(JD) I see the two boys that completed my family.
Beautiful, just beautiful.  What else can possibly be said about that?  Thank you so much Mr.
Jeff Dorta.
I also met another gay father, a deep Southerner, a videographer named Jeff Baldwin with a
slightly different family history and who was also kind enough to answer a few personal
questions.

(AD)  How many children do you have? (ages? boys girls) and what circumstances led up
to you raising them?
(JB) I was married at the age of 23 which lasted 13 yrs (the marriage) and we had two
children, I have a son who is 18 and a daughter who is
14.                                   
                                               
(AD) So you came out years into the marriage?       
                                                       
(JB) I always knew I was gay, however growing up in a small town in the south, it was
expected of me to grow up and find a girl and get married and have kids.

(AD) How has being a father impacted you as a man?
(JB) I am proud to be a father, being a gay man is no different from being a heterosexual man
with kids, my kids go on vacations with me and my partner and they are ok with it, of course it
took a period of time for this to happen from the first time I ‘came out’ so to speak until the
way it is today..

(AD) What's the number ONE thing you personally feel parents should know before
deciding to build a family, specifically new gay fathers?
(JB) Parenting is a full time responsibility which comes with great pleasure as well as a lot of
frustration.  Kids reach different ages and are subject to a number of outside environments,
(that may include drugs, alcohol, sex and more) it requires a lot of patience which is acquired
along the way and over time, and to be honest with you it’s a LIFELONG responsibility, it
doesn’t stop when they turn 18.  You will always worry about them.

(AD) What do you feel when you look into the eyes of your children on any given day?
(JB) I always feel a sense of pride, I look at them and I want to just take all their worries
.
www.ambiente.us    JANUARY | ENERO 2010

“Y Si Quisiera Ser Papa?”
The American Family|Adoption, Parenthood & The Gay Father

by Armando Diaz | Photography by Jeff Dorta , Armando Diaz

Family can be defined as “a primary social group that is made up
of; parents and children”.  

Esta definición de familia asegura que tanto la estructura como el papel de cada una
de ellas varía según la sociedad; el modelo más conocido de esta estructura es la
denominada
“familia nuclear” la cual está compuesta por dos adultos con sus
respectivos hijos.

One of the primary functions of the family is to produce and reproduce persons—
biologically and socially, nurturing children into responsible & respectable adults.
Thus, one's experience of one's family shifts over time. From the perspective of
children, the family is a
family of orientation: the family serves to locate children
socially and plays a major role in their enculturation and socialization (Wikipedia,
2009).

We enter into 2010, with many answers and even more questions when it comes to
family.  Hay ocasiones, in which it seems like more so here in the state of Florida
than other places.  

But I ask why?  Why so many questions and not
enough tolerance of the reality of things.  The
defenses that arise amidst groups advocating this
and advocating that, is it for the sake of society?  
Is it for the sake of the children?  Is it for God?
.
I always felt, and felt very naturally, that my relationship with God is my business and it is not
to be defined by what one set of people versus another set of people define.  With that said
let’s focus then on the desire to be a father who happens to be gay, a man who outwardly
seeks to become a father, to pass on not only love but guidance, acceptance, intellect, and
humanity to a child.  I sense it’s far beyond genes.

I love children, their unspoiled and honest minds and their daily discoveries.  I see it in my 5
year old nephew, every time I get the chance to play video games with him, trick or treat for
Halloween with him or when he calls me a volcano macaroni head… where do kids come up
with this stuff?  

And so if I wanted to become a father?

Having had a Latter Day Saint past that was strongest during my teen years, I was impressed
to find even an organization of Gay Mormon fathers calling themselves “
Gamofites” whose
mission statement is “Men, united in the joys and challenges of being fathers, Gay, and
Mormon”.   Wow!  So again I ask myself…

¿Si yo, en algun futuro quisiera ser papa?

I made the digital acquaintance of one,
Jeff Dorta.  Jeff is one half of the brainchild Project
Publicity, a diversified public relations and marketing agency focused on building the images
of the young, the hip, and the up-and-coming.  Jeff is also one half of an incredible
partnership that heads an equally incredible household… and family.  Seeking to quench the
thirst of my own curiosity and awareness, I had the opportunity to ask Jeff a few questions
about his family.  He was gracious enough to answer them.
.







AMBIENTE
ONLINE STORE
(AD) What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think about your children
(JD) I can’t believe these two little angels call me daddy.

(AD) Were children always a natural step for you?
(JD) I always hoped I would have children.  In my twenties, it seemed like a far off dream…
like something I would hopefully achieve sometime in the future, but when?  And how?  I had
no idea how to make it happen.
(JD) When I turned 35, I realized the time was now and I needed to figure out how I could
make it happen.  My partner and I weighed our options – surrogacy, sperm donation, private
adoption, state adoption.  We both have full time careers and neither of us was prepared to
leave our jobs to become stay-at-home dads.  So, a baby wasn’t right for us.  We decided
toddlers that could spend the day in school fit our lifestyle best and because we lived in a
state that allowed gay adoption, we would try to find children through the state adoption
system.  
Learning to navigate through the state adoption system, however, was difficult.  

