Published February 10, 2014 | By Greg Hodgson-Fopp
At the start of the surrogacy process, before we were matched with Natasha or the Egg Donor, Matt and I had to provide to the agency a piece of writing that somehow summarized us as a couple, and as intended parents.
This document, which really only had to be about a single page of A4 size, had me paralyzed for about 3 months. Seriously, I must have written and rewritten this profile for us about 5 times. I sent it to friends (whose confused silence told me they were out of their depth), I sent it to Matt (he’s rubbish at feedback, by the way) and I even tried to get feedback from the agency we were using.
The Impossible Requirement
The precis for the document was simple: Explain who we are, in an honest way. But also in a way that is likely to attract the kind of surrogate we wanted to meet. But also in a way that is likely to attract the kind of egg donor we wanted to meet. Without overstatement. Or being pushy. Or needy.
Let the reader know you’re really serious and committed but without being too obviously needy. Make sure they know you’d be good parents, but at the same time don’t be too gushy or they’ll think you’re stalker material. Make sure that you show that you have the material means to support the child, but at the same time don’t come across as snobby or materialistic. Make sure they know you’ve got a good job and you’re not going to lose it, but at the same time don’t make them think you won’t have time for the children. Talk about your family in an honest way, but make them kinda seem like a Brady Bunch suburban sitcom family at the same time.
It was a minefield.
Four times the recommended length is good, right?
In the end, I settled on a document that was around four times as long as recommended. I felt that the length alone should convey the message we were hoping to convey about neediness. I also rewrote it about ten times to rephrase the family connections part as well. I wanted people to know that our families were ready to welcome the kids into the world, and were supportive of our life-changing decision, but there was definitely no hiding the fact that we lived across the other side of the world from our folks.
The most important thing I ever wrote
I think part of the reason I was paralyzed by the task was the realization that this might actually be the most important piece of writing I would ever pen. If this document was ultimately successful in making us seem appealing to a great donor and an amazing surrogate, then it would change our lives in ways that a few pages of text should not normally have the power to do.
I wanted to write something that stood out. Good surrogates are hard to find, and I wasn’t really sure how many surrogates were particularly interested in partnering up with gay guys from across the other side of the world. I didn’t want this profile to be sitting in a drawer gathering dust while other couples got picked.
Four months of write and rewrite went into this, so without further ado, I present the most nerve-wracking document I ever wrote.
My partner Matthew and I met 15 years ago in our home-town of Adelaide, South Australia. While it may seem impetuous in hindsight, within 24 hours of knowing each other, we’d moved in together and have lived together ever since.
Within a couple of years of living together, we decided that there was a lot more of the world to see than we could find in Australia and moved together to London, in the United Kingdom.
Working and living in London together, we explored everything that Europe had to offer, travelling to see all the major landmarks of the old and new world, exploring the UK, Europe and anywhere we could reach from London’s airports. Our insatiable curiosity about new places kept us scouring the map for new places to visit, and new people to meet.
After some time in London, Matt’s family in Scotland encouraged us to live up there in Edinburgh, where I began a long period of working on a big project for a large bank. In the time we were there, the travel lessened and our focus shifted more and more towards making more permanent connections, friendships and commitments. Our love of history and architecture steered us to buy a 200 year old cottage in the city. Several of our friends from Adelaide had also moved to Edinburgh and it felt like a nice city we could settle into.
During this time, after our anniversary of 10 years together as an inseparable unit, we decided to celebrate our relationship by having a small civil ceremony with a friends and family.
After 8 years in Edinburgh, we finally decided to follow our passions on the next step in our lives and bought a ruined barn together in rural France, which we still have. Over the next 2-3 years we built the barn up into a home and followed business opportunities in the local area – starting a travel agency, then taking over managing a bar and turning it around, and finally adding a taxi company to the bar we were managing together.
In 2010, after years of living in such a small village, we craved the city life once again and decided that the incredibly beautiful nearby cities of Switzerland appealed to us, and so I sought work in my old field of finance with the large banks based in Zurich. While we initially intended this to be a dual life, spending some time in Zurich while retaining our home in France, we have ultimately decided that Zurich is where our future lies.
Which brings us to today. We’re living mostly in Zurich, but still return to our converted barn in France once a week or so to make sure our businesses are looked after, and to enjoy the peace of the French Alps as a contrast to the faster pace of the city.
I work in Finance once again, as a team lead of a large and growing group within the bank, and I find my work very fulfilling, albeit demanding. Matt, while still bearing the major burden of looking after our businesses in France, has also recently decided to return to take his studies further.
We started thinking and talking about children about 5 years ago, when we went on a 1000km hike together across the Pyrenees. The hike was a well-known pilgrimage – The Camino de Santiago – with 8 hours or more of walking each day through some of the most beautiful terrain in the world. It gave us finally a chance to spend a lot of time together, talking over the things that you never bother to make time to talk about in the normal course of day to day life.
We both have very strong and very active families, and have always imagined our lives would involve a large number of children in the form of nephews and nieces, second-cousins and so forth.
My parents are originally from the United Kingdom and emigrated as children in the post-WW2 era, while Matt’s parents are both Australians. My father, now retired, worked in telecommunications, while Matt’s parents were both in Academia. His father is a published author in his field, while his mother now works in senior management in social services. Both sides tended towards large families and our childhoods were both filled with Uncles and Aunts.
We’ve also been blessed recently with a nephew (the first), the son of Matt’s younger sister Kelly. We can see the joy that it brings her, and the changes in her that having a child as the centre of her life have made. We’ve seen the happiness and contentment that it has brought her and her husband, and both sets of grandparents.
While I had initially put thoughts of children away from my mind, Matt’s ‘never say never’ attitude and research into surrogacy has made me confront and dissect my feelings on the idea of being a parent, and I am now absolutely certain that this is the right course of action for us, and we feel that the time is right for the two of us to become fathers.
I personally feel, that raising a new human being, through childhood and development to become a healthy, happy adult to enjoy this rich and wonderful world is perhaps the greatest creation I will ever achieve.
We are emotionally stable, both as individuals and as a couple. We’ve been together without pause or crisis for 15 years. We are unquestionably entwined in the eyes of each other and in our families and friends. We both have supportive and accepting parents who would be delighted to be surprise grandparents to a child of ours, and settled siblings who would make amazing aunts and uncles.
We also have wide circles of friends in many cities of the world, in both Australia and Europe with particular groups of friends (many with children) in those cities that we’ve lived in – London, Edinburgh, France and Zurich.
It goes without saying if we’re pursuing this course of action, but we’re also quite financially stable and have been for a number of years.
While we considered adoption, we both feel that a genetic connection to our offspring is an essential component of what makes the relationship so incredibly rewarding and so our first choice is definitely surrogacy.
There it is.
I don’t know whether it was good or bad, but it worked. Maybe if I get a chance, I’ll ask Natasha whether she got to read that, and if she did, what it made her think and feel, and what made her decide that she wanted to help us achieve our dreams.
I guess I won’t ever know if it’s good, but I do know it worked and I don’t have to write another one.