Family life

Kordale Lewis: “Be the parent that you didn’t have as a child”

A father of three before he turned 18, Kordale Lewis and his fiancé, Kaleb Anthony, became Instagram-famous when a photo of them doing their daughters’ hair went viral. They now have a new baby with a familiar surrogate: Lewis’s high school girlfriend.

I didn’t have a father as a child. I didn’t have a role model. (Lewis’s father has been in prison for murder since he was two.) For me, parenting was more of an instinctive thing. Be the parent that you didn’t have as a child.

I had three children with a woman when I was 16, 17 and 18, so they’re all a year apart (Desmiray, 11, Maliyah, 10, and Kordale Jr., 9). You’re not really developed at 16, 17 or 18 years old. At first, it was like, just take care of the baby and feed him. You really don’t have all the parenting skills you need at that age.

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Their mother, Destiny, moved down here three years ago. She comes over whenever she wants and gets the kids on the weekend whenever she wants. She was the surrogate for one-year-old Kaleb. Kaleb Sr. had always wanted to have his own biological kids, but I wanted to adopt. We had a large amount of money from the Nikon commercial, and we went to clinics looking for surrogates. Kaleb Sr. said, “You think Destiny would do it?”

I looked at him and said, “What? Are you serious?”

But I didn’t want to be selfish because I know that every person deserves the right to have a kid. “He has been in the kids’ life for four years and he is a great father,” says Destiny. “He can obviously take care of a child, and I want to afford him that blessing.” The way I look at it now, Kaleb Jr. has biological siblings in the same household, and I think it’s a great thing.

On January 14, 2014, Kordale and Kaleb posted a photo to their shared Instagram account, their shirtless chests covered in tattoos, doing their daughters’ hair. The photo went viral.

That photo, that photo, that photo. To this day, I don’t understand why that picture. A lot of women were like, they’re great fathers. I don’t care if they’re gay or not; they’re doing their daughters’ hair.

We got some criticism, even from the LGBT community. I shed a tear—and I don’t usually shed a lot of tears. I was kind of raised rough, so if I’m crying, it’s because my feelings are hurt. There were a lot of LGBT people who said they didn’t understand why gays adopt kids and make money off them. People just assumed that the kids were adopted. I wanted to say “Everything in my house was already purchased before that damn picture!” But people have started to understand who we are and hear the truth. I’m glad that we can be a voice for the LGBT community and set an example for people who have dreams of becoming a parent one day.

The Kordale N Kaleb family have fronted a campaign for the Swedish clothing brand Acne Studios. Follow them on Instagram at @kordalenkaleb.

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