Since New York became the sixth state to legalize same-sex marriage a year ago, the path to parenthood for LGBT couples has become easier. But even before the law’s passage, El Diario La Prensa reported, some single LGBT Latinos found ways to become parents. The article is translated from the Spanish below.
Since gay marriage was legalized in the state of New York almost a year ago, the legal and social effects of the change have made it much easier for members of the Latino LGBT community to start families.
Even before the changes, the obstacles that existed didn’t stop some Hispanic gays and lesbians living in New York from fighting with all their might to achieve the happiness that comes from being a parent, even of they had to do it alone.
Diana de la Pava and José Díaz are two Latinos who today could not be happier with their respective daughters, but they had to overcome obstacles of all kinds in order to make their dreams comes true.
Díaz, a gay doctor of Puerto Rican heritage, met Elisa, his future daughter, when he was volunteering in Haiti in 2009. She was only a few months old and needed medical attention after she was physically abused and developed a host of health problems.
“She showed signs of having been hit in the head, her arms were broken, and the mother had transmitted HIV and syphilis to her during the pregnancy,” said Díaz. “We found out later that her mother had tried to kill her because she didn’t want her anymore.”
Díaz brought Elisa to the United States on a six-month visa to treat her and cure her, and when he was about to return her to Haiti because the visa was going to expire, the Haitian earthquake of January 2011 happened. After a great deal of struggle — fighting the bureaucracies of immigration as well as the social and legal obstacles of being a single, gay Latino man who wanted to become the father of an abused and abandoned little girl, Díaz finally managed to adopt Elisa.
“People would ask why a single Hispanic man wanted to adopt a girl that was so small and so ill, who needed everything,” said Díaz. “She didn’t even know how to drink from a bottle. Today, she no longer shows any signs of HIV. She has grown up healthily and she can go to school.”
Still, the prejudice hasn’t disappeared completely.
“The other day I took Elisa to the park, and she started to cry because she got upset over some small thing,” said Díaz. “When I took her in my arms and picked her up, people stopped me and asked me what I was doing with her and where I was taking her, because they assumed that a Latino man and a little black girl couldn’t be father and daughter.”
Diana de la Pava also knows what it is like to deal with prejudice, although she has experienced it at a level that is much closer to home. She is Colombian, a lesbian, and lives in Jackson Heights. When she was 41 years old, she decided to become a mother by artificial insemination. In 2009, after an unsuccessful attempt and doctors telling her that she only had a 20 percent chance of becoming pregnant because of her age, she gave birth to Maia Oriana.
“It was a little hard for my father to accept, but today his granddaughter is the apple of his eye. He lives in Colombia,” said De la Pava. “However, one of my brothers, who lives in Canada, is very conservative and homophobic; he rejects us. When he comes to New York he doesn’t even call me.”
Despite her brother’s rejection, De la Pava recognizes the importance of family ties and certain traditions that her Latino culture emphasizes.
“I made sure that the sperm donor was at least half Colombian, because my family comes from there and I wanted her to look like them,” she said. “My daughter was also baptized. Although I don’t believe in the excessive conservatism of the church and they make things difficult for me because I’m a lesbian, I was raised as a Catholic, and I thought it was the right thing to do.”