Up until two years ago DCN had never been approached by gay men wanting to become parents or already with children. Then a couple joined, came on one of our Preparation for Parenthood workshops and promptly disappeared to South Africa where they were going to do their egg donation/surrogacy and take up residence. Following the Alternative Families show last autumn several gay men made enquiries about membership. We were very honest with them. They were very welcome to join but we didn’t have any other gay men as members and had not developed any resources for them. Most of these men then went away again. But one persisted. He and his partner already had children and were looking for support in telling them their story.
Openness and ‘telling’ is the reason for DCN existing so we felt we might have something to offer, but we also wondered if this dad would be willing to help us with connections into the world of gay parenting and perhaps to develop some resources. So this week Nina and I went to meet him at his workplace. We were all very excited. He by making contact with an organisation that he felt had similar values to himself and his partner and us by meeting someone who was so clearly a besotted parent and was willing to help us as well. He told us his story, which of course included egg donation and surrogacy outside of the UK and how his children are just now beginning to understand that they must have grown in someone’s tummy and if it wasn’t in either of their daddy’s tummies, then whose was it. The two men were wondering if it was right to include all the elements of the children’s stories at the same time or whether to introduce the surrogacy first and then add the egg donor in later. We all went away to try and think of some appropriate language that could include all elements in a very simple way. Single women who have had double donation often leave out the egg donor to start with and then find it increasingly difficult to introduce her at a later stage. The situation is not the same and the reasons for potentially leaving the egg donation to later are different too, but we find it better to include everything from the start so that there is a hook to hang further information on later when children ask questions. Pete, as I shall call him, bought two of our Telling and Talking booklets and said he would also buy most of the story books from the website so that he and his partner could take ideas from each of them. In return the two men are going to write one of our Letter Leaflets for us. These are Letters from experienced parents to people just starting out on the road to parenting in a particular family formation or type of donation and can be downloaded free from our website. They are very popular and sometimes, as a recent post on our forum testified, change lives.
In addition Pete is going to put us in touch with some useful organisations and a researcher who has been interviewing gay men about parenthood. At last DCN can begin to build a part of our organisation where gay dads can feel comfortable and come to for support and information.
I feel particularly pleased about this connection because I know two young men – whom I have known since they were small boys – who have come out as gay in the last couple of years and who have struggled with their sexuality because they want to be dads. If I can do anything to help make it easier for them to fulfil this need in a way that makes it possible to keep their integrity as gay men, then I will be very happy.