In a world that gives a lot of importance to privacy, two parents from Spain have decided to make their family life public. Through their Instagram page and YouTube channel, the two daddies are showing the world how they are raising their children. “We don’t see any difference in other families and ours,” they told FSoG, during a chat on their parenting experience and the decision to go public about it. Below are the transcripts of the interview:
1) What was it like growing up gay in US and Spain respectively?
Bud: I come from a small family in suburban New Jersey. Though there were signals, I had no reference about LGBT until I matured. I started coming out to my friends in the junior college. Thankfully, acceptance wasn’t difficult.
Manuel: I grew up in a joint family in a town on the outskirts of Valencia, Spain. I relished watching ‘The Greatest American Hero’ as I felt attracted to him. I was around 10 years old then. I came out to my friends when I was 23, and my parents, when I was 30.
2) Was it love at first sight?
Bud: You can say that. It was February of 2010. I was living in Madrid, Spain at that time. I was out to celebrate my best friend’s birthday on a Wednesday night. I saw Manuel from across the room the moment we entered the bar, and whispered to my friend, “I am definitely meeting that guy tonight”.
Manuel: We looked at each other for a long time in gaps, but broke the ice only after several drinks. With my Mediterranean blood, I wanted to sleep together that night. But Bud was polite to tell me that he preferred to meet the next day. We were both 35 then. We tied knots after dating for a year.
3) Was parenting always on cards?
Bud: Manuel was thinking about starting a family when we met. In fact, that was one of his conditions for us to even start dating. Two months after our marriage, we travelled to India to start the process through gestational surrogacy. Manuel had researched about surrogacy well before we had even crossed paths. Our kith and kin were all very supportive of it.
4) What does parenthood mean to you?
Bud: It is pure love and happiness. My father would always say that being a parent is the best thing in the world. I never got it until Álvaro was born. Honestly, it is not an experience that you can explain accurately. One cannot even understand it until one becomes a parent.
Manuel: Like women, men have that maternal instinct too. At some point in your life, you do feel you are ready for it. You feel like having children to be a part of your life for the rest of your days. While it is the toughest job in the world, it is incredibly rewarding and brings you endless happiness.
5) Introduce us to little Álvaro and Carmen.
Bud: Time goes by so fast and how! Álvaro just turned four and Carmen is two-and-a-half years old already. She is beginning to talk and we can´t even remember a time when Álvaro didn´t talk. They are little people already, with their personalities and ways of doing things. They love each other very much! Álvaro will sometimes randomly go over to Carmen, say sweet things to her, and hug and kiss her. On being left on their own, they play together and have their own conversations, which their papas sometimes don’t even understand.
Manuel: I still remember how excited I was to hold Álvaro in my arms. We had planned our travel to India according to the estimated delivery date. However, he was born while we were on our way. I remember being on a layover at the Zurich airport and opening email to see the first pictures of our tiny, really red, and at that time, not-very-cute neonate. He looked like a mouse. (laughs)
6) How did you two prepare for this big responsibility?
Bud: We read a lot of baby books and got advice from others. So, we were very secured as parents; we weren’t worried at all. We also began to meet other same-sex parents. All of them were pivotal in helping us get through each step of the process.
7) Were there any challenges during this process?
Bud: Well, one is worried about the health and security of the surrogate mother. Other than that, since In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) isn’t like adoption, there weren’t really many procedural hurdles.
8) What happened in Thailand and how did you two weather the storm?
Manuel: It was the toughest year-and-a-half of our lives. The surrogate mother refused to sign the necessary paperwork for Carmen’s US passport. So, though Carmen was granted U.S. citizenship on the basis of Bud being her biological father, it did not give him any parental right under the Thai law. In Thailand, if a woman is single while giving birth to a baby, she is the only legal parent. We had no other alternative but to fight it legally. Eventually, Bud won the custody for her passport to leave the country legally.
9) How are the responsibilities being managed? Who plays what role in the family?
Manuel: As I work from home, I have a more flexible schedule. Bud has a typical 9 to 5 job. I get the kids up for school and prepare them breakfast and lunch. Both of us look after their academic needs collectively. I’ve taken up cooking, and Bud does most of the cleaning up after meals. Later in the night, Bud puts Carmen to bed and reads Álvaro a story before putting him to bed too.
10) Many wonder how same-sex couples raise their children. Is it any different? Shed some light on that for us.
Manuel: In every family set-up, parents fall into their roles. We obviously have many friends that have heterosexual-parented families, and we don’t see any difference in their families and ours. There are obviously the stereotypical gender roles. But even those are being challenged now.
Bud: We decided to make our family life public to show that a family with two dads can be just as happy and healthy as any other family.
11) What are the two gay papas planning for their kids’ future?
Bud: Uff, you never know what the future holds. All we want to do is give our kids the possibilities that we can for them to live happy lives and be good people.
By Suyash Karangutkar