Gay Dad Family Stories

This Couple Made an Album of Nursery Rhymes for Children With Gay Dads

Noticing a lack of representation, these popular social media dads made up a bunch of nursery rhymes just for gay families

With over 135,000 Likes on Facebook, and 50,000 followers on Instagram, Bud Lake and Manuel Santos, dads to two children via international surrogacy, have been sharing their lives with the world for the past 4 years. They are strong believers in the importance of visibility, and they use their platform to show the world that love makes a family.


Originally from New Jersey, Bud had been living in Madrid for 8 years when he met Manuel Santos. They were 36 at the time and both knew that they had found someone very special. They fell in love and began to plan their lives together. "We began talking about getting married and having kids pretty much from the day we met," explained Bud.

Manuel lived in Valencia. So after a year of dating, Bud quit his job and moved to Valencia to be with Manuel. Not long after, they began planning to have children. Their friends thought they were crazy to give up their social lives, vacations, romantic dinners, and professional careers so quickly, but they felt it was the right time. They moved again, to the suburbs of Valencia, to a small town of about 6,000 people to be closer to Manuel's family, parks, playgrounds, great public schools, and a great local community. "We both grew up playing in the streets of our neighborhoods without parents worrying about us all the time and getting home in time for dinner," explained Bud. And that's the lifestyle they wanted for their kids.

Bud kisses Manuel's cheek

Bud and Manuel chose surrogacy to grow their family and over 6 years ago, they started their first surrogacy journey in India and had their eldest, Álvaro. A year after he was born, the began their second journey in Thailand and in January 2015, their daughter Carmen was born. (You might remember reading about a gay dad family stuck in Thailand fighting for the right to bring their baby daughter home after a change in Thai law and a surrogate who went back on her contract: that was the Lake Santos family.) "Even though we hit a pretty big snag with our journey having Carmen, we wouldn't change anything about either journey," said Manuel. "We have forgotten about all the problems and have two healthy and happy children and a really beautiful family, and that's what's important." Both Thailand and India will forever hold a special place in Bud and Manuel's heart; both for the wonderful people they met, and the amazingly diverse and international family that they love.

Today, the family of four still live in the suburbs of Valencia and have a social following close to 190k, many of whom started following the family during Carmen's prolonged stay in Thailand. They share charming videos of Álvaro and Carmen talking about their two-dad family, and beautiful photos on their Instagram. They've also designed t-shirts in collaboration with TeeSpring, and they've even created an album of nursery rhymes for gay dad families!

"There really was an absence of nursery rhymes for our type of family," said Manuel, talking about what inspired the project. "It's there for all same-sex families, present and future ... someday someone will say, hey look at this couple that made a Daddy and Papa version of Finger Family ... That's cool!"

Even though they are the only two-dad family in their town, Bud and Manuel don't feel like they've ever been discriminated against which is wonderful to hear. "We aren't sure if we are just really lucky, or if people are just becoming much more accepting," said Bud. "Carmen just started school this year, but this is Álvaro's third year and it has actually been the complete opposite, we have a really great relationship with all the other parents in his class." Both parents believe in the importance of same-sex parents making their families visible to show that they are just another type of family unit.

The dads live this attitude by continuing to share their lives on social media, and the response they receive has been heartwarming. "We love that we get so many warm messages of support, young people that say they see that it CAN be possible for them to be parents in the future," said Manuel. "Just a few years ago we thought it would be impossible to be parents, and many young LGBTQ still believe that because they are gay they can't have a family. But nowadays this is changing thanks to Facebook and Instagram, and young people see all the positive examples out there."

Sure, they've received the odd homophobic remark, but the dads say they block those users and quickly move on.

Fatherhood continues to amaze Bud and Manuel, both with its challenges and rewards. "It's such a weird feeling, like nothing about fatherhood is surprising, and everything is surprising all at the same time," said Bud. "Parenthood is the most common thing on the Earth, something that the whole world has in common. No matter what language you speak, what country you are from, if you are rich or if you are poor, from a more conservative or liberal society, there are parents everywhere. Being a parent on the surface is easy, as long as you just roll with the punches, take one day at a time, and just to do the best you can (what we all do). BUT on the other hand it can be so hard and so challenging. Those beautiful little persons push you to your limits and past on a daily basis. The psychology of dealing with a child is extraordinary, the patience that is required is in most cases something superhuman. And all things considered, we are so lucky to have two wonderful children that are super sweet, well mannered, and well behaved."

Twogaypapas on Instagram: “El otro día en una de las fotos que posteamos se veía uno de los tatuajes que llevo en las muñecas y alguien preguntó que qué significaba.…”

Although nothing is for certain, and the family love their hometown in Spain, it has been Manuel's dream for sometime to move to Florida where Bud's parents live and open a paella restaurant - Valencia is where the paella originated - but that probably won't happen till the kids are older. For now, they'll continue to enjoy the suburban lifestyle in Spain, being a block from the beach and a short bike ride to the mountains.

