Len Rieser and Fernando Chang-Muy, both attorneys, have been together for 32 years. Their daughter Isabel came to them in 1992, at the tender age of 10 months. Joint adoptions were not available in Pennsylvania at that time, so Len adopted her first. A year later, laws had changed and Fernando was able to adopt her as well, coincidentally, with the same judge and on the same day, February 17th, as the first adoption.
Isa, as she is called, is African-American and is from Texas. Fernando is Chinese-Cuban, born in Cuba. Len is from Vermont and the whole family now resides in Philadelphia. "We are, as a family, a real mix. That, among many other things, has made it an interesting and wonderful, if sometimes complicated, experience. Isa, I should add, has been very accepting of her two-dad family, even though it has not always been easy for her. She has also helped many of her friends work through questions of sexual orientation – she understands their struggles."
"Isa is a terrific singer with an affinity for Broadway musicals and much more. She hears a song for the first time and somehow, by the end of it, knows all of the words and most of the tune. We have spent a lot of time at the piano."
I have had the good fortune to photograph this family three times. I first noticed them at an Equality Forum rally in 2004 and took some photos as they spoke from the stage in support of LGBT rights. When the Human Rights Campaign asked me to do a photo shoot of diverse LGBT families, I gave them a call. Isa was about 12 at the time. At the time of our most recent shoot, she had just turned 18 and graduated from high school. She had grown into quite a beautiful young woman and was, once again, by the sides of her Dads, showing the world that a loving family is not formed from a single, stereotypical mold.