Tony had won the runner up prize in the the New Scientist of the year award and was on his way to Manchester’s Granada Studios where the awards were being given that year. Getting lost on the way, Tony pulled into a petrol station where he could see a broken down car and a huge fuss going on with the driver and the petrol station attendant. The driver had broken down and the car wouldn’t move, Tony walked over to ask for directions to the studios and before he knew it, the driver of the broken down car was jumping into the conversation saying he would be happy to show Tony where the studio was if he could give him a lift into the city centre.
Before Tony could say yes or no, the young stranded driver with the broken down car had jumped into Tonys car. Tony went round to the drivers seat and introduced himself to the young man who told him his name was Barrie. From that day to this, the pair have been together and now have 5 wonderful children.
The journey to parenthood has not been as easy as it seems in the mass media. Barrie and Tony had been together for 11 years before they decided to have their children. They had spoken about it for years but had never done anything about it. They looked at adoption first with Essex County Council.
Being the first same sex couple to try to make an application, they were handled like a hot potato. The social workers had no idea how to handle the case and were stuck from day one. The social worker attached to the case was not the right person to handle the county’s first application and she was out of her depth. Looking back, both Barrie and Tony wish they had fought harder to make the legal system easier for themselves and others, but in those days there was not much point and a more gentle approach was needed.
Two years later the men had heard of women in the USA acting as surrogates and having babies for other people. Would they be able to find a woman willing to have a baby for a gay couple That was the question.
In those days, gay men didn’t have children, in fact, the thought of a gay man with a child made everyone involved think that there was something funny going on. The way people used to think in those days was just terrible.
Regardless, Barrie and Tony decided to go for it. They travelled to LA and found both an egg donor and a surrogate. They went through 6 attempts of IVF treatment and did not get a birth. Until one day, and several hundreds of thousands of US dollars spent, the men moved IVF clinics and met the wonderful Dr Guy Ringler and changed the surrogate to the wonderful Rosalind Bellamy.
Within months of meeting the new doctor and surrogate they were PREGNANT with twins, a boy and a girl fathered by both men, the first of it kind anywhere in the world. The men celebrated the birth of Aspen and Saffron in December 1999, one of the last sets of babies to be born in the last century also.
They were the first babies from Europe to have both dads on the birth certificates and set a precedent for other same sex families and straight families using surrogacy to have their families.
Today the family consists of Barrie and Tony, with their children Aspen, Saffron, Orlando, Jasper & Dallas.