Looking back at what I have published in this column, I realise that it’s now been two years since my first article (2015); and indeed it’s been five years (2012) since I started this process. I can remember being told at the time, “you’re in your mid-thirties (by my mother and others) why can’t you wait till you’re a bit older?” Well, little did I know that it would take five years from when my ex and I started to investigate to actually having a child. On the flip side, ironically, I now have conversations about the discrimination I will face being an older parent, as most new mums are in their 20s and I will be 40.
So, I am the proud bearer of good news! In my last column I finished by saying that I hope to report back, with news of a successful transfer and indeed I can. It’s not twins, but an embryo transfer took place back in March and having been grown a bit in the laboratory beforehand, the embryo has developed into a foetus. According to my pregnancy app, this week it is the size of a typical chicken breast and about 5oz in weight, developing its fingerprints and has recognisable features. The nervous system is developing and my baby’s ears have developed so that s/he (we don’t know the sex yet) can hear.
Two weeks ago I sent my surrogate a voucher and a list of classical music to download and play through some tummy speakers. My parents have also recorded nursery rhymes, which we will send to my surrogate shortly. My surrogate, however, enjoys hip hop and rap, so I may well have a MOBO music lover in my son or daughter!
We are also heading ‘through the woods’, as the first trimester (week 12) completed six weeks ago, and the ultrasound imagery taken at the time suggests no abnormalities of the foetus. I now have an expected date of arrival in early December 2017.
In some ways I feel really disconnected from the whole process. I am a whole continent away from my surrogate and all of those things (good and bad) that other new dads experience aren’t happening for me. It’s almost like a surreal dream. I speak with my surrogate once a week and we are connected on Facebook, but the emotional build up and the build up with family and friends is not happening for me. So I feel strangely disconnected.
Part of this disconnection is down to me and my circumstances. The tangled lives that we lead, mean that mine is not as well prepared as it could be. Having agreed not to come out to wider family and in the area where my parents live when I was 18, (I’m only really out in London), my parents and I have been having conversations about how we explain my situation in their local community, to their friends and to my wider family (cousins, aunts, uncles etc). The fear that I feel is immense.
It’s like I’m coming out all over again. That carefully edited and compartmentalised part of my life which is my parental home environment where I grew up, is suddenly in peril. Here’s my current thinking: Having already come out once and the world is very different from where it was 22 years ago when I was 18, I’ve said: we won’t lie, there is no secret girlfriend in the states, I haven’t been deserted by the mother and I am gay and going through surrogacy. It’s mainly because I can’t lie and build lie upon lie, upon lie. With a child in my arms to care for and look after, it’s too much to think about a back story every time. As a result, this was the topic of some debate for a week or two between me and my parents.
The West Country is not a liberal place. My local MP voted against gay marriage and only last year I was verbally discriminated against in my workplace in the local office in Reading, because I’m gay. I’m seriously starting to question if moving back here (because of the support of parents and family) will be the right decision. Only at the weekend the daughter of a neighbour talking to one of her friends across the street said, ‘my mum says he’s funny’ and she didn’t say it in a ‘ha ha, he makes me laugh’ kind of way.
So, I’ve agreed with my parents that following my 40 birthday, I will come out (again!) to my wider family and explain at the same time that I will become a dad. What will be, will be: ‘Que sera sera’. To add to this I need to hold down a job and continue to battle through the surrogacy process.
Speaking of discrimination one my female friends who strongly supports me, suggested that I contact the National Childbirth Trust ‘The UK’s largest charity for parents’. She had taken ante-natal and parental courses with them and is a huge fan. In this sense I’m like any other parent to be, I know nothing and could do with some help. So I went to the website https://www.nct.org.uk – they advertise stuff like a first 1000 days parent support. I found a course and applied. Within about 15 minutes I had a reply from the local co-ordinator. Bubbly and excited, we exchanged e-mails discussing local courses, costs, etc. Until about the fifth e-mail, “whose your partner?” was the question. ‘Um I don’t have one, I’m a gay dad to be going through surrogacy’.
The tone of the response was muted and effectively said, ‘I’m not sure that the course we have discussed is right for you. You’re welcome to attend but we think that a one-on-one session in your home would be “what people usually offer”’.
I noted a change of tone from first person to third person. I have to say I feel really, really let down. Why do I need a special course at home? I’d like to turn up at the course I chose, be welcomed and accepted as a new parent to be. Instead, through the carefully worded language, it’s being suggested that I can join in but it’s better at home because that’s ‘what people usually offer’ – people? Who are ‘people’? I look forward to being continually being discriminated against. I’ve yet to decide if I will try to continue with the NCT.
In a couple of week’s time, we will start the legal process for a pre-birth order in the states to hand over rights to the baby from the surrogate to me before birth. I now also need to think about writing a Will and engaging a UK solicitor – I have one in mind. I was under the impression that there is now single parent, ‘parental orders’ but having spoken to a friend who is also a single dad he seemed to think that they were not in use yet. A single parent parental order will be much easier than getting an effective legal decision or the onerous journey of adoption.
That’s my journey to date, I will update you all closer to December.
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Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.