Imagine you’re a single woman in Australia who can’t have children but desperately wants to be a mum, what’s your chance of adoption? Slim, I’d say. Now, imagine you are a single gay male who wants to be a daddy? A real dad with baby in arms, something you’ve always dreamt of! Well, your chance of adopting is almost impossible. So, how do you fulfil your lifelong dream of being a father when you’re gay?
A true story – A wet Friday night in Melbourne, April 2019. I’m waiting to meet a couple of friends for dinner in Prahran, something we do every month or so. I’m early, I usually am. So I decided to kill some time with a cheeky white wine at Jane Doe. My mind wanders as I drink to thoughts of family, growing up and being single. I finish my white, cross the road, and meet my mates at Saigon Rose. “Hello darling,” one friend purrs as he enters. “Good to see you both,” we all sit. “Well, what’s been happening?” I ask. Everyone agrees not much has happened, same old thing, then one friend (we’ll call him Daddy) says…
“Well, I’m going to have a baby,” Daddy grins, cheeks flushing. What? There is a moment of silence, and then my other friend screams “Fabulous darling!” The waiter suddenly interrupts us, I order spicy sizzling beef.
A long story short – Daddy has always dreamt of having children and hoped by the time he was late 30s he’d be in a steady-gay relationship, starting a family. But, Daddy has no current partner and no one in the foreseeable future. So, what’s Daddy to do? He decides to employ a surrogate in the U.S.A, sending his sperm samples across the globe via a registered agency. “I looked them up on the internet,” Daddy informs us over entree. I must admit, this is not our usual gay Friday night dinner conversation. I was aware Daddy was thinking about surrogacy from previous conversations we’d had. But, if I’m honest the news still took me by surprise. Not because Daddy won’t be a brilliant father (he’ll be beyond brilliant) but because very few people chase their dreams, particularly dreams as costly as this!
“Wow. That’s amazing. Congrats. I’ll be an Aunty” I joked. “You weren’t kidding? So you are going ahead with it? “
“Well, Done, I’ll be an Aunty too,” my other friend adds. “I’ll take him out dancing. Be afraid darling! Will it be a boy or girl? Did you choose?”
“Yes I had a choice” Daddy answered.
“Let’s film the birth. I can direct a documentary on it,” I winked.
“I may need someone to travel to America with me? For the birth,” Daddy casually mentions.
“Darling maybe Daddy doesn’t want his story forty foot high on cinema screens around the world?”
“I can’t imagine why he wouldn’t!” I joke back, half-serious. “You know, you’d be the only single gay man in Australia doing this daddy thing. You would be,” I add. My other friend agrees, devouring a spring roll while I finish off a satay chicken stick.
Our mains arrive, the questions for Daddy keep coming.
1. So where did you find the mother? Did you know her?
2.why did you go through an agency? Why are Australian laws so dumb?
3. Is the surrogate American? Oh, really, she’s done this before?
4. Is it cheaper in the USA? (It’s illegal in Australia to be paid as a surrogate but not in the USA and several other countries)
5. Is she Asian? No, Caucasian!
5. Have you met her? What does she look like?
Daddy showed us his surrogate’s Facebook account, she’s married with two kids. They appear a happy normal family.
“I picked her from a series of applicants, by photo and background,” Daddy said. “And we’ve spoken. We keep in touch on Facebook.” Jeez, the modern age I think, it’s something else, isn’t it?
So, how does this all work? Well, an embryo created from Daddy’s sperm and an egg from an anonymous donor will be thawed and transferred into the surrogate’s uterus, she’s considered “PUPO” — pregnant until proven otherwise.
“She’s the oven,” Daddy tells us.
I wonder how much she is being paid? Finally, I ask “So, Daddy how much does it cost to have a kid with a surrogate in America?”
“$150,000 to $200,000, depends on how long it takes, and what’s involved. I’ve paid already,” Daddy answered. “But, it’s safe and regulated in the states and the agency has a good reputation. She probably gets $40,000 or more. Lots of gay couples are doing this. I’m in contact with another couple, here! I’ll show you on Facebook.
“But, you’re the only single-gay male?” I ask.
“Yes. I’m the only single male that I know of.”
A month later – I’m sitting alone at Father’s Office sipping wine and eating buffalo wings with blue cheese, pondering the role loneliness plays in the lives of the LGBTQ community. In a world of digital connections, think Grindr, Tinder, Daddyhunt…how do you find an honest connection in real-time? Maybe the queer community isn’t that different from our straight brothers and sisters, I decide. I mean everyone wants to have someone to love, right? And, wants to be loved in return. I think back to my friend, Daddy, and I wonder how the baby-making business is going. I look about, how many of the women in the bar would carry a child inside their belly for 9 months, that’s not biologically theirs? I finish my wings and leave. On the 64 tram, I see a good looking couple in their 30’s, the woman is heavily pregnant. “Are you the father?” a lady standing beside the couple asks. The man nods. “Oh, he’s the dad, alright,” the pregnant woman beamed.
PS. Becoming a surrogate in the USA isn’t easy. The woman must first go through months of testing with a surrogacy agency. The test includes a 600-question psychological examination and a full-body screening. Only 1 in 10 women qualify as a surrogate with some surrogates preferring queer couples over straight as they are said to be less controlling during the pregnancy.
About the author – Noel Anderson is currently adapting his play Sammy & Dave into a film. Noel has directed over 50 theatrical productions. Checkout Noel’s Podcast ‘Email To My 17-Year-Old Self‘ on Podbean and on his iTunes Channel – Noel Anderson’s 15 Minutes of Fame.