Tuvia Borok is a single LGBT parent who adopted in the UK in 2013. As well as his position as Executive Director & Senior Counsel in the legal department of Goldman Sachs, he is co-founder and chair of P3: Proud.Professional.Parents, a City wide network targeted at LGBT parents and prospective parents working in law, finance, insurance and professional services.
P3 offers support, learning and networking opportunities for its members as they manage a City career, family obligations and a work/life balance. P3 also supports heterosexual families as they look to create a more open and diverse home environment.
LGBT professional network myGwork caught up with Tuvia to find out more…
Hi Tuvia! So tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
I’m a single dad to an amazing 6-year-old-son that came into my life by way of adoption. Being a dad really defines and drives me. Professionally I am an Executive Director and Senior Counsel at Goldman Sachs in London, and in my spare time co-founded and co-chair P3:Proud.Professional.Parents, a support network for LGBT professionals who are, or are looking to become, parents. I’m originally from Israel, and have lived in Germany but spent most of my years growing up in Canada. I’ve been in London now for over 11 years.
When did you feel you were ready to become a parent?
I’ve always wanted to have a family. The hardest thing about coming out 19 years ago, is that I thought I could never have one. It was hard because I wanted to have the “All American Dream” – a loving spouse, house, white picket fence, two kids, a dog and a swimming pool! LGBT role models were rare, and take of gay families non-existent. Bullying at school was tough for me and I decided it would be unfair to subject a child to that bullying because of who I was.
Fast forward to six years ago, and the world was a very different place. I was in a great relationship (with, unfortunately now my ex-husband), getting civil partnered and not getting any younger. I quickly realised there was never going to be a right time and that I could always find excuses about wanting to travel more, focus on my career, etc. Attitudes toward LGBT families had changed. Role models were more prominent and we even had such groundbreaking shows like Modern Family. I was no longer worried about bringing a child into a gay relationship.
Why did you choose to adopt over other available options?
My ex and I discussed it and decided that surrogacy did not feel right for us. Surrogacy was costlier and while with its own merits, we didn’t want to travel back and forth abroad to do it, and didn’t know how we would manage with all of the different nationalities we already had while throwing an American baby into the mix! Seriously though, unlike most, we were very happy with an older child – we were not drawn to a newborn – and both agreed that DNA is not what makes a family. Love is the key to a family, and with so many amazing children needing a loving home right in our backyard, adoption felt right for us.
Has your son or you faced discrimination at school / with other parents?
Children, and adults alike, sometimes ask questions that are unintentionally inappropriate. Curiosity can sometimes come across as discriminatory, but mostly it is just a heteronormative view of life. But my son has become very skilled at proudly outing his family, announcing that he does not have a mom and has two dads. Often that puts an end to a conversation as most people just don’t know how to react.
As for school, I know that he is starting to have kids challenge him saying that it can’t be that he doesn’t have a mother and that having two fathers “doesn’t make sense.” He is very good at then educating kids on diversity. I am proud of him for just accepting his family as a matter of fact. He describes having two dads as “awesome”. I spent a lot of time with him when he was younger talking about what matters in a family. Ask most kids and they’ll describe the fundamentals of a family with words like ‘love’, ‘trust’, ‘caring’, ‘hugs’, ‘listening’, ‘laughter’ – I have never heard anyone say that having a mom and a dad is fundamental.
The truth is that today families are not one mum and one dad. Lots of kids have single parents, or are raised by grandparents or other family members. And just think about interracial families. Having two straight parents is not as common as it used to be.
Kids generally are very accepting – they may just be curious, but will take the views of their parents and role models. That is where I have faced some issues at the school gates. You get looks or comments about “life style choice”. There was an instance where a play date could not happen because the other child’s parents did not agree with the notion of a gay family. Being a parent has also meant coming out again, as people assume you are heterosexual if you are a parent and that the nanny is my wife. I know there were lots of questions when a second dad showed up at the school gate.
Ultimately it’s about talking about it with my son. All children are going to get bullied about something – their hair, or glasses, or name. For my son it will probably be about having two dads. The truth is, he knows he is loved no matter what and that comfort and security of having loving parents is all that any kid really wants and needs.
When did you find The P3 Network and how does it help other LGBT professionals that are or have the desire to become parents?
P3:Proud.Professional.Parents is going to be 2 years old in September. I am proud to say that we now support just over 400 families (and prospective families) across Greater London. And those families are not just LGBT. We have more and more heterosexual parents joining us as a support to them around introducing diversity at home so that their kids grow up more accepting of the families they will be exposed to. And if those kids ever come out one day, just imagine how much easier the journey will be for them coming from homes that always accepted diversity.
Our unique selling point is that we support career-driven professionals. We started off supporting City careers in law, finance, accountancy, consulting, but that is now growing out. Our members have, or want to have, families but still manage a demanding career with aspirations. It may not be easy, but it certainly is achievable. When P3 was set up, it was there to fill a gap. Many big organizations offer employees support through their LGBT or Family networks. Family issues are too nuanced for the former, and LGBT issues too nuanced for the latter. That’s where we come in. While there may not be a lot of LGBT families or prospective families at each organization, it is clear that there are a lot of us across London. We know that we have not reached those that may not be in big supportive organizations.
We are there to help. We offer educational training, support networks, informational sessions, mentoring, and networking events, and our latest addition, play dates for our members to come with their kids. We are even off to Gay Disney in Paris this autumn! We allow like-minded people to connect. People who happen to be LGBT, who are professional and career driven, and who are, or are looking to, try to keep many plates spinning at the same time. Everyone who joins comes for different reasons, but whatever the reason, we are here to help in one way or another.
How do you manage to keep a work life balance and give as much time as you can to your son?
That’s the million dollar question. If I could explain a formula for it, I’d be writing a book and selling it! It would become a worldwide best seller. Joking aside, it is tough. There are days when it feels like it’s not manageable. Every day comes with its own challenges and stress. But you know, I quickly had to change my attitude and outlook. Those days are just normal. And when you think of them that way, it takes some of the pressure off. You also learn to time manage in ways you never thought achievable. Yes, I might do things at really odd hours – I’m a big morning person, and amazing what you can achieve at 5am before the world, and my son, wakes up – but it was never going to be easy.
It’s about finding your own techniques that work for you – it’s not a one size fits all model. Come to one of our P3 events and we’ll share some tips. Support is key. Not just with friends and family, but at work, and in your professional network as well. I truly hope that through P3, we can help people find that support to be able to have their cake and eat it too. Nothing is more rewarding, and I wouldn’t change my manic crazy hectic days for anything in the world. I am the luckiest man alive to be able to have the most amazing son and a career I really love.