"I Don't Feel Empty Anymore": A Single Gay Man Finds Happiness at Home

31-year-old Guillermo Arias is a single dad to daughter Astrid who was born via surrogacy on April 4, 2017. Raised in the Dominican Republic, along with three siblings, by his mom, Guillermo moved to the U.S. in 2008. He married his partner of 3 years in 2015 but they have since separated. His ex was already a dad to an adopted 11-year-old boy when they met. It was this relationship that sparked a fire inside Guillermo to become a dad as well. Here's his story.

Tell us about your path to fatherhood. I was in a relationship for 3 years and my ex-husband had an adopted son he had with his ex partner. When we moved in together I had no idea I was going to also fall so deeply in love with this child. This kid showed me what unconditional love meant, he even called me Dad. Every time he would leave for vacation or holidays with his other Dad my heart would be broken. I spoke to my ex about having a child through surrogacy but he never agreed. When we broke up, I immediately started looking at options.

As soon as I moved out I went to the Dominican Republic and spoke to my brother, who is a doctor, about my desire to have a child. He immediately put me in contact with an amazing clinic that literally did everything for me, and so we started the process. Transference of embryo happened on August 9th 2016, and at the end of the same month I was told that I was expecting a baby. In December, I found out I was having a girl, which freaked me out. I had originally hoped for a boy. But I started getting ready anyway. I got everything I needed for her. And on April 4th 2017 at 5:30PM my Princess Astrid Del Carmen Arias was born at 7.5 pounds. I have to say that I would not change my Nana for 100 baby boys in this world. Parenthood with her has exceeded my expectations one million percent.

Tell us about any obstacles you faced on your path to fatherhood. My path to having my child was very smooth, My beautiful daughter was born in the Dominican Republic because the price for surrogacy back there is 3 times cheaper than doing it here in the US (where I reside). My biggest challenge throughout the whole pregnancy was that I did not see the surrogate mother even once. I did not return to the Dominican Republic until the day of the birth, so I had to be okay only looking at pictures of her belly, videos and the staff from the clinic telling me that everything was okay. I wish I had been closer to her.

How has your life changed since you became a father? I am writing this with tears in my face... Having my daughter has been the greatest challenge yet the most rewarding experience I have ever and will ever have. I used to be a party boy, like everyone in my age range (30). I used to be out 5 out of 7 days a week, I used to travel to go to clubs and party brunches and a lot of crazy stuff. Astrid came to give me that light my life needed, deep inside I was so all over the place because I felt empty inside. I would smile the whole time while I was out drinking but after getting into my apartment tears would shed out of my eyes uncontrollably. When my daughter was born everything changed. I am a more responsible man. I live for her, everything I do, I do it with her in my mind. I do not feel empty anymore. She's reciprocating that love I give her and I am over the clouds. It's definitely not easy, but with no doubt the best decision I have ever made.

What have you learned from your child since you became a dad? My daughter is extra special. She's a bit cranky and moody and has this strong personality I discovered since she was a few days born. I had no experience whatsoever in parenting and instead of reading, I started asking everyone in my circle with children about their experience and I absorbed as much as I could. But no one ever told me how tough it is to have a new born. I am blessed and grateful for this patience I have developed since Astrid was born.

Was there ever a moment that you experienced any serious doubts about your path to fatherhood or fatherhood itself. I was always sure I wanted to do it. The economic part is always something to consider, but beyond that, no.

Is your family treated differently than others on account of your sexual orientation? My family has been very supportive of me since day one. My mother had a bit of a rough time accepting it but with time she understood how strong of a man I am and that I am not the kind of guy who would allow anyone disrespect and she respects me for that.

What words of advice do you have for other gay men considering pursuing your same path or parenthood? With a big smile I tell everyone that having a child is the best decision I have ever made. My daughter has changed my life completely for good. I have a reason to live and she's my very own. I am glad I do not have to share my paternity with anyone, but I won't lie. Doing this as a single father is no easy job. Would I do it again? Yes, only through the same process. I never considered adoption as an option for me.

Where do you see your family 5-10 years in the future? I would love to be able to raise my daughter in the Dominican Republic, at least a few years because I want her to speak Spanish as well as me. And I want her to have a little of what I had while I was growing up back home.

Is there anything else you'd like to share about your experiences creating or raising your family? In a world where relationships come and go I always thought that what I was looking for was going to be given to me by a man. I could not be any more wrong. My child is the best thing I have ever experience and I have grown so much. I am a completely different human being now.

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