Thursday, May 22, 2008

Time Out Sydney - "Doting Dads" by Andrew Georgiou

However and whenever the calling to be a dad arises, the fact is that gay men make incredibly loving, nurturing and open-minded parents. In this special report, Andrew Georgiou looks at the different roads to gay fatherhood in Australia.

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Doting Dads

However and whenever the calling to be a dad arises, the fact is that gay men make incredibly loving, nurturing and open-minded parents. In this special report, Andrew Georgiou looks at the different roads to gay fatherhood in Australia.

Parental instincts. Some men are born with them, for others the desire to be a gay dad kicks in later in life. Gay Dads Australia is a national group of gay men who celebrate the joys of fatherhood through online forums, social gatherings and exchange of resources on their website which has been operating for just over five years.

Rodney Cruise, 42, runs the Gay Dads Australia website which boasts over 400 members between NSW and Victoria. While Cruise and his partner 39-year-old Jeff Chiang have experienced the joys of parenting their 15-month-old son Ethan through a surrogacy arrangement they underwent in the United States, Cruise notes that gay dads across the country have fulfilled their dreams of fatherhood through a variety of scenarios.

“We have dads who have become fathers through known donor arrangements, co-parenting agreements, surrogacy and those with children through previous relationships with women”.

Each situation varies, but the fact remains: a greatly loved child is the ultimate outcome.


Mostly exercised through surrogacy agencies in the United States, this process is proving to be increasingly popular with gay men in Australia with the desire to be full time dads. Surrogacy sees a gay man or gay male couple firstly choosing an egg donor through a clinic and fertilizing that egg with one of the couple’s sperm. With the assistance of a surrogacy agency, the male couple are introduced to a surrogate whom through IVF, will be implanted with the fertilized egg and carry the baby for the couple to full term. The surrogate is in no way linked to the child, leaving the biological father and his partner as the legal parents to raise the child in Australia.

In 2006 Cruise and Chiang were blessed with their first son Ethan through the assistance of US based Surrogacy agency Growing Generations, which has helped over 500 couples become parents. Their affection and connection with their chosen surrogate developed so strongly during her pregnancy with their son, Rodney and Jeff extended their family network to include Kelly into their now 15 month old son Ethan’s life.

“Even though they are in the US and we live here, Kelly and her family are now a part of ours”, says Jeff.

“Women like her, do this because they genuinely want to help people become parents”. Cruise’s partner Jeff comes from a traditional Taiwanese family which has a long history of basing family on geography rather than biology.

“Jeff’s extended family is made up of people who have descended from his parents village who are often not biologically related. When you think about it these were the first alternative families, and Jeff and I continue that tradition by creating our sense of family as loving and devoted fathers to Ethan” says Cruise.

It’s inspiring to see that a traditional Taiwanese culture can embrace the concept of gay parenting, while negative sensationalism perpetuated in the local media can feed intolerance from with Australia’s wider community. While the costs involved in becoming parents reached the $150,000 mark, Rodney and Jeff’s natural paternal instincts will see them extend their family again when the surrogate for their next child is chosen in May.

“The concept of the traditional family is rather outdated,” says Cruise, “the genetic make up of a family is irrelevant to us. We believe a family is about love.”

Known Donor

The flipside to the surrogacy scenario is the known donor situation where a gay male provides the sperm to single lesbian or a lesbian who is partnered. The basis of this arrangement sees the single or coupled lesbians raise the child with any parental rights or responsibility placed on the biological father. Individual arrangements may be made where the father sees the child throughout his or her upbringing, as either an uncle, family friend or even as dad, though the parental rights are reserved exclusively for the lesbian couple. Known donor cases are usually carried without issue as they have taken on a specific role, which takes a step back from the role and responsibilities of raising the child. 39-year-old Allan from Sydney’s inner West is the very proud known donor to nineteen-month-old Zara.

While Allan spends quality time with Zara and enjoys a close friendship with her lesbian parents, he has maintained the agreement, which sees Zara’s mothers as her full time parents. “I’m very close to the girls and Zara and see them every week. My reward for the gift I have given the girls is seeing the immense joy Zara has brought to everyone’s lives, including grandparents,” says Allan.

“I guess I am seen as a satellite figure or even uncle, and that has worked out incredibly well for all of us. All of our friends have been extremely supportive of the situation.” Last month the NSW Government made its long awaited announcement that it would commit to amending laws to give same-sex parents of children conceived through artificial fertilization the right to officially registered the names of both mothers on a child’s birth certificate.


Sees the single male or gay male couple act as a co-parent, along side a single or couple lesbian. This arrangement may see a child with two mothers and two fathers, which ultimately provides a double dose of devotion and love for the child. “The biggest issue for gay dads in co-parenting is working out a reasonable arrangement with a lesbian couple and maintaining it,” say Gay Dads Australia’s Rodney Cruise. “Often couples may site down prior to the arrangement and figure out who will see the child and when.”

Many Australian children may have four heterosexual parents through divorce and new marriages, the child of four gay parents often grow up with the extended family from birth. Co-parenting may see the child living with either sets of parents on a full or part time basis based upon a mutal agreement between the male and female couples.


Adoption ofr gay singles and couples is legal in the United States, United Kingdom, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands, Australia has failed to catch up to speed. In 2007 a WA couple made Australian history by being the first gay couple granted the right to adopt, however since the landmark ruling no other couples have been allowed to follow suit. Though inter-country adoption between Australian and co-adoption countries such as China exist for heterosexuals, the same rights are not currently extended to gay and lesbian singles or couples wanting to adopt.

Previous relationship

Like countless other gay fathers across Australia, 45-year-old Gregory Duffy, from Sydney’s East has enjoyed the riches of fatherhood through children born out of a previous heterosexual relationship. “I was married, in love and ultimately wanted to start a family and have children of my own,” recalls Duffy.

After the birth of his second daughter, Duffy came to terms with his own sexuality. “I came out to myself toward the end of 1993, and left the marriage when my children Victoria and Georgia were five and two-and-a-half years old. All they really knew was that Dad had left but not for a deeper reason. I did not officially come out to my wife till at least 6 months later.”

“Finally, we began to talk about a whole lot of issues we never touched on before.”

Although Duffy did not come out to his eldest daughter Victoria for another seven years, he recalls his eldest girl struggling with the decision more than his youngest.

“Victoria was quite upset and didn’t fully understand what it was for me to be gay, but after numerous long chats she slowly adjusted and actually felt it was quite cool to have a gay dad!”

Today Greg enjoys a wonderful relationship with Victoria, 19 and Georgina, 16. “Having two beautiful daughters that accept me for who I am and have never judged me for being gay has enriched our relationship. It has been an interesting and emotional journey, but to know I have had their love and support has made the road much easier to travel.”

For more information on Gay Dads Australia and advice on surrogacy go to

[Link: Original Article]

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