Alan Daniel Alcántar Velázquez and Leonardo Daniel Vela Soria have known since they married more than three and a half years ago that they wanted to grow not only as a couple, but also as a family. They wanted to give a child a chance to live outside of an orphanage and wanted to prove themselves as parents.
The process for gay couples to adopt in Mexico, especially in the southern state of Guanajuato where they live, however, remains an elusive right, as is the case with marriage equality.
Mexico currently allows same-sex couples to have a civil marriage because the country’s Supreme Court in January 2017 issued a ruling that gave them the right to do so and ordered the Civil Registry to allow it. The decision also backed an LGBTQ couple’s right to procreate, adopt and raise children.
All of the states that have already passed laws in favor of equal marriage for same-sex couples should, in theory, also respect their right to adopt. There are, however, still authorities who deny these rights to the LGBTQ community based on their respective states’ Civil Codes.
Alcántar and Vela know this scenario very well because they lived it themselves.
They were finally able to hug Emiliano, a 4-year-old boy who they adopted after a 2-year process that at times left them speechless. Alcántar and Vela, however, never lost hope.
The Washington Blade spoke exclusively with this young couple, who became the first same-sex couple to adopt a child in Guanajuato.
WASHINGTON BLADE: Why did you decide to start a family?
ALCÁNTAR AND VELA: We wanted to grow our family since we got married, and we saw adoption as an option. We decided to do it to give a child the opportunity to have a family and to have more opportunities in life, to grow in all areas, and to give us the opportunity to raise a child.
BLADE: How was the process to adopt Emiliano?
ALCÁNTAR AND VELA: We completed all of the procedures at the National System for Integral Family Development (DIF in Spanish) office in Guanajuato’s capital. We started the process in February 2018 and in September of that same year they summoned us to give us a certificate of suitability, which affirms our ability to adopt up to two children of the different sex who are up to 7-years-old. We were super happy with the answer, and while there we were told that we could begin the adoption process.
We filed our paperwork the same month and they told us that we would be placed on a waiting list. In January 2019, they told us our profile matches that of a child. They proposed that we meet him and we said yes. They talked a little bit about Emiliano and gave us a photograph. They told us to go get his bedroom ready, to buy him clothes and to have everything he needs because we would meet him in April. One day before we were supposed to have met, we called the DIF office in León to confirm a time and place (for the meeting), and that’s when they told us the home is not cooperating with them, that we have to wait …
BLADE: What exactly happened?
ALCÁNTAR AND VELA: Two days later they gave us an appointment with the DIF in León and the adoption staff explained the whole process is going to stop, that unfortunately we are same-sex parents and that everyone is going to come over and what are they going to say to the other families. We talked to our lawyers after we left and we told them what was happening. They began to move forward with a legal process, providing all of the evidence we had that showed they were discriminating against us for being same-sex parents.
This legal fight lasted seven months until the judge ruled in our favor and told the DIF that they do not have to stop the process, that we can continue with everything that had already been done. Everything then resumed and they gave us an appointment so that we could meet Emiliano. One day before meeting him DIF in Guanajuato told us that we have to wait because the home did not want to allow us there to meet Emiliano because we were same-sex parents. So they moved our son to another home. We finally met him in November 2019 and he was finally able to come to our house in December. In March 2020 we were able to legally adopt our son, and in April they gave us his birth certificate with both of our last names.
BLADE: How do you remember that first meeting with your son?
ALCÁNTAR AND VELA: The first day we arrived at the home, we were nervous because we did not know how he would react. They were carrying him and when he saw us he laughed a little and he was totally embarrassed. We were then in a room with psychologists, and we started playing. Everything changed from that moment. It seemed like we had known each other for a long time. It went super well. In the following days he began to sing and the psychologists were very amazed, because they told us that he barely spoke … This showed that he felt very good with us.
BLADE: What made you fall in love with Emiliano?
ALCÁNTAR AND VELA: Everything. From the first day we saw him in the photo he looked so small and with those beautiful eyes that he has. When we physically saw it, what we felt was indescribable. Everything about him is very cute. He is super loving. He likes to play a lot. He is a very big angel who draws you in by just looking at him.
BLADE: How has your life changed after living your child?
VELA: We spend all day running around. We wake up earlier. Our diet is more balanced and now we are more strict with meal times. In the morning my husband, Dani, takes care of him and I do in the afternoons, because we also both work. It has been a radical change, but it is worth it. We are very happy.
BLADE: What is it like to be the first same-sex couple in Guanajuato to adopt?
ALCÁNTAR AND VELA: It has been very satisfying to see that so many people send us messages saying that they also want to adopt, that they were afraid, but that we give them a lot of hope and also they tell you that we are an inspiration, that they were encouraged to come out of the closet because they want to have a life full of joy is really very beautiful.
There isn’t really much dissatisfaction because we have been congratulated for what we have achieved wherever we go and where we work. There are probably many messages of hate from people who do not share our joy. We simply do not worry about them. We know we are doing things well, as they should be done. We know who we are, what we want, and we know where we are going. And with that we are left with all the beautiful things we are experiencing.
BLADE: What have been the most difficult moments you have had to overcome?
ALCÁNTAR AND VELA: Definitely discrimination because something similar had never happened to us. We have always respected ourselves and we have always received that respect everywhere we have gone, at our jobs and in our family. Another hard moment was when we felt anguished that perhaps we could not see our son just because we are a gay family, and that people’s prejudice could be more than what the law says.
BLADE: What would you recommend to couples like you who want to start a family?
ALCÁNTAR AND VELA: That they do not allow themselves to be guided by other people’s prejudices, that they do everything they set out to do, that it is very much worth it if it comes from their hearts to do so. The reward of having a child is very great; that he says, Daddy, I love you very much, that he tells you we are a family and we love each other a lot, fills your life with joy and makes you go on to continue fighting for our dreams.