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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News

Gay Dads Told One Must Identify as 'Mother' to Enroll in Daycare

The Israeli gay dads told one must identify as mother — like a "normal couple" — in order to receive financial assistance for daycare.

Israeli dads Guy Sadak Shoham and Chai Aviv Shoham were trying to enroll their two-year-old twins in daycare when they were told by a government official that one would need to identify as the "mother" in order to be cleared.

According to Out Magazine, the couple was attempting to apply for financial aid to help pay for the costs of preschool when a government bureaucrat called them to discuss their eligibility.

"I understand that you are both fathers and understand that you both run a shared household, but there is always the one who is more dominant, who is more the mother," the government said, according to an interview on the Israel site Ynet (translated by Out Magazine). "I am just asking for a written statement in your hand which of you is the mother. From the point of view of the work, which works less than the father. Like a normal couple."

The official, apparently, said she was beholden to rules set for in the Ministry of Economy.

"It is mostly sad and a little disturbing," one of the dads told Ynet. "These are concepts that we consider the past. We do not necessarily come up with allegations against this representative, she is ultimately subject to the guidelines and as she said, they are the state. It is also sad that the state's definition of a mother is someone who works less and is at home with the children, and that we must choose which of us meets that definition."

The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, fortunately, issued an apology following the incident, and promised to update its protocols. "We will emphasize that the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs practices explicitly treat all types of families and grant equal rights to all," the ministry wrote in a statement, an apology that was called "insufficient" by Ohad Hizki, the director-general of the National LGBT Task Force.

"The Ministry of Labor and Welfare must sharpen its procedures immediately to prevent recurrence of cases of this kind, as other public organizations have been able to do," he said.

Read more about this story on Out Magazine.

Entertainment

First Gay Dads Via Surrogacy in the U.K. Separate as One Plans New Family with Daughter's Ex-Boyfriend

Barrie and Tony Drewitt-Barlow first became known in the UK for being the first gay couple to become dads via surrogacy.

Barrie and Tony Drewitt-Barlow first made headlines in 1999 when they became the first gay couple to become dads via surrogacy in the U.K. They did so again after they announced their separation — and when Barrie revealed he's dating his daughter's bisexual ex-boyfriend, the 25-year-old Scott Hutchinson.

And now the new couple are sending shockwaves through queer media by announcing the two hope to have twins via surrogacy in the near future.

According to Out Magazine, Scott not only dated Barrie's daughter, Saffron, but also worked as his assistant. Despite the age difference and potential for family drama, the pair fell in love. The couple still share a home with Barrie's ex, Tony — and their daughter Saffron.

Barrie told The Sun that the couple also hope to have twin daughters via surrogacy in the near future — and is revealing it now because he doesn't "want there to be any secrets and I want to get any negativity out of the way before our babies arrive." Barrie's ex, Tony, is reportedly onboard with this arrangement — he's even agreed to serve as the future twins' godfather.

Out Magazine further reported that Barrie and Scott each hope to fertilize an egg, and hope to conduct the insemination with their surrogate within the next three weeks. Of course, who are we to judge, assuming all adults involved are consenting and on board with this unconventional turn of events (though comment from the daughter Saffron is notably absent in the interviews). But that didn't stop Out Magazine from ending their reporting with just a wee touch of gay shade... If one of their future daughters "has a cute boyfriend one day," they write. "Who knows!"

News

United Nations Calls on Cambodia to End Criminalization of Surrogates

Cambodia's 2016 law criminalizes surrogacy — and requires women who work as surrogate to raise the children they conceived for intended parents as their own.

Last Friday, the United Nations Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) reiterated its support to end the harassment and criminalization of surrogates in Cambodia, according to Voice of America.

The report issued by CEDAW recognized growing international criticism of the unregulated practice of surrogacy around the world, which often leads to the exploitation of women who work as surrogates. However, since surrogacy became illegal in Cambodia, over 60 women working as surrogates — the very people put in danger of exploitation — have been arrested and subjected to criminal proceedings. The women were only released according to VOA, under the condition of raising the surrogate children until they are 18.

"The Committee is particularly concerned that such an obligation creates an additional financial and emotional burden on women who are in precarious situations, which led them to act as surrogates in the first place," the report reads, "and that they face discrimination and stigma from their families and communities for having acted as surrogates."

CEDAW called on the Cambodian government to repeal the October 2016 law — particularly the requirement of raising the children they conceived for other intended parents as their own. This punishment is particularly onerous given that many of these women entered surrogacy arrangement against their will, said Chak Sopheap, Executive Director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, speaking to VOA.

