Cancer & Changing Surrogacy Laws Couldn't Keep This Gay Couple from Becoming Dads
Gabin Wu and Nathan Falkenborg are the proud dads of two beautiful daughters, Lily and Rosi, born July 2017. But their journey to fatherhood wasn't easy. Together 7 years, they have spent 5 of those years battling international surrogacy laws in order to become parents. During this time, Gabin also overcame a battle with cancer. Below, Gabin shares a bit about the young family's journey in his own words.
Written by guest blogger Gabin Wu.
Nathan and I have always wanted kids since getting married in November 2011. We started exploring surrogacy in Thailand in 2012 while we were both living in Singapore, and had lined up a family member to donate her eggs. We traveled to Bangkok, met with an agency, and were ready to get started. Then, things got complicated. The family member we had asked to be our donor was preparing for marriage, and her fiancé was not 100% onboard. So we pulled the plug, wanting to avoid any potential complication.
We then started looking at alternatives, such as compensated egg donors, but life took a slight turn. In mid 2013, the company I work for offered me a position in South San Francisco, California, and we relocated to the US. With a new job and international relocation we decided to put a hold on babies for a couple years, until we know where we would eventually settle down and lay roots.
In 2015, Nathan was offered a job in Singapore and we again relocated. Thinking we would eventually settle in Asia, we restarted the process of trying to have babies through surrogacy, but by this time commercial surrogacy had become illegal in Thailand. Our agency then moved operations to Cambodia and we made plans to get started there, which we quickly did. We had an egg donor selected, and started the fertilization process and had 2 embryos ready for implantation.
However, life got a little more complicated. I was diagnosed with stage 3 non-Hodgkin lymphoma. We decided to move back to the Bay Area for better medical care at UCSF. After completing 4 months of chemotherapy, I was fortunately cancer-free and in full remission by March 2016.
Gabin with Rosi and Lily
This time we had our minds and hearts set on starting the surrogacy process. It became a "now or never" thing. We implanted both embryos in one surrogate mother from Cambodia and eagerly awaited the results, she didn't get pregnant, so we were back where we started.
More determined than ever, we decided to try again with another egg donor. This time we had 11 embryos after fertilization. We also decided to double down on the number of surrogates - we implanted 3 embryos in 2 surrogates, hoping to get at least 1 successful implantation. We eagerly awaited the results. Not too much later, we learned that both surrogates were pregnant! Thinking we were looking at potentially 3 babies, we were a little nervous. The ultrasounds subsequently revealed that we had 1 fetus in each of the surrogates - phew!
Here's the kicker: The laws changed in Cambodia and commercial surrogacy became illegal in the country while we were already 3 months into the pregnancy. We scrambled to explore alternatives and our agency suggested we move the surrogates to Thailand for the birth and exit process. It was legal as it didn't involve Thai nationals - the surrogates were Cambodian and we were American. The US embassy in Thailand would issue US passports to our babies born abroad.
Nathan and Gabin doing skin-to-skin with their newborn daughters
That's where we are today. Lily was born on July 7 and Rosi was born 12 days later on July 19. We've applied for their US citizenship and had their DNA tested to prove parentage. We're now awaiting approval from the US embassy. We also received news that all single parent applications (only the biological father, since none of us are legally married to the surrogate mother) for children born abroad of US citizens are currently on hold due to a recent Supreme Court ruling around discrimination between time required for men being different from women for the application requirements. We've been told that the application would only be slightly delayed but that it would still eventually get approved.
It's been a long and tedious process, and an emotional roller coaster, but we're so thankful that we have two wonderful daughters and we can't wait to take them home to a house we just purchased and remodeled (in anticipation of the arrival of our daughters and our growing family) in Alameda, California.
Considering the journey into parenthood we've embarked on and the complications along the way, we were overwhelmed with joy when our daughters were born healthy and thriving. It's an emotion that I'm sure all new parents feel, though our journey was filled with more obstacles than most heterosexual couples would have to endure, much less gay dads! All in all we feel truly blessed and eternally grateful for being able to start our own little family and hope to do the best to raise our daughters and provide the best lives for them that we can.
Best word of encouragement to aspiring new dads: persevere! The journey any gay parent would have to undertake is inherently challenging in more ways than one. But if we made it work, despite our many hurdles, you certainly can too.