When asked about each of their fatherhood journeys, Bud and Manuel said they were both "unique, special and challenged us as a couple," but they agreed they wouldn't have it any other way. "One thing is for sure, the love we have for those two little beings is out of this world and we would never change a thing about them about our road to fatherhood, or about fatherhood itself."

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Change the World

New LGBTQ Children's Book Is About Two Moms — but Isn't About Being 'Different'

"Mighty May Won't Cry Today" is a relatable story celebrating the LGBTQ community, kids with same-sex parents, diversity and inclusion

Check out this 'Q & A' with Kendra and Claire-Voe Ocampo, authors of a new LGBTQ children's picture book, 'Mighty May Won't Cry Today.'

​Tell us a bit about yourselves!

Our story began 10 years ago in Boston when we fell in love. We got married in New Jersey in 2014, just months after same-sex marriage became legal in the state. Now six years later we are a happy family of four, moms to two daughters, Xiomara and Violet. When we're not writing or working our day jobs, you might find us eating Spanish tapas, video gaming, or debating over watching a sappy rom-com or the latest Sci-Fi flick on Netflix.

What inspired you to write the book?

Our inspiration to write the book began in 2016 after our first daughter was born and we began reading her children's books. We quickly saw that most of them featured a traditional family. It saddened us that our family was so little represented in the books Xiomara read, and we worried that she would feel like we were different (in a negative way) from other families. In fact, we learned that a study out of the Cooperative Children's Book Center of Education found that of 3,700 books surveyed, less than 1% were children's picture books containing LGBTQ+ content. It only made sense to write a children's book of our own!

What is the book about?

Mighty May Won't Cry Today tells the story of May, an imaginative and determined girl who tries not to cry on her first day of school. May's first day of school is filled with many adventures and emotions as she is faced with unexpected, embarrassing and overwhelming moments. Young readers will relate to the experiences of May's day—riding the bus for the first time or forgetting her favorite drink at home. At last May will face the ultimate challenge and she cannot hold back her tears. With the help of her two moms, she finds out why it's OK to cry and that even adults cry, both happy and sad tears!

How is this book unique from other children's books?

Not only is this book unique because it shows non-traditional families in children's books, but it also shares a unique message for kids and adults of all ages—learning that it's beneficial to cry when dealing with emotions like sadness, fear, embarrassment and frustration.

Shira Levy, School Psychologist and Positive Psychology Practitioner says about Mighty May: "I absolutely love Mighty May Won't Cry Today. It's a story about grit and perseverance, and teaches children about emotional intelligence and the fact that it's okay to experience a wide range of emotions. That's actually really good for our brains because when we make mistakes and we learn new things, our brains GROW. I highly recommend Mighty May Won't Cry Today."

What will gay, bi and trans fathers love about your book?


Fathers and kids will love the poetic rhymes, colorful designs and lovable "Mighty May." It's a beautiful story with a positive message about embracing different families and encourages an environment of inclusion from an early age. It is a great learning tool to teach kids that it's OK to cry and how to use mindful techniques to work through emotions.

When can we buy the book and how can we support it?

The illustrations for the book are almost final, but in order to fund the final illustrations and printing of this book, we launched a Kickstarter campaign on February 1, 2020. We would love it if you could join us on this journey. Please VISIT our Kickstarter page, LIKE our Facebook page and SHARE our story with your friends and family. We are counting on the LGBTQ community as our advocates and we know that together we will successfully bring this story to life.

Please post below and tell us: what are you excited about related to Mighty May? What do you think is important about telling this story? We can't wait to hear your thoughts.

Thank you for reading!

Kendra & Claire-Voe Ocampo, creators of Mighty May Won't Cry Today

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mightymay/mighty-may-wont-cry-today-an-lgbtq-childrens-book

www.facebook.com/mightymaybooks

Gay Dad Life

"Fridays with Fitz": A New Kid's Book Based Upon the Son of These Two Dads

Tracey Wimperly, author of the new children's book, said she hopes to give a more honest portrayal of the role grandparents play in the lives of children.

Guest post Tracey Wimperly

I've recently written a children's picture book (aimed at 2-4 year olds) called "Fridays with Fitz: Fitz Goes to the Pool." Every Friday - when his two dads go to work - Fitz and his grandparents (my husband, Steve and I) head off on an adventure. Through the eyes of a curious and energetic 3 year old, even ordinary adventures, like riding the bus or foraging for fungus in the forest can be fun and magical.

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What to Buy

"The Boy with the Rainbow Heart" Is Being Turned Into a 5-Book Series

Will Mason has launched a kickstarter to turn his children's book "The Boy with the Rainbow Heart" into a 5-book series

Guest post written by Will Mason, author of "The Boy with the Rainbow Heart," which he wrote in honor of his lesbian sister, her children, and all children who find themselves feeling different in some way.

