Please describe why you have chosen to have a child through a Surrogate Arrangement. If you’re in a relationship, what experiences led you to come to this decision together?
This is not the first surrogacy journey for us. We are fathers to two amazing girls, who were born via Surrogate last year at the end of a long journey for us that started as far back as 2007. At the end of the initial IVF process with Dr. Ringler, we were now left with two high-grade (4.5/5) embryos that are currently frozen at the California Fertility Partners clinic in Los Angeles.
The first year with our girls has been an amazing rollercoaster of emotions. We would simultaneously describe it as the best and most exhausting year of our lives. We were probably fairly typical parents, maybe a bit better prepared because we were a bit older than most people who become parents, but just like every other human on the planet, we were totally unprepared for the scale of the changes to the way you live, the way you think and the way you feel, once you have children.
Speaking for me, I thought I knew what it felt like to be proud of an accomplishment. I have had a few accomplishments in my life, and would have described myself as being “proud” of what I have done. But I have now discovered that I feel more raw pride, and raw emotion at the tiniest of achievements that my daughters do (things like first steps, first words, mimicking my facial expressions, and even just brushing their own teeth) than I ever felt for myself. This is a defining change for me. I have realised through parenting these girls a whole new world of emotional resonance and empathy with others. At the same time, I’m intellectually challenged by the daunting task of preparing them for the world they will live in. It has made me rethink long-standing attitudes and challenge myself to be a better parent. And logistically, everything has changed. Our house now rotates around their needs, making their diet as good as possible, making their sleep good quality, and as they grow older, this will shift from the physical needs to the emotional, as we prepare them to live in a complicated and challenging world.
When the girls were a year old, we received a letter from the fertility agency to ask us what we wanted to do with the two remaining embryos that remained in storage. Our options were clearly laid out – as I am sure you can imagine. But it kicked off a conversation between Matt and I about whether we were “done” yet or whether we were interested in “seeing what might happen” if we opened up our hearts and our home to another child. The embryos that are stored are from the same egg-donor that gave us the girls, so they would be full-sisters to them.
There’s a lot of reasons people will tell you to not have a third baby. The logistics become significantly more complicated when the children outnumber the parents. The time off disappears. Tag-team parenting is not an option as three kids are a bit much.
But the decision-maker for us, was the idea that in a laboratory in LA, waiting for their turn to be brought to life and emerge into the world was another amazing and incredible individual like the two daughters we already have. The world needs more amazing people in it, and we have the resources and the emotional space to raise another child and give them an incredible childhood.
So here we are – looking for a surrogate who wants to help us add a little brother or sister to our family. To make us parents for a second time, and make our amazing twins become someone’s “Big Sisters”.
Please describe below your life below. For example, if you are in a relationship or married, describe how you met, write about your occupation, your childhood, family, places you have travelled and anything that you feel your surrogate may like to know.
Matt and I met nearly 18 years ago in our mutual home town of Adelaide, Australia. It may sound impetuous but we basically moved in together within 24 hours and have been a couple since then without pause or break or major crisis. We got married in the UK in 2007, but it was a fairly small celebration due to the timing of it.
After we’d been together a couple of years, we followed our shared dream of moving and living overseas. We moved initially to London, where we both got work in various aspects of IT. We spent a year of working in the City and taking weekend breaks to try to see everything that the northern hemisphere had to offer, then moved together to Scotland, where I started working within Finance for the first time. We felt very at home in Edinburgh, where Matt has extended family connections, and ultimately ended up staying there for 7 years, and buying a historic cottage gatehouse. I continued to pursue my career in Finance IT, and Matt primarily worked for himself – offering IT services to clients and contacts in London, Scotland and Australia.
After that time, we decided to follow a dream and moved to the French countryside. We had purchased a ruined frame of a barn without electricity or running water which was situated at the end of a long lane from a small village in the Alps. We spent the next year learning very different skills as we renovated it and made it liveable. Finding it hard to get work in France as our language skills weren’t fluent, we ended up buying into the local bar so we could work for ourselves. Turning around a business that wasn’t doing well was very challenging, and doing so in a foreign country with all the challenges of language and cultural cross-over was very difficult, especially for Matt who doesn’t speak French.
Around 2010, we decided to try to find a balance between city life and country life, and I returned to working in Finance by getting contract work here in Zurich. As the next few years passed, we both realised that we enjoy the city life a lot more, and that while we have no regrets about renovating a barn in the French Alps, it was not the permanent home we wanted. We have now sold the barn and live permanently in Zurich.
Describing us, I’m the more conservative and very even-keeled emotionally and I have often been described as having infinite patience. I am the solid rock at the centre of our lives and I have always been proud of my undented positivity and optimism. Over the years, Matt has always been the one to bring the energy and the courage to the relationship. He is constantly in motion and always thinking about what’s next, and making plans to launch us into the unknown. Without his “nothing is impossible” attitude, I am quite certain I would never have left our hometown, and I wouldn’t have taken the idea of becoming a parent seriously. I like to hope that we manage to find a balance between my slower moving, thoughtful pragmatism and his boundless creative energy.
We now live and work with our friends and our daughters here in Zurich, where I have taken steps to secure my career and take it to the next level. We have developed a large circle of friends, many of whom also have children of a similar age, and we’ve also become part of an extended network of gay dads in the city who meet fairly regularly. I think it’s really important for our girls to see they’re not the only children in the world to have two Dads.
We started our surrogacy journey with the girls for a lot of reasons, but it was largely influenced by the families. We saw how much joy being an Uncle made us, and we saw how parenthood changed and consumed our peers. It felt like parenthood was the natural middle-stage of our life long journey. Having travelled and explored the world, we’re now nesting and settling in to focus inward on these little people.
We still have quite an extended network of friends from all the cities we’ve lived in. The months of the last year have been filled with weekend visits from old friends from Australia, France, London and Scotland. Some of them have shared our Christmas celebrations, and others turned up for random baby playdate weekends.
Our families have been enthusiastically involved in the last year in a way that only having children can create. Matt’s mother flew to the US to be with us during the first few weeks after birth, as did my Brother. They stayed with us together in San Diego in a family home that we rented to create a real family environment for the girls when they were first brought home. Our lovely surrogate Natasha and her family were constant visitors for that first month, and it felt really good to have a place we could invite them to.
My parents decided to come and live here in Zurich for the summer this year and rented an apartment near ours so that they could visit daily but still respect our space in the evenings. And I assure you, they did visit every single day. As I type this, Matt’s mother is here again staying with us, and the girls have been to Australia twice in the year since they were born.
We went back to our hometown at Christmas, and the month spent there was full of brunches and dinners and open days as the entire extended family on both sides was incredibly keen to meet these two miracle girls that they’d heard and read so much about. The suitcases that came back with us after that trip were stuffed with the hundreds of teddy bears, cards, gifts, toys and hand-knitted woollens that our extended family had given the girls in that month.
It goes without saying that both families were fully supportive of our decision to become parents last year and would be delighted to see us expand the family further.
To finish, here’s a few photos of us and our girls from the last year: