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.
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".