Hide me!

Ryan

Throughout my childhood, teenage years and adulthood, I had always thought I would be a dad. It was only in my early 20s when I first came out that I realised it might not be as easy for me as it was for other people. I saw my friends and family growing up and having their own families and knew that at some point, I’d be doing the same thing.

 

I didn’t do anything about it for a long time though; I had done bits of research into it every now and again, and I’d known it would be a costly experience so I couldn’t really do anything until I was in a strong position financially. I hadn’t even mentioned it to my family or any previous partners as it didn’t seem there was any point until I was in a position to start taking things forward.

 

I moved to Scotland early in 2005 with work, and shortly afterwards I met Rick.

 

I remember that during the first few times we met, he mentioned he had a daughter, Marie. I saw this as a positive thing. I’d never had a relationship before with someone who was already a parent (apart from a brief thing with a woman when I was in my teens). It was never a given that Rick and I would get together and have a long-term relationship but once we moved in with each other, I looked forward to having Marie in my life, even though she lived 100 miles away.

 

As it was, Rick would go up to Aberdeen every other weekend and stay with her, so any real involvement I had with Rick’s family was pretty limited.

 

I did feel quite excluded for the first two or three years. I wasn’t included in birthday parties and family events and I probably only saw Marie four or five times a year, generally when she came to Edinburgh or on the odd occasion that I went to Aberdeen with Rick. It wasn’t really until she was able to travel by herself and started coming to Edinburgh more that the two of us built up quite a good friendship.

 

 

It’s never been a stepdad-type thing, we just got on well and had a laugh during the times we saw each other.

 

Rick and I had been together probably about 18 months before I initiated the discussion about having a baby. By this point, I was doing well with work and was in a position where, financially, I could afford to go through the whole process and give up work when the time came to bring up a child.

 

I wasn’t quite sure how to approach it with Rick, and really can’t remember the words I used. We had probably four or five discussions about it until we reached the point where he said he would be happy to have a nipper around the house.

 

For me to embark on any process which led to having a child, it would always have had to have been surrogacy. I wanted a child who was genetically linked to me. It would have felt very different adopting a child, compared to going through the whole process of being involved in a pregnancy and birth.

 

Even at that stage I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy process but I’m such a determined person, I knew I’d end up being a dad.

 

My first step was to start looking into how you go about it. Internet searches led me to a few straight organisations. This was five or six years ago, before the law changed and two gay men could be intended parents. Back then they basically said they wouldn’t entertain supporting a gay couple through the surrogacy process and were only there to support straight couples. It was the first time in my whole life that I had ever felt disadvantaged by my sexuality.

 

After these initial knock-backs, I contacted some gay charities in the UK, who also couldn’t help. Then one contact gave me the name of a company in London who, amongst other things, had set up a commercial agency for arranging surrogacy. I wasn’t convinced that it sounded like the most professional set-up, but at the time there was nobody else I could go to, so I made contact with them in the hope that they would be able to help.

 

The man who ran the company, Kevin, agreed that they could support us through the whole process, although there was a cost implication for us. He said it was something they had done before and to initiate the process, we had to go down and see him in London. It wasn’t long before we headed down there.

 

The general plan initially was that they would arrange for us to meet potential surrogates who would be happy to have a child for us. We explained that in terms of the surrogate, we wanted someone who was open and honest, had a supportive family around them and someone who would obviously be a good candidate for in-vitro fertilisation (IVF). We also wanted to make sure it was someone we could get on with and at least develop a positive relationship with.

 

We also made it clear that we wanted to use an egg donor. I had been certain for a long time that I didn’t want to have to ask a surrogate to give away their own flesh and blood, as the risk of them wanting to keep the child in those circumstances was far greater. He assured us that they could arrange that and that it was quite a common approach.

 

Kevin explained that we would meet the surrogate(s), get to build a relationship with them and then go through the IVF process. He didn’t talk about any of the legalities or additional costs, like travel or IVF medication, at that point.

 

Not long after our first meeting with Kevin, we went to meet the first potential surrogate. This was in June 2007.