"Surrogate women in Cambodia are likely to be at the sharp end of various economic and political hardships that caused them to make the decision to become a surrogate," she told VOA in an email. "We have seen, over the past year, women surrogates raided, charged with human trafficking, and detained, with no transparency from the authorities as to their wellbeing or that of the children they have given birth to."

Read more about this story here.

Diary of a Newly Out Gay Dad

A Newly Out Gay Dad Feels 'Demoted' After Divorce

Cameron Call showed up to his first family Thanksgiving since coming out and getting a divorce — and struggles to find himself "stuck with the singles."

Cameron Call, who came out in summer 2019, has generously agreed to chronicle his coming out journey for Gays With Kids over the next several months — the highs, lows and everything in between. Read his first article here.

Denial is an interesting thing. It's easy to think you're potentially above it, avoiding it, assume it doesn't apply to you because you'd NEVER do that, or maybe you're just simply avoiding it altogether. After finally coming out, I liked to think that I was done denying anything from now on. But unfortunately that's not the case.

And this fact became very clear to me over Thanksgiving.

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Resources

New Report Details the 'Price of Parenthood' for LGBTQ People

A new report by the Family Equality Council takes a deep dive into the current state of cost for becoming a parent as an LGBTQ person

Parenthood is expensive. But parenthood while queer is still prohibitively costly for so many segments of the LGBTQ community interested in pursuing a family, according to a new repot by the Family Equality Council, titled, "Building LGBTQ+ Families: The Price of Parenthood."

Among the more interesting findings was this one: the cost of family planning is relatively similar for all LGBTQ people, regardless of income level. This shows "that the desire to have children exists regardless of financial security," the report's authors conclude.

Research for the report was conducted through an online survey of 500 LGBTQ adults over the age of 18, and was conducted between July 11-18, 2018. For comparison, the survey also included 1,004 adults who did not identify as LGBTQ.

Other interesting findings of the report include:

  • 29% of all LGBTQ+ respondents reported an annual household income under $25,000 compared to 22% of non-LGBTQ+ respondents.
  • 33% of black LGBTQ+ respondents, 32% of female-identified LGBTQ+ respondents, and 31% of trans/gender non-conforming LGBTQ+ respondents reported annual household incomes below $25,000.
  • Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have volunteered to participate in online surveys and polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to multiple sources of error, including, but not limited to sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, and error associated with question-wording and response options.29% of all LGBTQ+ respondents reported an annual household income under $25,000 compared to 22% of non-LGBTQ+ respondents.
  • 33% of black LGBTQ+ respondents, 32% of female-identified LGBTQ+ respondents, and 31% of trans/gender non-conforming LGBTQ+ respondents reported annual household incomes below $25,000.
  • Regardless of annual household income, 45-53% of LGBTQ+ millennials are planning to become parents for the first time or add another child to their family. Those making less than $25,000 a year are considering becoming parents at very similar rates as those making over $100,000.
  • Data from the Family Building Survey reveals that LGBTQ+ households making over $100,000 annually are considering the full range of paths to parenthood, from surrogacy and private adoption to foster care and IVF. The most popular options under consideration in this income bracket are private adoption (74% are considering), foster care (42%), and IVF or reciprocal IVF (21%). At the other end of the economic spectrum, for LGBTQ+ individuals in households making less than $25,000 annually, the most commonly considered paths to parenthood are intercourse (35% are considering), foster care (30%), and adoption (23%).

What to Buy

A Gift Guide for LGBTQ Inclusive Children's Books

Need some ideas for good LGBTQ-inclusive children's books? Look no further than our gift guide!

Every year we see more books released that feature our families, and we're here for it! We're especially excited for the day when diverse and LGBTQ+ inclusive books are less of "the odd one out" and rather considered part of every kids' everyday literacy.

To help us reach that day, we need to keep supporting our community and allies who write these stories. So here's a list of some of the great books that need to be in your library, and gifts to the other kids in your lives.

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Gay Dad Life

Broadway Performer's Surrogacy Journey Briefly Sidetracked — for One Very 'Wicked' Reason

"Broadway Husbands" Stephen and Bret explain the exciting reasons they had to hit pause on their surrogacy journey — but don't worry, they're back on track!

In the latest video of the Broadway Husbands sharing their path to fatherhood, Stephen and Bret explain their hiatus for the past 4 months. The couple have big news to share including a relocation, a job announcement, and the fact that they're getting ready to restart their journey (which they had to take a brief pause from since September).

Watch their video to find out their latest news.

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