Gay Dad Family Stories

David and Ben Met on the Dance Floor — and Are Now Grooving Their Way Through Fatherhood

David and Ben, who became fathers with the help of Northwest Surrogacy Center, live in Melbourne with their daughter, Maia.

In 2003, while both studying at Reading University in the UK, Ben Suter and David Cocks met after locking eyes on the dance floor and then being introduced by a mutual friend. Ben, a meteorologist and Operations Manager, and David, an Assistant Principal, have been together ever since. They moved to Australia together in 2010, seeking a different life, and an overall better work-life balance. The chose Cairns in Queensland as their new home, between the Great Barrier Reef and the tropical rainforest, "taking life a bit easier," said David. The couple were also married in June 2016, back home in England.

While David always wanted kids, Ben took a little convincing. So they started their parenting journey with a dog, Titan, who quickly became like their first born. From there, Ben came around rather quickly.


But becoming a gay dad in Australia is complicated by legalities. In Queensland, where the couple lived, adoption was not an option for them, and neither was surrogacy. However, surrogacy in the US did give the couple the best legal protections and meant the timeframe was far more reasonable. They'd heard about the possibility of surrogacy in the states from a British couple who had children via surrogacy in California.

And it wasn't just the legal issues that were difficult to overcome for David and Ben; like most couples, the other major hurdle was financial. The dads-to-be had to sell their house in the UK to go towards financing their journey to fatherhood.

A door opened when an exciting job opportunity came up for Ben which would take the family to the Northern Territory. Due to the state not having any surrogacy laws on the book, so to speak, they were allowed to start putting wheels in motion for their surrogacy journey. "Surrogacy wasn't the only reason for our move but it was a major factor in our decision to leave Queensland," explained David. "We found it very easy to settle in to life in Darwin, we found good friends very quickly. With our dog Titan and an outdoor lifestyle it suited us very well."

As they began researching for their surrogacy journey in the states, they were given some information by the Gay Dads Australia group that was based in Melbourne. Locally, they didn't find any resources or other gay dads in the territory, but during their online research they found out about Men Having Babies. David and Ben utilized their reviews of US clinics to find an LGBTQ-friendly agency that had seen many successes with gay intended parents. They both wanted to find a smaller agency that was highly rated: they decided upon Northwest Surrogacy Center.

"After a few conversations with Sandy and John the founders, as well as Tabitha Koh, one of their legal partners, we decided to go with them," said David. "Our experience was great; although our first transfer was unsuccessful, their matching us with our surrogate seemed very personalized and they were very responsive."

With their first transfer unsuccessful, they moved onto their second and this time, their surrogate Veronica became pregnant.

The dads-to-be planned to travel to the states two weeks before their baby was due, but their daughter Maia had other plans, arriving 5 weeks prematurely. "We had aimed to be there two weeks before her birth and then stay for a month afterwards, but instead I arrived a day after she was born and Ben arrived about five days after that. It was a scary start to her life but she was very strong and left hospital shortly after I arrived," said David.

Due to Maia's early appearance, the Airbnb that the dads were meant to stay in wasn't ready so they ended up staying with their surrogate Veronica and her family. This allowed for the families to really get to know each other and bond over their shared experience. "After Maia was born we stayed about 6 weeks in the US before leaving," said David. "We are very close to our surrogate, Veronica, and we will stay in touch forever. She and her husband have been to visit us in Bali and Darwin, plus we have met up in the UK while she was visiting her other surrobabies in France. We will continue to take holidays together and we Skype and text every month; she is very much part of our family now."

Today dads David and Ben live in Melbourne with Maia who is now three years old. The dads are loving fatherhood! "Life is amazing!" shared David. "I waited my whole life to be a father and spending time with Maia and watching her grow and develop has been a truly special time." Both dads attest that they've learned tolerance, patience, and especially managing expectations. "We have also learnt so much about human learning processes and how babies go from a helpless infant to an independent and fear-free young child."

And their advice to others considering a similar path? "Go for it, it is a path that can be tricky, expensive and highly emotional, but the bonds formed with our surrogate and her family, as well as with our beautiful daughter, made every moment worthwhile," said David.

They have just begun their second surrogacy journey, this time with another surrogate, and again with Northwest Surrogacy Center. "Our surrogate, Veronica, was a truly special person who connected deeply with us and our family. We are excited to be starting the next journey with a new surrogate and hope to have as much of an adventure this next time around!" We can't wait to watch this space!

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Gay Dad Family Stories

This European Couple Became Dads Through a U.K.-Based Surrogacy Program

Janno, from Estonia, and Matthias, from Belgium, were accepted into the "Childlessness Overcome Through Surrogacy" Program.

Janno Talu, an accountant, and Matthias Nijs, an art gallery director, were born in different parts of Europe. Janno, 39, is from Estonia, and Matthias, 28, is from Belgium. Their paths crossed when the two moved to London, each from their different corners of the European Union.

Janno relocated to London earlier than Matthias, when he was 24, and his main reason for the move was his sexuality. "Although Estonia is considered one of the more progressive countries in Eastern Europe, when it comes to gay rights, it is still decades behind Western society in terms of tolerance," said Janno. "And things are not moving in the right direction." In 2016, same-sex civil union became legal, but the junior party in the current coalition government is seeking to repeal the same-sex partnership bill. "In addition," Janno continued, "they wish to include the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman in the country's constitution. Even today, there are people in Estonia who liken homosexuality to pedophilia, which is why I decided to start a new life in the UK, where I could finally be myself."

