At JoJo, we’re all about celebrating all types of families, whatever that might look like. Today, we’re catching up with Doug from The Travelling Gays, who is currently on a surrogacy journey with his husband Sanjay. They’re expecting their first baby in October 2021.
Did you know you wanted to go down the surrogacy route at the beginning or did you explore other options?
We have been together for 12 years so we have always spoken about wanting children and different ways we could achieve our dreams but it was on our honeymoon at the start on 2020 after countless conversations we decided that for us we really wanted to do surrogacy and felt it was the right choice for us as a family.
How did you begin researching surrogacy? Where there any resources which were particularly useful?
Sanjay loves research so we spent hours online looking at different agencies around the world.
I personally love Instagram as a research tool as I like to connect with real people and ask them about their journey to becoming parents. There is lots of information out there but it’s about finding out what works for you. Brilliant Beginnings is a UK based charity that has lots of information on surrogacy.
Your surrogate is based in the US – how do surrogacy laws differ in the UK and why did you choose the American route?
Surrogacy is recognised in the USA and we were able to sign with an agency (@circlesurrogacy) who helped us match with our amazing egg donor and also matched us with our incredible surrogate Amber.
Surrogacy is possible in the UK but it can be a longer process as you can’t ask someone to be your surrogate, although they can offer. You also can’t find out as much information about your egg donor and it was really important to us to have a known egg donation. There are also more restrictions around payment and the intended parents aren’t immediately recognised legally as the parents in the same way as they are in the USA.
How did you go about choosing the right surrogate?
We filled out forms with our agency about the values that we wanted to form the basis of our relationship with our surrogate and the surrogates do the same for the relationship they want with the intended parents.
We got an email to say we had matched on paper and a Zoom call was set up for us to meet online. This meeting is important from both sides as it’s really important that both the intended parents and the surrogate feel a connection that they can make work as it’s a really important long-term partnership.
Within minutes we just knew we had met our perfect match with Amber and her family and we have now formed an amazing bond and talk every week for hours at a time which is so special and something I don’t think any of us were prepared for. We feel very fortunate.
Any tips on bonding with your unborn baby from a distance?
As this is our first journey to becoming parents, everything we are experiencing is new to us so we are loving it.
Amber has been amazing and we are constantly in contact. We have joined every scan via FaceTime and it’s felt so special to see our little baby growing.
Amber sends us little bump updates and video and the little kicks which are just incredible. We would have of course loved to spend more time physically visiting America but hope to be able to go in August if the restrictions on travel have lifted. Just having that two-way communication has helped us to feel connected.
What has been your biggest challenge throughout the journey so far?
As I’m sure is the case for lots of people, Covid has definitely caused its challenges and we would have loved to have been over to the USA more to both meet Amber in person to thank her for this incredible gift she has given us. Also there have been a couple of medically scary moments which is where having a strong relationship with Amber has been so important – she’s been so incredible and kept us calm when really it should have been the other way around!
What advice would you give to other LGBT+ couples starting their parenting journey?
Trust in the process and don’t set yourself unrealistic timelines. We started in March 2020 and we are currently 21 weeks pregnant so it’s taken longer than we thought due to various hurdles but we couldn’t be happier. Be there to support each other too, I don’t think we realised how emotional the IVF process would be and we both definitely needed some extra cuddles along the way. Also, everyone’s journey is different, it’s so important to take inspiration from others and see the different routes however know that your path will take a different shape than anyone else.
What are you most looking forward to about becoming a dad?
Growing up gay in the 80’s and 90’s I didn’t think I would be able to even get married let alone have children, so the fact we are about to start a family is absolutely incredible. I pinch myself every day!
Our baby is going to be so loved by us and our family so just can’t wait for the next chapter of our lives and we are so ready for our journey ahead. I’m excited to see how we form as our little family unit!
How have you been preparing for your baby’s arrival?
Sanjay has been reading lots of books and we have been asking our friends and family for newborn advice.
It’s so interesting to hear all the different opinions you receive but it’s made us realise no babies are the same so we will just work out what’s best for ours. Lots of people have said no matter how many books you read or what advice you get, nothing can prepare you and then a lot of it becomes instinctive once the baby arrives.
You and Sanjay both have a passion for travel – where would you love to travel to on your first family holiday as a three (post-pandemic)?
Our little one will be on their first flight after about 6 weeks when we return to the U.K. so I’m really hoping my experience as a flight attendant will help us deal with our newborn on a plane.
For our first holiday, I think we might go and visit one of the Grannies in Tenerife. I used to live there when I was younger so I would love to take our baby there. We are really hoping to continue our love of travel and hope our baby loves it too. We also want to do lots of India travelling as Sanj is half Indian so it’s important to us that they feel connected to the culture there, though we will probably save that for when they are older so they actually remember it!