For Brazilian dads, André and Angelo, they never had any doubts about their dreams to become dads. "Never!" exclaimed André. "It was always clear that we would adopt."
The Brazilian Superior Court of Justice approved same-sex adoption in April 29, 2010, but adoptions by the LGBT community had been granted as early as 2005 with the local bureaucracies and smaller initiatives taking the lead with advancing the rights of LGBT people. In May 2013, the National Justice Council, by a statement (this is not an effective law yet), equated the rights of same-sex couples to the rights of heterosexual couples under the constitution.
In 2012, André and Angelo adopted two children, Jonathan and Valentina, when they were 2 and 1 years old, respectively.
The courthouse drove the process since adoption agencies such as those that exist in the United States don't have a parallel in Brazil, or at least not to André and Angelo's knowledge. They had to submit personal, medical and legal documents to the courts, and supply photos. Social workers also visited their house to perform home studies.
"Our process was done 100% by ourselves in direct contact with the court house," explained André. "It is also possible to hire a lawyer to help with the legal things, but it is very expensive … charging around US$1500 a month to follow the entire process."
André and Angelo can happily report that they never encountered any bias or negativity based on their sexuality.
"We were so well treated by all the professionals!" said André. "Social assistants, psychologists, the judge ... everybody was amazing throughout the entire process!"
The two dads even became good friends with the judge who finalized Jonathan and Valentina's adoption, and the social worker who was in charge of their case.
André believes there is still one giant flaw in the adoption system in Brazil: how the children are treated.
"If an adoptive parent decides that cohabitation with the child is very difficult, he may return the child to the shelter," explained André. "[It] happens for an incredible number of stupid reasons, one being the adoptive father realizes that raising a child is not as easy as they thought it would be … and it scares him!"
André's advice to those considering fatherhood is to make sure they're serious about being a dad.
"Talk with friends who are already parents! Ask questions, research about adoption!"
One of the things he and Angelo have learned from being fathers is that there is no love bigger than the love of a child, and their love for their kids is insurmountable.
"We realized that, even as loving and caring individuals ourselves, the love we feel for our children is bigger than anything in the world!"
The two dads hope to expand their family within the next 5-10 years, with either one or two more kids.
And although same-sex couples with kids are still a very small group within Brazilian society, André and Angelo said that their visibility is growing. Ad campaigns are starting to feature LGBT couples and families. Just recently, they were asked to participate in an ad campaign for a major telecommunications company called Vivo!
"The media exposure is growing," explained André. "Not as fast as it should, or could, but still."
Today Jonathan is a happy 8-year-old and his sister Valentina is 6. Both André and Angelo are thrilled with their life as it is: two dads to their two kids, a loving family of four.