Dads of Meenakshi: Vignesh and Andrea share their parenting journey on social media
AdvertisementAndrea being a migrant from Italy, they shared the anxiety of starting a new life in a new place.Their friendship grew over time and eventually they both decided to share their lives together.It didn’t take much for Andrea to convince his parents about his love for Vignesh. It was much harder for Vignesh.“My parents didn’t understand, let alone accept our relationship,” Vignesh says.It was only after they visited New Zealand, that Vignesh’s parents realised this blossoming relationship was no different to that of any heterosexual couple.
In upbringing, culture, language, religious faith and so on, there are a lot of differences between us. Maybe it's the attraction of opposites.Vignesh
Baby makes threeAfter getting married, Vignesh and Andrea moved to Australia about three years ago.Having decided to have a child of their own, they chose a surrogate mother in the US, who is a healthcare worker specialising in prenatal care.“That choice came in handy, as she could train both of us on the care a baby requires,” Vignesh laughs.The new family hit a hurdle when COVID-19 travel restrictions kicked in and they were stuck in the US for an extended period.Then, the issue of Meenakshi’s citizenship took some time to resolve.While Meenakshi was initially given an American passport, both Vignesh and Andrea wanted their daughter to also have New Zealand citizenship like them.
Meenakshi, reading her first Tamil book. Credit: Vignesh Chandrashekaran and Andrea Carboni“However, the laws of New Zealand on this matter have not changed since the 1950s,” says Vignesh.Although they had a biological connection to the child, neither had given birth to her nor were they legally married to the woman who did.So, the law only allowed them to adopt Meenakshi.
Vignesh and Andrea appealed and had to go the courts in New Zealand to finally get the authorities to accept that they were Meenakshi’s parents.
Dads of MeenakshiSince August 2021, Vignesh and Andrea have been sharing their time with Meenakshi on Instagram. They patiently respond to the questions posed by their 40,000 followers.“We learnt that it’s OK to not be perfect. It’s OK to slack on a few things. We need to be kind to ourselves,” reads one of their responses.With Meenakshi now one year old, Vignesh and Andrea are determined to challenge outdated stereotypes of fatherhood.For example, Vignesh says that in the Tamil culture he was brought up in, fathers rarely got involved in the changes their children go through during puberty.
They started their Instagram account as a way to share their journey with other parents.
A Q&A session on the Dads of Meenakshi Instagram account. Credit: Vignesh Chandrashekaran and Andrea CarboniMeenakshi maybe a bit too young to face bullying. However, the dads say it's never too early to prepare. “Many resources are available nowadays to get your children ready to face bullying,” Vignesh says. “And in the unfortunate event of them facing it, schools are better prepared to address it these days.”Vignesh tells SBS Tamil that sometimes when he uses their Instagram account to vent about being a parent, he receives comments like, “This is why you need a mum as she takes care of it all.”“However, with about 80 per cent of our followers being heterosexual women who can share the frustrations brought about by baby-related chores, we’re not rattled by these comments,” he says.
In fact, they find that their followers are usually the first to respond to such ‘negative’ comments - giving the dads much-needed support.
A tweet about the Dads of Meenakshi Instragram page. Credit: Vignesh Chandrashekaran and Andrea Carboni
A fulfilling futureVignesh and Andrea have a simple desire for Meenakshi.“We want her to grow up as a happy child and have a happy fulfilling life,” says Vignesh.To help with that they have created a loving atmosphere for Meenakshi.
Their Instagram page has delightful reels of Meenakshi visiting a Hindu temple, celebrating Indian, Italian and Tamil festivities, partaking in weekend picnics, playing in their beautiful garden and, yes, throwing the occasional tantrum.
Meenakshi celebrating Deepavali (Diwali) with her dads Credit: Vignesh Chandrashekaran and Andrea Carboni
We want to show the world that parenting - no matter who the parents are - involves the same turmoils, tribulations, and triumphs.Vignesh____________________________________________________________________________________Listen to SBS Tamil at 8pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays on SBS Radio 2.Find your area’s radio frequency by visiting our .For listening on DAB+ , search for ‘SBS Radio’.