Families come in many different shapes, sizes and colors–this is the message of a new children’s book, “Two Dads Under the Christmas Tree” which features the family of Drake Professor Stefano Vignati, who teaches Italian and directs the Opera Theatre.
Written by Tobias Mile, the story is told through the eyes of baby Jayden, who was adopted after birth by Vignati and his husband Claudio Ferri on Christmas Eve.
The twelve chapters, one for each month of Jayden’s first year, give readers a glimpse into what this young mind might have been thinking as he watched the adults in his life adjust to parenthood. From late night feedings and doctor visits to preparing for the arrival of his baby sister, Jayden’s fictionalized commentary is full of amusing anecdotes.
“The child explains his experience of the first year of life with two dads,” Vignati said. “It’s ironic and very funny because of the language of the kid. He misunderstands his situation sometimes which makes it funny.”
The first in a series of books called Jayden’s Funny Tales, “Two Dads” has two impending follow-up installments titled “How to Survive this Spirited Sister!” and “Charcoalyn, the Coolest Princess.”
“Two Dads” is the first publication by independent imprint called True Colors Lab, which specializes in working with new authors to develop stories about equality and inclusivity.
The family met author Mile (a pen name) while traveling Italy.
“We go to Italy every year for two or three months during the summer for the International Lyric Academy, a summer program for singers and musicians,” said Vignati. “We were in Venice for this reason, and we met [Mile] and he fell in love with this story.”
After meeting Vignati’s family, Mile approached True Colors Lab with his idea.
“I wanted absolutely to create something special featuring their adorable adopted son Jayden,” Mile said. “A series of funny stories about adoption, human rights, solidarity, and respect for diversity, told by this smart child in unusual language. They [True Colors Lab] immediately knew this was a story that needed to be shared to raise awareness about adoption and reach countries where same-sex couples who wish to adopt are discouraged or even denied.”
Available in multiple languages, including English, Italian and Spanish, the story told in “Two Dads” deals with complex issues that often go unrepresented in traditional media. As a result, it creates a unique opportunity for parents to have conversations about diversity with their kids starting at an early age.
“This book puts together many, many aspects of our life. It’s not just about a relationship between two same-sex parents, it’s talking about adoption, which is so difficult, and adoption of another race,” Vignati said. “We wanted to put this ‘Black Lives Matter’ on the back, we insisted because this is a real example about how Black lives matter. We have dedicated our lives to these kids and they are the most important thing for us.”