Bent-Einar, who lives in Norway, had always wanted to be a father. He admits that as a single guy, the thought of starting a family alone was difficult, because what you'd always hear is that a child needs both a mother and a father.
But his desire to be a dad far outweighed the preconceived notions of what was considered "family", so he began his research on surrogacy. Thanks to Circle Surrogacy, he is the proud Dad to a beautiful daughter, who makes his life complete.
Here, Bent-Einar tells his story.
"It took years before I signed on with a surrogacy agency."
I have always wanted to be a father. I am very family-oriented, and imagined having a family myself. I started to research surrogacy. I was interested in the ethical and moral sides of the process.
In the beginning, I was hesitant with the idea of using a surrogate mother. So I started to read more about surrogacy, mainly about why women become surrogates. I wanted to better understand what motivated them to carry a baby for someone else. I wasn't looking for a woman who was doing this for money. I wanted a to find a woman who really wanted to help someone in my situation.
I discussed the idea of surrogacy with female friends in Norway. When I mentioned my thoughts on the motivation behind a woman wanting to be a surrogate, my friends said, "If it was legal in Norway, I would do it. I was so happy when I was pregnant! I enjoying being pregnant, I would do it for someone else."
It took almost 3 years of research and contemplation before I started thinking this was a good idea, mostly because I was single. I thought it would be easier to be two parents versus a single parent. I sat down with my family and explained to them what I was feeling, and they basically told me that women have been single mothers for thousands of years! If they could do it, than I would be able to raise a child on my own, too.
My meeting with Circle Surrogacy went well. I met with Dean (lawyer) and Brett (parent associate and gay dad through surrogacy). I wasn't sure what to expect; the culture between the US and Norway is different, but when I met with Dean and Brett, they were both laid back and I immediately felt comfortable talking to them and sharing my story.
After the consult, I decided the very next day I wanted to sign on; I was older and I didn't want to waste any more time!
"I wasn't mentally prepared to fail."
When I started out on my surrogacy journey, I thought nothing would fail. You hear all of the success stories, see the joy on people's faces, and assume they had it easy. I was so sure it was going to work the first time. I wasn't mentally prepared to fail the first time, because you hear about so many people who get pregnant on the first try. But when you don't succeed, you start to hear about others who struggled, too. You see that not everyone had an easy journey. They are successful, but not always the first time.I wasn't successful at first. I had a little bit of a rough journey with two different fertility clinics, and a few rounds with my egg donor. My surrogate got pregnant with my very last embryo and she carried and delivered my baby girl.
The Importance of a Strong Support System
I would not have been able to go through the surrogacy process without the tremendous support from my family. Not only did they support me while I was doing my research and thinking about becoming a single dad, but they were my support throughout the pregnancy and birth, and even now that my daughter is two years old.
In addition to my own family, I have lots of friends living nearby with kids. My daughter is lucky that she gets to spend a lot of time with other children. It's important for me to surround myself with others in similar situations, and show her my daughter that it's normal to have one father, two fathers, one mom or two moms.
Plus, I met 3 or 4 other couples who became parents through surrogacy through Circle, and we've become close. We call ourselves 'a little family', and it's been great to be connected with them. We're so happy to have each other for support.
"I have gained a family in America."
My surrogate and I had a connection from the very first day. Throughout the entire journey she was interested and communicative, and we became very close. I've been to her mother's wedding and her grandfather's funeral. She helped me get the paperwork and necessary passports for my daughter and I to fly home. We have a bond that not many people will ever share. She's like my American family.
I wanted this open relationship with my surrogate; I wanted everything to be transparent and out in the open. It's why when selecting an egg donor, choosing known egg donation was important for me. I wanted to make it easy for my daughter could connect with both women who helped bring her here, should she ever want to meet them, or Skype with them, or send drawings to them. I wanted them to be available and close should she want them there.
"Returning to Norway as a single dad."
When my family and I returned to Norway from the U.S. after my daughter was born, everyone wanted to come over and meet her. That's when I knew that I was surrounded by friends who would support us both as we adjusted.
My daughter had some colic in the beginning, so those first few months were a little hard. But I had a year off with her, which was amazing. After that, I started back at work at 50%, so I get to spend a lot of time with her.
But for the most part, everything has been easier than I thought it was going to be. I was prepared to change my whole life. I have noticed a big change in my friends. Those friends whom I thought would be there for me are not anymore. Those friends that I thought would have little interest have been very interested in me and my daughter, and our new life together. And I've met new friends along the way.
"I'm very happy with my new life. Very, very happy."
I'm so happy to be a father and have a perfect little girl. This experience has brought me closer with my own family. It's so nice to see how similar my little girl is to me and my mom. I love when my mom tells me that my daughter is acting exactly like I did when I was a child.
When I was starting out, I'll never forget what my mom said: "As long as the surrogate mother does it of her own free will, and she's treated well, I support you 100%". My parents were there when my daughter was born, and have been with her the whole time since.
We have a Christmas song in Norway that we sang every year when I was growing up called "Family Follow the Family." Now that I have my daughter, this Christmas has meaning to me. I'm so lucky that my family can follow my daughter in her life, and watch her grow and learn.