Single Gay Man is Becoming a Dad Thanks to Surrogacy Overseas

Eloise Edington  |   23 Jun 2021

Today on Fertility Help Hub, we’re super excited to speak with Marvin Lemmen, from the Netherlands. Marvin is a single gay intended parent (IP), who is currently trying to have a baby via gestational surrogacy. He’s sharing his fertility / surrogacy journey to date, in the hope that it will break stigma and inspire other single men to take the leap and begin family building, no matter what their relationship status might be.

Marvin will guide us through his surrogacy process and timings, finding a suitable fertility clinic and specialist who are supporting him as a single man going through surrogacy abroad in Mexico. Marvin is working closely with international surrogacy agency, Extraordinary Conceptions, who are helping him find the perfect surrogate and navigating the difficulties of travel restrictions, due to Covid 19.

Words by Marvin Lemmen

1. What was the moment in time that sparked the beginning of your surrogacy journey abroad?

My journey started following a simple question from one of my co-workers: ‘Do you want kids one day?’ At this point I was already in my thirties and the idea of having children had been on my mind. The question didn’t kickstart the journey into action right there and then, but instead it planted a seed and, after a few weeks of mulling it over, that seed began to grow into this wonderful journey towards my perfect future as a dad.

2. Have your family or friends expressed any reservations about you doing this by yourself, as a single man?

When I told my family, I opened almost every conversation with, ‘Do you think I will be able to raise a child by myself?’ Could I really do it alone? And while everyone I asked was surprised by my choice to do this alone, they supported and believed in me. Of course, telling the people close to me about my choice meant that there were some practical concerns about how this would impact my work, social life and dating.  Really all the aspects of life change when you bring a child into it, but as my grandmother always used to say, ‘It will be okay. Even when it’s not okay, it will still be okay.’ Her words have kept me going when I’m confronted with difficult questions I haven’t yet considered or prepared for on my surrogacy journey.

3. What are the most helpful books, publications or online groups you’ve found?

I’m not one for doing research into personal experiences, so I didn’t seek out any online groups or read any publications on surrogacy. I’m one of those rare people who believes the experience of someone else will not be mine, and so I will not actively seek out their stories to compare against mine.

Related Article – Male Fertility Health and LGBTQ+ Family Building via Surrogacy & Egg Donation

4. How much research did you do beforehand?

Most of the research I did was focused on the surrogacy processes in the Netherlands (where I live). In doing this, I discovered that if I wanted to be a single father through surrogacy, I would have to go across the border. Once I came to this realisation, there seemed to be so much information that wasn’t informative at all — it was hard to know where to begin. I discovered that most European countries offer few surrogacy processes for single gay men. For this experience alone, I hope my story will help other single, gay men see that it is possible to find surrogacy with the right fertility clinic.

Related Article – LGBTQ+ Family Building – Surrogacy & Egg Donation with Two Dads

5. What would you say is the most important quality to look for in a surrogacy agency?

When I found Extraordinary Conceptions, I had a gut feeling and reached out to them. I sent them an email, and then one thing led to another and here I am, beginning my surrogacy process with them! For me, the right surrogacy agency had to be one where I could connect with fertility specialists to talk to, so that my doubts and insecurities could fade away. 

Related Article – Being Gay and Having a Family

6. Why Extraordinary Conceptions and how have they supported you through this process?

Extraordinary Conceptions have gone above and beyond for me. Initially, I had a meeting with their UK representative, Hilary Smith. We had a call in the early summer of 2020 and talked for almost an hour! She was very easy to speak with and extremely helpful. Hilary made me feel like I was coming home – I knew I was where I was supposed to be.

That being said, I barely took in anything we talked about, because I was so nervous and everything was so new to me. Hilary had to explain things a few times across the following weeks and months for it to really sink in. She explained and repeated things with such a kind and loving energy that these interactions with her prompted me to continue this journey with Extraordinary Conceptions. I knew I would receive the support I needed here.

A few months later, I met Maria (through Skype), who was just as amazing and supportive. Hilary and Maria have quickly become my heroines through this journey; communication is easy, fast and honest. When I’m feeling low, they pick me up and, when I’m happy, they are celebrating with me. They have helped me through everything: from helping me ship sperm from Europe to Mexico, to helping with translations. If there’s something I’m struggling with, they either help me or do it for me. I might be technically alone in this process, but these amazing women have made sure that I don’t feel that way.

7. I understand you’ve chosen to work with a Mexican fertility clinic. Have you had any difficulty working with a foreign fertility clinic due to travel restrictions?

