend, and i just i hogged all your time. I could not stop talking to you. I was talking to you all day and because your story was so compelling – and you were talking to me about being a returning citizen after serving 14 years in prison and what fathers go through in prison. Um there are over 800 000 parents um in federal state prison 92. Are fathers so talk to us about the challenges that happen both inside prison and also what happens when you get out when it comes to fatherhood yeah without question, so look um, the united states population for african americans is approximately 12 12 and a half percent, but We make up approximately 40 of the united states incarceration population, which means both incarcerated and people who are under supervision in the community of that number theyre approximately 51, who happen to be parents and of that number. When you reduce it down, um approximately 35 or so happen to be african american fathers, and i fell into that uh that statistics when i was approximately five years old, both of my parents were incarcerated and i was raised by my maternal grandmother and then, when i Hit the age of approximately 23 or so there i am uh perpetuating that transgenerational pathology of incarceration so to speak, um where i was incarcerated myself, leaving my children uh to be raised by their mothers, and i i can tell you you know uh when i was When i was in uh and im just getting a little emotional just thinking about it, when i was in um being able to try to parent your children um in the course of a you know, five to six hour visit uh in 15 minute telephone call increments.
Where you only get 300 minutes a month when youre trying to stay as engaged as you can, through letters uh through emails, etc, it is extremely. I i dont think that there is a word in the websters dictionary to appropriately give grammatical profundity to the the level of emotional uh weight. That comes with that, and so you know i i can tell you was challenging there. Even when i came home from incarceration uh when i went in my kids were approximately five years old when i come home, theyre approximately 18, and so they are their own person, theyre grown into their own person, and that was a challenge in and of itself. But i can tell you um, you know through love through grace, through prayer um through determination through consistency. You know we are far much better uh now than we.