(AD) For gay men and women looking to go through this process...what is the most crucial
step they should know?    
                                                                                     
(JD) That it’s possible.  It’s not easy.  I know several gay couples and single gay men who
have been waiting years to be matched with children, but with determination and persistence,
it can happen.
I didn’t make many friends within the state adoption agencies.  I didn’t always follow
protocol.  I called supervisors I wasn’t authorized to call.  I reported case workers who failed
to do their jobs.  I was a nudge…  but like they say, the squeaky wheel gets the oil.
The best resource that I found was
adoptuskids.org.  The site lists many of the children that
are available for adoption in the USA .  We found our children through the site.

(AD) How have you personally changed during this process?                                                    
(JD) I’m a completely different person.  I feel very grown up now.  Like most gay men my age,
I lived my teen years in my twenties and early thirties.  At 35, I feel like I’ve started a brand new
chapter in my life.  
                                                                                                               (AD) Do you have any
                                                                                                              insight to share with for
                                                                                                              the countless groups of
                                                                                                              people against gay

parenting?                                                                                                   (JD) It sounds cliché, but
                                                                                                              all kids want is a home
                                                                                                              where they are loved.
                                                                                                              They want adults who
                                                                                                              will care for them,
                                                                                                              protect them, and think
                                                                                                              they are special.  Gay
                                                                                                              men and women have
                                                                                                              as much to offer
                                                                                                              children as straight men
                                                                                                              and women.  It’s terrible
                                                                                                              that states like Florida
                                                                                                              would rather their
                                                                                                              children remain without
                                                                                                              a family than with men
                                                                                                              and women who can
                                                                                                              love and care for them.

(AD) What the single most important piece of advice you could give new gay
parents?
(JD) We gay men have a tendency to be a bit self-centered at times. Gay men should know
that once you have kids, it’s not about you anymore.  Be ready to place your needs way below
those of your children.

(AD) how does it feel to be a father?                                                                                           
(JD) It’s a dream come true.  

(AD) What do you see when you look into the eyes of your children?        
.
away from them.

Seeking to further immerse my curiousity on this subject I decided to visit a local adoption
agency here in Palm Beach County that I located through The Heart Gallery of Palm Beach
County.  The Heart Gallery of Palm Beach County was established to connect available
children with loving, adoptive families through photography. The resulting portraits reveal the
souls of these beautiful children and aid them in finding forever families through County wide
exhibits.

Respecting the wishes of the director I am withholding the exact name of the agency as well
as refrained from taking any pictures of the children or the facility, however I wasn’t there (at
least that day), under any investigative reporting mode, put anyone under lights, or scare the
kids. What I wanted to briefly share was my short lived experience there.   

Face after face that just wanted to belong, smile after smile, look after
look that communicated a hundred thousand different wants and
wishes.  The same multitude of emotions suddenly came over me,
and I was surprised a by them.  I made eye contact with a small boy
who gave me the most soulful yet most distant look I think I have ever
experienced to date.  I smiled at him and his face immediately lit up
which caused even more internal heartache for me as I had to walk
on.  I could help but be consumed in that moment by the thought,  I
could not help but feel the single tear that made it’s way down the
side of my nose.

The thought, a small group of people in Florida are the ones deciding whether I am an
appropriate candidate to be a father to a beautiful child like that, and whether he is deserving
of the love he would receive from me.

I am a gay man, but I am not a father.  I am not sure if there will be circumstances in my life
that will lead me to become a father.  But as uncertain and vague as that
.
declaration is, I do know (3) solid certainties.  
Should I become a father, I will offer up and shower the kind of
love that children all over the world deserve to have.  At the
end of the day, after congressional sessions and legislations,
after being asked relentlessly by strangers if I have found
Jesus, and after facing my own insecurities concerning
parenthood,  the other certainty…  
There is a child in nearly every corner of this world who needs
that protection and that love that is warm and label free.
Jeff Dorta, Len Evans, Jeff Baldwin are all living proof of those
certainties.  Thanks to their examples I can also state the final
certainty…

si quisiera ser papa…yo simplemente lo haria.
                                                                                - Armando Diaz










Community Resources:
www.heartgallerypbc.org(Heart Gallery)                                  www.gamofites.org(Gay Mormon Fathers)
www.projectpublicity.com (Project Publicity)                         www.adoptuskids.org (Adopt US Kids)

CLICK HERE for more Armando Diaz, Jr.

Copyright 2010 © AMBIENTE MAGAZINE.  Do not reproduce without citing this source
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