 

I was full of excitement at the prospect of this meeting, although that soon disappeared. We were introduced to a woman called Cora, but sadly within the first 20 seconds we knew this was the first and last time we would see her. She was 42, so not a good age for IVF, and when I asked her the question, “So what does your partner think of this?” she said: “He doesn’t know, it’s none of his business.” That put us off altogether, and overall it felt like a totally wasted trip down south.

 

Still, she was only the first potential surrogate we had met, so I wasn’t too downhearted.

 

Kevin arranged for us to meet someone else quite quickly. This time is was someone called Pauline, who was 25, married and had two kids of her own.

 

We met Pauline, her husband and Kevin all together in London and this time it was a good meeting. Pauline seemed quite sensible and her husband seemed supportive which was a bonus bearing in mind our experience with Cora. We came out feeling quite positive. Rick and I had a talk about the meeting on the way home and we agreed to give it a go.

 

Over the coming weeks we started to build a relationship with Pauline and her husband. We talked on the phone a few times, getting to know each other and discussing the whole process. We also made a 400 mile round trip to go and meet them in their home town which again was a positive meeting.

 

Later on, in what was to be the last of our conversations over the phone, Pauline started to discuss the financial side of the process and we, as instructed by Kevin, explained that she would need to take this up with him initially. She also started to express concern about Kevin and his company and sadly, shortly after this conversation, the whole thing fell apart.

 

Kevin called us and told us not to contact Pauline again because she wanted more money. My impression was that there were other reasons why it came to an end which, I expect, related to her mistrust of him and his company.

 

Next we met someone called Rosie. Her situation was that she’d been through surrogacy before but the IVF had failed. She had a supportive partner, son and stepdaughter and seemed to know what was involved. She was in her late 20s.

 

Again we got on well. We started to build up a relationship with Rosie over the phone before going to see a consultant in Harley Street in London. The purpose of the trip was to talk about what characteristics we would look for in an egg donor and also so that Rosie could have a scan, to make sure she was healthy and had nothing wrong with her inner workings for the IVF process.

 

In terms of characteristics we said we were looking for a tall, white European with blond or brown hair, to fit in with my family traits. I was just asked about physical characteristics, not education or anything like that.

 

All was fine at that point and I was starting to feel like maybe this whole thing was going to gather momentum and bring us a positive outcome.

 

Then, to our total dismay, Kevin was sent to prison for 16 months for stealing all the money his investors had put into his other companies. We hadn’t even known he was due to appear in court and only found out about it all when we saw his picture in the papers.

 

That caused major panic. We thought the surrogacy was going to fall flat on its face but Kevin had been working with someone called Jill who took over the process. She said Kevin was no longer part of the company. Still, we weren’t feeling overly confident.

 

Despite this hiccup, we thought that things would go ahead with Rosie but then she and her partner split up. They got back together after a brief spell but he decided he didn’t want her to go through with the surrogacy and that was the end of that. So, back to square one yet again.

 

In summer 2008, Jill contacted us about someone called Rula. Looking back on all this now, it makes me laugh. She had seven children of her own and we were told she knew someone who was going through the same process, so we could be sure of the amount of support she had. She also had the support of her sister who lived close to her in South Wales.

 

Jill brought Rula and her sister up to Scotland and we met them at the airport one lunchtime. When we met Rula, we got on well with her: she seemed to have her head screwed on and although she probably wasn’t someone we would usually choose to mix with, we liked her. She had a sense of humour and could talk – endlessly!

 

For the next few weeks we had a lot of contact. She was constantly texting and phoning, asking how we were, saying how excited she was about it all. But then when the process was due to start, it all went pear-shaped again.

 

For example, when she was due to go for her scan in London, she didn’t turn up. There were lots of excuses. When she did finally go, we had to pay for the pre-IVF medication. The arrangement was that we’d send her the money and she would get the prescription…

 

You can see where this is going, can’t you?

