Hide me!

Colin and Greig

Colin: We have been living as a couple for approximately five years. We applied to adopt jointly as a couple about nine months ago. Our civil partnership is in August. I’m 30 and Greig is 32.


Adopting is the same process whether you’re straight or gay. We’ve just been given some books from our social worker and one, Becoming Dads by Pablo Fernandez, is a diary of a couple going through the adoption process – but they live in England and we live in Tayside, so as great as it is, it’s not 100% tailored to the process we’re going through. A lot of the emotional side is the same though.


Greig: The social worker has also given us Lesbian and Gay Fostering and Adoption, Building the Bonds of Attachment, Talking about adoption to your adopted child and A child’s journey through placement [See p 212].


Colin: I have always wanted to have children. Growing up I expected to be a father and always looked forward to this. I started to consider it seriously about seven years ago.


Greig: You always know that you want to be part of a family. That didn’t change when I knew I was gay.


Colin: We started thinking properly about applying to adopt, about three years ago.

In my previous relationship, in my early 20s, I talked about it with my partner but he wasn’t keen. He said he’d think about it but when we split up, he said he’d never wanted kids.


Greig: We started talking about it on date four! Not about having children immediately or how we’d have them but if we did get serious, did we both want the same things.


Colin: We’ve been together five and a half years now. We did have reservations about having children – about how people would treat a child with gay parents. Would the child be bullied? Would people accept us as a family?


Once we realised our concerns were about other people and not our own abilities, we felt much more secure in our decision to have children. There are a lot of children needing loving homes and we feel we can provide this.


Greig: Over the years our straight friends said things like, “If you’re wanting kids, I’ll be the ‘oven’ – as long as I’ve had my kids first.”


Colin: They didn’t want their first child to be ours.


Greig: But then they started saying, “I’d rather have Colin’s child or your child” for one reason or another – and when we looked into surrogacy there seemed to be so many legal loopholes.


Colin: The way we understood it, if the egg donor changed their mind, there’s every chance they’d get to keep the child but if there was a different carrier – if someone else gave birth to the child, in a custody fight it was more likely to go in your favour.

That’s all just our understanding, I don’t know if it’s right. But for me, asking a woman to give up her body for nine months is a big ask. Some people still die in childbirth! I didn’t feel justified in asking someone to go through that, just to become an auntie.


Greig: In ‘Gay Times,’ it seems to be more about women looking for sperm donors than surrogates for gay men.


Colin: And some people, you just wouldn’t want them to be the surrogate, they couldn’t even look after themselves.


Greig: I think I’d want to be really strict with a surrogate. It’s like trusting someone with the rest of your lives, your heart’s desire. I’d be checking she’s had her five a day…


Colin: …and saying, “That’s your second cigarette!”


Greig: It wasn’t for us.


Colin: My aunt even offered to have a baby for us. She just likes being pregnant. It was very kind of her but it would have been too odd and by that time, we’d already decided against surrogacy. There’s too much that can go wrong.


But it’s always at the back of your mind, meeting a lesbian couple and living next door, bringing up the child together.


Greig: Those are the conversations you have at a party.


Colin: In 10 years’ time you may not want to live next door.


Greig: I think that’s what puts a lot of people off being donors. The couple want to be the parents. They just want your sperm/eggs and then they want you to go away.


Colin: Once we decided adoption was what we wanted to do, we looked online. At first we thought you couldn’t adopt jointly as a couple unless you were married, regardless of whether you were gay or straight. You could adopt as a single person but if anything happened to you, technically your partner wouldn’t have any legal rights or responsibilities towards the child. At least, that’s the way I understood it back then. We weren’t engaged at that point.


Greig: We got engaged once we’d been going out for three years. We always thought that if we were still together by then, it would mean we’d stay together.


Colin: We booked the wedding two years ago. As far as I was concerned, we would get married first and then adopt. That was the plan and we were happy with that. I’m a Catholic and I told my gran that at least one of her grandchildren would get married and then have a child.


Greig: Then Colin found out that they had changed the adoption rules so that unmarried couples could apply for joint adoption. When he told me, I couldn’t wait!


Colin: I kept saying, “We’ve so much on, we’re getting married” but he was so excited. We found out just before my brother’s wedding, the first weekend in September. Greig phoned up social services in early September and they sent us a questionnaire.


Greig: It all happened very quickly initially. I thought it would take a while but we saw a resource worker within about two weeks. Colin was in shock. He kept saying, “I’m fine, I’m fine.” I couldn’t wait.


Colin: We had a question and answer meeting, where the resource worker answered the questions we had and explained the adoption process to us in outline. She also had a quick look around the flat.


Greig: She asked us what our plans would be for adapting the flat for a child.


Colin: I got the impression it was to make sure we met the minimum requirements, like having a bedroom for the child and not having any other major issue she needed to flag up before we went on to the next stage.


We briefly discussed some of the other considerations too, like should you change the child’s name, introducing them to family and friends, telling the child they’re adopted.


Greig: I think they were trying to suss out whether we would hide information from the child.


Colin: And that we were thinking of the best interests of the child and not just ourselves. After explaining everything to us and answering our questions, she asked us if we still wanted to go ahead, if anything she had said had put us off.


Greig: The level of commitment, of input expected of you, might put some people off – the level at which social work are going to be looking into your lives.


It sounds scary and in depth but at no point did we feel judged or under the spotlight.


She was lovely and friendly but she made sure you knew it was not going to be a quick and easy process.


Colin: She said she’d look into our childhoods, potentially contact any long-term partners we’d had. I got the impression that was in case you’d been a step parent or your ex had had children.


She didn’t mention finances at that stage, apart from asking if we work but she went into the type of children they get up for adoption.


We volunteer on the Children’s Panel so we already knew that adopted children could come from disadvantaged backgrounds or have learning difficulties.


She said that a lot of people applying to adopt are expecting a new-born bouncing

baby but that’s unlikely to happen. People are not ashamed of having children when they’re teenagers or unmarried any more.


