Gay Dad Life

Gay Dad Details Path to Parenthood Via Surrogacy in Thailand in New Book

In "The First Man on the Moon," Laurent Pehem explains the long, complicated surrogacy journey that brought his son, Sam, into his life.

Guest post written by author, Laurent Pehem

'Where did you adopt them?'

'I didn't adopt them. I made them.'

Let's grant them this: straight people are trying their best to become more tolerant and inclusive. But when it comes to gay men having babies, they're particularly clueless.


Laurent with his son, Sam

So how exactly do gay men "make babies"? Well, there are plenty of possible arrangements, but most of them involve a surrogate mother, which means making an exception to our club's strict "no-vagina" policy (but don't worry, thanks to in-vitro fertilization, there's no going inside involved).

Finding a woman willing to carry your child is not what's most difficult. What's truly a "mission impossible" is dealing with everything else: conservative laws that refuse to recognize your family as legitimate, employers that don't give maternity leave to gay men, surrogacy agencies that expect you to sell your left testicle to pay their fees, and if you've hit the jackpot like my husband, and I did, you may also have to worry about a military junta who abolished democracy in the name of love.

We tried adoption first. But when our application was rejected because of our stubborn and defiant refusal to be anything but gay, we decided to explore other options. Surrogacy in the US was too expensive for us, and so we went to Thailand, a world-class tourist destination best known for its pristine beaches, where surrogacy only cost a fraction of the US price.

The first agency we trusted was a few clowns short of a circus, but I reckon that in the end, the joke was on us, since it took us eighteen months, most of our money and seven surrogates to realize we had to fire them if we wanted to achieve our goal.

Sam's foot

We eventually found another agency, and we were matched with a surrogate mother called Molly, who quickly became pregnant. Had we had more luck, our story would have ended up there. But instead of blissfully enjoying this long-awaited pregnancy, we found ourselves embroiled in a nerve-racking quagmire after the military junta that seized power in a coup in May 2014 banned surrogacy.

Our IVF clinic was raided by the police, intended parents were banned from leaving the country with their surrogacy babies, and every hospital and doctor in the country refused to treat surrogate mothers. We kept in touch with Molly, exchanging Google-translated text messages (for the record, Google's Thai is terrible) and hoping for the best. And thank God, the best eventually showed up. After yearning for this moment for years, we finally became the proud fathers of an adorable (two-month premature yet relatively healthy) little boy, whom we named Sam.

At this stage, you might be thinking "OMG these guys have been through so much." Yes? Well, hold on to your seat, this story is not over. Leaving Thailand with Sam turned out to be just as tricky as having him.

When people hear my story, they usually tell me I should write a book about it. After contemplating the idea for a very long time, I have finally done it. You can read all about our family's insane story in my book "The First Man on the Moon".

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Surrogacy for Gay Men

Learn How These Dads Used Social Media to Find Their Surrogate

In the latest "Broadway Husbands" vlog, Bret and Stephen discuss the rather unconventional way in which they found their surrogate: through a Facebook group.

In this, the Broadway Husbands' sixth video, Bret Shuford and Stephen Hanna discuss the rather unprecedented process they went through to find their surrogate. The lucky couple also chat about winning an "Intended Parents" competition, which granted them the free services of a surrogacy agency who is now helping guide them (and their new surrogate!) on their journey.

In the first video below, get caught up to speed with the dads-to-be. Plus: there's bonus footage! Ever wondered about the financial side of their journey? In the second video, Bret and Stephen talk candidly about how they're managing to afford their dream of fatherhood.

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

This Guy's "Annoying Phase" Is All Of Us the Day We Become Dads

With little to do but wait once their surrogate's water broke, Grant entered what his husband lovingly refers to as his "annoying phase."

It was 3:09am on February 7th when my phone rang. This, in and of itself, was strange as my phone is always on silent. But, for some reason, earlier that night I decided that I needed to change my phone settings to make sure the phone rang just in case our surrogate called. It was a week before our scheduled C-section and our doctor gave us no reason to think we would be welcoming our baby any earlier than the previously scheduled date.

"I think my water broke. No wait, it definitely broke," our surrogate tells me.

"Your water broke?" I replied helpfully. "Should we head to the hospital?"

"Um, yeah. Get in the car and drive. I'll meet you at the hospital."

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In our latest guest post by Circle Surrogacy, we learn about some of the benefits gay men should come to expect when working with an agency

You've already made the big decision. You're ready to start your journey as a gay parent, and surrogacy and egg donation is the way you'd like to do it. Now, you have to decide if you want to find a surrogate and egg donor independently, or if you want to work with an agency. While both options have great benefits, this is a monumental decision and you'll want to be sure you're in good hands. Working with an agency can help reduce the stress and uncertainty in a surrogacy journey. The key is to find the right agency for you and your needs.

A surrogacy journey is like a detailed puzzle, the two most important pieces of which are trust and honesty. Trust and honesty are critical in this process and working with an established, flexible, and reputable agency make this process much less intimidating.

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Foster/Foster-Adopt

This Gay Couple Was Inspired to Become Foster Dads Thanks to the Show "The Fosters"

Matthew and Brian say they used to feel like "unicorns" as gay foster dads. They're happy to see more LGBTQ couples take the plunge into the foster system.

Matthew Hamparian and his husband Brian Lawrence have been together for over 18 years and live in Columbus, Ohio. "We had talked about children for a long time," shared Matthew. They were inspired by the show "The Fosters," and watched it regularly as one of the staffers of the show was a friend of Brian's. In one of the episodes, Matthew remembers a conversation between a foster child and the biological child of his foster parents. The foster child asks if he was okay with the fact that he had to share his home with foster siblings. He responds that he is okay with it, because he and his family have enough of everything.

