For its article “Old Dads,” the National Post interviewed several men who had become fathers at an older age. Two of these men were husbands Ferdinand van Gameren (54) and Brian Rosenberg (49), fathers of three young children and co-founders of Gays With Kids.
The journalist who conducted the interviews, Ben Kaplan, focused solely on the trend of delayed fatherhood and van Gameren and Rosenberg were included in the piece for that reason. But they just “happened to be gay.”
“We’re late, but we’re happy and healthy and we know our place in the world now. We know being parents is what we want to do for the rest of our life.”
Waiting, however, isn’t always a choice, and in the case of Brian Rosenberg, 49, and Ferdinand van Gameren, 54, the road to their three children was heartbreaking, time-consuming and expensive: The birth of their daughters Sadie and Ella through a surrogate in 2010 cost more than $180,000. “Brian and I have been together since 1993 and at that time, gay parenting was very, very rare,” says van Gameren, co-founder of Gays With Kids. “It wasn’t even clear then if gay parenting was good for the children. The jury wasn’t out yet — the jury didn’t even exist.”
Added to the couple’s complications was that Rosenberg had been HIV positive and, in van Gameren’s words, “was basically surviving” when their relationship began. Few marriages could withstand the repeated challenges they faced.
“I knew I’d be a good and knew I was madly in love, but I remember thinking: ‘If he could make it another five years, it would be worth the relationship,’” van Gameren says. By the time protein inhibitors were able to save Brian’s life in 1996, and the couple could enjoy a few symptom-free years, they were no longer young. But as they soon learned after a long struggle with adoption, starting a family could be fraught with risks.
“When gay men want to become parents, it’s not something that happens on prom night,” van Gameren says, adding that it wasn’t until his 49th birthday that he and Rosenberg could celebrate Levi, the son they adopted at his birth. “We’re late, but we’re happy and healthy and we know our place in the world now. We know being parents is what we want to do for the rest of our life.”
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+ Illustration with modifications: National Post, Kagan McLeod.