Greig: The days of the Magdalene Sisters and people giving away healthy children are gone.


Colin: After we said we wanted to proceed she explained a bit more about the next step: that we’d be appointed a social worker who’d take us through the process and then we’d see an adoption panel.


We’d need to get medicals. This is usually done by the GP but as Greig has health problems, they’d contact his consultant at the hospital first.


Greig: There are strict deadlines once you have been allocated a social worker – six months until your adoption panel – so they wanted to get the medical information in place before they allocated one. Getting the medical information, especially from consultants, can take months.


Colin: We were a year ahead of our expected application date anyway, as we were applying before we were married, so that was fine.


Greig: I didn’t think we’d be given a child after just six months anyway.


Colin: Within a few days, the resource worker sent us a formal application, including forms to get the doctor and consultant to disclose information. The form wasn’t scary…


Greig: Maybe six pages? It was self explanatory – it didn’t come with its own pamphlet to explain how to fill it in.


Colin: I was shocked but impressed at how short and straightforward it was. (The detailed forms are filled out by social work later). We posted it back within a few days, then they wrote to our GPs to ask for medicals to be done.


We didn’t even need to make the appointments. I did ring but they said that social work would write to them. Then they sent us appointment letters.


Greig: It was like an MOT at a well person’s clinic – weight, blood pressure, testing your eyes, reflexes, no bloods. My GP said he could fill out most of my questionnaire anyway as I see him every month.


Colin: GPs usually charge for those kind of check-ups but social work said they’d pay for it.


Greig: They do have targets eg. for weight and heart and if you don’t meet them you have to get them redone or have other checks. So if you fall within normal limits it’s quick and simple but if you don’t, it can take longer.


Colin: When the resource worker came to see us, Greig asked if there were any health limitations and she basically said no, as long as you weren’t terminal and could look after a child. Ever since then I’ve always felt the questions were about whether you would be able to cope with a child, how much you could manage, what kind of child you can look after.


Greig: I had extra tests on my heart because of my health issue. If you go when you think you’re healthy and you have to have a heart test three times, don’t panic – it may just be that you’re nervous.


Colin: I got my medical in a couple of months.


Greig: There was more of a delay in my case, I was a month and a half later but that was because my GP was away. I had to phone the surgery a few times. I finally got an appointment but the doctor was new and hadn’t dealt with the forms before so he asked if I could wait ’til my usual GP got back. I did and that was OK but then my form got missed in the handover. They only found it because I chased them.


When I finally got in to see my doctor, she was really excited at the thought of the adoption. It’s a small practice and I’m a regular customer so she knows me well, we’ve built up a close relationship.


Colin: My GP was really excited too. You’d be surprised. Everyone in my office is so excited and so are my family. I don’t know if it’s because we are so fabulous or so they can say they know a gay couple who are adopting!

If anyone’s worried about being a same sex couple, don’t. So far not one person has said anything negative, not even the bitches who are not backwards at coming forwards with their complaints.


Greig: We met the resource worker in September and it was December before we got a letter from social work, inviting us to a training course – a preparation group – which started in January. The only thing that happened in the three months in between was that we had our medicals.


Colin: I think they only hold the preparation group every few months so we went even though we didn’t have a social worker yet.


There were five couples, very mixed. A couple who had already adopted and were applying for a second child – and hoping it would all go better this time as everything that could go wrong, had gone wrong the first time.


There was another couple who’d had a child naturally but were struggling to have a second. They wanted a brother or sister for their daughter and she wanted one too.


There was an older couple in their late 40s who’d tried IVF and then gone for fostering. It hadn’t worked. She wasn’t emotionally ready to give a child back.


The other couple were doing a long-term fostering placement with a child and social work were putting them through the adoption process. They were about to go to panel.


The other couples were at different stages in the process and we were just starting.


Greig: I think going to the preparation meetings at the start of the process really helped.


Colin: The course was all day for three Saturdays in a row plus two Tuesday evenings in between. Although the letter said it was a training course, the woman who led it said it was more to make you think and to make you realise you’re not going to get what she kept calling a “pink and fluffy” child.


Even though we both knew from the Children’s Panel that it was unlikely we’d get a pink and fluffy child, part of me still thought we might be the exception.


Greig: She also made it clear that while we may think that we’re there to get a child, they were there to get a child the right family.


Colin: A lot of children, especially younger children removed from birth, may come from mothers who were drinking or taking drugs during pregnancy, so the child has foetal alcohol syndrome or other physical or mental health problems.


A lot of children come from deprived backgrounds. They may have learning difficulties or global delay syndrome, where they don’t hit the usual milestones. You’ll never have a complete medical history if there’s a choice of three dads or the mother doesn’t give permission.


The child might have emotional issues from being passed around – mum, dad, aunties, grandparents, foster carer to foster carer. After eight homes, ten homes, you may tell them they are here with you to stay but they’ll just look at you. It’ll take a long time for them to feel settled.


Greig: Attachment is a big thing they touched upon.


Colin: A lot of people expect it to be a Hollywood moment, when they see the child, when their eyes meet the child’s across the room and there’s a moment of recognition – but it doesn’t happen like that. There’s no instant bond, like in Annie. It can take weeks, months. And it’s fairly common that the child bonds more quickly with one parent than another.


Greig: It was really helpful when other adopters came into the group and said how hard it could be. One woman said it was really hard when the child bonded with her partner first and it took a year before they really bonded with her.


Colin: Someone told us that some children may even do better with a same sex couple, with men if they bonded better with men or with lesbians if they felt threatened by men, for example.


Greig: The woman pointed out that even when you’re an ‘ordinary’ parent, you have to take every day as it happens.


Colin: The head of the adoption team came in with a list of children on her books at that time. She stressed there was no such thing as an average child. At that moment in time, most children on her list to be adopted were aged 3 or 4 but it varied.


Greig: They did have a few sibling groups whom they wouldn’t want to break up but after the eldest is seven, it’s almost impossible to adopt. Then they told us about this magazine the children get put in – and a website I don’t want to look at. It sounds like a catalogue, almost.