 

As far as we were concerned, it was all happening according to plan and she was taking the medication. The doctors had lined up the egg donor, who’d go to the clinic, which was in Cyprus. I’d have to go on the same day to give my sperm so they could make the embryos. Rula was due to get to Cyprus the same day or the day after so that the embryos could be implanted.

 

Then, about two weeks before we were due to fly out, Rula cut all contact. She didn’t even bother to tell us why. We subsequently found out that she hadn’t been taking the medication at all, she hadn’t even cashed in the prescriptions. She’d just taken the money – about £1,000 – for herself. It turned out that this had been going on for about six weeks.

 

We were then left with a situation where the egg donor, who had been taking her medication, was gearing up for the process, but we had no surrogate. We couldn’t at that point halt the process without incurring further costs.

 

So on 8 November 2008 I went to Cyprus on my own to play my part in creating the embryos. It was probably one of the most lonely weekends of my life. Rick had decided he didn’t want to come along, so I had to make the trek to Manchester to fly out from there, driving south from Scotland.

 

The good news was that as a result of my trip, 11 eggs were retrieved from the egg donor and eight embryos were frozen. It was just a shame at that point that we didn’t have a surrogate to help us put them to use.

 

Then in late November, Jill told us about a potential new surrogate called Claire, a woman in her late 20s who lived in Middlesex. She had a child of her own and although she was single, she had a really supportive family around her and she really wanted to be a surrogate.

 

Instead of meeting we arranged to talk over the phone initially, which we did in early December 2008. We chatted a few times leading up to Christmas and we arranged to meet up in London in late January with Jill. But, on 28 December, I got a voicemail on my mobile from Jill, saying Claire could no longer participate as she’d fallen pregnant.

 

It was now getting like a Carry On film, only nowhere near as funny.

 

In the middle of January, Jill came up with someone else. The next woman was called Jamila. She was also in her late 20s. We arranged to go and meet her in London on the day we’d originally planned to meet Claire. By this stage I was feeling pretty run down but I kept on going as I was determined that at some point it my life, this whole thing would result in a positive outcome.

 

We met at Heathrow with Jill, Jamila and Jamila’s mother and thankfully we got on fine. She was a really nice, strikingly beautiful woman, part Egyptian. I had a really positive vibe about her, although I was thinking by now that I wasn’t such a good judge of character, bearing in mind the previous people we had trusted.

 

Again, we agreed to go forward and things seemed to move really fast.

 

We chatted quite a lot over the phone and Jamila started going through the medical part of the surrogacy process. This time, Jamila was sent the medication after it had been paid for. I would just pay for her expenses as they arose, like travel to London or Cyprus.

 

Jamila went for her last scan in March and on 12 April she flew to Cyprus with a friend to have the embryos implanted. I was in a state of disbelief at this point, not believing we could end up with a baby at the end of this.

 

They transplanted three embryos. Jamila stayed there two days and when she came home she told me she thought she might be pregnant, and that she had a metallic taste in her mouth (which it seems can be an indication that you are pregnant).

 

I was on edge for the next two weeks until she had her first pregnancy test. Sadly the result was negative. Even though that was massively disappointing, Jamila had restored my faith in human nature.

 

Jamila went through the whole process again on 20 June and three more embryos were transferred. Yet again, two weeks after she got home, she found out it hadn’t been successful.

 

It was more disappointing this time. We agreed with Jamila that after the second one failed, we would have a break. It wasn’t just about the money, for Jamila it wasn’t an easy thing to do and, having failed twice, she wanted to take a step back for a while. We were comfortable with that.

 

We agreed to reconvene in September but Jamila decided she didn’t want to put herself through the whole thing again. I understood and didn’t make an issue out of it. I had appreciated all the way through that this wasn’t an easy process, both physically and mentally, for any woman going through it.

 

So, back to square one again, looking for another potential surrogate. I think by this time I just tried to take any emotion out of the whole process, as I was finding it increasingly difficult to remain positive.

 

Finally, in November 2009, we moved on to someone called Samantha, who lived in Scotland, was married and had three kids. She was in her mid 20s.

