Gestational Surrogacy Helped This Single Man Achieve His Dream of Fatherhood
Lifestyle| | By Brian Delpozo
As part of our ongoing Father’s Day series celebrating fatherhood, Your Daily Dish is featuring amazing stories that highlight the special bond between dads and their children.
Tom Garden always wanted to be a father, and he spent years wanting to start a family. However, when he hit the age of 45, Garden realized his window was closing.
He began looking at some non-traditional routes and learned about gestational surrogacy — which involves a surrogate mother. He decided to pursue that way to start a family.
“When I returned from (a trip to) Israel, I told my mom that I wanted to be a father but was not having much luck meeting that special woman,” he wrote to Your Daily Dish. “She mentioned the egg donor option and IVF. I always knew it existed, but did not know anything about it. She encouraged me to investigate and she was actually the one to make the first call to a local IVF clinic here in Minneapolis, because I was too embarrassed to make the call myself. Looking back, I never would have imagined I would have gone through this process.”
Tom Garden chose to work with the Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey (RMANJ). It was a long way from his native Minnesota.
“I wanted to find an agency that specialized in Jewish egg donation and none existed in Minnesota or the Midwest to my knowledge,” he wrote to Your Daily Dish. “I searched online and found an agency in New York City called NY LifeSpring. They specialized in Jewish egg donors mainly from Israel. Ruth Tavor was the owner and she preferred to work with Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey because of the all the great outcomes she had with the clinic.”
Although most people he knew were supportive of his unconventional choice, some people opposed it.
“My mother and sister were very supportive. My friends were also very supportive,” he wrote to Your Daily Dish. “One family member however could not understand why I couldn’t have a child the ‘normal way’ by meeting a woman.”
Nearly two years after deciding to pursue the surrogacy option, Tom Garden had a son named Joseph who was carried by a surrogate. Garden maintains in contact with the surrogate mother.
“We have maintained consistent contact since we first met 18 months ago,” he wrote to Your Daily Dish. “We are very close. She recently gave me advice on how to use a ‘sippy cup.’ We talk every two weeks or so and I send her pictures of Joseph and she sends me pictures of her own four children. She recently invited me to her son’s high school graduation in Arkansas.”
A Second Child for Tom Garden
Tom Garden was so happy with the results, he’s reunited with the surrogate to have another child.
“I am excited to say that she will be going through a second journey with me,” he wrote to Your Daily Dish. “We have a transfer scheduled on June 27th at RMANJ.”
While being a single father like Gardner is still outside the U.S. social norm, it’s becoming more common. According to recent Pew Research Center study, there were “2.6 million households led by a single father in 2011, a ninefold increase from 1960 when that number was fewer than 300,000.”
A quarter of all single-parent families are led by men — and more men are choosing surrogacy to become a parent.
“First and foremost, you can be a heterosexual male and still go through IVF and surrogacy,” he wrote to Your Daily Dish. “Second, you can also be a single guy, not married or have a significant other and go through this process. Being a single father at 47 years of age is the most challenging and rewarding experience of my life. To bring a new life into the world and have the privilege to share life is truly special.”
For more information on gestational surrogacy and the RMANJ, check out their website.
Make sure to share this story with any single fathers you know.