Colin: I think the process up here is that to match you with a child, they look first in your local authority area and if there’s no suitable matches there, after a while they look at a larger area – here it’s the North East Consortium.


Greig: Especially if, for the child’s safety, they want them out of their local authority area, they look to the Consortium too.


Colin: If that doesn’t work, after a time they put the child’s picture and profile in a catalogue and on the website.


Greig: The social workers don’t like doing that but they say it serves a purpose and what’s the alternative?


Colin: If we could go through the whole process without seeing that, I’d be much happier.


Greig: It sounds dehumanising, this strange catalogue of people.


Colin: I suppose it’s just the reality of so many kids looking for a home.


Greig: They speak about a ‘tick list’ – that there’s almost a tick list of what you’d consider in a child when you’re adopting. It’s not pleasant but they’re not going to match you up with a child you can’t cope with and you’re not going to want to send a child back.


Colin: We said we’d consider a child under 5 and that we’d take up to two siblings, so two children in total.


Greig: We didn’t think much about the implications of a child’s health issues until the training group and that’s when we realised we couldn’t manage a child with a high level of disability. It would be too physically demanding with my own health problems.


Colin: And I wasn’t sure I could handle a child with extreme ADHD.


They ask you if you would consider a child with severe learning difficulties, Down’s Syndrome, a child who’s been abused.


There’s very little we think we would rule out at this stage but it all depends on degrees, on how severely affected the child was.


The only consideration I had in relation to us being a same sex couple would be age, that a younger child might adapt better to same sex parents than an older child who may have been with parents who were homophobic, or who may have preconceived ideas about wanting a mum and a dad. I know I had preconceived ideas at that age.


Greig: We have nephews and nieces under 5 who see us as normal. My niece said something to my sister about two men can’t get married and when my sister said they could, she just shrugged, “Oh, OK then.” Children will accept you as being you if you don’t make a big deal out of it.


Colin: The preparation group and the resource worker, they do tell you a lot of worst case scenarios. The couple who were in the preparation group who had adopted before had been told there was a high likelihood of various things happening but none of them had.


Greig: And they were adopting again, so it was worth it. They’d also realised that sometimes when things happened, they were thinking, “Is this because this child is adopted?” when actually it was happening because the child was two. It was normal.


Colin: Apparently, we’re quite young adopters. Most straight couples try naturally first, then go through IVF, then adopt, so it’s a very long process for them whereas we knew early on that this is the way for us.


Colin: The preparation group expanded on what the resource worker had told us about the application process. You get a social worker, then you go to the adoption panel, then you start the selection process. We’re a long way from that yet.


Greig: Even if they have a child now that they think we’re perfect for, they can’t mention them because we have not been officially approved.


Colin: We were allocated a social worker in March/April.


Greig: We got a call saying there was a social worker almost ready for us and that they’d get in touch.


Colin: She did and she came to visit us in the flat. She brought a side-kick with her, another social worker. They always come to the first meeting in twos.


It was a very general discussion, covering a lot of things we’d discussed before. I think there were two so they could both agree it was appropriate for us to go forward.


At the end of the meeting they said that they would be happy to go ahead with the process. We made an appointment with Laura, the one who would be going forward with us, to come round the following week.


Then at that meeting, we arranged a series of appointments over the next couple of months, most weeks ’til June. All those visits took place here, around 5pm, so I could fit them round work.


Greig: The meetings were mostly just talking, with Laura asking us questions. It didn’t feel as if we were being interviewed, just chatting, covering some of the things we’d discussed with the resource worker.


Colin: After a couple of weeks of getting to know us, she asked when we wanted to apply for the panel. It has to be done within six months but you don’t have to wait six months. She thought we would be ready to meet the panel by August.


Greig: The next week she came back with a date.


Colin: The wedding’s in August, the panel is before. She asked if that was OK.


Greig: We didn’t know it then but we should know by the wedding, if we’ve been approved or not.


Colin: Up until that point, I thought the panel made the decision on whether you’re approved or not but when we got the date and talked about it, I found out the panel just make a recommendation.


Greig: Social work put a recommendation on the forms they fill in – the Adoption and Permanence Form F – and the panel asks you any questions they have. Then they make their recommendation and it’s someone senior in social work who decides.


Colin: We haven’t filled out any of the F forms yet. Laura gives us homework on a different topic each week then she fills them in.


Greig: The first homework was about our childhood. Family rules, did you go on holiday – she gave us a list of things to talk about and we talked about them and we typed up our answers (I don’t think you have to type them up but we did).


She asks you to be in depth and you write up as much as you can. It’s actually quite cathartic to look into yourself.


Colin: One week we had to do our family tree, just back to our parents, another time we had to look into our relationship. We did it separately and then we compared what we’d said. It was amazing how much we said in common but there were other bits when it was like, “You don’t really think that do you?”


Greig: You can’t think of it as someone being nosy and intruding into your life. It’s about making sure it’s a good match. They’re trying to sell you to the panel.


She asked about our weaknesses, too – what do we think they are, what would be put in place to address them.


Colin: At the preparation group, they told us a story of a couple in England who adopted a child, then six months down the line a health problem appeared that social work knew might develop, so now the couple were suing…


Greig: …which really upset me. If that had been their birth child, who would they sue?


Every question they ask about your childhood, your family, your relationships, you might not want to divulge but you have to.


Colin: If your dad beat you up every night, you might think, ‘I’m ashamed so I won’t say’ but because you have had that experience, it might make you empathise.


Greig: And if you’re going through the adoption process together, as a couple, you need to be honest. You need to know these things about each other or your relationship will fail, your adoption will fail and you’re not acting in the best interests of the child.


Colin: I think the social worker is very good at reading between the lines as well.


Greig: She’ll ask you questions about your homework, to make sure she gets the true meaning out of it. Not that you’re hiding anything but to be sure she has it.


Colin: Though she did say that not every social worker works the same way.


