"I never thought I'd be a parent," Tim Wang confessed. "It was just not on the radar." He didn't think it was much on the mind of his partner, Nic Cher, either until five years into their relationship when he was dealt a surprise: Nic had babies on the mind. For a moment, Tim thought their different views on the subject would be enough to threaten their relationship.
"But Nic was very patient," Tim said.
And patience for these two Australian dads-to-be would certainly prove to be a virtue. It would take nearly five years from this discussion before the couple would make the decision to become dads.
Nic (left) and Tim's commitment ceremony, 2014
Part of their hesitation centered on a concern both men shared: what if their future child was bullied on account of having two dads? What if their son or daughter was made to feel different? Is that fair to bring a child into a "non-traditional" family headed by two men? These are questions that every LGBTQ parent faces at some point in the process. And sometimes it falls to our allies to help us realize how little sexual orientation should matter in the process of forming a family. It was Nic and Tim's straight friends, in fact, that helped the couple see past their reservations and encouraged them to consider more important thing: such as how much love they could bring into a child's life.
"We have lovely straight friends who saw in us the capacity to love and they helped change our perspectives on parenting," said Tim.
Nic and Tim with their friends at their commitment ceremony, 2014
Prior to starting the process, however, the couple had other business to attend to: making a commitment to one another. On April 28, 2012, Tim and Nic held a beautiful commitment ceremony in front of friends and family. (Same-sex marriage was not yet legal in Australia at the time.)
Two years later, they finally started their surrogacy journey. "We considered adoption," said Tim of their thought process at the time. "But it was very challenging and was going to take too long." Each state and territory has different rules and legislation governing adoption, the couple pointed out, making the process somewhat difficult and intimidating.
Surrogacy, of course, comes with its own set of hurdles in Australia, the first of which was the most obvious: the practice is illegal. So once the dads had settled on surrogacy as their path to parenthood, they looked to the west coast of the United States to start the process. After conducting a wide search, they settled on the Pacific Fertility Center in Los Angeles. With their help, their son Dylan was born in July 2015. Both dads say it was a very smooth process.
Tim holding baby Dylan
So what is life like for these men, who once thought they'd never be dads? It's certainly been an adjustment, they say, learning to juggle sleep deprivation, midnight feedings and diaper changes all while pursuing ambitious careers. But these shifts in their life style were somewhat to be expected. The bigger surprises brought on by fatherhood, according to the couple, were far more existential.
"I've learnt to let things go and to stop trying to control everything and get things perfect," said Tim. "But more than that, I've learned to stop always pursuing the next best thing. Instead, I revel in the very tiny beautiful moments that life just rolls our way."
"It's been a beautiful change," added Nic. "My favorite moments are at bedtime, when we're curled up under the sheets and singing or reading."
Nic holding Dylan with Tim at Mardi Gras, February 2016
Recently, the family has introduced even more change into their lives: they decided to uproot their lives in Sydney and move to the smaller city of Brisbane to allow for a slightly slower pace of life, and to give Dylan more space. Their new home has provided them with different opportunities. Nic has opened his own veterinary clinic and Tim has gone back to school to get his doctorate degree. They are accomplishing these major life goals, moreover, without losing sight of their number one priority: spending more time with their son.
"We're a lot more connected to family and the wider community," said Nic, noting that Tim's parents also decided to relocate to Brisbane to be closer to their grandson. "And the lovely thing is that we're still very close to our gay and lesbian friends."
Nic, Dylan and Tim, June 2016
And what does Tim, who originally didn't think fatherhood would be in his cards, now think about his status as a dad? "I've always searched for that role or for a path in life that gave me a sense of meaning," he said. "Being a father was the only thing I've experienced that I've walked into and gone, 'yes, this is what I want for the rest of my life' right from the get-go."
It has felt so right to he and Nic, in fact, that the couple are now looking to expand their family further, once again with the help of Pacific Fertility Center. This time, unfortunately, the couple has encountered more road blocks.
Nic, Dylan and Tim, May 2017
"I think we're feeling doubts now in relation to a potential second and third child," said Nic. "We haven't had much success with the subsequent pregnancies and we're about to enter into a new journey with Pacific Fertility. There's always anxiety when you begin anew."
But given the success they had with their son, Dylan, the dads know they're in excellent hands. And regardless of what the future holds, Nic and Tim say their family already feels complete.
"We've had to talk long and quietly between the two of us as to what we hope our family will look like, and get to a point of acceptance that even if we don't get there, our son is exactly who we need, who we've always wanted, and that he is more than enough for us," said Tim.
Dylan on Tim's shoulders
Tim and Nic also have a message to other gay men considering fatherhood: they are cheering you on!
"We want you all to join us simply because the more rainbow kids and 'gaybies' there are, the better it is for all rainbow families," said Nic.
"And gay men make excellent, excellent loving parents," added Tim.
*We've partnered with Pacific Fertility Center to share some of the stories of the men whom they helped become dads. Be sure to keep an eye out for next month's family!