The police sergeant Valdi Barbosa, 40 years old, obtained a 180-day paternity leave through a legal action in court. He and his husband, an English teacher Rafael Moreira, 41 years old, residing in Olinda (Brazil), are raising their daughter Sofia, who is 1 year and 1 month old. She was conceived through a surrogacy arrangement and in vitro fertilization, as reported by UOL. The couple also maintains a social media presence to share their experiences of parenthood through the account @somos2pais.
With 14 years of service in the force, Valdi made efforts to secure the paternity leave by submitting an administrative request six months before Sofia’s birth. However, his request was rejected.
“The request went through several departments and offices, culminating in the State Attorney General’s office, where it was denied. So, I decided to file a lawsuit, and the decision was in my favor. The judgment came out in about two months”, reports Valdi.
Valdi’s paternity leave, which ended in February, highlights the struggle for equal rights in parenthood. Meanwhile, Rafael, working as a freelancer, managed to take some days off to care for their daughter at the time of her birth.
The couple, who met at a nightclub in Recife a decade ago, is bound by strong bonds and a mutual commitment to parenthood. Valdi states that from the beginning of their relationship, they discussed the possibility of having children, and over time, this aspiration matured.
“As years went by, I realized the feasibility of in vitro fertilization and, by saving money, I made this dream come true. I rallied our family to find a surrogate, and with the support of a cousin’s wife, we succeeded”, reports Valdi.
The first fertilization attempt involved Valdi’s sperm and eggs from an anonymous donor. However, the transfer of two embryos into the womb of the cousin’s wife was unsuccessful.
“I was deeply shaken. It was a day of intense emotions, as I’m usually reserved about showing sadness. We had to deal with emotional and financial strain”, shares the sergeant.
In the second fertilization attempt, Valdi’s sister became the supportive belly, using eggs from an anonymous donor and Valdi’s sperm.
“We transferred two embryos, and sadly, the implantation failed. After preparing my sister’s uterus again, we transferred two more embryos. This time, to our delight, one of them successfully implanted”, he says with satisfaction.
Despite their achievements, the couple faced prejudice. The sergeant mentions that he heard discriminatory comments at work due to his sexual orientation but chose to overcome the adversities.
Rafael shares similar experiences, mentioning challenges they’ve faced in being received unfavorably in places where the concept of a family formed by two fathers is still unconventional.
“We decided that we can no longer ignore this constant disregard for our abilities as fathers. We wanted to share our journey as parents, which led us to create the Instagram profile ‘Dois Painhos'”, declare Rafael.
The couple started receiving messages of support and inspiration from other couples, especially from male same-sex parents, sharing the message that it’s possible to build a strong and loving family regardless of the parents’ sexual orientation.
Valdi, the Military Police sergeant, describes the experience of parenthood as “wonderful and intense“, expressing genuine joy in seeing his dreams come true: “From the exhaustion to the joys, it’s everything I had hoped for. I get emotional to the point of tears because of the happiness I feel”.
Meanwhile, it is necessary to discuss paternity leave policies in Brazil. According to current legislation, companies are required to grant five days of paternity leave, while maternity leave is set at 120 days. However, the Empresa Cidadã program allows companies to extend paternity leave for up to 20 days, in alignment with mothers, and it also provides government fiscal benefits.