Greig: We’re almost at the end of the process now. We’ve done most of the homework. The social work department have typed it up into the forms. Laura just has to speak to our referees.


Once you have a social worker, she sends out letters to your employers and personal referees, asking for references.


Colin: The personal referees are not allowed to be family members, not here anyway. Both our personal referees are long-term friends.


Greig: The personal referees are interviewed, ideally in person but maybe on the phone if they already have enough information about you.


Colin: One of our personal referees isn’t local, he lives in Glasgow, so Laura will speak to him by phone.


Greig: My employer hasn’t returned his form yet. It’s things like that that can cause delays.


Colin: Deciding who to ask to be a personal referee took some thought. We have friends who have children and others who don’t, some live more locally than others. In the end we decided on two people who don’t have children but who know us well. They have seen us with our nephews and nieces and one of them knows me from working with children.


Greig: There are questions on the personal referee form which our friend says it’s hard to answer because we’re not parents yet, like how we might be on discipline. But if you don’t know, it’s OK to say so.


Colin: We have been allowed to see all the references which have come back so far. My boss has been great. He filled the form in straightaway.


Greig: Mine has had three reminders and still nothing but he’s like that with everything.


Colin: Once social work has filled in Form F, based on our homework, we’ll get to see that too and amend it if we want to, before it goes off to the panel.


When we move, we want a nice area to bring kids up in, where they won’t go, “Oh, there’s the gay couple with the kid.” It’s only six years since Greig was getting death threats in the post for being gay.


Greig: It was on an estate. There were 300 letters being sent to my community every day. The neighbours in the street who knew me were horrified. They came round and said, “I had this put through my door early this morning” and they were very supportive but it was an awful time. CID were involved.


Colin: Our current flat is great for a couple. It’s really central and we have gay and straight neighbours. The problem is there’s only one bedroom.


Greig: That would become the child’s bedroom and there’s a space for us in the living area but it would be open plan, so not ideal.


Colin: We’re on the council’s housing list and a couple of housing associations, so we’re looking.


We’re registered with them as a couple at the moment but once we’ve been approved for adoption, they’ll take that into consideration. We’ve already started packing. We’re renting so if we find somewhere, we might have to move very quickly.


Greig: Once we’ve been approved, it could be two weeks or two years until we’re matched with a child, maybe longer.


Colin: Emotionally the process has been ups and downs as we get excited then try not to get our hopes up, then get excited again. We are trying to be realistic but at the same time, little fantasies about how family life can be do play in our heads. The emotional roller coaster, I imagine, is the same as for any couple trying to adopt, straight or gay.


Social work have been fantastic and at no point have we felt awkward/ discriminated against.


Colin: Don’t be scared by all the worst case scenarios.


Greig: Be open with your social worker and each other. Be aware of your own limitations. Don’t be too eager to say yes when it comes to the tick list – be realistic.


Colin: Decide what’s right for you as a person and as a couple, rather than for your family and friends.


Greig: Make sure the time’s right for you. We’ve got quite a bit on at the moment but it’s working out fine. We’re planning the wedding but we’re planning a future at the same time.


Colin: Look at the application process as a positive. All the questions a social worker asks, they’re all questions I would want to ask if I had to give my child to an adopter.

I found the process very therapeutic, talking about myself and the past and seeing what your referees think of you! Rather than making us feel like we’re being assessed about whether we will/will not be allowed to adopt, I feel like we’re being assessed on what our strengths/weaknesses are and therefore what kind of child we can provide a home for.


Greig: Don’t get hung up on the idea that some people can just have sex and have a child. When you have to jump through hoops, it doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a child.


Colin: Although the process may seem slow – we applied in September and the panel’s in August – the pace has been right for us. Prepare for it to be a lengthy process, in which every aspect of your life will be looked at. We went into it knowing that and the whole adoption process has so far been very enjoyable.


Since this interview, Greig and Colin’s panel meeting has been postponed, awaiting paperwork from Greig’s employer.


I first became aware that I wanted children two years ago, when I was in my early 20s. My partner and I are in the process of moving to a bigger house to begin the adoption process. We got our information from forums, social services and the Glasgow adoption website.


If you want something badly enough go after it, no matter the barriers that people, government, or society put in your way.


As a gay man I always assumed that children would be out of my reach so I never really thought much about having them. I think that the first time I thought seriously about it was when a very good friend of mine (one half of a lesbian couple) approached me to become a sperm donor.


In a relationship for 18 years. One child but we are considering fostering. I knew I wanted to be a dad. I fertilised the egg. I’m so glad I did the right thing. He’s hot and straight and getting married!


I am disabled. My son has risen beyond the call of duty in helping me. I haven’t experienced bad vibes but my lad had to put up with a lot of s*** at school because he had a dad that was disabled. I will never forget that and I love him even more. He tried to hide it but I found out.


He seems to be doing well on his own. Seriously, having the love of a child is a wonderful experience.


My partner and I are gay men, so we cannot conceive. We do not know anyone gay who has adopted or conceived. We never thought about having kids. Because we live in a one- bedroom flat, and my partner is working in a hotel, we don’t have the room or the time to adopt. We can’t afford to get a bigger place.


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.




I’m a gay single man of 32 living in Edinburgh. I recently became dad to a baby by Jane , and Fiona her civil partner. We named him Mitchell. Fiona is now also pregnant, expecting our daughter.


I first met Fiona through Michael, one of my best friends, around 10-12 years ago. As time went on, Fiona met Jane and they settled down together. Fiona had a house near Michael at the time, so we’d see each other quite often socially.


One night, after a few drinks, Fiona and Jane said they’d thought about having kids in the future and wanted to know my feelings on being a donor. It was quite jokey at first but I think they were sounding me out and wanted to know my initial reaction.


It was the first time I’d thought about it and I was quite receptive, although I didn’t think they were really being serious. I guess I had always wanted kids of my own someday but I’d assumed I would most likely be in a long term relationship at the time with a loving partner and a white picket fence! How wrong was I!


