Dad Life

Special Travel Companions

We all take different roads to parenthood. Some of our roads are longer and bumpier than others, and some involve special people to help us along. Looking back at our journey, I am very grateful for our surrogate Angela. However, there were some unexpected VIP travel companions who shared our excitement for each milestone and made this journey pretty spectacular: Angela’s four fantastic children.


When Angela agreed to be our surrogate she was very clear that one of her main goals was to give her four kids (ages 5, 4, 4 and 2) the story of how one family can help another.  We all read The Kangaroo Pouch together and Angela asked the kids if it was ok for her to carry and grow Frank and Norm’s baby in her “pouch”. Not only were the kids on board from day one, they were ACTIVE participants on the journey.

Angela announced our successful pregnancy while on a video chat with the kids so that we could all celebrate together. Often, Angela would bring one of her kids to medical appointments explaining the procedures and ultrasound images. On one of our many visits to their home, we borrowed a fetal Doppler so that all the kids could hear the baby’s heartbeat.

Throughout the pregnancy, the kids would sing songs and read stories to Angela’s belly. The oldest daughter gave us tips on how to take care of a baby and, on one occasion, she demonstrated how well she understood the situation. When a friend commented on Angela’s pregnancy, her daughter piped up and said “Mommy’s not pregnant! She’s just growing a baby for Frank and Norm!”

One of my favourite moments was when Angela’s family announced to us that we were having a boy. The kids decorated a large cardboard box filled with balloons. Nobody except Angela knew the colour of the balloons until Norm and I released them. Check out the video for the full effect.

The months that followed were filled with group visits to the museum, baby showers, dinners, and baby shopping sprees. Without even trying, this loving family took both my husband and me in as one of their own. And before our son was even born, they loved him and talked about him every day. Today, they ask about our son Luca all the time and look forward to visits. They treat Luca with special, gentle care and Angela’s children look forward to when he can actually play with him.

A pregnant Angela and her 4 kids share a cuddle with me (far right) and my husband A pregnant Angela and her 4 kids share a cuddle with me (far right) and my husband

So it is with great love that I’d like to say thank you to my extra special travel companions. Thank you Madelyn, Carter, Emily and Cole for being such amazing kids and for letting us share your mommy for a while!

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With everything going on in our country, I think saying that it has been a crazy year is an understatement. It has been emotionally difficult and draining at times for many. This year brought so many new changes that it is hard to wrap our minds around some of them. The daunting feeling of uncertainty looms over our heads as we march forward into this unfamiliar territory led by someone we do not particularly trust.

With that said, one thing will not change- the holidays. For my family, this time of year brings cheer, joy, hope, and optimism for the new year to come.

I have always had one golden rule when it comes to decorating our home for the holidays: the current holiday must pass before decorating for another.

Recently, our two year old, Alli Mae, had started to develop an appreciation for all that Christmas brings. The way she lights up and gets excited when she sees Christmas decorations made me think for the first time in my life, what if I changed things up this year? Decorating earlier will also help attenuate the political frustration that this year brought. That coupled with the amazement that our little girl has for Christmas makes a strong case for decorating for Christmas early. Sure, there are diehard Thanksgiving fans that grumble at the thought of Christmas coming early and I am sure they will give this a healthy eye roll and, if so, that's ok. We are not replacing Thanksgiving... we are enhancing it.

We will most definitely continue to teach our children the meaning of Thanksgiving and to enjoy the symbolic feast that comes along with it. The white pumpkins I usually put out for Thanksgiving really made a statement when I mixed them with the Christmas attire. I was quite surprised and impressed by the final outcome!

These days, one of my primary goals in life is to create an environment for my family that is happy, healthy, and nurturing. I want them to get excited about Christmas, both the true meaning and the atmosphere that it brings. When my children walk into the house, I want them to be transported into a bright, cheerful place that they will always remember. Perhaps it will even inspire the way they celebrate the holidays with their families (and our future grandchildren) in the future. The world can be a harsh, cold and scary place, especially lately it seems. I would be lying if I said I didn't do this for myself, too. I am. For the first time in my life, I am worried for the future of our country. I am terrified of the direction we as Americans are taking and worry it is setting a precedent for what the future will be like for my family. Mass shootings seem to happen monthly now, yet there continues to be a lack of response by Congress to create solutions. Bigotry and racism, masked by patriotism, also plague our society. I know I am speaking of sore subjects, but all of these reasons give me the motivation for welcoming the Christmas season earlier.

I do have faith that in time, competent leaders will emerge and will steer us in a direction that will help fade our fear into the bold and lionhearted society that we are. We as LGBTQ families need to comfort one another. Lets extend our hands to each other. Let this holiday season not be about the "correct" time in which we decorate for Christmas, moreover lets make it about coming together as a community that lifts each other up. Lets protect each other. Lets embrace each other for all the we are, all that we bring and all that we stand for. Let us not be silenced- and pushed into a corner but let us lead by example- while showing our children who their parents are by being respectful and tolerant and warmhearted as we welcome this Christmas season.

Erik and Douglas' two daughters, Ella and Alli Mae, who recently turned 2

May you and your family have the most beautiful and happiest of holidays, regardless of when you choose to welcome Christmas. I pray that 2018 will bring each of you happiness, patience, resilience and with time, we will get there, together!

I would love for you to follow our family's journey on Instagram, Nolapapa.com and like us on Facebook.

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As celebrations sweep across Australia, the LGBTQ community, along with their allies, rejoice in the results of the marriage equality vote. Despite the controversial campaign that surrounded the plebiscite, love won. And won big! An overwhelming 79.5% of the population took part in the survey (12.7 million people), and in every state and territory, the majority voted "yes," with 61.6%.

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