I chose to do the surrogacy process in Mexico thanks to Hilary, who recommended a fairly new program EC have, based in Mexico. This was a happy coincidence for me, as I had hoped for a Latina egg donor. With all of this considered, I decided to accept the program in Mexico right away.

Due to Covid19 travel restrictions, there is a lot I have to do before going to Mexico for the first time, which will be two weeks before my baby is born! All other appointments and fertility consults happened through Skype, Zoom and mostly email. While this is convenient for me, as I work as a teacher (taking a few days off is not an option), I would like to be there through some of the pregnancy journey and I am hoping I can still be a part of that experience.

8. What qualities did you seek out in your gestational carrier (GC)?

This was by far the hardest choice to make, as it was the most abstract stage for me. There were a few basic qualities that I found important:

  • To have a healthy and stable life, both physically and psychologically   
  • To have a friendly personality (my gestational carrier has been very cheerful and eager for me to start a family, which gives me a lot of comfort).
  • The carrier needs to have a support system, so my baby is well cared for before I can take them home.

9. What relationship do you hope to have with her as the surrogacy moves forward?

I am comfortable with my surrogate being either an active or inactive part of my child’s life and I would like this to be a choice that she makes. If she wants to stay in touch, I think that could benefit my child. Although they won’t have a mother, they can meet this wonder woman who carried them. But, if she doesn’t want to keep in touch, then I am understanding about that.

I’m grateful for her help and I will love her either way.

10. What lesson(s) have you learned so far that could help other single men embarking on a surrogacy journey?

Trust the process. Some of you might be wondering, ‘how long does the surrogacy process take?’ At the beginning, the process can seem really efficient, but it slows down somewhere along the way and it can feel like it’s never going to happen. But when things go slower there’s more time to think things over and start preparing for parenthood. I discussed every consult with Hilary or Maria, which I found helpful during the slower periods. No matter how long the surrogacy process takes, just remember that you will get there. 

The best thing I can say to men who have not yet started the process is: check your support system. Be sure that you are surrounded by people who are willing to help and stand by you during such an emotional journey; because it is emotional in every way, so you need support at home and from your surrogacy agency.

Related Article – Fertility Warriors are Superheroes: Here’s the Proof

11. How has your support system helped you?

My support system has been so important to me as they keep me going through this and they ask me important questions that give me a new perspective. They make me think about things I haven’t yet considered. They are my voice of reason, while I am the fun, impulsivity and enthusiasm. But they are also my joy and happiness when we do a ‘Freaky Friday’ and I become the more practical one. Without being aware, they have become my balance. They are all going through the journey with me and frequently ask for the latest updates and are happy for me because they know how much I want to be a father.

12. Why do you want to be a father?

I believe that I will be great at it. I have good people skills and I am a very patient person. I am also a teacher, which I think gives me the skills I need to be a parent. But beyond being a mature and prepared parent, is the importance of having fun and doing exciting things. I think the world needs more people like this.

When I was a child, I couldn’t wait to be thirty, because that was the age that you will have everything. When I became thirty it was almost complete: I had a house, I had a good job, I had a car — but not a family (yet).

Related Article – Fertility Answers – Anna’s Story of Recurrent Baby Loss and Surrogacy Abroad

13. While surrogacy is a common route to parenthood within the LGBTQ+ community, do you find that you have had any judgement from others within the community, as a single parent to be?

No, I’ve only had good and supportive reactions up to this point. I can’t relate to this, but I believe it will be there and I will come across this in the future. I do think the community is very open to everything and everyone, so I believe most judgement will come from other communities. Everybody can have their opinion, and mine is that I believe in what I started and will raise my kid with that knowledge.

Related Article – NY Surrogacy Law – What are the Rules?

14. Do you have any advice for other men who want to be intended parents but are too afraid to take the leap alone?

Just do it; take the leap by talking to a surrogacy agency to see what they can do for you. If that step is too daunting, you could talk to somebody who is already in the process. I just dove in and started this amazing journey. I wish that this could be the case for every single gay man who wants a child.

Your reasoning behind doing it is what will motivate you. Most excuses you make not to do it are not worth you missing out on making your dreams come true. Love yourself and give your dreams a chance.

Related Article – Why Surrogacy? The Most Common Reasons

If you are an intended parent (IP) who has also found limited options where you are, then consider reaching out to Extraordinary Conceptions, who support all intended parents on their journey around the world.

If you would like more advice, a solid community or relatable content like this, then join our free Fertility Squad app community today.

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