For the next year or so at parties or other social gatherings when we were all together, it was always there on our minds, what we referred to as “the elephant in the room.”


I was conscious it was on their minds but I still thought they weren’t that serious about me helping them. It was a massive life changing decision and something I didn’t think I was prepared for, so I didn’t actually think it would come to fruition.


Time marched on however and the girls wanted to know one way or another if I was willing to help them as they had begun to look into alternative methods such as sperm banks.


I didn’t know what to think. All I knew was that I was petrified of the outcome if I agreed.


I went to Michael’s house for dinner, which I tended to do on a regular basis. Thomas, Michael’s flatmate, was a bit older and would often see things differently to my peers, which I always liked.


I turned up this one evening and I had my list of pros and cons written down. This was the night a decision was going to be made once and for all.


I said, “I’m thinking about this but I think I’m looking for reasons not to do it.”


To be honest I was scared. I think when people are scared of the unknown their adrenalin kicks in and it’s time for fight or flight. (I was almost ready to fly!)


Then Thomas simply came out with, “Well, why do you not want to do it?”


That single line made me think: there are two friends in my life (Jane and Fiona) and I love them dearly. They were everything I hoped a mother could be and I was optimistic that we would all do a good job of bringing up our kids.


I wasn’t at a stage in my life where I was ready to settle down with one guy, therefore the prospect of having my own children was way far down the line. I figured, why wait until that time, why not agree to this and do it now?


If in the future, if I did end up having kids, I would most likely adopt or use a surrogate – however this way I’m able to help out two amazing girls whom I was loving more and more each day.


It was about helping the girls by giving them what they needed and getting something out of it myself, so I agreed.


Then we got into the more nitty-gritty parts: visitation rights, names on birth certificates, finances – who pays for the kids, what happens if someone dies or the girls’ relationship splits up?


Currently I’m working seven days a week with two jobs to pay off various debts so the financial side was a big issue for me. I know it sounds bad but I wanted to help the girls without being financially responsible.


I was paying out so much that I just physically couldn’t factor in such a massive financial outgoing each month in order to support two kids. I wanted to help and didn’t want to sound callous but…


The girls assured me that they would be financially responsible and I had nothing to worry about.


I was also worried about visitation rights, how often would I be able to see the kids, for how long and on what days? It all seemed like such a minefield.


I had to keep reminding myself that being a dad once a month may not have seemed ideal but the main thing was the welfare of the kids and how well they were loved and looked after, which I knew we were all prepared to do in abundance.


I like to know things are being done correctly so I looked into solicitors. I wanted to ensure that I wasn’t leaving myself wide open to future legal ‘loopholes’ so if things did go wrong with any aspect of the arrangement, we were all protected legally.


At first, I had no idea where to turn. I didn’t know if there were books on the subject, people you can go to, internet sites to look at, I didn’t know where to start!


Fortunately, a friend of mine who is a property solicitor put me in touch with a solicitor who dealt in family law. Initially we spoke on the phone and it felt great to have someone finally to speak to about the legalities. She advised me that this was a fairly new area for her but she was extremely interested in cases like mine.


We began to communicate via email. She said she’d have to look into the concerns I had and she would get back to me but it would take a few days. She kept her word and, shortly after, advised me that as Fiona and Jane had had a civil partnership and their names would be on the birth certificate, they would be financially responsible for each of the children.


I had asked her about drawing up a contract between Fiona, Jane and myself but she advised me that a contract would be unlikely to stand up in a court of law if we ever had to use it, due to the fact that Fiona and Jane were the legal guardians of the children. My various legal concerns were all alleviated.


The girls both wanted to get pregnant using an insemination kit. We tried it with Fiona first but it was difficult to narrow down her cycle to the most fertile times. I had to travel across to their house (which is a 35 mile round trip) every other night for 10 days, only to find out eventually the test was negative. Ten days is a long time to go without sex when you’re a single gay guy in Edinburgh!


So we decided we would try with Jane as it was easier to pin down her ovulation time.


I hadn’t told my family at any point of the process so far. My mother passed away when I was six months old but I’m very close to the rest of my immediate family.

Dad brought my sister and I up on his own for seven years after my mother died but Julie (my stepmother) has been in my life since the age of 7 and for all intents and purposes took on the role of our mother.


Lorna (my sister) and myself have always been close and it was maybe the passing of our birth mother that made us develop such a close bond. I told Lorna first.


I took a Saturday off work one weekend and we took my nephew Aiden (who was two years old at the time) on a day out to a butterfly farm. I had a few things I wanted to tell my sister that day and it was almost a relief to tell her what had happened with Jane and Fiona and that Jane was pregnant.


Looking back on it, I feel guilty for telling her so much in one day but we have always been close and the fact that I hadn’t told Lorna up to this point was killing me. I wanted her approval and her advice/input. I was relieved to learn that she was thrilled at the news, although she had many questions.


But I still hadn’t told Dad and my stepmother Julie.


When Jane had passed the three month stage of her pregnancy, I went to see my parents, sat them down in the lounge and said, “I’ve got something to tell you.”


Julie always assumes the worst, so she thought there was something wrong with me physically or that I was in further debt.


I started to tell them the story of Jane and Fiona, who they’d never met.


After I had finished, Julie said to me, “So are you telling me I’m going to be a grandmother again?” She was thrilled.


My dad was slightly different. He stood up and went into the bathroom and started retching. I didn’t know what to think and when I questioned Julie as to why he was like this, she wasn’t really interested and wanted to know more about the baby and the good news.


When he came back through, I asked him if he was OK. He said his stomach was off and started asking me about my involvement and visitation etc, all the things that I had looked into previously. Then he went into the bathroom and started retching again! I’m not sure but maybe the shock brought on a bug because he was ill for 24 hours after that!


My parents have supported me all the way but they are very old school, a different generation. Some of my family don’t know I’m gay and my parents wanted to keep things to themselves.