 

Initially we chatted over the phone and we seemed to get on fine. She’d wanted to act as a surrogate for one of her aunts but that hadn’t happened because her aunt lived so far away, and it would have been impossible.

 

After a few phone calls we agreed to meet on 27 November. Rick couldn’t take the day off work so it was just me and Samantha, meeting up in Buchanan Galleries in Glasgow. We got on fine and had a laugh, learnt some things about each other and parted company that day on very positive terms.

 

Rick and I went back to meet her in February and the whole process restarted.

 

We used an IVF clinic which was local to Samantha for the scans and medication, rather than going down to London (which saved a fortune!), although the scans were sent to Harley Street (by this point my funds were running out!).

 

Things moved on very quickly. Before I knew it, plans were in place for the IVF process. Then on 8 March I picked Samantha and her mum up and drove them to Edinburgh airport so that they could fly out to Cyprus. The day after their arrival, three embryos were implanted. Samantha and her mum returned on 11 March.

 

I picked them up at the airport and drove them back to their place. It was all a bit of a surreal time for me. The weekend before, my best friend of 18 years had died suddenly, only two days after I’d been chatting with him on the phone. In the middle of the airport runs with Samantha, I’d had to drive south to his funeral in Blackpool, and then rush back to get to the airport in time to pick them up.

 

Just after the weekend, Samantha texted me to say she’d been feeling sick but she didn’t want to get my hopes up that it was morning sickness.

 

She wasn’t supposed to take a pregnancy test until two full weeks after the embryo transfer, but on 17 March she phoned me while I was at home and asked, “Are you sitting down?” My heart jumped as I knew what was coming next… She told me she had taken a pregnancy test and it was positive!

 

It was very early days and she said she’s do another test to make sure but she said she felt pregnant. As far as she was concerned, we had a baby on the way! I had to run around the house for the next 10 minutes to try and calm down!

 

Once I had caught my breath, I phoned Rick to tell him and then my mum. My mum was over the moon.

 

Rick’s initial reaction was, “Oh, jolly good.”

 

There wasn’t much emotion in his voice, no real positive reaction. I had really hoped for a much more enthusiastic response but then I supposed it was a big thing to take in, particularly as this had been going on for so long.

 

For the next few weeks, Rick wouldn’t engage in any real conversation about the pregnancy. Whilst I wanted to talk, get excited, plan ahead and look forward to a future with a child, I didn’t feel able to because of Rick’s general mood. He had been quite distant since the day we were told about the pregnancy. This all continued for quite some time. I was massively disappointed but had to accept that the news of the pregnancy had affected our relationship in a negative way.

 

Faced with the enormity of what was about to happen, and after much soul searching, I decided I didn’t want to bring a child into a relationship where it wasn’t wanted by both people, so we split up at the end of April.

 

I didn’t want Samantha to know about this in case it made her think twice about the pregnancy going ahead, and Rick agreed. He hadn’t moved out at that point.

 

After the initial pregnancy test, I had a couple of chats with Samantha to see how she was feeling. She was texting a lot. We arranged to meet about a month into the pregnancy. We agreed again that we didn’t want to be living in each other’s pockets but that we’d keep in touch regularly.

 

We had a fairly positive meeting and then after that we went along for the first scan. It’s not like you see much – just a blob on the screen – but it confirmed that there was a child in there (and that it was one child, not three!) It was good to see it there and to be part of that process.

 

It was after that, that things started to go a bit bizarre. That whole period, when I was single, was really scary. I was heading towards being a single dad and I only had a few friends in Edinburgh. It was a very stressful time and I had a total lack of support around me.

 

Samantha started to raise questions about the legalities of surrogacy. She thought her husband’s name would have to go on the birth certificate (it didn’t) and that it was illegal to be a surrogate (it wasn’t).

 

She was also worried about the money: if the baby died or was born with any sort of disability, would she still get the money?

 

Sometimes she would send me these cold text messages. Sometimes she was like a wailing banshee about things which could be resolved in a second.

