Skip to comments.Gay dads want their son to grow up straight
Posted on 09/14/2003 2:54:25 PM PDT by Byron_the_Aussie
Two men and a baby... Tony Wood and Lee Matthews playing with baby Alexander.
An extraordinary documentary about how two gay men flew to America and hired a surrogate mother to have a son is set to rekindle the debate about what constitutes an Australian family.
In the US they call it the "gayby boom".
In Australia, where laws vary, it is still the centre of emotional and ethical controversy.
Tony Wood, 40, and Lee Matthews, 34, are an upper-middle-class professional couple who decided five years ago they wanted to be parents.
The men each donated their sperm to fertilise eggs donated by a young American woman they chose after studying a catalogue in a process "very cut and dried, like retail shopping".
The resulting embryos were then impregnated into another American woman, who gave birth to a 2.8 kilogram boy, Alexander, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, last December.
In a process which is banned in most countries around the world, the men used a California-based surrogacy and egg donation firm, Growing Generations, which is dedicated to the gay and lesbian community. The firm's website says it has assisted with the birth of at least 196 babies in cases from around the world.
There is no law prohibiting surrogacy in NSW (New South Wales, Australias most populous State.) But no contract between parties to undergo surrogacy would be recognised in the courts and the legal status and the nationality of a child born overseas would be under question.
The Melbourne couple brought Alexander back to Australia and now plan to raise the boy, who Mr Matthews said he hoped would grow up "straight" rather than gay, in a two-father family.
Despite the fact that the woman who carried Alexander, Junoa, is flying to Australia in December for his first birthday, Mr Wood and Mr Matthews do not consider her the boy's mother.
"She is not actually the mother . . . at the end of the day you have two dads, you don't have a mum," Mr Matthews said.
The men, who have been a couple for 14 years, initially encountered some "vehement" opposition from within the gay community to their plans to parent.
But they said increasing numbers of gay couples, particularly lesbians, were opting for parenthood.
"We believe our family is entitled to the same recognition as other families," Mr Wood said.
The men's story is expected to stir up a controversy when it airs as an SBS (government-funded, left-leaning TV network) documentary, Man-Made: The Story Of Two Men And A Baby, on September 30.
Community division on the subject of gay unions was highlighted by Prime Minister John Howard's recent comment that "if the same status is given in our society to gay unions as is given to traditional marriage, we will weaken that bedrock institution".
A spokesman for the Catholic Church said yesterday gay male parents were denying a child its natural right "to the love and nurture of a mother".
"With stolen children (children allegedly taken by Australian government authorities from their aboriginal parents, earlier this century), adoptions and all those things of the past 40 years, we have seen the problems that come with family situations than couldn't be avoided.
"What are we creating with these children? This is a case of adults fulfilling their own desires, but it is the children who suffer."
Bill Muehlenberg, vice-president of the Australian Family Association, said one of several concerns was "the commodification of children, the idea of baby-buying and all that goes with it". He said surrogacy, "with or without homosexual couples", was problematic.
"We may be placating the whims and fancies of adults but too often the very real interests of children are being overlooked in the debate," he said.
But Dr Justin Oakley, director of Monash University's Centre for Human Bioethics, said: "I don't see there's any particular problem with it and I think it's a shame [Mr Matthews and Mr Wood] have had to resort to such means in order to become parents or to become fathers."
Mr Matthews said he believed he and his partner had become parents "for all the right reasons . . . because we thought we could offer . . . a nurturing, protective and supportive environment.
"Parenthood isn't right for everyone. There's a huge lobby that sees surrogacy, and surrogacy in particular for same sex couples, as devil worship."
Mr Wood said they went through with it "because we love kids and thought we'd get a lot out of it ourselves and . . . hasn't it turned out better than you could have imagined".
"We have the perfect child. Every parent probably says that.
"He's an absolute delight, just amazing and he's got the most wonderful nature."
The couple said yesterday they were not necessarily advocating surrogacy and costs would be prohibitive to many gay couples.
Mr Matthews said he knew of "a handful of gay men" in Australia with their own babies. It had become far more common in the US.
In the documentary film, William Halms, of Growing Generations, says costs are so high he calls his own three children who were born in the program, "$75,000 babies". A first- time surrogate mother is paid $US20,000 ($30,130), a second-time one is paid $US25,000 and so on.
Egg donors, mostly college students, received an average $US5000, he said.
Mr Matthews and Mr Wood declined to reveal how much they had spent. The St Kilda men have maintained frequent email, mail and telephone communication with the surrogate mother.
