Christopher Caswell and His Modern Family

Imagine a family of amicable ex-boyfriends who live in the same building while they raise their daughter and share Sunday night dinners alongside their significant others. This is the life that Christopher Caswell – a frequenter of Cherry Grove – has created for himself.

In 2002, Chris and his then-boyfriend, Eran, went down to Louisiana and adopted a baby when she was just five days old. The pair raised their daughter, Becky, in New York City and along the way they did everything they could to be the best parents possible.

“We did this whole thing that parents do, you know?” said Chris. “You gotta get your kids to the right place, even daycare.”

Christopher Caswell with daughter Becky and Husband Matt Baney.

Over the years, Chris and Eran did everything they could to help Becky grow and learn. They got her a tutor, signed her up for singing lessons, and they supported her when she felt passionate about social justice issues at school.

Being a father is “the single most joyous experience in my life I’ve ever had. Being a parent is not easy, but it was really good to do it with someone else. And Eran is a terrific parent,” said Chris.

Over the years, Chris and Eran got to experience beautiful times with Becky, but also endured some challenges along the way. On the day they adopted their daughter, Chris and Eran stayed at a hotel overnight. Shortly after checking in, a maid commented on their beautiful baby and then left and called the cops, assuming that the two men were kidnapping a baby.

“There’s just this whole societal disconnect between men and babies,” said Chris. “Everyone assumes that babies are always with the mother.”

But this wasn’t the only instance Chris had been accused of kidnapping his daughter. In fact, it happened in many different settings – getting on the bus, sitting on the grass in a park, and even when Chris had to take Becky to the bathroom as a child.

Despite the challenges being a gay couple and raising a child of the opposite sex may have brought on, Chris said he was grateful that people questioned him. “These are great stories because people were always looking out for her,” he said. He also noted that he and Eran always kept their adoption papers on them.

Eventually, the two grew apart and split up, but they made it a point to remain amicable and raise Becky together. “Each of us parents have the things that we’re best at,” Chris said. He is the parent that likes to talk to Becky a lot and immerse her in arts and culture.

Becky is now a psychology major and entrepreneurship minor at Clark University, but she enjoys music and the theater. In fact, Becky was involved in music groups throughout high school and is now in an a capella group at college. Whenever she’s home, Chris takes her to the theater when he can.

Of the many shows he’s brought her to, she has seen “Company,” and most recently, he took her to see “for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf,” which he noted was very powerful. “I think that I’m inspiring her to be creative in this way,” said Chris.

Chris and Becky also enjoy sharing music and though they have separate interests, Chris gives a listen to any song or video that Becky sends to him. “I will jump on something. Like, when she loved Taylor Swift, I was right there. I got the albums, I even played for her,” he said.

But because Chris and Eran are able to remain friendly, Becky has had more of a “Modern Family” upbringing. Since the separation, Chris has gotten married and Eran has a new significant other, however Chris and Eran are neighbors. Chris, Eran, both of their partners, and Becky enjoy a traditional Sunday night dinner together when Becky is home from school, which is what they will do this Father’s Day.

The family has also traveled down the Pacific Coast Highway together, to Dublin, to London and this summer, to Israel. Chris and his husband, Matt Baney (a.k.a. APCG 2020 Homecoming Queen, Ikea), will spend many weekends out in Cherry Grove this summer, where they enjoy taking walks and attending the shows at the Community House Theatre.

Chris and his partners (past and present) have cultivated a lifestyle that allows for a commitment to Becky that is inclusive of all family members and significant others.