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.
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.
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.
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.