Junoa, herself a mother of two, says in the documentary that she had long wanted to be a surrogate mother.
"I wanted to give someone who really wanted children the chance to parent," she says.
"To imagine not being able to have children destroys me."
After the birth, she says the process has left her with "a little fear, a little heartbreak, but a lot of pride".
"I thought, 'him leaving is going to break my heart', but then I am so proud his daddies will get to take care of him and raise him," she says.
But nevertheless she looks wistful and depressed before parting with the child.
Mr Matthews and Mr Wood have not ruled out having more children.
"his daddies"? These people are sickos.
To the schoolteacher, "Hello Mrs. Snow, I'd like you to meet my Daddies." /sarcasm. But, true.
SURRRRRRRRRE they do!
It's the end of the world as we know it...
Always has been.
What kind of homophobe are you? A high-horse homophobe?
(some with good reason, some apparently just out of joy that there is one group remaining they can hate without guilt.)
Apparently it's okay to hate homophobes with a clear conscience so there are at least two groups out there that it's okay to hate.
Mostly I am very glad I don't have that particular temptation;
mine are enough to cope with.
You ever thought about exercising SELF-CONTROL?
Can I throw stones?
Yes. As long as you don't throw like a girl.
Have I done so much better? Don't know, can't guess; hope so, but doubt so.
Well, there's one way to find out. Let a lesbian couple adopt one of your daughters and then see how they each turn out 20 years from now.
If someone is gay and makes a stable family, maybe they are doing the best they can, spiritually and morally.
On the other hand, maybe you're just too chicken to stand up for what's right.
I find promiscuous gay lifestyles far, far more offensive...but worse than promiscuous straight ones? No, not much. And from the proliferation of internet porn it is obvious that gays really don't have straights beat in the perversion department.
At least you recognize that people who engage in homosexual acts are perverted. Or do you? You seem to go both ways.
I wish these two men well and hope they are good parents.
It's not about the men. It's about the kid.
Certainly most straight parents don't seem to get it right any more, and many get it so horribly wrong.
Yeah? But then, you wouldn't want to push your definition of what's "right" on others would you?
It seems that they are starting with one terrible handicap that will make everything harder--mostly on the kid, not them.
FINALLY! A tiny pinhole of light getting through that muddled brainwashed head of yours.
A New Kind of Family
Wednesday August 13, 2003
"We are pregnant," announces Barrie, a proud father-to-be, who looks with uncertainty at his partner of 15 years. "The baby is due on August 19." They had agreed to keep the baby's name secret for the time being but, like most expectant fathers, he can barely contain himself. Tony smiles gently and nods at him. "We are going to call him Orlando," Barrie squeals. But these are no ordinary parents; these are the Drewitt-Barlows - and there is not a bump or stretchmark between them.
Almost four years ago, Tony and Barrie Drewitt-Barlow made history. They were the nation's first openly gay surrogate baby parents, and the first men to be jointly listed on a birth certificate, after they won a legal battle in the US, where the children were born. Between them the couple fertilised 24 eggs that had been harvested from egg donor Tracie Matthews, and two embryos were carried to term by the birth mother, Rosalind Bellamy: a sexless ménage à quatre that resulted in the births of twins Aspen and Saffron Drewitt-Barlow.
For all the costly procedures, press intrusion, criticism, battles with the Home Office and even kidnap threats, they enjoyed parenthood enough the first time round to try again. This time they have used eggs from the original harvesting, but Orlando will have a different birth mother because Bellamy talked to the tabloids.
Both being men, the odds were stacked against the Drewitt-Barlows becoming parents together. They explored the adoption route, which was barred to them because they were a gay couple. But rather than crush their will, rejection spurred them forwards. "When I was told I wasn't fit to adopt, the determination it gave me to have kids... " says Barrie, his voice trailing away in anger.
The Drewitt-Barlows are pregnant with contradictions: part social experiment, part frontiersmen, and part future-family, but in so many ways a deeply traditional unit. Says Tony: "The best thing is when the kids throw their arms around you and say, 'Dad, I really love you,' and they give you a big kiss. It's the most amazing, indescribable thing."
Twins Aspen (left) and Saffron Drewitt-Barlow cuddle with surrogate mother Rosalind Bellamy in California Dec. 10, 1999.
If only you could be as assertively judgmental of the war on our culture, as you are on your fellow Freepers, amigo. It's no wonder we've sunk to where we are today when even conservatives are too tolerant (in the full, PC sense of the word) to say 'enough!'
Well, for starters. Tony Wood, 40 and Lee Matthews, 34.
Your perfection knows no bounds, does it?
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