"It was very meaningful to us as we were both raised that when you got up the ladder, you threw the ladder back," explained Matthew.

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Terrell and Jarius need your help. Earlier this week they were made aware of an act of discrimination against a male transgender student at Johnson High School in Gainesville, Georgia

"Dex Frier was elected by the student body to run for prom king but is now facing backlash from the school's administration," shared the dads via their Instagram. "The school's Superintendent is forcing Dex to either run as prom queen or not run at all. This is very unjust and does NOT reflect the opinion of the parents nor the students."

Watch their video below:

Dex, 17, who came out identifying as male in his sophomore year, spoke with Gainsville Times about being nominated by the student body. "Frier said he kept his emotions in check while at school, but 'the moment I got home, I immediately started crying. I've never been shown so much support before,' Frier added."

He was later informed by school officials that his name had been withdrawn and he could only run in the prom queen ballot.

Sadly, there have been rival petitions started in support of Dex's nomination being withdrawn, and he's received backlash from those who believe he shouldn't be able to run.

Although Terrell and Jarius do not know Dex personally, they were made aware of what was happening through Jarius co-worker who is a parent at the school. "He's such a brave kid and is standing firm in his beliefs, and we should support him," said Jarius.

These dads are asking all of us to take a minute and sign this petition and share with friends and family, or anyone you think could help.

Gay Dad Life

Gay Single Dads Defend Andy Cohen's Right to Be on Grindr

After the Internet rushed to judge Andy Cohen for signing onto Grindr a couple of weeks after welcoming his newborn son home, fellow single gay dads rushed to his defense.

Last week, we wrote a post about reports that "What What Happens Live" host Andy Cohen had been "spotted" on gay dating app Grindr several weeks after welcoming a newborn into his home. This has some of his followers on social media all worked up"

"Get off Grindr and start being a dad," said one follower who appeared to think single parents must take a vow of celibacy the minute they start changing diapers. "You're sad, that kid has no chance," said another.

Well, suffice it to say that this judgment from people who are presumably not single gay dads of Andy Cohen certainly struck a nerve with our gay dad audience! We received well over 100 comments on this post on Facebook, the vast majority of them coming to Cohen's defense. We caught up with two fellow single gay dads to find out why the story struck a nerve.

"We don't have to live like monks!"

One of the most liked comments on our piece came from Owen Lonzar, who wrote the following:

"I have always been a good single father to my biological son who came to live with me when he was 7 years old. He is now 25 years old and we are very close. I used Grindr and dated while he lived with me. I never had anyone sleep over and he certainly never saw some man he didn't know hanging around my home. Single parents have to date responsibly and with sensitivity to their child but that doesn't mean they have to live like monks!"

We asked Cohen to elaborate a bit more on why the backlash against Cohen bothered him. He had the sense, he said, that much of the criticism against LGBTQ parents comes from gay men without children. "Gay men without kids have a lot to say," he said. "And all of it is ignorant, because they have no idea what it means to actually be a father." He said he was particularly disappointed in gay critics, given our shared history of discrimination. "You would think with all the prejudice we have faced that gay men would be less judgmental themselves," he said.

"Are we supposed to be celibate?"

Another commenter, Josue Sebastian Dones-Figueroa, who is a divorced father of five, questioned what Cohen's critics would prefer him do. "So what, parents are supposed to become celibate because they have kids?" he asked.

We followed up with Josue to ask him to elaborate a bit more: "The idea that just because he is a dad that he would need to stop being a man," he said, questioning why Cohen should have to put his life hold and stop dating, or having sex, just because he's now a father. "If the child is cared for loved and not neglected what is the problem? Life goes on right?"


Gay Dad Life

Internet Conflicted About Advice Given to Closeted Gay Dad in the Guardian

Ok fellow gay dads: if you were the advice columnist at the Guardian, what would you have said?

Recently, in a post titled "I met my girlfriend's parents – and realized I once slept with her father," a man wrote into the advice column at the Guardian with the following predicament:

"Five years ago, I went through a bi phase and used to sleep around with pretty much everyone that came along, including other men. This changed when I fell in love with my new partner, who is everything to me. I recently met her parents and halfway through lunch realised that I had slept with her father. I was going to propose, but when my partner and her mother were away, he told me to end it with his daughter. I'm obviously in love – shall I just ignore him, or tell my partner?"

Pamela Stephenson, the Guardian's columnist, responded as follows:

"I am not sure you could ever have a comfortable future with your new partner. To tell the truth would be to court disaster: a probable break-up, plus the risk of a permanent rift between father and daughter and father and wife. Hiding the truth would lead to toxic secret-keeping that could be equally destructive in the long run. If this whole family was as open-minded and sexually open as you, it might be possible for you to become part of it. However, the father – your former lover – has made it clear that you will not be welcome. Walk away now, and avoid the massive pain that would otherwise be inflicted on your partner, her family and yourself."

Not all commenters agreed with Stephenson's advice.

"Assuming your girlfriend knows that you were bi until falling in love with her and that you slept with everybody in your path [which she deserved to know up front anyway] then you can give HER the option what to do with this bond, rather than leaving the choice to her dad," said one commenter.

Another said, "Walking away without explaining why would be callous and also allow the father to escape the possible consequences of his actions."

It's worth noting that none of these commenters, nor the columnist, are or will ever be gay dads, whose perspective on this bizarre situation may be uniquely valuable. Many gay dads have become fathers while still in the closet. And even those who became dads after coming out can still sympathize with the detrimental impacts of the closet on our lives and those of our families.

So what say you, gay dads, about this man's predicament?

Fatherhood, the gay way

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