I found that quite hurtful but my parents live in a different town and they see my aunts and uncles and grandparents a lot more than me, so I respected their decision. Finding out I’m gay and having two children would be quite a lot for my grandparents to take on.


Dad and Julie were keen to meet Jane and Fiona and likewise with the girls meeting my parents. I took a Sunday off work and the arrangement was that I’d drive across to Jane and Fiona’s from my place around midday and my parents would drive there from theirs. My sister and her son, Aiden had been invited as well, as they had never met the girls either, so I was looking forward to the day ahead.


I left my flat and went to buy cakes and muffins – I really wanted everything to go well and these were a nice touch for us all to enjoy.


We all got to the girls’ house at roughly the same time. I think I’m quite an open person so I’d told my parents quite a lot about Fiona and Jane and I’d told Fiona and Jane so much about my family that (in my opinion) it was almost as if they knew each other already.


We had such a great day. My dad talks to anyone and is very personable and likable. Everyone chatted away and it didn’t feel awkward at all, even when my dad started coming out with all his (made up) stories for the sake of laughs! He told Jane that I was a very heavy baby weighing in at 10 pounds when I was born, trying to freak her out that little Mitchell might be the same.


She was laughing and taking it in good spirit. When my sister gave birth to my nephew, he was 10 pounds 2 ounces, so I think that added to the panic!


My family left after a few hours and I stayed for a little longer discussing with the girls how we thought the day had gone. We all agreed it was a great day.


But soon after I started to get panic attacks.


I had already mentioned my situation to my line manager in my main job. I had told her when the girls had asked me to help them conceive, as she is very level headed and grounded, an extremely calming person. I valued her opinion and advice.


She was very supportive but unfortunately, around that time, the realisation set in that I was going to be a father and the panic started. I began to make silly mistakes. I work in a large office and nobody except my line manager knew what was going on in my life. I knew that my mind wasn’t on the job and as a result, I had to take some time off.


I have never had a panic attack before. I wouldn’t wish them on anybody. It was like a veil came over my mind – I couldn’t think of anything else but the reality of something massive about to take over my life.


There was one particular day that I remember, walking into Tesco with a list of five things that I needed to buy, which should have taken me 10 minutes. However I walked out of the store 45 minutes later with not one of the items on my list. I just couldn’t focus on anything apart from the fact that I had a child coming soon and I had no idea how I was going to cope. It was a horrible feeling and I felt so isolated.


Jane suggested I go to the library to see if I could find out more. There were books about men who had unfortunately become single parents due to bereavement. It was all a bit negative. I read a few books on being a single dad and as much as they were some comfort to me, they didn’t mirror my situation. There were three parents in our relationship, not one.


The girls were a great help as I guess they had had similar emotions to me at some point and they gave me good advice and support. Talking things through definitely helps and I would recommend this as one of the best solutions to any problem.


I realised Jane’s pregnancy was going ahead regardless of my emotional state. I had to accept it mentally – and I was sure there were worse parents in the world than me, so I guess that gave me some comfort.


I also thought about my dad. He’d brought my sister and me up, single handed, for a good seven years after Mum died, before Julie came on the scene. I took inspiration from him. He’d done it, so could I.


A couple of months passed and Jane was growing ever bigger. I hadn’t yet met many of Fiona’s family so Fiona’s mother and stepfather decided to throw a Hallowe’en fancy dress party one Sunday afternoon. There must have been around 20 people there in total. I had a great time and I was made to feel really welcome, which was great as I was a little apprehensive before going in.


The day ended well and we left to drive back to Fiona and Jane’s house in the late afternoon.


At this point Fiona was not yet pregnant. We had taken a break from trying recently and we were due to resume with the inseminations in the weeks ahead. In the meantime, I had been having the sex life of a normal, single gay man in Edinburgh – which I was enjoying.


I know what I like and it definitely did not involve a sterile cup so I felt aggravated that I had to start the process again. However, I knew that was what I had agreed to with the girls, so I would uphold my part of the bargain.


I mentioned to Fiona that I felt it would be wise to get myself tested at the gay man’s clinic for any sexually transmitted diseases (STIs) as the last thing I wanted was to pass on any infection I may have picked up.


Then Fiona said she didn’t think I should be seeing anyone else nor having sex while we were trying to conceive.


I took great umbrage. I understand where she was coming from when she said this but I also felt that I was being dictated to and I didn’t like that at all.


Part of me felt very selfish and I thought, ‘You asked me to provide the sperm that you needed but I don’t remember agreeing to not living the life that I choose to live’ – which I took it as what she meant.


That was another milestone for me, realising that I can no longer just think about myself anymore.


I had two wonderful girls in my life and I wanted to make them happy and give them what they wanted – and an STI definitely wasn’t it!


I had myself tested (all the results came back negative, thankfully!) and we resumed trying for baby number two.


Time passed. Jane was getting bigger and I was due to go across to the girls’ house for Fiona’s insemination but I was ill. I had man flu. I did what I needed to do on the Sunday and was meant to drive back over on the Tuesday but I felt so ill, I couldn’t. I just didn’t have the energy.


Fiona was very disappointed as it was not what she had planned. We had a few choice words but we’d never stay mad at each other for long so we chatted on the phone on Wednesday and I asked her across for dinner and we did the insemination at my house.


Two weeks later and Fiona was pregnant! That was such a relief for me (and to us all) to say the least. Because Fiona has such an irregular cycle we could have been trying for more than a year.


Things settled down for me in the lead up to January which was when Mitchell was due to be born. Fiona on the other hand started to have terrible ‘all day sickness’ rather than morning sickness and I felt so sorry for her.


Jane’s due date arrived so Fiona and I texted back and forth each day. However, I was aware they had two other families all vying to know what was happening so I didn’t want to text every hour on the hour.


It had been agreed that I wouldn’t be at the delivery, which I was fine with. Since I came out as being gay at 18, I haven’t seen many parts of women’s anatomy and I didn’t particularly want to be in the delivery room witnessing such an ordeal.


