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"Tiny Beautiful Moments": One Gay Couple's Turn to Fatherhood

Nic and Tim didn't think fatherhood was in their cards. Now that they find themselves raising a son? It's what they want most out of life.

"I never thought I'd be a parent," Tim Wang confessed. "It was just not on the radar." He didn't think it was much on the mind of his partner, Nic Cher, either until five years into their relationship when he was dealt a surprise: Nic had babies on the mind. For a moment, Tim thought their different views on the subject would be enough to threaten their relationship.


"But Nic was very patient," Tim said.

And patience for these two Australian dads-to-be would certainly prove to be a virtue. It would take nearly five years from this discussion before the couple would make the decision to become dads.

Nic (left) and Tim's commitment ceremony, 2014

Part of their hesitation centered on a concern both men shared: what if their future child was bullied on account of having two dads? What if their son or daughter was made to feel different? Is that fair to bring a child into a "non-traditional" family headed by two men? These are questions that every LGBTQ parent faces at some point in the process. And sometimes it falls to our allies to help us realize how little sexual orientation should matter in the process of forming a family. It was Nic and Tim's straight friends, in fact, that helped the couple see past their reservations and encouraged them to consider more important thing: such as how much love they could bring into a child's life.

"We have lovely straight friends who saw in us the capacity to love and they helped change our perspectives on parenting," said Tim.

Nic and Tim with their friends at their commitment ceremony, 2014

Prior to starting the process, however, the couple had other business to attend to: making a commitment to one another. On April 28, 2012, Tim and Nic held a beautiful commitment ceremony in front of friends and family. (Same-sex marriage was not yet legal in Australia at the time.)

Two years later, they finally started their surrogacy journey. "We considered adoption," said Tim of their thought process at the time. "But it was very challenging and was going to take too long." Each state and territory has different rules and legislation governing adoption, the couple pointed out, making the process somewhat difficult and intimidating.

Surrogacy, of course, comes with its own set of hurdles in Australia, the first of which was the most obvious: the practice is illegal. So once the dads had settled on surrogacy as their path to parenthood, they looked to the west coast of the United States to start the process. After conducting a wide search, they settled on the Pacific Fertility Center in Los Angeles. With their help, their son Dylan was born in July 2015. Both dads say it was a very smooth process.

Tim holding baby Dylan

So what is life like for these men, who once thought they'd never be dads? It's certainly been an adjustment, they say, learning to juggle sleep deprivation, midnight feedings and diaper changes all while pursuing ambitious careers. But these shifts in their life style were somewhat to be expected. The bigger surprises brought on by fatherhood, according to the couple, were far more existential.

"I've learnt to let things go and to stop trying to control everything and get things perfect," said Tim. "But more than that, I've learned to stop always pursuing the next best thing. Instead, I revel in the very tiny beautiful moments that life just rolls our way."

"It's been a beautiful change," added Nic. "My favorite moments are at bedtime, when we're curled up under the sheets and singing or reading."

Nic holding Dylan with Tim at Mardi Gras, February 2016

Recently, the family has introduced even more change into their lives: they decided to uproot their lives in Sydney and move to the smaller city of Brisbane to allow for a slightly slower pace of life, and to give Dylan more space. Their new home has provided them with different opportunities. Nic has opened his own veterinary clinic and Tim has gone back to school to get his doctorate degree. They are accomplishing these major life goals, moreover, without losing sight of their number one priority: spending more time with their son.

"We're a lot more connected to family and the wider community," said Nic, noting that Tim's parents also decided to relocate to Brisbane to be closer to their grandson. "And the lovely thing is that we're still very close to our gay and lesbian friends."

Nic, Dylan and Tim, June 2016

And what does Tim, who originally didn't think fatherhood would be in his cards, now think about his status as a dad? "I've always searched for that role or for a path in life that gave me a sense of meaning," he said. "Being a father was the only thing I've experienced that I've walked into and gone, 'yes, this is what I want for the rest of my life' right from the get-go."

It has felt so right to he and Nic, in fact, that the couple are now looking to expand their family further, once again with the help of Pacific Fertility Center. This time, unfortunately, the couple has encountered more road blocks.

Nic, Dylan and Tim, May 2017

"I think we're feeling doubts now in relation to a potential second and third child," said Nic. "We haven't had much success with the subsequent pregnancies and we're about to enter into a new journey with Pacific Fertility. There's always anxiety when you begin anew."

But given the success they had with their son, Dylan, the dads know they're in excellent hands. And regardless of what the future holds, Nic and Tim say their family already feels complete.

"We've had to talk long and quietly between the two of us as to what we hope our family will look like, and get to a point of acceptance that even if we don't get there, our son is exactly who we need, who we've always wanted, and that he is more than enough for us," said Tim.

Dylan on Tim's shoulders

Tim and Nic also have a message to other gay men considering fatherhood: they are cheering you on!

"We want you all to join us simply because the more rainbow kids and 'gaybies' there are, the better it is for all rainbow families," said Nic.

"And gay men make excellent, excellent loving parents," added Tim.

*We've partnered with Pacific Fertility Center to share some of the stories of the men whom they helped become dads. Be sure to keep an eye out for next month's family!


February 2018

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More gay men are becoming fathers each year, and have more options for doing so than ever before: including adoption, foster care, and surrogacy. However as the study's authors write: "Despite legal, medical, and social advances, gay fathers and their children continue to experience stigma and avoid situations because of fear of stigma. Increasing evidence reveals that stigma is associated with reduced well-being of children and adults, including psychiatric symptoms and suicidality"

Almost two-thirds of respondents, or 63.5%, reported experiencing stigma based on being a gay father within the last year. Over half, or 51.2%, said they have avoided situations for fear of stigma, in the past year. Importantly, the study found that fathers living in states with more legal protections for LGBTQ people and families experienced fewer barriers and stigma. Most experiences of stigma (almost 35%) occurred, unsurprisingly, in a religious environment. But another quarter of gay dads said they experienced stigma from a wide variety of other sources, including: family members, neighbors, waiters, service providers, and salespeople

Surprisingly (or perhaps not?) another source of stigma cited by the study originates from other gay men. "Gay men report suspicion and criticism for their decision to be parents from gay friends who have not chosen parenthood." The study also says gay dads often feel "isolation in their parental role."

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Gay fathers on the cover of Parents Magazine! Gay fathers being celebrated in a "main stream" publication about being parents. Gay fathers!

I don't want to get overly dramatic here, but this is a milestone. A massive cultural milestone.

Sure, gay dads have come a long way in being accepted in our popular culture, but to my eye we've never been on the cover of a big popular parenting magazine celebrating our parenting skills. As if we are the norm.

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This is a particular milestone for me because I have a bit of a history with the magazine and with parenting publications in general. My first job out of grad school was in brand marketing at Johnson's Baby Products where I did indeed run advertising in this particular magazine. Back then though we only featured married, straight couples. There were no other kinds of parents to feature back in the day! And if I'm to be really honest, they were generally white, married, straight couples.

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Not any more! Being a gay dad, or any dad, is now simply being a parent. A good parent. A loving parent. And we have Parents Magazine to thank for the reminder and endorsement, with hopefully more to come.

And I can't help but think, and actually know, that this kind of normalization will inspire the next generation of gay dads who will simply accept, without hesitation, that fatherhood as a gay man is a real, accepted, and normal option.

Bravo!

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