Having the same first name as each other almost stopped Jonathan Boudier from agreeing to a first date with his now-husband, Jonathan Santiago.
“I didn’t want to date him because he had the same name as me,” Jonathan B. laughed. ”But in 2013 a rainy day came and I started chatting with him on a dating app, and it just went from there.”
After talking for a few months, the two met up in person in New York City on New Years Day 2014. Exactly one year later, on New Years Day 2015, Jonathan B. proposed to Jonathan S. in front of his entire extended family. They were married in October.
On their very first date, they shared with each other that they both wanted to have kids. Coming from Latin backgrounds, Jonathan B. said that discussion around family was always important to them to have upfront.
“We always knew we wanted kids,” he explained. “It was always about how we would go about it when the time came.”
After they got married and purchased their first home together in south New Jersey, the couple started talking about forming a family.
Initially, Jonathan and Jonathan seriously considered surrogacy. They went through months of research and tests. But due to the costs of surrogacy, they felt discouraged about that path.
“We had just got this house, and we didn’t want to pull equity, and we’d heard both negative and positive stories from other people about surrogacy,” Jonathan B. said. “It just wasn’t something we both felt comfortable doing in order to have a biological child. I felt really discouraged.”
Upset by the stressful process, Jonathan B. cried himself to sleep one night. Then, he had a vivid dream that his cousin Megalina, who had died in a plane crash years earlier, was dropping off four children at their home. When he woke up, he went to the mailbox and found a letter about a foster-to-adopt orientation that was being held on his birthday.
A self-described “spiritual person,” Jonathan B. said he took the series of events as a strong guiding sign, and they went to the orientation on his birthday to start their journey as foster parents.
In September 2017, the same day they were licensed as foster parents, Jonathan and Jonathan welcomed their first foster child, Nathan, into their home.
“They brought him to us that night,” Jonathan S. said. “He had just turned two years old. He had already been in four foster homes.”
Later that week, Jonathan B. got a phone call about a newborn baby, Wilfredo Amore, whose biological mother was a drug user, and his 15-month-old brother Miguel, who was already in the foster system.
Although he had to answer quickly, and he was scared to hear the baby had prenatal drug exposure, Jonathan B. said he had a gut feeling and immediately said yes. Moments later, Jonathan S. got an excited phone call from his husband telling him they would soon be taking in a baby and another toddler.
“It escalated very quickly,” Jonathan S. laughed. “Before we knew it, we needed a bigger car. It doesn’t always happen fast for everybody, but for us, the kids just kept coming until we had to say — that’s enough!”
At first, the couple faced some push-back from foster case workers who were dubious about them taking in so many children at such young ages. But Jonathan B. went through parenting books and regulations until he could prove that they should be allowed to take in both children in order to keep them together as a sibling group.
On Christmas Eve 2017, the newborn baby, Wilfredo Amore, came to their home. His brother, Miguel, joined them a few months later when he reached 18-months-old.
Their oldest son Nathan had in fact formed a special bond with Miguel even before he came to their home. Since they were so close in age, Miguel and Nathan already went to the same daycare together.
Before he was fostered by Jonathan and Jonathan, Miguel would get dropped off at the daycare by his case worker in the mornings, and Nathan would routinely yell “That’s my friend!” In early 2018, Nathan’s best friend became his brother.
About six months after Miguel and Wilfredo joined their family, Jonathan B. was sitting on their couch when he started craving Doritos, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, and fried pickles.
“I said ‘We’re pregnant, I feel it,’” he laughed. “A while later, I decided to ask our case worker what the possibility was that their mother was pregnant again. We came to find out she was pregnant again, and they asked us if we could take that baby too, who was also addicted. We looked at each other, and we said no. It’s too difficult. We have a six-month-old baby.”
Jonathan B. said he felt conflicted, so he consulted with a friend and asked his family to pray for him as he continued to struggle with the decision. A week later, Jonathan and Jonathan were hanging out at home together when they said they had the same thought at the same time. They did want that addition to their family. Especially if the child would be another sibling for their youngest two.
Rounding out the brood of four, their daughter Megalina came home right out of the hospital. She was named after Jonathan B.’s late cousin, who had first appeared in his dream delivering them their four children.
“It was fate,” Jonathan B. said. “She was absolutely meant to be in our lives.”
Once Megalina (nicknamed ‘Mama’) had joined the Boudier-Santiago clan, the dads officially adopted all four kids in January 2020. Now, their children are aged 3, 4, 5 and 6 years old.
Having four young kids within one year has had its ups and downs. Jonathan S. said potty-training several children at a time wasn’t easy, and it took a lot of patience. Their two oldest are now fully potty trained, Wilfredo is close, and Megalina is learning as well.
“She wants to be a big girl, she’s excited about it,” Jonathan S. said. “So we hope she’ll be the easiest.”
The dads said the cost of having a big family has also been an issue at times. To help with the expenses of having four very young kids, Jonathan B. decided to work at the childrens’ daycare. That allowed them a reduced daycare cost, and the schedule he needed for taking care of a family and a home.
Amid all that life-juggling, the dads knew they had to make time for themselves. So they came up with a plan. Once a month, Jonathan B. makes sure to have his “Daddy-time,” and Jonathan S. gets his “Papi-time.”
“That consists of checking into a hotel, and getting 24 hours to yourself,” Jonathan B. said. “It has been really rewarding. We like gifting it to each other. It’s just time to zone-out and rest, nobody wakes you up, because the kids are up at six in the morning!”
For these dads, the best thing about having children has undoubtedly been having four incredible people to love and care for.
“Getting to live life through their eyes, how excited they are about everything they see and do, everything is brand new,” Jonathan S. beamed. “That’s my favorite thing.”
Although many gay men may believe they can’t afford surrogacy or traditional adoption due to the cost, Jonathan S. said same-sex couples can have families despite financial barriers. (Check out our recent webinar on ways to make adoption more affordable). His advice to other would-be dads is to seriously consider foster care as a way to build a family.
“Think about fostering-to-adopt. These children are already there, they already need a home,” he said. “It’s worked out beautifully for us, and we’ve never looked back.”