Four days had lapsed since Jane’s due date when I got a text message from Fiona saying Jane had been taken into hospital. I was visiting family when I was told she was in labour.


That’s when the emotional pain started, alongside Jane’s physical pain.


Fiona said not to come to the hospital because there were complications. It was a difficult birth and in the end they had to use curved forceps to reach inside her to get the baby out. It sounded horrific.


I got a text from Fiona to say Mitchell had been born, Jane was out of the operation and in the ward so I set off for the hospital which was only a short drive away from where I was.


Then I got a text to say Mitchell had stopped breathing, don’t come!


At this point I was outside the hospital. I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t want to phone but at the same time I felt I had a right and a need to know.


I parked the car, went to the maternity reception and explained that I was the father of a newborn. I went up to the ward and into the bay behind the curtains to find Jane and Fiona in floods of tears, staring into each other’s eyes and looking distraught. I immediately thought the worst.


Fiona told me Mitchell had been put on Jane’s chest and then he’d stopped breathing. Two nurses had taken Mitchell away to resuscitate him and give him oxygen. The girls hadn’t been given any information since.


The consultant came in around an hour after I arrived and said that Mitchell was in the intensive care unit. He was breathing through respiratory machines.


While we were waiting on further information and consoling each other, I looked at a few pictures that Fiona had managed to take of Mitchell shortly after he was born. We asked the consultant if it was possible to see him, so she made arrangements for Jane and me to go.


There must have been around seven babies in the unit, all in incubators, only a few with their parents nearby. It was all so quiet and still. All I remember was the sound of the machines, the various beeps and the intermittent alarms going off. I had no idea what to expect and was so apprehensive, it was such a bitter sweet moment.


We were taken over to Mitchell’s incubator and we both looked in on him. He looked so tiny and so frail. He was connected to so many wires it seemed like he was covered in them.


He was awake and alert but we were told that we couldn’t touch him or talk to him because they were testing him for brain damage, to find why he stopped breathing. We couldn’t do anything that would stimulate his brain.


That was particularly difficult to hear but he was in the hands of the experts and I guess they knew best.


We went back to see Jane in the ward and I was conscious that she and Fiona wanted to spend time together during these difficult hours, so I didn’t stay long.


It must have been about 1am by the time I got home. I went straight to bed but I didn’t get much sleep. I phoned my work in the morning to let my line manager know what had happened and she said I could take as much time off as I needed, which was good of her.


I went back to the hospital. It was a waiting game. The test results would be back in 24-48 hours…


Fiona is such a worrier that she seemed to be contemplating every eventuality: would Mitchell have brain damage? Would he have epilepsy? Would he have reduced functions? Things I would never even have thought of.


I just wanted to get the test results back and deal with whatever we had to deal with then. Jane was more: “He’s a fighter, let’s wait and see what happens.”


Thankfully the results all came back negative. No brain damage, no abnormalities, which was such a relief to us all.


The consultants couldn’t explain what the root cause of Mitchell’s problem was and why he had stopped breathing. They suggested a blocked tube or some mucus in his throat, it was “just one of those things.”


It really didn’t matter to me as long as the test results were all clear and Mitchell was OK. I just wanted to see him and the girls out of there.


I went back to work. Jane and Mitchell went home a few days later. It was such a relief to know that he was out of the hospital, in a clean, sound environment, with his two mums.


I went to see him a day or two later. I was concerned for Fiona’s welfare because there had been so much drama with Jane and Mitchell that it was easy to forget that Fiona was pregnant and at an important stage in the baby’s development. She was getting morning sickness (most of the day still) and she was not eating much as far as I knew – but they were all happy to be home.


I didn’t go and see them for a while after that because I know what it’s like, having so many visitors coming and going all the time, trying to get baby into a routine without becoming too stressed yourself. All my friends were busy buying Mitchell clothes and asking when they could see him. I had to be honest with them and say that we weren’t in a ‘normal situation.’ The girls were keen to show him off to our families but as for my friends, it would be a few months before they would get to see him.


Mitchell has two other families and my friends were further down the pecking order.


I saw Mitchell the week he came home and have basically followed the pre-birth agreement we made. I’ve seen him once a month since, sometimes twice a month which has been great.


On Daddy Day I see him at Jane and Fiona’s house. I wouldn’t have it any other way at the moment. He needs his time with his mums. He needs his own routine and there’s no way I could look after him on my own at my place. He’s still breastfeeding for one thing!


He has blue eyes which are a different colour from mine (brown). I learned from my sister that all babies have blue eyes when they are first born and they may change in time, but I still can’t see my resemblance in him. I can see some of Jane’s features in him, such as his nose and mouth but I’d never thought of him as my son until recently.


The latest visit I had with him changed all that. It was the May Bank Holiday when I was due to visit.


In the past, I had made fleeting comments to Jane that I would love to take Mitchell for a walk in a baby papoose. (This idea came from a time when I was much younger. I always watched ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ and I have this vivid image of Edina Monsoon walking down the street with Saffy’s baby in a papoose looking very chic – it’s something that’s stuck with me for years). We were going to take Mitchell out for a walk and Jane said, “Why don’t you put him in the papoose?”


When I put the papoose on and he was sitting comfortably, it was great as I’d never really felt that ‘close’ to him before. Even before he went in the papoose, as I was carrying him, he gave me a very distinguished familiar look – Jane said I have the exact same facial expression. I knew exactly what she meant and it was then, at that point when I thought, ‘Yes, you’re my son. I love you and I have definitely made the right decision. It’s all been worth it.’


I’m not saying it’s all going to be ideal or easy in the future but I would do it all over again. A massive life-changing decision and not one I regret. Jane has said she’s never regretted it either and that’s another affirmation for me. However, I don’t think Fiona would want to go through that traumatic labour a second time!


Dad and Julie met Mitchell one Sunday afternoon when I wasn’t there due to work commitments. I wanted them to see him sooner rather than later but it would have been better if we could all have managed the same day. My sister couldn’t do that day either so I was a bit vexed but nevertheless, I was happy that Dad and Julie went.


