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When a Surrogate Becomes Part of the Family

Altruistic surrogacy---when a surrogate carries a baby to term for the intended parents without compensation---is the only legal form of surrogacy in Canada. These women give incredible gifts to the intended parents they assist. And for new dads Jean Pierre and Tom, their surrogate, Ann, gave them so much more. Today, they not only have a newborn son, Augustine, but a friendship with Ann and her family that they could not have imagined.


Jean Pierre (left) and Tom with Augustine

Wanted: A Loving Surrogate

Over two years ago, Jean Pierre and Tom attended a 12-week program called "Daddies and Papas To Be" at their local LGBTQ center in Toronto to learn about the different ways they could become dads. Tom was interested in having a biological connection to a child, so the two of them decided to first try surrogacy.

They met with a fertility clinic, an egg donor agency, and a surrogacy agency but also decided to try and find a surrogate on their own.

"We wrote a post on Facebook that a friend of Tom's read," Jean Pierre told Gays With Kids. "She forwarded it to a female co-worker of hers who was already considering becoming a surrogate. We fell in love with Ann from that very first meeting and, luckily, she felt the same about us."

Together, Jean Pierre, Tom and Ann embarked on their journey and on March 15 this year, Augustine was born.

Photo credit: Stacy's Creations Photography

During the labor, Jean Pierre and Tom were close to Ann from the moment they arrived at the hospital, comforting her in any way they could. When it was time for her to begin pushing, it only took a few moments before their son made his world debut. Tom held Augustine for his first skin to skin moment, and Jean Pierre cut the cord. Both men were overjoyed.

"Those first moments of contact were surreal," Jean Pierre reminisced. "Being able to finally welcome our little boy into our arms and knowing that without a doubt, we had committed our lives to him and we would do everything in our hands to protect and to love him unconditionally."

The New Routine

Since then life has been turned upside down but in the best possible way. Both dads are adapting to their new roles as fathers and caring for their baby 10-week-old son. Tom, who owns his a consulting practice within the medical diagnostics industry, and Jean Pierre, a flight attendant for WestJet, are not working at the moment so they are sharing the nighttime duties: Jean Pierre takes the first round, feeding Augustine at 2:30 a.m., and Tom gets up at dawn for his shift. (He's the morning person of the pair, he says, so this arrangement works well.)

Augustine is fed breast milk which Ann provides on a weekly basis, and for which the dads are incredibly grateful.

The most challenging aspect of their newfound fatherhood they say is complaint familiar to any new parent: lack of sleep. They try to squeeze naps in but this isn't always successful.

"We have come to have a great appreciation and admiration for single parents," said Jean Pierre. "Without each other's support, we would have a very hard time coping with the responsibilities of caring for Augustine while in a constant state of sleep depravation."

Family Support

One thing that hasn't surprised Jean Pierre and Tom, but has been greatly appreciated, has been the amount of support and love the new dads have received from friends and family.

Ann and her two sons have also become apart of Jean Pierre and Tom's family; even their extended relations know each other.

Ann holding Augustine

"We could write pages about how important Ann has become to our family," explained Jean Pierre. "To make a long story short, we love Ann as one of our kin."

Jean Pierre and Tom are even considering another baby further down the track and Ann has insisted to be their gestational surrogate again.

In less than two years since they began their journey, not only are Tom and Jean Pierre now dads, but they have also gained three more family members: Ann, their surrogate, and her two sons. One thing we've learned here at Gays With Kids, is that families come in all shapes and forms, bonded together through love.

Tom (left) and Jean Pierre holding Augustine with Ann (right)

Feature photo credit: Stacy's Creations Photography


For more on surrogacy:

Watch Jean Pierre, Tom and Ann speak about how they became a family.

Surrogacy Counseling for Gay Men: What to Expect

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The study also found that over half of gay dads have avoided certain social situations in the last year for fear of experiencing stigma.

According to new research by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the vast majority of gay men and their children experience some form of stigma. The findings are based on a survey of 732 gay father across 47 states in the United States.

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"

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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.

I distinctly remember one photo shoot where I forgot to put a wedding ring on the "husband's" finger and we had to reshoot it. No photoshop back then!

Now admittedly this was before I was a dad and before I was out, but as the years went by and I embraced my own journey as a gay dad, there were no role models or pop culture markers to say that I (and other gay dads) were accepted. There were no Andy Cohens publicly making baby announcements. We were alone on our parenting.

It was hard. There was a constant barrage of straight parenting norms that constantly reminded us that we were different.
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.

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