This will be a very special Father's Day. It will be my first Father's Day since my husband and I adopted our baby boy Lucas. It will also be the first Father's Day in many years that I will get to celebrate in person with my own father, who's been living in Ecuador for many years.
For the past six months, my husband and I have cared for Lucas. We showered him with love, we nurtured him, we appreciated his very existence in our lives. We began to realize what being "daddy and papi" truly meant. And two weeks after Lucas' adoption was finalized, we are celebrating the fathers that we are and hope to be, alongside our very loving families.
Lucas is now part of a larger family filled with aunts, uncles, cousins, great-grandmothers that love him. It's a family I love and cherish very much. My father was one of the people who taught me the importance of family. In fact it's something he has never stopped teaching me, even when our relationship saw some ups and downs.
Many of my fondest memories as a child include those family moments my father raised me to value. I remember him taking me to his family's cacao farm in Ecuador as he explained the whole process of its farming. I remember our family trips during Christmas time, when there were only a small number of Ecuadorians living in Miami, travelling to different places around the United States to learn about the country (To this day I feel we must be the only Ecuadorians to have visited Dollywood twice!) To my father, family meant growing together, supporting and loving each other. And so he always sought opportunities create memories with us.
Unfortunately, for many years, Father's Day brought about sadness to me. For many years, the relationship that had once seemed so close and supportive became a very distant one. My father had not known how to handle having a gay son. Yet, even despite the physical and emotional distance between us, he continued to teach me the importance of family and support, because I knew how much I longed for it with him.
Slowly, my father and I began to restore our relationship. He began to see the amazing life I was building for myself. He saw the friends and community that surrounded me. He saw the stronger relationships I had with others in my family now that I was being my most authentic self to them -- no longer hiding who I was. He felt the depth of love I found in my husband, Tom. And most importantly, he saw the values he had tried to instill in me as a child guiding me still.
A few years back, my father surprised quite a few of us when he flew from Ecuador to be a part of my wedding. But today no one is surprised that he is flying back to meet his new grandson and celebrate as a family. He now talks of taking Lucas to that same cacao farm where he and I first build our memories. And as a result of his trip, after many years of rebuilding our relationship, we will actually be celebrating Father's Day together. It is truly amazing to know the road my father and I have traveled.
So now, as I celebrate my father, I will also celebrate the father he raised me to be. I will teach my son that the love of a family can conquer all fears, all judgments, all prejudices. And we will continue to where life leads us -- grandfather, father and son.