 

It was at that point that I thought I should get a lawyer involved, to reassure her with official answers. He spoke to her and came up with a surrogacy agreement which dealt with all the concerns she had.

 

I also got in touch with surrogacy.org and explained that we were going through this process but we didn’t really have the support, expertise or knowledge that we needed. I asked them if they could put us in touch with other people who were going through the same thing – for Samantha more than me. They said yes so I phoned Samantha.

 

When I got no answer, I sent her a quick email saying they could help.

What I got back was a text saying, “Don’t tell me what to do. You’ll get the baby but I don’t want to hear from you again.” Obviously that was very worrying so I contacted Jill. She couldn’t do much but she started acting as a go-between, between Samantha and me. This was probably month three or four.

 

The cold silence went on for about a month, then she started phoning me up saying she’d been rushed into hospital because she was having a bleed. She thought she was going to lose the baby. She would get checked out though and the scans would be fine.

 

By the time we went along to the 20 week scan in July, everything was OK and Samantha and I were at least chatting again.

 

Rick had moved out in June but we were still in touch and he came along to the scan.

 

The nurse carrying out the scan couldn’t see the sex of the baby as the umbilical cord was in the way but she said she was 99 per cent sure it was a girl. Seeing there was a real baby – everything else just paled into insignificance.

 

Shortly after that, I started planning to move house to one of the small flats I owned just about a mile away from where I was living (this was me starting to tighten my belt!).

 

Rick and I had a weekend away and started talking about the baby thing. He seemed to have come round to the idea and wanted us to be together again. We had a number of discussions about it and at the end of August, I was feeling reassured that he was committed to this, so I agreed to give it another go.

 

As all that was going on, Samantha got in touch to say her social workers had found out she was going through the surrogacy process and had major concerns about it, so they wanted to talk to us.

 

It was a massive shock, even to hear that there were social workers in her life!

 

What you have to remember is that we had no right to know anything about Samantha apart from what she chose to tell us.

 

Samantha passed on my details to the two social workers and they phoned me and arranged to come and see us. This was early September, about five months into the pregnancy.

 

They came to the flat and explained that although they were in Samantha’s life, they couldn’t say why.

 

She said she’d chosen to have her child at the hospital she’d chosen because it wasn’t her usual hospital – in other words, she’d thought she wouldn’t have any contact with her social work team there.

 

They said that if they’d known about Samantha’s plans to become pregnant, they would have done everything they could to have stopped it – but they also gave us the reassurance that nothing would go wrong in terms of handing the child over. If at the time of birth Samantha refused to hand the baby over, there would be an immediate child protection hearing and the child would be given to us anyway.

 

Our next struggle was with the staff at the maternity unit at the hospital.

 

At the 20-week scan, Samantha and I had discussed the fact that we needed to go and see the staff, to agree what would happen when Samantha went in to give birth. So we went in to see them. Samantha was probably about 30 weeks pregnant.

 

The staff basically said that their process, when a child was born, was to hand the baby to the mother, where it would stay until it was ready to leave the hospital.

 

Obviously I wasn’t best pleased with this and neither was Samantha. I said to them that in a surrogacy arrangement, the child needs to be handed over to its intended parents as soon as it’s born.

 

We didn’t get any further that day but afterwards I phoned Samantha’s social workers and explained the situation to them, knowing they wanted the right outcome. The social worker said she’d speak to the hospital. I also phoned the hospital and said I wanted to see the senior manager of the maternity unit, as I wasn’t prepared to accept what they were telling me.

 

Rick and I had an appointment to see the senior manager. They arranged it to coincide with a parenting class with a nurse and a midwife, where they tell you how to feed a baby, change a nappy and put it to bed.

 

When we talked about what would happen at the birth, they reinforced what had already been said about handing the child to the mother. They hadn’t had to handle a surrogacy before and didn’t want to step away from their usual procedures.

 

I asked them to get their manager and told her that she was at serious risk of facing a discrimination claim because they weren’t prepared to do anything to recognise the fact that Rick and I were the intended parents.

