Viral Photo: Two Fathers Embrace Their Newborn Child

Right before their son Milo was born in Kingston, Ontario via a gestational surrogate, a midwife yelled “shirts off” to ensure that new dads Frank Nelson and BJ Barone were ready to embrace their baby against their bare chests for skin-to-skin bonding. Photographer Lindsay Foster had captured the birth as a gift for her friend, Kathy Frenette, the couple’s surrogate. Foster immortalized the moment when Milo was held by his fathers for the first time, even before the umbilical cord was cut.

In the pictures, a shirtless Nelson, 44, cradles Milo against his chest while Barone, 34, has an arm wrapped around them, as the new dads shed tears of joy. “She captured the most beautiful moment,” Nelson shared with TODAY Parents in a phone interview on Monday. “I was completely overwhelmed. I was so scared of dropping the baby. Mostly, the feeling was of joy and love and amazement.”

The raw emotion captured by Foster, he said, “embodies unconditional love to us and pure happiness.” Barone added: “I was so excited, so overjoyed, so overcome with emotion, it was an incredible moment I will never forget. The fact we have this photo, it’s a reminder of how much love we have for him.”

“He’s definitely our pride baby,” dad Frank Nelson says of baby Milo, who was born during the World LGBT Pride celebrations. “We’re so proud of him.”

(Why are the dads shirtless? Skin-to-skin contact has been shown to have many health benefits for newborns, from temperature regulation to pain management, so it’s standard practice at many births now.)

The new dads, Frank Nelson and BJ Barone, had a little photoshoot with their newborn son, Milo, using their cellphone camera. Jokingly, Nelson mentioned that they were thrilled to have received 200 “likes” on one of their Facebook posts. However, they had no idea that the response to Lindsay Foster’s photos, which were later posted on Facebook, would be so overwhelming. In no time, the pictures went viral, and the couple was stunned by the public reaction.

Nelson expressed his gratitude towards the photographer, saying, “The fact that she got that picture was amazing. We are so grateful to her.” The couple could hardly believe the emotions captured in the images. “As soon as I saw it, I started crying because you can see such emotion on everyone’s face, especially Frank’s,” Barone said. “It instantly brought me to tears. I couldn’t believe it.”

Milo’s arrival couldn’t have been more perfect for the Toronto couple, married for almost four years. After their first attempt at having a child failed, their son, born to a surrogate, was born on June 27, right in time for the World Pride gay rights festival in Toronto.

Before the umbilical cord was cut, Nelson and Barone embraced their newborn son, and photographer Lindsay Foster was moved by the moment. “Every pain that she had, they were crying along with her. I wanted to take a picture and hug them at the same time,” Foster said.

To Nelson, Milo is “our pride baby,” and the photos represent what Pride is all about and how far the LGBT community has come. “Love is love, and that’s what pride is all about,” he added.

The photos circulated the internet, and many people had positive things to say. Although some posted negative comments, most were supportive, and one man even wrote that the images “had opened his heart to acceptance, and that the love shown for a child has no boundaries,” according to Barone.

He said it brought him to tears. “We’re not trying to change the world. The fact that we’re able to raise awareness and hopefully inspire people, it’s an incredible feeling.” Their photo, taken by a professional photographer, quickly went viral after being shared by actor and gay rights advocate George Takei on Facebook. Takei wrote, “Congratulations, new fathers. These photos are a wonderful reminder that love is what makes a family.” For Nelson, it was satisfying to see the photo spark an online discussion about gay rights and what it means to be a good parent. “It can open people’s minds and start a conversation about how a child only needs unconditional love, whether it comes from a man, a woman, or anything in between,” Nelson said.

While the new dads had forgotten their camera in the rush to the hospital for their son’s birth, photographer Lindsay Foster captured their unforgettable first moments with the baby. Foster, who had never photographed a surrogate birth before, felt there were three parents who needed her support this time. “Every pain that she had, they were crying along with her,” Foster recalled.

“When she’d scream, they’d scream. I wanted to take a picture and hug them at the same time.” Foster found out a month before the birth that the intended parents were a gay couple, which made it even more special for her. She was struck by the incredible emotion on display during the birth. “What made it even better was the emotion from them,” Foster said. “It was just absolutely amazing. I’m shocked that I have any pictures in focus, I was crying so hard with them.” The new dads are now back home in Toronto with their newborn son, Milo, and are enjoying every moment with him. “Milo has been a great baby,” Nelson said. “He sleeps a lot, he poops a lot and he’s been very good for his daddies.”

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