When Jonathan and Daniel, from Bournemouth, met each other in 2010 it was love at first sight. We talked to them about their long but very exciting journey to becoming loving parents to baby Noah.
Jon, a teacher and Dan, a Pharmacist, met 10 years ago on the online dating website Gaydar. “I think it was love at first sight” explains Jon. 5 Years later the couple talked about children. “We talked about the fact that we were both getting older and wanted to have children while we were still quite young” remembers Dan, “I remember watching a hospital drama where a lady gave birth and the couple welcomed their baby into the world and I said to Jon “we’ll never have that.” It seemed so sad and we decided we really wanted to experience having our own babies.” So in 2016 Jon and Dan started to look at information on surrogacy and tried to join surrogacy organisations in the hope of finding the right person to help them start a family. However, the two main Surrogacy organisations were full and their waiting lists were shut. The couple were disheartened that there was no way of them progressing on their journey. “We didn’t know the process or what our options were,” explains Jon, “we had spoken to people who had gone through surrogacy about what to expect but for us there were literally no options because there was no way forward.”
THERE WERE LITERALLY NO OPTIONS AS THERE WAS NO WAY FORWARD - Jon
In 2017 the couple were living in Basingstoke and looking to move to the Bournemouth area. “We had another look at Surrogacy UK and their waiting list was open. It was not a great time for us but we decided we needed to take the opportunity and joined the list.” Jon and Dan went to Surrogacy UK’s conference in the October and went to social events whilst on the waiting list to meet a surrogate. “It was really an eye opener to see how big the Surrogacy UK operation is. Networking is really important so we tried to meet and talk to as many people as possible. Most of the events are in London so you can feel a little cut off being down on the South Coast.”
“We learnt about the organisation rules around meeting a surrogate,” explained Jon, “you should always wait for a surrogate to offer to help you have a baby, never ask her – that’s seen as very bad etiquette.”
“We didn’t feel we were treated any differently in the Surrogacy UK community because we were gay intended parents as opposed to heterosexual” remembers Dan. “Some surrogates prefer to help straight couples as they have generally gone through a long and sometimes traumatic journey so it’s amazing to want to help them, others prefer to help gay couples because often it is a little simpler with less emotional ties. It is their own personal choice but we felt it was all very non-judgemental.”
WE ARE SO GRATEFUL TO OUR EGG DONOR, IT IS SUCH AN AMAZING THING TO DO FOR PEOPLE AND WE CAN’T THANK HER ENOUGH.- Jon
“Whilst we were looking for a surrogate we heard that it is a good idea to create embryos with donor eggs so that the surrogate doesn’t need to wait around whilst you find an egg donor and quarantine embryos.” Explains Jon. Because Jon and Dan’s sperm was being mixed with donor eggs to create embryos for surrogacy they must be subject to a quarantine period before being used as the surrogate is not their partner. The couple were offered an egg quite quickly and had their embryos frozen ready for a surrogacy cycle once they found their surrogate. “We are so grateful to our egg donor, it is such an amazing thing to do for people and we can’t thank her enough.”
“Our surrogate approached us in July 2019 and said that she would like to help us”, remembers Jon. The process is then to have a 3 month ‘getting to know’ period to make sure everyone feels comfortable around each other and are happy with the arrangements.
WE WERE DELIGHTED WHEN SHE SAID SHE WAS HAPPY TO PROCEED AND WE DEFINITELY WERE TOO.Jon
At the end of the 3 months, you can then say whether or not you would like to go ahead with the surrogacy. “We were very lucky that our surrogate lived nearby,” the couple explain, “we had our getting to know period during the summer and went for days out and just took the summer holidays to spend some time with her family. We were delighted when she said she was happy to proceed and we definitely were too.”
Jon and Dan completed the Surrogacy UK agreement forms and discussed all the possible scenarios with their experts with all of them present. They discussed whether they would want tests for genetic illness and what they would do if there was a problem with the baby during pregnancy to make sure they were all in agreement about what decisions they would make. They were then ready to start treatment and chose Wessex Fertility in Southampton, a leading provider of surrogacy treatment. Between them they had 3 counselling sessions at the clinic before starting treatment, one for just Jon and Dan, one for just their surrogate and her partner and one with all of them. These are to discuss, among other things, the implications of surrogacy and the implications for any child as they grow up.
“We had our frozen cycle in November and had 1 embryo put into our surrogate’s womb. We then had to wait anxiously for 2 weeks before our surrogate could take the pregnancy test.” Jon and Dan were with their surrogate when she took the pregnancy test, “we just felt it was really important that we were there and she was happy for us to be. She took the test and it was positive, we couldn’t believe it and were so happy. She was really happy with us which was amazing.”
TO SEE THE PREGNANCY ON THE SCREEN WAS WONDERFUL, IT REALLY WAS A SIGNATURE MOMENT IN OUR JOURNEY. IT WAS SOMETHING WE WERE WANTING FOR SO LONG – TO GET TO THAT POINT WAS AMAZING. -Jon
“Next came the 6 week pregnancy scan in the clinic which was such an incredible moment,” remembers the couple, “to see the pregnancy on the screen was wonderful, it really was a signature moment in our journey. It was something we were wanting for so long – to get to that point was amazing.”
The couple did what they could to support their surrogate through the pregnancy. “We were so pleased we could be there for all the midwife appointments up to 20 weeks but then the coronavirus pandemic hit and of course we couldn’t attend anymore but our lovely surrogate kept us updated” remembers Jon. “She was very careful because of COVID and made sure to minimise her risk of catching it. We did her shopping so that she didn’t need to go there.”
Jon and Dan’s surrogate had to be induced on 8 July 2020 and the couple were delighted that they could be at the birth. “Poole hospital said that they were happy for us to be at the birth and were so accommodating. Nothing much seemed to happen for such a long time and then suddenly everything moved so quickly.” Jon remembers. “When he was born he wasn’t breathing at first but we didn’t really understand what was going on. It was very scary, but the Doctors were strangely calm, like a sense of calm, efficient urgency. Once he was breathing again we cut the cord (although the doctor had already done a very quick job of it when they whisked him away we wanted to do it properly). We had some precious skin to skin time and then stayed for 2 days in hospital so that they could make sure he was well enough to go home.”
WE ABSOLUTELY LOVE BEING PARENTS AND OWE IT ALL TO OUR SURROGATE, OUR EGG DONOR AND THE AMAZING CARE WE RECEIVED AT WESSEX FERTILITY.Jon
Jon and Dan are now devoted dads to baby Noah who is a happy bundle of fun. “He loves singing,” says the couple “when we sing to him he laughs. He loves staring at himself in the mirror and he laughs and smiles a lot.” The couple are doing shared parental leave with Dan currently enjoying his leave and returning to work after 6 months when Jon will take over. “When I go and get him from his cot in the mornings he gives me a huge smile when he sees me” says Dan. “It melts my heart. We absolutely love being parents and owe it all to our surrogate, our egg donor and the amazing care we received at Wessex Fertility. We highly rate Sue and the staff at Wessex Fertility who were always compassionate and understanding.”
Jon and Dan had their Parental Order hearing on 26th November. After worrying about the process they found it was all sorted very quickly. “The whole process was over and done with in 40mins. It was very efficient as CAFCASS, the child and family court service, had done a lot of work beforehand” explained Jon. “We spoke to the judges, then they retired to deliberate. They phoned us back 20min later and said “congratulations, we have granted the Parental Order”! They seemed genuinely happy for us which was really lovely.” Jon, Dan and Noah can now enjoy their lives together as an official family of 3.