 

She went away and made a call to the social workers right there and then. She already had their number. I think the social workers put her right in terms of what needed to happen.

 

The social worker phoned me and said they’d come up with a plan for the process, from when Samantha went in to give birth to when she handed over the child. Samantha would need to agree to the plan but they thought it would suit us all.

 

Behind the scenes they got together with Samantha and worked out what would happen, which was that we’d be there in a room in the maternity unit and the child would be brought to us within minutes of the birth, not given to the mother at all.

 

Rick and I had a holiday at the end of September and by early October we were in fairly regular contact with Samantha.

 

She had been having problems with her husband and they’d separated. It was clear that she wanted the whole pregnancy over and she wanted the money. (You pay ongoing expenses as they are incurred but you also agree an overall lump sum that won’t be paid until everything was done and dusted, including the parental order, which takes place after the birth).

 

It turned out that Samantha had been going to the hospital and asking them to induce her early and the hospital had been refusing. She would then change her consultant and ask her new consultant in the hope that somebody would eventually agree. Her due date was the end of November – this was now early October.

 

Eventually the hospital staff and social workers agreed they should induce her two weeks early just so that the whole process could be brought to an end. There was no medical reason why she needed to be induced.

 

Going on separately but alongside all this was that I thought I was going to have to leave my job, because there was no legal requirement to give a father anything more than two weeks paternity leave, and I wouldn’t even qualify for that as I had only started my job at the end of March.

 

The unexpected good news was that my work agreed to give me three months’ paid leave from when the child was born, which was great! Statutory paternity leave is only two weeks and you can also get 13 weeks’ unpaid parental leave, neither of which would have been much use at all.

 

In the week before the planned birth, Rick and I finally had some real discussions about names. We probably had about five or six different options for boys and girls, but I think we generally knew she was going to give birth to a girl, so we focused more on girls’ names.

 

Although we had no proposals for first names, we agreed that the baby would get my mum’s middle name and Rick’s middle name as her middle names. It wasn’t until we were watching telly one night and saw the name ‘Erin’ appear that we both looked at each other and smiled.

 

That was it, her first name was decided!

 

Probably twice during the week before she was going to be induced, Samantha phoned me saying her waters had broken so we were hanging by the phone. Her waters hadn’t broken.

 

We eventually got to the day they were going to carry out the procedure to induce Samantha. It was taking place at 7pm and from talking to Samantha a few times, we expected the baby to be out in a few hours, so we headed to the hospital about 9pm with the car seat, baby clothes, miniature nappies, and everything else we thought we would need.

 

When we got there, we met Samantha at the door to the maternity unit, smoking. She’d started having contractions and it was a freezing cold night. It was difficult to believe that I’d be leaving this place with a child!

 

After that it was a case of waiting around for what seemed like an eternity. Samantha went back into the maternity unit and we kept in touch by text. Her mum also turned up and we chatted with her every now and again. At different times Rick went home to let the dog out and then bring her back to the hospital, I went to Samantha’s mum’s for a coffee, we sat and killed some time in the Asda car park eating snacks and trying to sleep (which I just couldn’t do!).

 

Then at 6.30am, we returned to the hospital car park, co-incidentally at the same time as Samantha’s mum – who’d had a text saying it was happening (I hadn’t!).

 

We went into the maternity unit together where Samantha’s mum explained to the hospital staff who Rick and I were. Rick and I were shown into a sort of remembrance room, this place where people sign books to remember babies who had died. It was an odd place to be, considering we were expecting something positive to happen imminently.

 

Luckily within 10 minutes Samantha’s mum came in to say, “You’ve had a beautiful baby girl! Come and cut the cord!” We’d talked about doing that when we first met Samantha but things had been so difficult that I hadn’t ever mentioned it again.

 

I went in and there was Erin, lying on her back on the bed, screaming. I just said, “Hello, beautiful” and they gave me the scissors.

 

I have to say: in some respects cutting the cord wasn’t a pleasant experience, like cutting a bit of gristle with all the blood going through, but I was glad I did it.

