Being a Dad for me (Michael) was one of the single most important desires I think I’ve ever quite possible had as an adult, the other was most definitely securing tickets to Kylie’s ‘On a Night Like This’ Stadium tour in 2001.
Whilst they were both achieved, the parenting thing definitely trumps Kylie. Kylie aside 2001 was a significant year for me, it was the year I came out after being married to a woman, the Kylie concert was like my homecoming and my arrival to the life I had put on hold for 22 years. So, after a short-lived marriage, I made the decision to be brave and be who I was, with the trade-off that I’d have to kiss goodbye to having a family of my own, as my ex-wife and I hadn’t had children at the ripe old age of 22. At the time, I didn’t know any gay guys that were coupled and had children back then, it just didn’t seem to exist – or I just wasn’t aware.
Fast forward to June 2012, I was single and at Birmingham Gay Pride and happened to clock a guy at the other end of the Bar; Wes. A cheeky northerner from Hull, I instantly needed to talk to him. So I did, 6 months later we’re engaged, 18 months after that we’re married. Simple. You see, Wes had also been married to a woman previously too but Wes had a daughter who was 7 when we met and is a great Father, so I knew he’d also be a great teacher of parenting. Wes and I discussed kids very early on in our relationship as my desire hadn’t disappeared, in fact I mentioned wanting children within the first 3 months of being together, so we discussed all the options available and looked into International Surrogacy, and after 3 years of research we decided on creating our family through Surrogacy but in the UK, as for us; it just felt right.
Our journey began in 2015 when we met our surrogate and after 10 months of getting to know her and family. In December 2015 treatment began and in February 2016 we had embryos created and had a beautiful blastocyst to transfer, with 3 others to freeze. We were one of the lucky ones and our transfer was a success and Talulah arrived in October 2016 – it was, without doubt, the best day of my life.
So you’re probably wondering what was the process like? How smooth was our treatment? How many Blastocysts did we get? Was it expensive? How long did the journey take? How do you find a UK Surrogate? All perfectly valid, inquisitive questions – and I’m happy to answer all of them and our blogs do. However, the most common question we get asked is quite simple;
‘Who’s the Daddy?’
Yup. On the face of it, to a heterosexual couple, it probably seems a fair question to ask I suppose. However, it’s not until you break it down, or compare it to a ‘John and Jane’ situation that it appears odd, rude maybe and a tad offensive.
Picture this, you’re in Waitrose (or a supermarket of your choice, I won’t judge) and your work colleague, let’s call her Jane, bumps into you in the freezer section, Obviously beaming she introduces you to ‘John’ her husband, who you’ve never met before, so you say ‘Hi’. She very quickly and excitedly tells you she’s pregnant.
A: Congratulate her and give her a kiss on the cheek
B: Congratulate them both (maybe not go in for the kiss)
C: Ask her if John’s the father?
See. It’s just weird, and a tad rude and in actual fact, it’s none of your business. If I want to talk about my sperm in Waitrose I will. But most of the time, I probably won’t for fear of being asked to leave.
It doesn’t end there though, people feel like they can ask two guys some of the most bizarre and quite frankly insulting questions when it comes to being new Dads, especially via Surrogacy. We’re no longer offended by it because most of the questions are just down to people being poorly educated about Surrogacy in the UK, and if truth be known, that’s partly why we’re doing what we’re doing.
Asking ‘Who’s the Daddy’ or ‘Who’s sperm did you use!?’ Are possibly the most common questions we get asked by strangers within the first 30 mins of meeting them. Let’s go back to Jane and John, and just clarify her recent announcement.
…’so is it John’s sperm Jane?’ Asked as if he’s completely invisible!
See, its weird, and makes Jane look a little promiscuous to say the least! 😉
We’re happy to answer the question, however its only recently when I compared it to a ‘straight’ situation that we actually thought ‘hang on, that’s not really on’. That’s our sperm you’re discussing.
It doesn’t just end there though, I think people are curious still when they see two guys with a baby so whether its nerves or just pure curiosity they feel the need to ask us questions. UK Society is accepting of families like ours, and through all the work we do via blogging on our website www.twodaddies.co.uk and our social media channels @twodads.u.k. We blogged our entire fertility journey, documenting the highs and the lows. We’ve seen 98% support for what we do and what we stand for. We’ll never convert the 2% so we just have to face facts. We aim to shine a spotlight on UK Surrogacy and Same-Sex parenting, to normalise it – or at the very least to make it feel ordinary through educating others about our very own modern family. So, here’s some additional questions we’ve actually been asked, by strangers, I may add, I’ll break you in gently.
- Are you giving the Mum a rest?
- Why didn’t you adopt?
- How did you decide who’s sperm to use?
- Who’s the Daddy?
- (Usually followers the previous question)…Yea OK, but who’s the ‘real Dad!’
- Who does the ‘Mum’ jobs!?
- Did you feel bad taking the baby away from her Mother?!
- Will you raise her gay? (this was actually asked!)
- How much did she cost?!
As shocking as some of this may all sound, I write this piece from a happy place. I think it’s fair to say the majority of people see us for who we actually are. You see, we’re the same as you, we love each other and we have a desire to become parents, the journey to get there needs a bit of intervention, and may look a bit different to yours, it can be expensive, maybe be stressful and challenging, but that’s fertility treatment for you. We were lucky with our first Surrogacy journey, we had great results with Care Fertility Manchester and will be forever grateful to the team there, a smooth pregnancy followed.
However, luck wasn’t on our side in the Summer of 2018. We decided that we wanted a brother or sister for Talulah, our Surrogate had offered to do another journey for us, and in June 2018 we transferred one embryo, sadly after the two week wait we knew it had failed, to add more pain and stress to the situation our five other embryos didn’t develop enough to be frozen. So we were left needing to start the process all over again. So after a clinic and egg donor change, we decided to more our treatment to CRGH in London based on their impressive HFEA statistics. We transferred a single embryo in December 2018 (and froze 4) two weeks later we got the result every intended parent wishes for, and we’re delighted that we’re expecting a little boy in due at the end of August.
Our experience has left us with an absolute passion for the Fertility industry as a whole, so much so we’re helping other couples understand more about UK Surrogacy. We’re now supporting clinics with their patients and helping and guiding intended parents and fathers through the sometimes complex web of surrogacy. Part of our mission to raise awareness is to educate healthcare professionals about Surrogacy and the needs of intended parents, the Royal College of Nursing recently asked us to speak at their Fertility Nurses annual conference, which was a real privilege, and something we’re very proud of. We’re even partners at this year’s incredible Fertility Fest at The Barbican in London. The Queer Family event and The Big Fat Festival Day are the events where you’ll be able to see us.
We’re nothing particularly special, so for all the curious questions and the occasional stare or comment, at the end of the day we’re all absolutely the same, remove our gender, take away our sexual orientation and the biology of our family – we’re just parents, parenting.
Clothing by Twenty9Children & Twenty9 www.diffusiononline.
Photographer: Marcello Di Torro instagram.com/rossoneri79
Fertility Watch provided by The Fertility Foundation shop.fertilityfoundation.org