I wouldn’t say my dad is a particularly emotional or tactile person but even he had Mitchell on his knee and cradling him in his arms! The girls said Mitchell was mesmerised by my dad – maybe it was because he has a masculine voice and Mitchell’s usually surrounded by female voices (mothers, nurses, grandmothers, aunties etc). Or maybe it’s because he has a moustache, I’m not sure.


I really wanted Lorna to see/meet him. She went along with Aiden one afternoon. They had a great time. Fiona was at work but Jane said she should feel free to come and visit any time, which I hope my sister does.


Lorna and my parents live very close to each other and they had been speaking a lot about my situation. Lorna mentioned to me one day, “I feel I’m not going to be a proper auntie to Mitchell. I want a relationship with my nephew but I think there’s going to be so many people in his life. You have to take a back step, so we have to take a back step too.”


Julie had said something similar to me as well, that she’s not going to be a proper gran to Mitchell.


I had to put it in perspective, so I said, “I’m not going to be a ‘proper’ dad either but what’s the lesser of two evils – not seeing your grandchild/nephew that often or not having a grandchild/nephew in the first place?”


I think that was a turning point for my family, that realisation. My parents and sister now have a grandson/nephew. He is literally a 20 minute car journey from them. Surely that’s better than no grandson or no nephew at all?


It was still difficult to hear it from them, though. You want to give your family everything. But without me doing this, they wouldn’t have a grandson or nephew in the first place.


On the day Fiona and Jane were going for the scan to find out the sex of baby number two, I was in the gym. Fiona phoned as I was just finishing the session so I said I’d phone her back. We’d discussed the sex of the baby before and not really been too specific about what our preference was. You always say the most important thing is that it’s healthy – but secretly I wanted a girl, because I’d had such a good relationship with my sister and I wanted the same for Mitchell.


When I phoned back they were en route back from the hospital. Fiona said everything was fine… baby was growing normally… the heartbeat was normal…


I was hanging on to every word she said. When she didn’t mention the sex of the baby (intentionally toying with me!), I was like: “Come on… so is it a girl or a boy?”


When she said, “A girl,” I was so exhilarated! It was such an amazing feeling to know that it was going to be a little girl and a sister for Mitchell.


Mitchell’s my first born and now I’m having a girl, too. It’s so amazing.


I’ve still got worries. Am I going to be a good parent? Am I going to be able to teach them right from wrong? What if I’m a bad parent?


However I think these are normal anxieties for parents.


I love my parents but you think, ‘I’m not going to do things the way they did, I’m going to do it differently.’ In my opinion, my generation is so diverse in attitudes compared to my parents’ generation, I think you have to do things differently. We all make judgements about people in today’s society – about their skin tone, their sexuality, what they wear. We can be quite harsh. You can’t be prejudiced, you can’t be discriminatory. At least, I don’t think these qualities should be passed on to your children.


As much as my parents loved me and accepted me, it’s still an issue for me that the rest of the family doesn’t know about what I have done for Jane and Fiona.


I was in a long-term relationship with a previous boyfriend for just under four years. My parents had met him, accepted him and thought he was great – but when I wanted to take him to my uncle’s wedding as my partner, Dad said, “If you’re going to do that, I don’t think you should come.” So I didn’t.


My sister was annoyed at my dad for saying that to me but she was also annoyed at me for not going. The best thing was, another member of my extended family turned up with his partner at the wedding and Dad seemed to have no problem with them.


I understand now on hindsight that he was trying to protect me. He was worried about what people might say to me as we have a very volatile family and the slightest catalyst could have sparked a riot. But if someone did say something derogatory to me and I did get into a fight, would it have been that bad? Would he have defended me if I had needed help? I don’t think he wanted to be faced with that situation. I won’t bring my children up like that. Sometimes you have to expose yourself to the harsh realities of people’s views. You have to cut the cord sometime.


Dad was a single parent for seven years, with two jobs at times and a two bedroom house. Once he was made redundant with no idea where his next wage was coming from and no idea of where to find work. He never took benefits but somehow managed to find work and he instilled that ethic in me.


Fiona has said, “Do you think there will be an end soon to you working seven days a week?” because they would like us to have days out together, to go to a park or the zoo.


I think there will be. I’ve paid back most of my debts and don’t have that much to go.

I haven’t really thought about looking after the kids on my own just yet. I thought I’d have my Daddy Days but I’ve never done this before. I’ve looked after my nephew for a few hours but never looked after two children on my own. I’m not sure how I’ll cope!


The girls have said that the way they hope it’ll work is that we’ll look after them both together and when I’m ready, I might look after one or the two of the kids. Before Fiona said that, I just panicked. I never thought I’d have that.


I remember when we were young, having great holidays in the sun with my family. That won’t happen until they’re older but hopefully it will happen so we all have some great memories together.


I hope the relationship with the girls won’t change. I love them very much and enjoy their company. Laughter is such a remedy sometimes and I can always be sure of that whenever I see the two of them.


I don’t think you can do something like this half hearted. I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t want Fiona and Jane in my life forever. They are two people that I will be connected to for the rest of my life, two people that I can be sure will make excellent mothers. I would confide in them as much as I hope they would confide in me, any aspect of our lives.


It was three years from the first time we spoke about that elephant in the room until the birth of baby Mitchell, so it was a long slow process – not one to be entered into lightly.


For me personally, it would have been so much better to have spoken to more people about my situation in the beginning of the whole process. It took just that one line from Thomas for me to say yes, so Mitchell might have been two or three years old by now, if I’d spoken to more people.


You can’t keep something like this to yourself. I found I closed myself off to friends, shutting myself off because I thought my situation would be different from theirs. But you should listen to their views, draw on their experience. Any information is a starting point.


Search for avenues of information, even books on heterosexual relationships, it all helps. This is just the beginning for me…


If you’re a gay man thinking of having children and find yourself in a similar situation to mine then do it, either with people you would trust with your life or do it anonymously.