Your birth photo is deeply heartfelt + touching. Did you anticipate it would be shared as widely as it was and continues to be?
We are still very surprised and deeply humbled that this photo has become a symbol of equality, love, family and acceptance. Our birth photo was captured by fluke, and the fact that is has been shared millions of times over the world over is quite amazing. We are honoured that our birth photo is used for educational purposes, and can help people learn and open their minds and hearts to the idea that all families are created differently. Love is love.
Bringing home a newborn is a challenge in itself. How did you deal with all of the media attention during that time?
We were more focused on what was happening at home. Taking care of Milo was our first priority. He was, and still is a very easy kid, and sometimes the media attention was a welcomed distraction from the feedings and diaper changes. At other times it was overwhelming, but we had Milo to focus on. The media was kind and accommodating to us, scheduling interviews in between naps and feedings, which was helpful.
Did you consider yourselves activists before Milo’s birth?
Activism comes in various forms. Before Milo was born, we were not advocates for surrogacy like we are now, but being educators we have always been, and will continue to be activists for LGBTQ+ issues and the community. We are both staff advisors for the gay-straight alliances in our respective schools.
Why did you write a children’s book?
We wrote Milo’s Adventures: A Story About Love to help parents discuss with their children that all families are created differently. It is told in simple language that children can understand. It is a great tool for teachers to use in the classroom, as well as for parents as a bedtime story. We are both educators, and we thought a children’s book was a great way to help spread our message.
What does “Family is About Love” mean to you? What do you want it to mean to others?
“Family Is About Love” means that all families are created differently, but the one thing they all have in common is love for each other. Your family doesn’t necessarily have to be blood relatives. Your family are the ones who love and support you no matter what and offer unconditional love. Every family is unique and that is what makes them so special. We want “Family Is About Love” to encourage people to treat everyone with dignity and respect. Be kind to one another and respect each other’s differences. Every family is unique and we should celebrate that.
Is Milo’s Adventures just for families who have had children through surrogacy?
Milo’s Adventures: A Story About Love is for every type of family. We discuss in the book that it isn’t only a mom and a dad, or two moms or two dads, or a single mom or dad that makes a family, but rather love is what makes a family. Every family is not created the same way, and that family is about love.
Is it difficult to explain surrogacy to kids?
When we have book readings of Milo’s Adventures, the students understand what surrogacy is and ask great questions to help them further understand it. Our book is easy to understand for children, and addresses the basics about surrogacy without going into great detail. We leave the detail part up to the parents or educators to talk to their children/students.
As teachers, how much of this book is about education?
As educators, we feel that Milo’s Adventures is all about education. Our birth photo was being used negatively by politicians in Europe, and we wanted to help educate and explain that all families are different. It is Milo’s story, and it is told through his perspective. Milo became a part of our family through surrogacy, so Milo’s Adventures helps educate people what surrogacy is, and how our family came to be.
Did the illustrations or story come first?
We wrote the book first with our friend Debbie Donsky, edited it, and re-wrote it. Once we knew the layout and how the story would be told, then our friend Debbie made the illustrations. She is such a big part of our life and that of Milo’s she knew exactly what the illustrations should look like. (we love and value Debbie around here too!)
Why did you decide to collaborate with Debbie to bring your story to life?
Debbie has been our biggest ally and supporter for as long as either of us can remember. Her experience and background in education made her the perfect fit. Debbie is also Milo’s Godmother, and this turned out to be a true labour of love for all of us. The fact that all three of us can collaborate on this project for Milo made it more special. Milo holds an important place in all our hearts, so this was more of a gift for him!
How do you promote and sell your book?
The media has been very kind to us and supportive of us. After our birth photo had gone viral a second time around, people were interested in how we were going to react to the negativity from the politicians. That is when we decided to finish Milo’s Adventures and help combat the homophobia against our family. The news stations allowed us to come and share our story again, many LGBTQ websites wrote articles about us and Milo’s Adventures, and we created our own website, familyisaboutlove.com where you can purchase a copy of our book. Milo’s Adventures is also available through Amazon, and is available at Book City on the Danforth, Glad Day Books, Silly Goose Kids and Mabel’s Fables. We have also been promoting the book through book readings at stores and schools around the city.
Who signs books the most?
Whenever someone purchases a copy of Milo’s Adventures through familyisaboutlove.com, all three of us personally sign the book. Milo loves “writing” his name in circles. We are working on his signature though!! (I have my signed copy out in my den!)
Do you like blogging?
We love blogging. It has given us the opportunity to share our personal experiences with what we deal with as parents, and people hopefully can relate to it. Many people go through the same struggles as parents as we do, and we like to share our experiences with the world.
What social media platform do you like best for sharing and why?
The social media platform that we like the best for sharing is Facebook and Twitter. On Facebook, it is very easy for us to share posts, and for friends and families to comment, like and share the posts. If it wasn’t for Twitter, we would have not even known our birth photo was being used for anti-gay/surrogacy propaganda. Social media has played such a vital role in sharing our story that it makes it very easy to help spread our message of love. (social media works! it’s why we love working on it ourselves and with/for our clients!)
Since you put so much love out there in the world, do you find it is coming back to you also? Do you still deal with hatred or bigotry?
We are firm believers that if you are kind to other, good things will happen to you. We feel good things are constantly happening to us. People are so generous they send us gifts, we receive messages of love and support. Many people ask us questions regarding surrogacy and say what an inspiration we are to them. We are just being ourselves, and the fact we can be an inspiration to others means the world to us. We do get some hatred still, but we learned early on the ignore the negative and focus on the positive. Truth be told the positive outweighs the negative by a lot.
So, does love really win?
In the end yes. Just like anything in life, there are many ups and downs. Whatever you may be dealing with, at times you may feel defeated. If you stick to your instincts and firmly belief in yourself, you will come out on top. It is said that sometimes the nice people finish last, and we consider ourselves the nice guys. Our message we are trying to convey is one of love and as long as we are positive, love will always win. (yes!)