 

I was back in the remembrance room within minutes. Rick and I had a hug and then I called Mum to give her the news, though I could hardly speak by that point. All I remember saying when Mum answered was “She’s beautiful!” from which Mum assumed she had a new granddaughter!

 

Rick and I were then shown into a room next to the delivery room and within five minutes, Erin was put in my arms.

 

We had a few minutes alone with Erin, and it was all quite surreal. There was this beautiful, peaceful child wrapped in a blanket, in my arms, and I finally realised why I had been so determined to have her.

 

Apart from an overwhelming sense of love, I also felt a massive sense of achievement, relief and fear (I had no idea what to do next!). After four long years, I finally had this beautiful little baby!

 

Looking back at the photos now, she looked like a little wrinkly thing with eyes, but at the time the only word I could think of was ‘Wow!’

 

Before long, one of the nurses came in and talked us through what would happen over the next few hours. We’d give her some food, she would be weighed and we should be able to take her home. As simple as that!

 

The hospital gave us some little bottles of milk and changed her nappy a couple of times as they don’t like to let them go until they’ve peed and poo-ed. In the end, one of the staff said that she might not poo for another day so we could take her home and let them know if there were any problems.

 

We got her back to Edinburgh around 6pm after a very long day and my memory of the rest of that night is all a blur really. I remember looking at her a lot, thinking, ‘Oh my God’ a lot and speaking to my mum and my sister.

 

So that was that, I had someone else to think about now apart from Rick and me.

 

Aside from learning how to look after a new-born baby, the one main task for that first week was registering the birth. On the Thursday, Rick stayed at home with Erin and I travelled to Glasgow to meet Samantha and go to the registry office.

 

We were seen quite quickly, went through the paperwork, confirmed Erin’s names – and then Samantha confirmed that she was married, but not to me. That’s fine in Scottish law but then Samantha said something like, “Not only is he not my husband but the baby’s not mine either.” Argh!

 

I really wanted to have a go at Samantha about making matters complicated but I managed to bite my tongue.

 

The registrar – this young girl who’d obviously never had to deal with a surrogacy before – had to go away and check things out before she would register Erin but she did eventually do it.

 

Samantha’s and my names had to go on the first birth certificate. Later on, after the legal process, the parental order takes parental responsibilities away from the mother and gives them to the intended parents.

 

The weekend after Erin was born, we went to see my family and Marie. My family were thrilled to finally meet Erin, and Marie said to both Rick and I that she wanted to call Erin her sister. It made me feel really proud and Rick seemed really pleased. And that’s how Marie treats Erin, as her sister.

 

We applied for a parental order six weeks after Erin was born, posting it off to the courts in the Christmas holidays. This process seemed so easy compared to everything else! Basically a court reporter comes to visit you to check everything’s ‘kosher,’ writes a report to the court and then you go along for a court hearing. Ours was in the sheriff’s court and it lasted all of three minutes.

 

We got there, the judge followed us in, the clerk said what we were all there to do, the judge said he’d read the report and everything looked fine, so he announced that Rick and I were Erin’s parents – and asked us if we wanted a picture! We were a bit taken aback. We hadn’t even thought about a photograph but we said yes.

 

And that was that. Erin’s been a doddle ever since!

 

At the time of writing, Erin is now 20 months old. She has been such a pleasure to have around and by all accounts we have been quite lucky as she’s always such a happy thing. She’s never really been ill, her sleeping routine overnight has been great and she has settled in really well at nursery.

 

People close to us have just accepted her as one of our family. She gets spoilt by all the attention and presents she is given but she thrives on it. She’s walking, talking, singing, laughing and generally a bundle of fun. I really am the proud dad I always wanted to be and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

I don’t have any particular worries for her future. I sometimes think that she may be treated differently because she’s got two dads but we’ll deal with it if and when it happens. Our approach with her will be that she’s special because she’s got two dads, to be proud of it, and that it’s good to be different.

 

 

Read Rick’s story.

 

Find out more about assisted reproduction and parental orders.

 

 

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