When I Became A Single Dad By Surrogacy, My Friends Called Me Selfish

by Nathan Chan
Originally Published: 
A man who became a single dad by surrogacy and his little baby lying on the bed and smiling
Courtesy of Nathan Chan

When I began my journey to fatherhood via surrogacy, I never imagined the backlash I’d experience from people that I thought were my friends.

When I shared my story, people would often ask me, “Why don’t you just adopt?” Sometimes, it even got a little judgy. Like, “Why are you creating a new life when you could be helping one of the thousands of babies out there that need a home?”

More than one frenemy accused me of being selfish for not adopting. Family members weighed in with opinions that I didn’t ask for. And “trolls” is too nice a word for the countless criticizers who tried to surrogacy-shame me online.

What those people didn’t realize was there are not unlimited numbers of babies being placed for adoption. And in 2015, when I began looking into it, only two countries in the world allowed single males to adopt a young child under the age of seven – Canada and the United States. And when I researched international adoption from the United States, I realized it would cost at least $100,000 USD.

Courtesy of Nathan Chan

Still, after my first attempt with surrogacy resulted in a stillborn, I was ready to try it. But I struggled to find an adoption agency that would accept me. Like… really struggled.

I had to beg. Since adoption falls under provincial jurisdiction in Canada, I tried every agency in Alberta. None of them would even consider taking me on, since I was a single male.

Finally, one adoption agency agreed to work with me. But the agreement was just the beginning. The qualification process took six months and required me to spend over $12,000 on workshops, course materials and a home study that the agency required for approval. Not to mention health, criminal and financial background checks. It was a major invasion of privacy, but I was willing to do whatever it took to adopt.

Ultimately, I became the first single man in Alberta to qualify for domestic adoption. It seemed like a victory, but all the time-intensive efforts only led to more heart-crushing delays. I was an approved adoptive parent on the waitlist for two years. Birth mothers just did not want to place their child with a single male.

After the agonizing wait, I turned once more to surrogacy. There was less judgment about being a single man in pursuit of fatherhood. The surrogates I interacted with and the clinics were more open-minded, which made the process much less stressful.

Courtesy of Nathan Chan

Not to say that the road to surrogacy was a piece of cake. I faced so many heartbreaks along the way (including failed embryo transfers, miscarriages and a stillborn birth) that sometimes I just wanted to give up. And I definitely didn’t anticipate that I would work with a total of six surrogate moms. Ultimately, the entire process took eight long years.

Today I’m the proud father of two-year-old Nanette. She means the world to me, and I can’t imagine life without her. She’s my traveling partner, my restaurant buddy, and when we go to the zoo, watch out! I’d do anything for her.

Courtesy of Nathan Chan

Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t get scared away by the intimidating, exhausting and fruitless effort of adoption. The agency I worked with ended up closing down this year, and the owner has been charged with fraud. Other people who focused all their dreams of having a child through adoption have been left in limbo.

I’m just so grateful that surrogacy is an option. I don’t think I would have ever been able to realize my dream of starting a family if there was no alternative to adoption.

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