Anthony and Joselito met in 2010, after separately attending a Lady Gaga concert. Their connection was what they call "instant magic," they've been together ever since. Anthony, a teacher, and Joselito, a director of sales and marketing, quickly realized they shared a lot in common. Both men were raised in loving adoptive and guardian families, and had dreams to start a family of their own one day. About a year after they met, they began the process of researching the different pathways to creating a family: foster care, surrogacy, and adoption. In the end, they decided that adoption was the best fit for them.
The entire process was a lengthy and slow one, taking about two years. A few times they thought they were very close to becoming parents, having worked with the birth mother for over two months, only to have her, the birth father or birth relatives change their minds at the last moment. For the couple, it felt as if they were losing a child. Fortunately, they received crucial support from friends and family as well as from the adoption agency, Life Long Adoption.
But fatherhood was just around the corner for the couple, who matched with a birth mother who was scheduled to deliver a baby girl on January 3, 2018. Joselito and Anthony waited in the waiting area of the hospital all day and night. After a 22-hour delivery, Alyana was born the next day; a few minutes later, the men held the world's most beautiful little girl in their arms.
They felt but one overwhelming feeling: joy. They could think of nothing but their newborn daughter. All the painful memories, all the tears, the prayers, all the feelings of insecurity had led to this moment. Everything finally made sense.
Joselito took one month off from his job, staying in touch via email and phone; Anthony took two months off to take care of Alyana full time. They remember waking up in the middle of the night as "a pleasure": They loved making sure she was breathing, and not too hot or too cold.
The men started preparing for their daughter's arrival soon after her birth mother selected them, around Thanksgiving 2017. They even created a schedule for their new routine, allowing time for dropping off and picking up Alyana during workdays, setting aside personal time to go to the gym, meet with friends and family, and so on. All this preparation has made the transition from couple to family a pretty smooth one.
One thing they've learned: Always allow extra time, because there is always something unexpected that needs attention: a diaper needs changing, Alyana looking for a short nap or an extra bottle feeding.
Anthony and Joselito are strong supporters of open adoptions. They have a close relationship with their daughter's mother and hope that will continue.
"We feel it's really important for a child to know where they came from," said Anthony. "And if siblings are involved, they should have a relationship with them." Anthony's adoption, he explained further, was a closed one. He often had questions growing up, he says, that he wished could have been answered if he had contact with his biological parents. "It doesn't take away anything from the adoptive parents, even if sometimes they may feel that way," He said. "If anything it makes the relationship stronger."
Both men realize the unique perspective they bring to their family, having both come from adoptive or guardian families themselves. Anthony says he never had that feeling of being in an "adoptive" family; there were even moments he would forget that he was adopted at all because the love and support he received from his family. He says his other adopted brothers and sisters felt the same way. On Joselito's side, his biological mother and siblings were always around to make sure he was doing okay. Having a different family as guardian gave Joselito the opportunity to grow into a totally different environment and was able to have more opportunities.
Their biggest advice to aspiring dads is to never give up. The process requires time, money and organization, but with faith and a lot of patience anything is possible. Always remain positive!