Gay Dad Family Stories

Traditional Surrogacy Is "Entirely Based on Trust" Says These U.K.-Based Dads

Marc and Steve pursued "traditional surrogacy," uncommon in the United States, meaning their surrogate is genetically related to their child

Marc and Steve live in Shropshire, United Kingdom. They have a four-year-old son, and are expecting twins via traditional surrogacy which is when the surrogate is both the egg donor and carrier. Here's their traditional surrogacy journey.

Together six years, Marc and Steve always wanted to be fathers, and craved a biological connection with their children. "This is why we chose surrogacy," explained Marc, "specifically, traditional surrogacy as it fitted our wants and need more; knowing our child's other genetic half was important to us."


Traditional surrogacy is not as common as gestational surrogacy in the United States and the laws vary widely from state to state. The current law in the U.K. allows for altruistic surrogacy, but commercial surrogacy (which is the more common path in the U.S.) is illegal. Marc and Steve love the concept of altruistic surrogacy and believe commercial surrogacy exploits people who cannot carry a baby themselves. "Personally, [traditional surrogacy] is exactly what surrogacy should be, an act of kindness."

"We first started our first surrogacy journey in 2014, after my husband and l spending many years researching and getting to know various people within the surrogacy community," said Steve. "We met our first surrogate via a secret Facebook group and after a while of getting to know each other, she offered to carry a child for us, and start our family." Both Marc and Steve emphasize the importance of building a strong relationship with one's surrogate as "the entire journey is based on trust," they said. "There are no legally binding contracts, you have an agreement make between both parties which states your intent."

Steve continued that a lot of people they spoke with were worried that the surrogate would keep the baby, but he always assured them that this scenario rarely happens. "Of course those will be the stories you will hear in the papers or news, but every year there are thousands of surrogacy journeys that have the outcome everyone set out to achieve - creating a family."

Both dads agreed that the biggest barrier to surrogacy in the U.K. is the parental order, and not being able to apply for one till the baby is 6 weeks old and it has to be completed before the baby is 6 months, leaving the parents in a kind of parental limbo. "I believe these should be done prior to birth so parents have parental responsibility straight away and not relying on the surrogate to make decisions for their child and family," explained Marc. "Hopefully this will be changing in the near future."

In February 2015, their son Spencer was born. Their surrogate continues to play an important role in their family's life, visiting and chatting with the family throughout each year. "Our little boy knows everything about our surro and completely understands that he grew in her tummy," said Steve. "He doesn't refer to her as a "mum," "tummy mum" or "aunt," he just calls her by her first name and that's how our surro wanted things to be, which was fine with us."

The dads always wanted a sibling and initially believed the second time round would be easier. "However life doesn't always work out the way you want it," said Marc. "Since Spencer we have had two matches that didn't work out for various reasons, and we decided to end the match mutually." But the past four years have been nonetheless magical with Spencer and he has kept them on their toes. "We cannot thank our surrogate enough for this amazing little boy that she carried for us."

In 2018, Marc and Steve started talking to another surrogate who was carrying for a couple at the time. "We had no expectations of a match, just wanting to get to know other parents and surrogates within the community at that time." But right before their wedding in October, the surrogate whom they had befriended surprised them by saying she would like to match and carry our next baby and to give their little boy a sibling. "Little did we know that that sibling would end up being two!" The dads are expecting twin girls this November!

"We found out we were expecting twins at a 9-week reassurance private scan," said Marc. "As soon as the sonographer placed the probe on our surrogate's abdomen, we were all shocked! Both surro and myself were in tears, I have to admit they were tears of fear - how would we afford twins?" The dads also worried about the extra complications, and if their surrogate would have a healthy pregnancy. "There were so many questions going around in my head but thankfully those anxieties have gone away and we couldn't be happier now," continued Steve. "We are just keeping everything crossed that the rest of the pregnancy goes smoothly and we make it to full term with two healthy babies to being home."

The dads have started to fill their home with dresses, sparkles, and lots and lots of pink. We can't wait to see photos!

You can follow their journey via Instagram: @dad.and.papa

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The Israeli gay dads told one must identify as mother — like a "normal couple" — in order to receive financial assistance for daycare.

Israeli dads Guy Sadak Shoham and Chai Aviv Shoham were trying to enroll their two-year-old twins in daycare when they were told by a government official that one would need to identify as the "mother" in order to be cleared.

According to Out Magazine, the couple was attempting to apply for financial aid to help pay for the costs of preschool when a government bureaucrat called them to discuss their eligibility.

"I understand that you are both fathers and understand that you both run a shared household, but there is always the one who is more dominant, who is more the mother," the government said, according to an interview on the Israel site Ynet (translated by Out Magazine). "I am just asking for a written statement in your hand which of you is the mother. From the point of view of the work, which works less than the father. Like a normal couple."

The official, apparently, said she was beholden to rules set for in the Ministry of Economy.

"It is mostly sad and a little disturbing," one of the dads told Ynet. "These are concepts that we consider the past. We do not necessarily come up with allegations against this representative, she is ultimately subject to the guidelines and as she said, they are the state. It is also sad that the state's definition of a mother is someone who works less and is at home with the children, and that we must choose which of us meets that definition."

The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, fortunately, issued an apology following the incident, and promised to update its protocols. "We will emphasize that the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs practices explicitly treat all types of families and grant equal rights to all," the ministry wrote in a statement, an apology that was called "insufficient" by Ohad Hizki, the director-general of the National LGBT Task Force.

"The Ministry of Labor and Welfare must sharpen its procedures immediately to prevent recurrence of cases of this kind, as other public organizations have been able to do," he said.

Read more about this story on Out Magazine.

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The new sperm bank, Sperm Positive, launched on World Aids Day this year by three non-profits as a way to fight stigma surrounding HIV and parenthood. For years, scientists have known that those living with an undetectable level of HIV in their blood thanks to antiretroviral treatments can't transmit the virus through sex or childbirth. Yet discrimination and stigma persists.

The sperm bank exists online only, but will connect donors and those seeking donations with fertility banks once a connection is made on their site. Sperm Positive was started by three New Zealand non-profits — Body Positive, the New Zealand Aids Foundation and Positive Women Inc. — who hope the project will help disseminate science-backed education and information about HIV and parenthood.

Already, three HIV positive men have signed up to serve as donors, including Damien Rule-Neal who spoke to the NZ Herald about his reasons for getting involved in the project. "I want people to know life doesn't stop after being diagnosed with HIV and that it is safe to have children if you're on treatment," he told the Herald. "I've experienced a lot of stigma living with HIV, both at work and in my personal life that has come from people being misinformed about the virus."

We applaud the effort all around! To read more about our own efforts to end the stigma surround HIV and parenthood, check out our recent round-up of family profiles, resources, and expert advice that celebrate the experience of gay dads living with HIV here.

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