2 Dads + 4 Kids
When Argentinian-born architect Juan and his partner Patrick welcomed their second, third and fourth children into the world — all at once, as it would happen, since Lorenzo, their first born by surrogate, was joined by triplets Lily, Liam and Leo in 2013 — they became two dads plus four kids.
The new addition changed the kind of attention the family received. “I noticed a lot of friend requests because of the triplets from people I didn’t know,” Juan explains. “So basically they were either people who were in my network or groups on Facebook, or people who were friends of my friends. They were so curious after seeing the babies’ picture, that they started requesting a lot.”
“I felt a little bit overwhelmed because I didn’t want to share personal information with them,” he continues. “We decided to make a public page where we put only pictures, and we can control privacy a little bit more, and have that as a solution.”
The Tampa-based family created a public Facebook page, 2 Dads + 4 Kids, which has over 4000 fans, along with Instagram and Twitter accounts, and they currently have hundreds of followers on each. Each post on their Facebook page, photos or videos of the kids, generally receives more than a hundred likes, and a handful of shares and comments.
“They’re mostly straight women,” Juan says. “About 75% are women; I would say most of them are straight. Most of the women, I think something like 60% of the women that are fans on the Facebook page, are between the ages of 25 to 35. They’re our strongest followers.”
“I think women have a lot of respect for two guys who have a family,” he says, explaining why they have such a strong following among that specific demographic. “Typically, women are the main characters in each family; the fathers are almost in second place. Women are usually really committed to the family, so I think they really appreciate how much effort and work it takes to have children. They don’t have so many preconceptions about family. I also think they’re in the age when they need or they want families, so they feel a special attraction to children.”
Juan said it would be naïve to think they have so many followers just because they’re a family with two dads. He says the biggest factor is probably the triplets.
“That’s something we experience a lot when we go out, to the mall or places like that,” he explains. “We always have a lot of people asking questions, trying to take pictures of us with the babies. It’s not about us, it’s about them.”
“When we have an opportunity to go out with one child only, we’re like anybody else, we don’t have so many groups or attention. When we go out with the triplets it’s a huge difference.”
Having a social media presence, and issues of safety and privacy that come from it, is something many individuals and families are going to have to contend with as we go forth in a digital age where anyone in the world with an Internet connection can access images and personal information of anyone else who’s connected.
“I was very afraid, at the beginning, when the pages started growing so fast, and our pictures started showing up on national websites, and got hundreds of thousands of hits, something like that, it was scary,” Juan says. “I wasn’t prepared for that. We basically had to make a decision and say, well, you know, why are we doing this? How safe is it for the kids?”
Juan says as soon as they feel they have a reason to they’d stop, but so far the experience of creating their family’s social media presence has been overwhelmingly positive. “We never receive any negative comments or something we’d be afraid of,” he says, adding that they, of course, think about what they’re posting and take precautions.
“We’re very careful to never show where we live, and we don’t share certain personal things,” he continues. “We’re not posting where we are all the time, we try to share that after we’re in a place, or after we go on a vacation. We’re very careful about that, controlling what we share.
For Juan and Patrick, it was a matter of searching out the positives that people get from their posts. “The amount of people sending us messages, thanking us for sharing our lives with people… because we discovered we’re very likeable!” he says. “Seeing us with our family, we are educating a lot of people to see our community in a different way. It’s so easy to like the kids, they immediately love our family, that’s something that was very positive for our gay community, so we just decided we’ll keep doing this.”
In the new era of social media presence the adorable family — triplets, Lorenzo, good-looking fathers and all — have become something akin to celebrities. Juan says they get a lot of invitations for interviews, especially from gay publications and equal rights organizations. They recently appeared in a feature on Freedom to Marry, a national marriage equality advocate website — their home state of Florida still has anti-same sex marriage laws on the books, though a handful of cities and counties recognize domestic partnerships and offer benefits. Their family’s photo still graces the homepage of Freedom to Marry.
They’re even appearing in a documentary about egg and sperm donors as one of four families who have benefited from that procedure — all four children are from the same eggs and embryos. According to Juan, the show has wrapped and is now looking for a network to pick it up.
“At some point this whole thing is going to stop and we’re just going to be like any other family,” Juan says with a laugh, but for the time being 2 Dads + 4 Kids will continue to be a winning combination.