Faces of Long Island celebrates the uniqueness of everyday Long Islanders. In their own words, they tell us about their life experiences, challenges and triumphs. Newsday launched this social media journey into the human experience to shine a light on the diverse people of this wonderful place we call home.

‘There are interesting things we have to think about as parents that heterosexual couples don’t.’

Dorothy Criscuolo, Massapequa

“Our wedding was amazing, but as we planned it, we would meet photographers and DJs who’d ask, ‘Is that legal in New York? You do that there?’ We had conflict with family who were opposed to our lifestyle and didn’t immediately tell us. We had people attending our wedding who asked, ‘Can I bring so-and-so because he’s never been to a gay wedding?’ It was a spectacle for some. We said, ‘It’s just like a straight wedding, but it’s two women getting married.’

“Starting a family was an interesting journey. We did a lot of research and read that it can be a long, difficult process for people that can’t physically create a baby. We were extremely fortunate that my wife was able to get pregnant on our first try. The donor that I chose reflected me as much as possible. It was a really cool process because it was almost like shopping online!

“There are interesting things we have to think about as parents that heterosexual couples don’t. When we were getting our older daughter ready to enter school, we felt we had to prepare her for what might come. We talked to her about how there are different kinds of family structures and how not everyone has a mommy and a daddy. She was 3. We wanted her to feel empowered.

I would rather someone ask me respectfully what it was like to start a family. If we just stop to listen and learn, we might be mindful and in a better place.

“A big worry for us was that kids were not going to be kind to her. We didn’t think so much about the adults in her life. She came home and said, ‘My teacher said I have a daddy; everyone has a daddy.’ We saw that we had to prepare and educate the educators of our children.

“There are different struggles and worries for us as parents. I had to adopt our children. I had to be fingerprinted and have home visits. It’s really demeaning. We have to think about traveling to states that don’t recognize our marriage. I once heard a speaker say, ‘Being a part of the LGBT community, you will fight for the rest of your life. It’s not so much that you will fight big battles, but you will always have something you have to fight for or stand up for.’

“Some people feel it isn’t their job to educate others, but we disagree. I would rather someone ask me respectfully what it was like to start a family. If we just stop to listen and learn, we might be mindful and in a better place.”