From the moment they met in 2005, Jason and Aiden knew they wanted to build a life together. They also knew they wanted a family, and in 2012, they finally felt ready to take that next step.
The two committed dads-in-waiting knew the adoption process could be long (often five years or more) and difficult, so they decided to consider another option – surrogacy. After Aiden’s sister offered to donate eggs, they began exploring the possibility of finding a caring woman who would be prepared to carry and give birth to the child who would complete their happiness.
Finally, after several months of unsuccessful searching, Tara Kemes (pictured below), a friend of Aiden’s sister, came into their lives. Tara had always wanted to be a surrogate mother for personal as well as altruistic reasons. Although she didn’t want to be a mom herself, she was willing to provide Jason and Aiden with the joy of having their own child – a child who through gestational surrogacy, would be biologically related to each parent.
“Finding Tara was fate – a perfect partnership,” says Jason. “You have to trust this person to care for and carry your child, and we trusted her right away.”
Tara became pregnant in July 2013. It was to mark the beginning of a journey that would not only involve Aiden, Jason and Tara, but Tara’s girlfriend Kylie as well. Nicknamed “the circus,” the four had an “awesome experience” at South Community Birth Programme in Vancouver, where they attended pre-natal classes together with the other expectant parents.
“[The classes were a] tremendous bonding experience between us and Tara, and helped us be as prepared and present as possible during the birth,” says Jason.
The couple’s unique family dynamics also influenced a small but powerful shift in thinking at South and BC Women’s Hospital. All of the caregivers involved with the couple – from the doula and midwives at South to the nurses and physicians at BC Women’s – were inspired to rethink the role of the father during pregnancy and the birthing process.
The shift in language from “intended mother” to “intended parents” recognized the critically important role played not only by these two dads but by all fathers. For instance, BC Women’s Hospital is a strong advocate for skin-to-skin contact between parent and newborn that promotes bonding and also has far-reaching benefits for a baby's health and development. The two dads dynamic reinforced this for fathers as well as mothers.
A few days before she was due to deliver, Tara, together with Kylie, moved in with Jason and Aiden to prepare for the birth. Tara underwent a gradual induction process in response to a slow rise in blood pressure, followed by a number of hospital visits, until labour started in earnest on Sunday afternoon. Seven-and-a-half hours later, little Oliver was welcomed into the world by his proud parents.
The new fathers caught Oliver together, experiencing a “magical connection” with their son during those first moments of holding him close. “It was the happiest moment in our lives,” says Aiden, who together with Jason was able to take Oliver home just hours after the birth.
Thanks to Tara and BC Women’s Milk Bank, Oliver was nourished with breast milk for his first month. Two years later, he is a happy, healthy, thriving little boy who is just starting daycare.
The partnership between Jason, Aiden and Tara that began with the surrogacy has gone on to become a lasting friendship. The couple remain in awe of Tara and have immense feelings of gratitude for her and everyone who supported their decision to have a family: “We were so lucky to have been surrounded by such a great team and actually be there to see what Tara went through, and to appreciate what happens. She was just amazing.”
The dads are also deeply appreciative of the warm care they received at BC Women’s: “The staff at BC Women’s were very mindful of our circumstances; we never felt any discomfort or confusion. The nurses were really lovely, they were clearly very kind and conscientious and very welcoming.”
Through the generous heart of surrogate mother Tara and the love and dedication of dad’s Aiden and Jason, a beautifully unique family had its start at BC Women’s. This Father’s Day, BC Women’s Hospital would like to recognize dad’s across our province for the amazing work you do every day. Thank you!