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

A Gay Dad Asks: Is Destroying an Embryo Similar to Abortion?

It's a question many LGBTQ parents using advanced fertility treatments will need to face — what to do with "left over" embryos.

Let me start off by saying that I have always been pro choice and support all laws that allow people to have full reproductive rights including safe and legal abortions. This is a complicated subject and not one that I ever thought I would really have to deal with on a personal level, especially being a gay man.

I remember a very heated discussion on abortion in my biology class back in university. I was young, idealistic and had very strong convictions about abortion. I was debating with a female classmate who was pro life. She felt there was no reason for an abortion ever, not even if raped by your own parent or sibling. I could not really understand her position, then or now. Don't get me wrong, I still don't agree with her, but now that I'm older and wiser, and also a parent, I have come to respect and accept opinions other than mine.

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Expert Advice

What's It Like When You're NOT the Bio Dad to Your Baby

Lauren Mello of Circle Surrogacy breaks down some of the challenges facing the gay dad who will *not* become the biological parent.

If you're a gay couple considering surrogacy, one of the first decisions you'll need to make together is who is going to be the biological father. When it's time to create your embryos with your egg donor's eggs, you have a few choices when it comes to which dad will be providing his biology: one dad only can provide his biology, both dads can provide their biology and leave the fertilization to chance, or both dads can provide their biology and fertilize half of the embryos with each dad's sperm. Some gay dads choose this third option if they plan to have twins, or more than one baby through surrogacy.

Once embryos are created, you'll decide which embryos will be transferred into your surrogate mother. Hopefully a pregnancy results, and you'll be on your way to fatherhood!

The question is: what's is like when you're NOT the bio dad to your baby? We spoke with a few dads through surrogacy from Circle Surrogacy & Egg Donation, about the emotions surrounding being a bio dad...and not being one.

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News

Indiana Court Says Couples Using Sperm Donors​ Can Both Be Listed on Birth Certificate — But Ruling Excludes Male Couples

The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in the case, a major victory for LGBTQ parents — but the Attorney General may appeal to the Supreme Court.

On Friday, a US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling from a lower court that said that both parents in a same-sex relationship are entitled to be listed on the birth certificate — previously, the state of Indiana had required the non-biological parent within a same-sex relationship using assisted reproductive technologies to adopt their child after the birth in order to get her or his name listed on the birth certificate, a lengthy and expensive process not required of straight couples in the same situation.

It's a double standard LGBTQ parents have long been subjected to in many states across the country. So this represent a major win. As reported by CNN, this ruling "takes a lot of weight off" the shoulders of LGBTQ parents, said Karen Celestino-Horseman, a lawyer representing one of the couples in the case. "They've been living as families and wondering if this was going to tear them apart."

The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals deliberated the case, according to CNN, for more than two and a half years, which is one of the longest in the court's history.

However, because all the plaintiffs in the case involved female same-sex couples using sperm donors, the ruling left open the similar question of parenting rights with respect to male couples. Indiana's Attorney General, moreover, may also appeal the case to the Supreme Court.

We'll be following the case closely and be sure to keep you up to date. For more on this recent decision, read CNN's article here.

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

As a Gay Dad, What's the Impact of Letting My Son Perform Drag?

Michael Duncan was excited when his 10-year-old son asked if he could perform in drag for charity — but he also felt fear and anxiety.

As LGBT parents, we have all lived through some sort of trauma in our lives. For many it is the rejection of our family, being bullied, or abuse. We learn to be vigilant of our surroundings and often are very cautious of who we trust. As adults, we start to become watchful of how much we share and we look for "red flags" around every corner.

So, what effect does this have on our children? Does it unintentionally cause us to be more jaded with our interactions involving others? For some the answer may be a resounding "no." But as we look deeper into the situation, we often find that through survival our interactions with others have changed and we may not even realize exactly how much we are projecting on those around us.

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Diary of a Newly Out Gay Dad

A Gay Chiropractor Explains Why He Came Out to His Patients

After Cameron Call, a chiropractor, came out to his family this past year, he knew he had one more step to take — he had to come out to his patients

Fear is an interesting thing. It motivates when it shouldn't, shows at inconvenient times, and is the author of stories that do nothing but hold us back. I would argue though, too, that fear has some good qualities. I believe it helps us to feel. And I think it can be a great teacher as we learn to recognize and face it.

For years fear prevented me from embracing my truth and accepting a large part of who I am. I know I am not alone in that regard. But for so long my fear convinced me that I was. Fear is what kept me from ever telling my parents or anyone growing up that I am gay. Fear mingled with strong religious teachings, embraced at a young age, which led me to believe that I could cure myself of my attractions to the same gender. And fear is a part of what kept me in my marriage to a woman for over ten years.

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

A Gay Dad Gains Clarity After a Health Scare

A recent health scare helped give Erik Alexander clarity.

Sometimes fear can cripple the mind and hinder ones judgement. Having children of my own, I have come to grips with accepting the things I cannot change and learned to take action when there is no other choice. When it comes to my own personal health, the future and well being of my family gives me all the clarity I need to make the right decision about any kind of health scare.

This episode is dedicated to all the parents out there that are going through or have gone through similar situations.

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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