I always knew I wanted children, but the big question was: how could I, being gay?
At first, I thought I should stay with my girlfriend and live a "normal" life. But my attraction to guys got stronger every year, so that wasn’t possible. Jump forward a decade, and I had married the man of my dreams. After the wedding, we had our first real talk about kids. My husband was on the fence; he had never considered having children because he hadn’t thought it was even possible. I, on the other hand, always knew I wanted a family. I dreamed about taking my kids to Disney World and coaching them in hockey and soccer. I wanted the traditional white picket fence family – but with a man.
After months of discussion, we decided to try to create our little family. We knew it wouldn't be easy, since biology was against us. We didn't even know where to start. Luckily, my best man introduced us to a gay couple who had just had a baby girl. They recommended we go to a Daddies & Papas 2B class at our local LGBT Community Centre. There we met other hopeful gay parents-to-be and a teacher who educated us on all the options for creating our family.
One of the first exercises was to split up the class into three groups: those interested in adoption, in surrogacy, and in co-parenting. My husband went to the adoption side, and I ventured to the surrogacy corner. This would be our first hurdle of many! Why did he choose adoption? I guess because we had adopted our two dogs Gizmo and Pica and also volunteered with foster dogs. He was always adamant that we find the perfect home for every dog we fostered.
We considered all the options, went to all of the classes, and, in the end, chose surrogacy. We now have friends who have been successful at both adoption and surrogacy, so we’ve learned the choice really depends on which is the best fit for you.
The next question was: traditional or gestational surrogacy? Would we want the woman carrying our baby to be biologically related to our baby? After listening to a panel of surrogates, we decided it was safer to go the gestational surrogacy route, mainly because it would be considerably less complicated for our carrier if she were not biologically connected to our baby.
Another big bonus for this type of surrogacy was that our baby could be genetically related to both of us! We thought the ideal situation for us would be to use my sperm and my husband’s sister's egg. That way, our baby would be half Chinese and half Scottish – and be a mix of both our families. This arrangement is not always possible. You first need a very generous, loving, open-minded, and beautiful sister (or in my case, sister-in-law) to ask. However, my husband felt that it was such a ridiculous proposition that he was uncomfortable making the request. On a vacation to Scotland to see my sister-in-law with her newly born baby, I popped the question. I didn't get on a bended knee, but it was very close. "Would you, Jan, consider helping us create our family?" At first she had no idea what I was asking but, to our surprise, she said she'd consider it for us. At the end of the trip, she agreed to help us in our journey. She knew how desperately we wanted a family and, being a new mom, wanted us to experience the joys of parenthood.
The next task was to find a surrogate to carry our baby. This was by far the most difficult task of the entire process. How do I ask someone to sacrifice over nine months of her life and her body to bear a child for us? In our class, it was recommended that we ask friends and family, look on social media, set up online profiles, and check out surrogate blogs as a starting point. There are also surrogacy agencies that can assist in the process. We followed all the recommendations, except using an agency. It took a while before we got any response. Patience is not my biggest strength, but you do need a ton in this long journey.
The first legitimate response we got was a few months in from a Canadian woman just a few hours from our home in Toronto. We exchanged several emails and phone calls before we decided to meet. She was a sweet lady in a small town with eight children of her own, and was a surrogate to a straight family just the year before. It seemed all too perfect, but we all got along so well that we decided to give it a chance.
I originally was going to skip this part of our story since it has a very sad ending. But it was a big part of our journey, and sometimes things go wrong. To make a long story short, we were successful in our first attempt and were expecting twins. But unfortunately, in the first trimester, our surrogate encountered some health issues that required surgery, and we lost our babies. This was the most traumatic event of our lives. It took months for us to recover.
After trying to figure out whether to give up or try again, we got some positive news from my husband’s other sister in Arizona: she knew how upset we were and actually offered to carry our baby for us! She was our angel, and we are in her debt for life. This sister already had three children and was not planning on anymore. The love among my husband's family members is beyond words, and this is a true testament to that love.
We felt so blessed to have both of my husband’s sisters helping us in what would surely be one of the most monumental journeys of our lives. What an amazing family we have, with both of his sisters now playing integral roles in making our unique modern family. After two years, our family was created, crossing three countries – Chinese/Scottish heritage in the greatest country on earth, Canada.
Jasmine Diane Chan was born on June 21, 2014, weighing a healthy 7 pounds 14 ounces. It was the best day of our lives, and we are so thankful for everyone who played a part in creating our little baby girl!
Please comment and feel free to ask us any questions about our roller coaster journey.