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Of Love and Family

A growing number of Latino families resort to non-traditional ways to form a family.

"It wasn't an easy decision to make," says Cuban American Gutiérrez, a former newspaper editor who now works in media relations at the University of Miami. "But once I decided to do it, I knew I would, and I knew the baby had to look like me."

Gutiérrez's skin is the color of light café con leche and her features reflect her African, white, and Asian heritages. A year and a half after she made her decision to adopt, Gutiérrez got a call from the agency: A three-month-old baby girl with a Mexican birth mother and an African American birth father was available.

Today Katya, 8, keeps her 56-year-old mother on her toes. And Gutiérrez got her wish: The two resemble each other just like mothers and daughters often do. "It's clear this child was meant to be with me, and I was meant to be her mother," Gutiérrez says.

Dreaming of Emma

In addition to adoption, Latinos are turning to reproductive technology to build their families. That's what happened to Armando Correa, who dreamed he was holding a newborn daughter. He named her Emma and, with his partner, Gonzalo Hernandez, 46, went looking for her. They purchased eggs, used Correa's sperm, and hired a surrogate mother. Correa said he didn't have ethical issues with the unorthodox way he was having a child, but he did have doubts whether he was playing God. "Then a doctor told me that, despite science and technology, for an embryo to become a baby, it takes the hand of God," he says.

In 2005, Emma was born. In November 2009, the same surrogate mother delivered their twins, Anna and Lucas.

"There is a connection between parent and child that one can't know until you become a parent," says Correa, 50, a Cuban American who lives in New York City and is the editor of People en Español. "It's a physical thing, an extension of the self."

Richard B. Vaughn, managing attorney of the National Fertility Law Center, says that in the past three years his law firm has seen an increase in the number of Hispanics seeking reproductive help. "As our Hispanic clients go through the process of assisted reproduction, they usually tell other people, and the word spreads," he says.

Correa wrote a book about his quest to be a father, En Busca de Emma: Dos padres, una hija y el sueño de una familia. During a reading at the Miami International Book Fair on November 14, Emma's birthday, Correa choked back tears as he read the details of his daughter's birth. The audience wept with him. Then little Emma took the stage and, poised as a princess, smiled from the arms of her other dad and shyly burrowed her face in his chest as the audience sang her "Happy Birthday."

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