I, Will Mason, kindly ask you to support my Kickstarter, to help launch the latest book in the LGBTQ Rainbow Heart children's series, "The Invasion of Big Angry Red." 5% of sales will go to GLSEN, in honor of Jamel Myles, the 9-year-old student who took his life this past August after he was bullied for being gay.

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Gay Dad Family Stories

These Dads Had 'Twins' — Just Four Months Apart

Angel and Dan's wanted twins, without the complications of a twin pregnancy — so they worked with two separate surrogates at once.

If you have ever been out late on a Saturday night, you may have high hopes of meeting a handsome stranger, but you probably wouldn't expect to meet your future husband. Angel Mario Martinez Garcia, 45, surely didn't when, five years ago on a very early Saturday morning in Barcelona, he casually approached Dan's Mouquet, 40, and asked him, over many gin and tonics, what he wanted out of life. The nightlife setting notwithstanding, Dan's told Angel he ultimately wanted a quiet life, with a partner and children.

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Politics

Gestational Surrogacy Legalized in New York State

The Child-Parent Security Act, which legalizes commercial surrogacy in New York State, was included in the 2020 New York State Budget signed by Governor Cuomo

Yesterday, a years-long battle about the state of compensated gestational surrogacy came to an end in New York when the Governor signed into a law the Child-Parent Security Act in the 2020 as part of the state budget.

The effort stalled last year after opponents, including several Democrats, successfully argued that the bill didn't go far enough to protect women who serve as surrogates — even though it included a surrogate "bill of rights," the first of its kind in the country, aimed at ensuring protections.

"Millions of New Yorkers need assistance building their families — people struggling with infertility, cancer survivors impacted by treatment, and members of the LGBTQ+ community," the Family Equality Council said in a statement about the victory. "For many, surrogacy is a critically important option. For others, it is the only option. Passage of the Child-Parent Security Act is a massive step forward in providing paths to parenthood for New Yorkers who use reproductive technology, and creates a 'surrogate's bill of rights' that will set a new standard for protecting surrogates nationwide."

Opponents, led by Senator Liz Krueger, had once again attempted to torpedo legalization efforts this year by introducing a second bill that would legalize surrogacy in New York, but also make it the most restrictive state in the country to do so. "A bill that complicates the legal proceedings for the parents and potentially allows them to lose their genetic child is truly unfortunate," said Sam Hyde, President of Circle Surrogacy, referencing to the bill's 8-day waiting period. He also took issue with the bills underlying assumptions about why women decide to serve as a surrogate. The added restrictions imply that "they're entering into these arrangements without full forethought and consideration of the intended parents that they're partnering with," he said.

The bill was sponsored by State Senator Brad Hoylman, an out gay man who became a father via surrogacy, and Assemblymember Amy Paulin, who has been public with her experiences with infertility.

"My husband and I had our two daughters through surrogacy," Holyman told Gay City News. "But we had to travel 3,000 miles away to California in order to do it. As a gay dad, I'm thrilled parents like us and people struggling with infertility will finally have the chance to create their own families through surrogacy here in New York."

"This law will [give intended parents] the opportunity to have a family in New York and not travel around the country, incurring exorbitant costs simply because they want to be parents," Paulin said for her part. It will "bring New York law in line with the needs of modern families."


Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Just Like Dad: Ways My Kids and I Are Alike

Joseph Sadusky recounts the ways he and his adopted sons are cut from the same cloth.

Editor's Note: This is the third in a series of excerpts from Joseph Sadusky's new book, Magic Lessons: Celebratory and Cautionary Tales about Life as a (Single, Gay, Transracially Adoptive) Dad. The book contains many stories about my life as a dad, as well as lessons learned, and we're excited to share several excerpts from the the book over the course of the next few months. Read previous installments here!

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Expert Advice

4 Tips for Single Gay Dads Raising Daughters

Here are some ways to create a safe space for your daughter to discover who she is, with you by her side.

There's nothing quite like father-daughter relationships, and when it comes to single dads, your little girl likely holds a very special place in your heart. From the moment she's born, it's as if you can see every moment of her life in front of you, from her first steps to walking her down the aisle at her wedding. You'll be the first man she'll know and talk to, and you'll be her biggest example of what a loving man looks like. She'll come to you for advice on how to navigate challenges, be independent, treat others and grow into herself.

Your relationship with your daughter may be shaped by your personal history, whether you've been through a difficult divorce or breakup, you've transitioned out of a straight relationship, or you made the courageous decision to pursue surrogacy on your own. Whatever your situation is, studies have shown that children with involved fathers excel more in school and have fewer behavioral issues in adolescence.

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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