Chris had always admired Charles, who was the older brother of good friend, but only from afar. He was handsome, sophisticated, mature, and unbeknownst to Chris, gay, but still in the closet.
"He used to pick his sister up from my apartment sometimes, turning up in a suit and his flashy car," remembers Chris. "Always looking very dapper."
But it wasn't till Chris' 21st birthday when he found out that Charles, 7 years his elder, had just come out. After that, they began running into each other at clubs, and it wasn't long before they began to date.
The Australian couple were married in Hawaii in 2012. Three years later, Charles and Chris became dads to twins, Trinity and Dash, via surrogacy. The family lives together in Sydney. Recently, the dads have been thinking about growing their family again. We spoke with Chris to find out about their first journey to fatherhood, and what they learned along the way.
Tell us about your path to fatherhood. We attended a few seminars on surrogacy here in Australia and once we had selected our egg donor we knew it was the only course of us.
Tell us about any obstacles you faced on your path to fatherhood. We have had a long journey to fatherhood. We had failed attempts in India before our children were born in Thailand. (They were born just as the laws changed which made the exit process crazy!) Since then, we've tried two different countries and had a few attempts for baby number three. We will keep trying as we'd love a big family. It is what we both want as we were both raised in large families.
How has your life changed since you became a father? The best way to sum up how my life has changed would be when my mates who do not have children tell me they are "busy," it's cute. I remember when I used to think I was "busy" as well. Your life changes in every inconceivable way, but now, if I am out with friends, I want to be at home by 12:00pm or 1:00am in the weekends because I want to hang with my kids in the morning. There is no greater joy than playing superheroes with my kids!
The other biggest change to my life has been on my marriage. We are now individuals, partners, but also parents and people responsible for two little humans. As husbands, we've had to work on ensuring that we are not just co-parents, but that we are a team and still make time for each other.
Chris (left) and Charles with their two children
What have you learned from your child since you became a dad? I have learnt purpose. I never knew what I was missing until I had children. Now I have a single-minded purpose to create the best life for my family.
Was there ever a moment that you or Charles experienced any serious doubts about your path to fatherhood or fatherhood itself. We have tried many different countries; had many failed attempts and miscarriages. They hurt, they are hard and it puts strain on all areas of your life. However, we have always had a view that in 20 years, we'd have no regrets, so we have never given up. We have two beautiful children through surrogacy and will continue to try for more.
Is your family treated differently than others on account of your sexual orientation or gender identity? When we first brought our kids home, there wasn't too much difference and I took my husband's last name for family continuity. Now that we have had the YES vote and have attained marriage equality, I do not feel that there is any difference.
What words of advice do you have for other gay men considering pursuing your same path or parenthood? Decide on what you want, make it a vision, make it a plan. There will be tough times, hard times and you may second guess yourself. But when that little person looks into your eyes and a love that you never knew your heart could feel blooms, then it will be worth every sleepless night, dollar spent and stressed phone call to Mum.
Where do you see your family 5-10 years in the future? We will have one more child if I have my way or twins again if my husband manifests that outcome!