“I’ve found immeasurable joy and beauty in having a family of my own choosing.”

As a parent of adopted children and a member of multiple communities, Senior Product Marketing Manager Tyler Mays-Childers says he’s able to find deeper connections through allyship. 

Growing up as a mixed-race child with a Thai mother and a white father, I experienced a unique sense of not fully belonging, despite feeling immersed in multiple communities and cultures. My parents met in Oregon, then moved to Bangkok when I was two to be near my mom’s family. My experiences there seeing poverty first hand taught me the importance of giving back and helping those with fewer resources. After Thailand, we lived in Chicago for two years, followed by Hong Kong for two years, and then back to the West Coast—ultimately settling in the Puget Sound area.  

 I’m happily married to my husband of 17 years and we’re the fathers of two kiddos we adopted as toddlers. Looking back, I never thought that parenting, in the heteronormative sense, was something I could pursue as a gay person until hearing from (and joining) progressive communities here in Washington state. As a dad to now 12- and 14-year-olds, I’ve found immeasurable joy and beauty in having a family of my own choosing. As parents everywhere know, building your unique family is often stressful, but, as another adoptive parent friend once told us, the family that you end up with will, in your heart, be the family that you couldn’t imagine any other way. In other words, just start—you’ll get where you need to go.  

I find my parenting style has been influenced by my own experience growing with my mom. My brother and I still reminisce about how, as a stay-at-home mom, she was so invested in us—our every success was her success. In my parenting, I do see an echo of that! So, it’s been a learning process—giving my kids the full authentic experience of whatever they’re working on, or whatever they’re trying to do, and not stepping in and making it an extension of myself. Learning that lesson over the years has had a real impact on my work life as well, teaching me to collaborate with grace and not be obsessed with who’s getting credit.  

I’ve worked all over Microsoft since 2003, and then as a full-time employee in 2017. Through the years, I’ve brought my passion for different cultures and communities with me, and really leaned into diversity and inclusion (D&I) projects. I’m currently a communications co-lead for the Cloud Marketing D&I team, and I’ve been engaged with many Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) including GLEAM (Global LGBTQIA+ Employees and Allies at Microsoft), Out@MCB, and, most recently, Asians in MCB (AIM), where I’m actively co-leading the AIM allyship committee. We’re a tight knit group of 10 or so who are very passionate about intersectionality and social justice within Asian and Asian-American communities. With the challenges this community is facing, a group where members can be vulnerable and empathetic—and turn empathy into action—is so very important.  

As a member of many different groups and cultures and with all these parts competing to be seen, it’s still easy to feel like I’m not fully a member of any of my communities. I used to feel like, “I’m not gay enough” or “There’s no way I’ll make a good parent.” It’s perhaps similar to feeling like I’m not Asian enough or white enough. But, in trying to be an ally to others, it helps me feel like I belong wherever I find an opportunity to listen, connect, and find common ground.

Discover more stories like Tyler’s here.