New Yorker Dennis is the father of an adorable young son. But like many New Yorkers, surrogacy was Dennis’ only option to have a biological child. Unfortunately, at the time, New York was one of only three states that banned surrogacy.
Editor’s note: Since the publication of this story, Family Equality is thrilled to report that the state of New York has passed the Child Parent Security Act, which legalizes gestational surrogacy and provides a simple path to establish legal parental rights for parents who rely on assisted reproduction to have children.
In this new video produced with the support of Family Equality’s Ric Swezey Memorial Fund, Dennis shares his family formation story. A Kansas native, Dennis left the restrictive Bible Belt and felt he stumbled onto a new land of opportunity and freedom in New York City. However, when Dennis was ready to start a family, he was faced with institutional obstacles, even in a liberal state like New York.
Dennis’ story parallels the often long and arduous journey many LGBTQ+ people face to become parents. Dennis shares, “When LGBTQ people decide that they want to have families, it takes a lot of work, a lot of planning, intense intentionality. It’s a journey and it takes a tremendous amount of effort and commitment to get there.”
Growing up in Kansas, Dennis was surrounded by a big, loving family. He was very close to his grandmother and mother, who helped set his foundational love of family. But it was a journey to get to a place where he realized he was ready to have children.
“It was a journey to get my family to accept my sexuality, but eventually they did.” Dennis continues, “There was a period of time when I felt like being gay meant I could not have a family.”
It was always clear to Dennis however, whenever he pictured his future, he saw a family, even though he was single.
“For me, I grew up with single families and I thought: if this is possible for heterosexual parents, then certainly I can start resources to start the journey with my family as well. So I decided as a single man, I was going to start the journey of having a kid.”
Although Dennis is a single father, his journey was not a solo one. Thanks to touching encounters with friends, Dennis was able to find an egg donor Aisha, and also a gestational surrogate, Angela, who also happened to be from Kansas. The video highlights their connection and bond in his son Elan’s life.
“To say I have a village would it make is sound small,” Dennis remarked.