“Ten years ago, Kevin and I went on our first date, nothing fancy, just a casual Pizza Express dinner. From quite a young age I had an unusual desire to become a father and being gay had no bearing on that. I knew I had so much love to give a kid and fatherhood is something I’ve always wanted. I didn’t want to sound like a complete psycho and scare Kevin off (it was our first date after all) but finding the right partner was so essential to me I decided to raise the issue of wanting to be a father in the future. It’s a risk, I know, but one I was sure I wanted to take. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t asking to have a kid in the immediate future (I was only 20 at the time and at university completing my law exams). I suppose I was just putting the feelers out there. That’s where we began.
Fast forward to 2017. A lot has happened between 2009 and 2017; we got married, have two beautiful doggies, I am now a full-fledged lawyer and we are both working high powered successful jobs. We have enjoyed some of the best holidays imaginable all over the world and are searching for a bigger house to move into. All is wonderful in the now ‘Tewis-Allen’ household. There’s a hole though, I feel it deep in my heart and stomach. We enjoy being doting uncles to our nieces and our friends’ children. We are blessed enough to be godparents to our best friends Lucy’s and Luke’s little boy, Lowen. He is adorable and we love to spoil him rotten. As rewarding an experience as this is (and believe me it is), it compounds the truth I feel and that is the overriding feeling I really want to give all this love to a child of our own.
It was autumn of 2017 when Kevin and I had made the decision to actively pursue routes to fatherhood. We had looked at adoption and surrogacy. For reasons of our own, we we wanted to try for our own baby as the first option. Adoption is amazing and we fully respect it, but for us, it was wanting to enjoy the pregnancy journey as well as the very early moments with our child. We decided this was the route for us. Having that biological link to at least one of us was an important factor and there was something to be said about genetic lineage and seeing it in our baby. Surrogacy isn’t the easiest of journeys in the United Kingdom, mainly because of supply and demand issues. Surrogacy in the UK has to be done in an altruistic basis (i.e. a non-commercial arrangement). What this means is the surrogate has to do it out of the goodness of her heart. You are, as intended parents, permitted to reimburse your surrogate for pregnancy expenses and these are typically in the region of £8,000 – £14,000 (sometimes lower or higher depending on the amount of expenses incurred). For this reason, unlike some states in USA, there are certainly more people who would love the help of a surrogate than there are surrogates willing to help.
We reviewed all our options. We spoke to agencies, we looked abroad and ultimately, we decided it was a UK journey that would be the right match. We did not have a spare £150,000 to afford U.S. surrogacy. More importantly, we wanted an active and enduring relationship with our surrogate for life. We wanted to be involved in the pregnancy as much as is humanly possible for two men to be. This means attending all scans and appointments and being at our surrogate’s beck and call should she need our assistance for whatever reason. A journey abroad would just not have offered that so we had to accept that we could be waiting a long time to find a surrogate. It was a wait we were prepared to endure.
Moving on to 2018. We had met a potential surrogate through a forum online and were 5 months into a ‘get to know you’ relationship. It was going well but there were some issues including our clinic not signing off her counseling session, so this was under review. All surrogates in a gestational surrogacy arrangement using a specialized fertility clinic must have counseling (as do the intended parents and any egg donors). We really liked this actually because it gave us a sense that all parties’ interests were independently assessed, and it acted as an extra safeguard. This potential match came to an abrupt end one morning at 5:45 am. For some reason, I woke up at that time in the morning (I never usually do) and a text landed in my inbox. ‘Spencer, I have to tell you something.’ My heart was racing. The next message was, ‘I’m pregnant’. No, not with our baby but she had fallen pregnant with her partner. She was using contraception we were told but this came as such a shock and really threw my emotions into oblivion. We had invested 5 months into this stranger, and it felt a bit like dating in many respects. It may sound harsh but instead of happiness for her, all I could really think was my chance of being a daddy was out of the window. I was shaking and ran up to Kevin, crawled into his arms shaking and crying saying ‘We aren’t going to be daddies.’ I couldn’t see any hope on the horizon. It felt like the end before it even started.
But there was hope and it actually came in the form of a human being I can honestly say saved me from this moment of darkness and changed our lives in unimaginable ways. Her name is Rachael and she proudly agreed to be our egg donor and is also one of our best friends! Our families are like a big extended one and we just love being around them all, including her absolute dreamboat little 2-year-old, Rocco. Rachael had done more than enough to help us, but her role wasn’t just as our egg donor. Rachael was the first person I spoke to after we found out the news from our surrogate. She was always there for us and offered us that understanding shoulder to cry on. We can never thank her enough.
Fast forward 3 months and in the most amazing and wonderful twist of events, Rachael asked us if we would consider her sister, Leanne, as our surrogate. The answer was an obvious ‘YES!.’ We were blown away. ‘Could this actually be true?’ I was jumping around inside but wanted to remain calm and level-headed on the outside. This was only a very initial decision and there is A LOT to discuss with surrogates before you can contemplate any real match.
We hosted a BBQ at our house where Rachael and Leanne (and their respective families) all attended. It was an amazing day. I still remember it clearly. Being around them all really highlighted how the previous match was not right and being so comfortable and having implicit trust makes surrogacy an amazing thing. We discussed lots of surrogacy related topics with Leanne and also took the opportunity to ask her three wonderful boys how they would feel, the response blew us away. ‘We couldn’t think of a nicer couple for mom to help.’ Surrogacy is a journey that affects the whole family not just the surrogate so Leanne’s boys’ seal of approval meant everything to us.
Over the next few months, detailed discussions took place. We drew up a surrogacy agreement, not legally enforceable per se, but nonetheless great to discuss all issues which pregnancy can bring; pre-pregnancy, during pregnancy and post pregnancy. Leanne passed the counsellor session in just one go, another sign this was the perfect match and then came September of 2018, transfer day! A perfect little embryo was transferred into Leanne and we had the dreadful two week wait. On day 8 we went over to Leanne’s and we did a home test. We all sat around the table and waited and… voila! TWO LINES. I shouted, ‘You’re pregnant!’ We did a huge group hug and called Rachael. It’s emotional just writing this! I’m covered in goose bumps as I remember that feeling so vividly.
The journey was as perfect as it could be. Never, not once, was there any trust issues between us. We saw Leanne and Rachael a lot throughout the pregnancy as they are such close friends of ours and we still see them as much as we can now. It was all going wonderfully and at week 28, Leanne’s water broke. It was a really scary time for all of us, but we had to remain calm. Leanne had steroids administered and was monitored really closely until at week 32 we got THE call. Our baby was on his way.
Within 40 minutes we were at the hospital in the labor ward and 1.5 hours later, HE arrived. Our precious baby ‘SAWYER’. Wow he was perfect, a small but mighty baby at 5 lbs. He spent two weeks in intensive care but defied all odds and is the most amazing child we could have wished for. There are no words to explain how painful it is seeing your most perfect baby wired up to machines and with oxygen masks on, but we spent hours on end by his side willing him to get better. I just know our love and unwavering support spurred our little boy on so he could come home to his daddies where he belonged.
Our message now is LOVE in all forms can conquer all. It allowed us to become daddies. It filled our void and it proved to us even when the odds are stacked against you, LOVE will be the thing that keeps you going. Sawyer had a hard start to life, but boy does he know how loved he is and without a doubt it is the making of his kind, contented and beautiful soul.
This is dedicated to Rachael and Leanne, we love you and know Sawyer will too. He has the most fabulous aunties imaginable.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Spencer Tewis-Allen in the UK. You can follow his family’s journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our Youtube channel for our best videos.
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