Parisian dads Manel and Thomas have been together for 20 years. They became dads through surrogacy in the United States, with the help of an incredible surrogate – who they now consider family – and an agency that ensured their transatlantic journey continued without a hitch. Here’s their story.
Manel and Thomas almost didn’t meet due to a “pretentious” photo on a dating site. Thomas’ black and white profile photo was too conceited for Manel’s liking, he said, when Thomas first reached out. “Too sophisticated, too soulless,” Manel explained. It put him right off the match. But a change of profile pic – to a more natural photo – made all the difference and the two first connected via phone.
“When I first saw him in real life it was love at first sight," said Thomas. “However, Manel confessed he had already fallen in love with me during our phone conversation.” This was almost 20 years ago, and the two were married on October 19, 2013.
Thomas, a real estate agent, had never really thought about being a dad. But it was always something Manel, a partner of a global management consultancy, had always wanted although he didn’t speak about it seriously until they were 10 years into their relationship.
“To me it sounded weird,” admitted Thomas. “I couldn’t imagine having kids at that point.” But when gay marriage become legal in France in 2013, and the two were married, Thomas had a revelation and decided the next step would be growing their family.
“I had not anticipated this!” said Thomas, but he started to inquire about the possible ways to make this happen for a gay couple in France.
At first, they explored adoption but it would’ve been impossible. Legally there were too many challenges for a gay couple to adopt in France. Surrogacy is also prohibited but they learned they could explore that option overseas in the United States.
A year of research lead them to the conclusion this was the right path for them. It took another six months to select an agency. They wanted someone based on the east coast to ease daytime communication, and after a Skype call with Vicki and her team at – who are based in Connecticut but work, as the name implies, with intended parents all over the globe — they had a good feeling. “Vicki and her team have been great from day one … [they’re] competent, available, responsive and very friendly. We felt confident working with them.”
It would take another six months to find a surrogate that the dads-to-be described as the “perfect match.”
“We met our surrogate during fall of 2015,” said Thomas. “We spent the day with her, her two kids, and her mom, and went to the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut. We all immediately had the feeling that we were part of the same family.”
A little less than a year later, the dads were overjoyed with the arrival of their eldest, Martin, on July 22, 2016. It was love at first sight.
Thomas and Manel have such a great relationship with their surrogate and Worldwide Surrogacy that it wasn’t long before they began their second journey. Two and half years after becoming first-time dads, they welcomed their second child, Robin, on January 3, 2019.
If the dads could pass on any advice to future queer dads, it would be to find the perfect surrogate and nurture that connection. “This will be a lifelong relationship,” said Thomas. “The remote pregnancy is very stressful so it is vital to trust your surrogate, your doctor and your agency.”
And undertaking such a monumental life-changing journey, the dads felt well taken care of by Worldwide Surrogacy and recommend them to any other French dads considering a similar path. “We were impressed about how well they deal with the legal part especially as we are a foreign couple living in a country with different laws regarding surrogacy and gay parenting. You can have blind trust in Vicki about the legal part. She rocks!”
The French couple are well into their fifth year as a two-dad family and local folks don’t treat them any differently. Their focus is on being the best possible parents they can be, and that means being a life-long learner. “This is a learning-by-doing process,” the dads shared. “There is no perfect means to being good parents, we all make mistakes and learn from them. The most important part to me is to trust yourself, and give your children unconditional love.”