The U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide in 2015, while a series of subsequent court rulings have made adoption by same–sex couples legal in all 50 states. But LGBTQ+ parents continue to face widespread discrimination when it comes to adopting or raising children. Let’s talk to a local gay couple about their experience. Enrique Castro Jr. lives with his husband, Wilson, and their two children – Alex and Natalia. Here are few parenting experiences he recently shared:
Q: What has been your greatest parenting joy?
A: I would say adoption day.
Q: What has been your worst parenting experience?
A: The time leading up to the adoption. All the people we were working with said we were the perfect family for our children and fully supported us adopting them. Even their biological dad begged us to be their dads. But we were also warned, by everyone, that the judge almost always ruled against LGBT adoptions. We were terrified. The morning of the adoption, the judge we feared had a family emergency and another judge stood in. That judge loved the family we built and said he could never tear that up. Just like that, we legally became dads.
Q: Has your family experienced any discrimination due to your sexual orientation?
A: When we first moved to Berks, some of the teachers at the day care talked about our family, how it was unfair our children didn’t have a mom and dad, and that they should find reasons to call CYS on us. I immediately insisted on meeting with the director. The day care responded by holding an emergency teacher meeting. I’m happy to say, 4+ years later, the teachers treat us all like family.
Q: How do other children respond to your children having two dads?
A: Children are always curious, about lots of things. We prepare our kids by talking about it. We tell our kids that God created all of us, and created different types of families, and every family is special. Our’s is special because our children have two dads who love them.
Q: What is one thing that has surprised you?
A: I would say having to discuss sexual orientation earlier than expected. Our son came home and told us that someone called him gay, he didn’t know why or what it meant, but knew that it was a bad word. Sitting down and explaining that gay is not a bad word, and his dads are gay, was a complicated conversation that we didn’t think we’d have to have so soon.
Q: How do other parents respond to your family?
A: Honestly, we haven’t had any issues from other parents. No one seems to care that our children have two dads, as far as we can tell.
Q: What is one of your biggest challenges?
A: Accepting that others may not be used to our type of family and trying to build the bridge instead of assuming they should understand. For example, it would be easy to assume the teacher should understand and get upset when they don’t. We take a different approach. We meet the teacher in advance and talk about our family and get to know each other. This has been helpful.
Q: What would you like the community to know about your family?
A: We are different in having two dads, but we are similar in more ways that you know. All parents face similar challenges, we all want the best for our children, but most importantly we are responsible for the generation we are raising – we are creating the future through the values we instill in our children.
Q: Do you have any final words?
A: We are as big a part of other people accepting us as they are – people don’t accept what they don’t understand. We have to help them understand.
Enrique Castro, Jr.