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Single Dads Ready to Brave Nappies

Broodiness sees more and more men turn to surrogate mothers to start their families

By Nashira Davids

South African men are not waiting to find the perfect partner to start a family.  A growing number are opting for surrogacy to become single parents.

Former top rugby refererr, Jonathan Kaplan announced to friends on social media last week that a surrogate mother is carrying his baby, even posting a 3D scan.  Capetonian Kaplan, who turns 50 this year and holds the world record for the most rugby tests refereeed, is said to be excited about becoming a father but would not be interviewed.

In an article on the Comrades Marathon website, he says the child is expected on May 30, the day after this year's 89km down run from Pietermaritzburg to Durban, which he is hoping to complete.

Jenny Currie, founder of egg donation agency baby2mom, said that since she started in 2007 has helped around 16 single men have the chance to become parents.  The number was growing, as was the number of inquiries. 

"As the dynamics of society have changed, so have different parenthood options evolved.  It is no longer uncommon for a single man to reconise the need to want to become a parent and give back.  Men also recognise their need to want to love and nurture another."  Most of her clients were emotionally established, financially secure and passionate about the journey. 

Alot of men are not waiting to become parents until they find their life partners.  They dont want to become older fathers and are opting for surogacy.  It is definately becoming far more popular.  The law does not disccriminate against single parents undergoing this route. 

As social dynamics change, so do parenthood options

In 2015, a landmark case in the High Court in Pretoria found that people may use surrogacy without having a genetic link with the baby.  In the past the Children's Act of 2005 allowed surrogacy only when at least one of the commissioning parents contributed an egg or sperm but the high court declared this unconstitutional.   Even surrogacy needs high court approval.  This is a long process and can cost thousands of Rands, for legal fees, fertility clinic, egg donation, medical bills of the surrogate, loss of income maternity clothing and vitamins.

Jarrod Tisdell, 38, is the proud father of twins Jon and Ella, who are 16 months old.  When he was 35 he decided he did not want to wait any longer to start a family.  "I wanted to be able to be active with my children and enjoy the benefits of being a young family", he said.  "Waiting until I had a partner would have been easier in many respects, but the extra work and stress was well worth it.  I do worry about them growing up with only one pareent as I think there are many benefits to a two-parent environment, but I haven't given up on finding a partner."  Tisdell used to be a US diplomat in South Africa and his twins were born in Pretoria, but he is now an executive at a US tech company.  It took four seperate IVF cycles until the surrogate fell pregnany and the process cost just under R300,000.  He was thrilled and nervous to discover he would be getting twins.  They were born at 25 weeks and kept in the neonatal ICU at Wilgers Hospital in Pretoria for several months.  Tisdell said he could not say enough about the world-class medical care and technology in South Africa.  "It would be difficult to describe all the changes since Jon and Ella arrived.  Life was turned upside down but in the most positive way.  I was completely dedicated to work and career for 15 years and these little babies managed to give me an outlook and perspective on life that I never though possible." 

Andre Lewaks, manager of fatherhood campaign MenCare South Africa said only a quarter of children lived with both parents according to statistics.  Only 13% live with the father.  "I do not discourage surrogacy.  However I think it is important that parents familiarise themselves with the risks.  The most important thing is that fathers get the same support from society as mothers and fathers that take up parental responsibilities".  

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