We Are Family

Joseph Brooks, co-founder of Miltown LGBT Families, talks about the group’s origins and why creating a space for LGBTQ parents and kids to come together and share friendship and resources is crucial.

Who are you, and how did you get involved in Miltown LGBT Families?  

My name is Joseph Brooks. My husband, Bradley Ewerdt, and I adopted our son at birth five years ago when we were living in Appleton. We relocated to Milwaukee about four years ago and realized just how many LGBT couples and individuals had children or wanted children. My friend Laurie Marks and I got together to start Miltown LGBT Families. What started as a Facebook group two years ago has blossomed into a growing community of families who meet regularly for events large and small. We also maintain our online community as a way to network with new families, share resources, and provide support.

What kinds of events and resources does the group offer?  

We provide many online resources, including recommendations for LGBT-friendly services that families often require. Just this past fall we launched an LGBT family resource tool that many of our families shared with their teachers on the first day of school. More than anything, our greatest resource is the large community of LGBT families who are willing to share their experiences with others.

We hold a number of events over the course of the year that welcome all of our families, including our Wisconsin Dells weekend coming up in March. We are able to host these events, along with our other programming, at no cost (or minimal cost) thanks to the generosity of our donors and the Cream City Foundation. Many of our families have also started smaller get-togethers including gatherings for those with babies, a regular dads’ night out, and more!

What’s some feedback you’ve gotten from kids and/or families about the group? Why do they join, and why do they come back?

We have received very positive feedback. Many of our families don’t have other LGBT families in their neighborhoods or schools. Some of our kids have never met another kid with two moms or two dads before joining the group. The sense of community and friendships among our families is strong! We are starting to see more couples who are trying to start families join our group as well. There are many ways to start a family, and we have families who have been through the process that are willing to share their experiences.

Why do you think a group like this is still important? What need does it fulfill in the community?  

While more and more LGBT couples are starting families, the learning curve is steep—and raising children often presents all sorts of unique challenges. We have families with children in their 20s, we have families who are expecting, and we have families with kids in between. More than anything, our families are looking for the sense of community with others who are facing these challenges and experiencing the joys of raising kids.

How can folks find out more or get involved?  

You can learn more about our group by going to miltownfamilies.org or joining our Facebook group. n

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