Your Past is Your Present – an origins story and beyond

It’s been an incredible journey arriving to this place we called parenthood. After almost 13 years of being together and nearly 2 years legally married we finally welcomed our twins into the world. We went through a process called gestational surrogacy, and via this process we were blessed with the most incredible twins: Phoebe Lily and Xander (Alexander) Isiah. They were born 7 weeks premature and spent several weeks in the NICU in Fort Worth, Texas, where our surrogate lived. We chronicled our time with daily letters to our children. Day and night we were there – sometimes 14 hours. It was in these moments we knew as a couple that we were meant to be parents and that our children were strong fighters. And as they should be – they carry their ancestors with them not only in their blood but in their names.

You see, in the Jewish tradition we name our children after relatives no longer with us. We honor their memory by passing on either their name as is, or a letter as their namesake. This was a very important tradition for us as without our past we would not be in this present.

Our son, Alexander Isiah was named after my husband’s amazing Grandma, Arlene. She passed away thanksgiving day two years ago. Even given her generation she was accepting and loving, having raised a gay daughter, and also unconditionally loved my husband and me when I joined the family. She was a strong woman and a woman of dignity and pride. His middle name is for my maternal grandfather, Irving, who was a refugee of World War 2 and escaped to Sweden. He grew up in southern Sweden, taught himself 5 languages fluently, played the guitar and was a prolific writer and artist. Sadly, he passed away two days after our legal marriage. Its these two amazing people that our son will carry with him throughout his life.

Our daughter, Phoebe Lily, was named for my Great Aunt Perla. She was murdered by a suicide bomber while celebrating Passover in Netanya, Israel. She was a strong woman and family matriarch. She was my grandfather’s sister and she went on to have two beautiful children who in turn had 5 children between them. Those five children now have 6 children between them – she would be so proud of her family. Her middle name, Lily, is named after my grandmother Luba (Irving’s wife), who herself was a survivor of the holocaust. She witnessed atrocities no person should bare. She lived through one of the darkest periods of human history and despite it all found love, married, immigrated to America and bore a daughter, my mother.

Our children wouldn’t be here without this history. Without this undying love. Without this mix of rich, diverse backgrounds. They will grow up learning that we are stronger together, family matters and accepting our differences are where it’s at. I’m confident, that as gay fathers that we can imbue this to our children. I am confident that with their names and the lessons we’ll teach them throughout their life that this next generation will be better! And while our children are only six months old, they are our world. They bring us joy. They bring us happiness. They show us the pureness of emotion and that there should always be hope for tomorrow.

In parenting and bringing up our children we want them to be able to affect tomorrow’s future. We want them to know their past is rich, diverse and that many people had to work hard so that they could be here. We want to keep hope alive and keep moving forward towards a tomorrow where we are all accepted; where differences are cherished and not just tolerated. A future where when we see families of varying constructs, people of different races, those with disabilities and we don’t prejudge or discredit someone’s experience simply because it wasn’t your own. I am confident that with our village our children can do this and help make tomorrow that much brighter.

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