Every gay man who pursues fatherhood fights for their right to become a dad. They've had to keep going even when at times it's seemed hopeless. Jason Hunt-Suarez and Alex Suarez's story is no different. They had their hearts set on adoption; overcame multiple scams, some very bizarre leads, a birth mother's change of heart at the 11th hour, their adoption agency going bankrupt, and tens of thousands of dollars lost along the way. But after a long, turbulent, and heart-wrenching three-year-long journey, it was all worth it.
Together 10 years, married for four, Jason and Alex live in Miami, Florida. Jason is in retail management and Alex is a middle school teacher. Although there was a time when they flirted with the idea of becoming dads through surrogacy, after attending an adoption seminar they knew that they wanted to adopt. But making that decision was the easiest part of their journey.
After becoming licensed adoptive parents in 2014, Jason and Alex were placed into a waiting pool with other parents-to-be, and signed with the adoption agency IAC. In 2015, an "emotional scammer" sent them messages via an online site to match potential adoptive parents with their birth mothers. "It was mostly talking through email and text, then some calls for a few weeks," explained Jason. "She sent us doctor's notes and sonograms of her 'pregnancy.'" It was on one of these sonograms that the dads noticed an irregularity: it was dated 2012. "We confronted her about it and she accused us of being heartless towards her." The dads were forced to block her and hit restart on their path.
They encountered something very similar in June 2016. The connection lasted a month, before the birth mom disappeared. That year they also received other very strange calls: one from a woman who wanted to create a child the "old fashioned way." The dads-to-be were quick to block the connection.
In October of that year, the dads were successfully matched with an expectant birth mom. They were ecstatic!
But then, on January 31st, 2017, Alex and Jason, along with so many other folks waiting to adopt, heard news indirectly that their agency was filing for bankruptcy. At first they were shocked and convinced that they'd misunderstood the news shared by a friend who they'd met during their adoption process. But then they received confirmation from their counselor. "We were shocked and scared because at that point we were matched with an expectant birth mom and were now in limbo," said Alex.
On the advice of others, they contacted an adoption attorney in Miami, who had come highly recommended. "The thought of losing almost $30,000 to the agency and now having to come up with another $10,000 to finish the adoption was numbing but we had to do what we needed to in order to make it all work out," said Jason. "It wasn't until later that the anger kicked in, but what kept us moving was our birth mother at the time, and that we were in a better place than hundreds of others."
The day before the excited dads-to-be were going to travel to where their birth mom was giving birth, they received a devastating call at 3 in the morning: their birth mom was incredibly sorry, but she had decided to keep the baby.
"That was worse than the agency going bankrupt because at that point we were lost," said Jason. "We understood her decision and always knew that was a risk but it made Alex want to stop the whole process."
But Jason wasn't ready to give up. He dug into his retirement fund and savings, and came up with an additional $20,000 to start the adoption process from scratch with their new attorney. Three weeks later, they received a call that would change their story forever.
Jason and Alex's new birth mother was in Arizona and due in July. Although the husbands were wary of the additional travel due to the added expense, they jumped at the opportunity. They decided to keep it a secret until the day the birth mother signed the relinquishment papers.
Jason and Alex reached out to a lesbian couple, Holly and Dawn, whom they had met through IAC and knew lived in Arizona. Holly and Dawn had been successfully matched a year earlier. For the month that Jason and Alex were in Phoenix, the wives went out of their way to make the new dads feel welcome and at home. "They helped us find an Airbnb on the block where they lived, they gave us their pack and play, invited us to their home for dinner, and even threw us an adoption celebration party!" said Jason. This fellow adoptive parent friendship meant so much to Jason and Alex, something they'll be forever grateful for, and they've vowed to do the same for other adoptive families back in Miami.
On July 16, 2017, their son Aiden was born. Aiden's birth mother decided to have a closed adoption with the option for her to make it open at her discretion. (Although there has been no contact as of yet, the dads are still hopeful that one day Aiden will have a relationship with his birth family.)
When Jason and Alex returned to Miami, they came home as a family of three.
The weekends have changed considerably for the husbands as their first priority is now Aiden and doing family orientated activities. "I never knew I could have this different kind of love," said Jason. "My heart is so full."
Although the journey was emotionally and financially draining, the dads are so happy they kept going. "Don't give up," said Alex. "If your heart is telling you to go for it, then go for it."
"Be financially ready and emotionally ready for a roller coaster ride," added Jason. "It was so tough wondering if and when it would happen but let me tell you, when I look at him, I can say it's all worth it and all the pain goes away."