The Huffington Post profiles Ricardo and Jessie Ortiz-Barreto, two gay men who have raised four adopted boys. The men speak of their desire to adopt in a powerful way that combats every stereotype that anti-equality forces claim when they try and frame our love and our families in selfish terms in order to turn public opinion against gay families.
“I wanted to make a difference in another life, to give a bigger purpose to our life together and not just exist in the world,” said Ricardo. “We were blessed to have found each other, to share our lives together and we wanted to also share our lives and love with children.”
“We did not know that the agencies would be open or even allow us to adopt,” Jesse explained. “But as soon as we found out it was possible, we started the process. There were hurdles but, all in all, it went a lot smoother then we ever dreamed it would go, especially being so early in the process (in 1995). Every one of our social workers said that we were their first gay couple adopting. But once we decided to adopt and everyone understood where we stood, there were no issues.”
“We are still in contact with some of our kids’ social workers and we keep them updated on the boys’ lives, which they appreciate,” Jesse said. “Iván and Jose’s social worker came to Iván’s graduation in 2011 and will also be attending Jose’s graduation this year.”
As they planned how to build their family, Ricardo and Jesse did not limit themselves to investigating the possible obstacles to adopting as gay parents. They also did their research on what it was like to parent adopted children so they felt fully prepared for their responsibilities. They felt they needed to have a larger perspective in which their role in service to the children was more important than their own needs.
“We did a lot of research before we decided to foster and adopt,” Ricardo said. “What we found was that a lot of adopted children said that even when they felt loved in their adopted homes, they nevertheless still felt like they were always missing something in their lives. So we wanted to face our own fears of what that could mean.”
“We felt we needed to prepare ourselves,” he added. “We had to be clear with ourselves about why we wanted to do this and it could not be about getting their appreciation, if that makes sense. We had to understand that parenting these children would have to be about them and what we wanted to do for them, not about our own needs. It would have to be enough to know that we gave them all we could and not expect anything in return if it came to that. I know it is easier said than done — the heart is not very rational — but thankfully we have been blessed that all our sons have wanted to stay in our lives and we could not have dreamed of a better outcome.”
The men also speak in the article about ensuring that the boys had strong interactions with female family members. Another counteraction to anti-equality’s claim that lacking a opposite-sex parents will leave a child lacking in gender role models.