There was nothing preordained about the first time Farhad and Drew met. Farhad is from Azerbaijan, a country that borders Russia and Iran, while Drew is from the Philippines. But a driving purpose—to become dads one day—would ultimately bring these two men together.
Farhad (left) and Drew
Homosexuality isn't criminalized in Azerbaijan or the Philippines, but few protections exist for LGBTQ people. That includes LGBTQ couples hoping to raise a family one day— Same-sex couples are not allowed to jointly adopt in either country, for instance, and commercial surrogacy is illegal. Both men understood that if they were to realize their dream of becoming dads as part of a loving relationship, they'd likely need to make their homes somewhere else.
The couple met during a chance encounter in Bangkok, while Farhad was on vacation in the city, and where Drew was living and working. It didn't take the men long to realize they had a shared vision for their futures.
Farhad with Inez
"We both spent the bulk of our growing up years with big family events, and activities with our cousins, uncles and aunties," Drew explained. "I'm so glad that we met each other and share the same dream and aspiration."
Farhad moved to Thailand to be with Drew, and after three years together in Bangkok, they eventually left for more gay-friendly shores: London, United Kingdom.
After carefully considering the various paths to fatherhood available to them, the couple ultimately decided surrogacy was their preferred option. Still, as a same-sex couple, Farhad and Drew worried about the best path forward. "We were a bit doubtful in the beginning," Drew said. "We really didn't know what we were getting ourselves into."
Drew with Inez
After extensive research, the men settled on New Life Global Network, an international network of surrogacy agencies with offices in nine countries, three of which work with single LGBTQ individuals and same-sex couples. They liked New Life's transparency, authenticity and supportive nature. "They were very responsive and provided immediate solutions if we faced any concern," said Farhad. "It made us very confident in the process."
Still, the process was emotional and challenging. "It can place strains on your relationship and careers," Drew said. There were times, the couple admits, when doubts about the process began to overwhelm them. But they wouldn't let go of their dream. "We needed to always remember the bigger purpose of what we are doing, stay close to each other and be strong," said Farhad.
That perseverance paid off. With the help of their incredible surrogate, and the medical expertise of New Life, Drew and Farhad became dads to a beautiful baby girl, Inez, on April 1, 2017. With Inez, they are now a family of nine: three dogs (Sushi, Siri, and Rikki) and three furry felines (Nino, Simba and Mickey). Drew, Farhad and Inez make nine.
Since the birth of Inez, the men's lives have changed in myriad ways, they say. Everything they do is now focused on their daughter. "We now have a bigger purpose in life and it's changing our decisions and plans," Drew said.
Part of those plans will likely involve expanding their family in the near future.
"It is a big decision," said Farhad when asked if he had any advice for other gay men considering fatherhood via surrogacy. "It requires mental, emotional and physical preparation. It is a challenging process."
But just as in any challenge, he added, "the finish line is priceless."