These Gay Dads Are Helping Spread Awareness of LGBTQ Families in the U.K.

These last few years have been crazy, both highs and lows, for my husband Wes and me. We've been together for 6 years and married for 4 of those this month. We're very lucky to have two beautiful daughters, Talulah who is 2 in October, born using a surrogate, and Katie who is 14 in September, who was from Wes's previous marriage. During this time, we've also enjoyed helping spread awareness of LGBTQ families in the U.K. by sharing our experience with others via our blog, interviews with media outlets, and even a commercial with Audi. This summer, we started our second surrogacy journey again, and are excited to share our experiences with Gays With Kids, both the highs and lows, over the next year or so.

This past Spring, we appeared in a commercial for Audi, which showcased us living our lives, just like any other family. In their "Future Families" campaign, Audi features not just same-sex families like ours, but also mixed-race, single dads and moms and more. In the spot, they asked us to send a message to our kids, 20 years in the future. Specifically, they wanted to know our thoughts: what do we hope "family" will mean to the world in the future? The commercial has gone on to become one of Audi's best online campaigns to date. Again, a sign of progress.

Check out the ad below:

Even more recently, we were interviewed by the Daily Mail for a piece about the 40th anniversary of the birth of the IVF procedure. The article, which was really well received, focused on how the treatment had evolved in the four decades since it's been around, and how same-sex couples have come to rely on the practice to start their families.

We are working with the paper on a follow up piece that will focus solely on our TwoDads.U.K Facebook page that we co-manage. The group was designed to raise awareness and create opportunities for gay men with kids to network and meet other same-sex families across the country. We host regular meet ups and would to hear from other same sex families or those wanting to embark on the journey to get in touch with us.

On our Facebook page, we'll also plan to cover our second surrogacy journey, which began earlier this summer and has already been a rollercoaster ride. Our daughter Talulah's IVF experienced worked effortless on the first attempt, so something told me from the beginning that our second journey wouldn't be smooth sailing. However, I'm remaining positive as the process is stressful enough, even when everything goes according to plan.

We conducted a transfer to our surrogate this past June, and then had an agonizing two week wait familiar to any parent who has gone through this process. Sadly, we also found out on the Monday following the transfer that our remaining embryos didn't develop far enough to warrant being frozen. So all of our hopes were placed on the one we transferred the week before. This was disappointing news, but not all hope was lost. After all – it only takes one.

Our two week wait was filled with a ton of excitement a bucket-loads of nerves. It was a real combination of emotions. We blogged the lead up on our Facebook Page to give everyone an understanding of the journey of creating embryos – and the feedback was really interesting. Sharing this experience was risky, and one we discussed at length as a couple – but we felt its important to share the experience so others can understand the possibilities, whatever the outcome may be.

After our two week wait, sadly the result was negative. Naturally, we were gutted, as was our surrogate. It's sometimes easy to forget that the impact of delaying treatment has implications on her work and home life, too. Already, her 40th Birthday was going to clash with the potential of being 35-weeks pregnant.

So, that brings us to today: we decided to take a month break from treatment. We took the break partly to be matched to a new egg donor with the characteristics we wanted – luckily the wait wasn't very long at all and within a few weeks our new egg donor commenced further tests. We're now looking at starting our treatment in early September and look forward to keeping everyone updated again. We've found that sharing our experience with others helps to clear our heads, while also hopefully supporting other couples experiencing the same.

I'm proud of the tiny ripples we're making for same-sex families. Waves are now starting to form and I feel like we're being heard, that people are listening to us as a community and taking our parenting seriously. To be continued!

Next Blog – The experience of vacationing to a Muslim country, as a married gay couple with children

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Posted by Michael Johnson-Ellis

Michael and his husband Wes make up TwoDads.U.K. They're proud fathers to Talulah (born via surrogacy) and Katie. They're on a mission to help normalize same-sex families in the UK. Michael and Wes are very active in surrogacy law reform and have already influenced major change to UK Healthcare guidance when it comes to the treatment of Surrogates and Intended Parents. Follow Michael on Facebook and Instagram.


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