NPR talked with six gay dads about their journey through surrogacy and parenting.
Fatherhood comes in many different forms, from the dads who are there from your first steps, to the ones you meet later in life.
NPR spoke to three men, single gay fathers, who chose to become dads via surrogacy, after years of coming to terms with their identities, their families, and the technological advances that have made journeys like this possible.
Cenk Bulbul is originally from Turkey. He came to the United States in 1994 – the early days of a tool that would help him, and countless others, understand the emotions for which they didn’t yet have the words: the World Wide Web.
“The things that I was feeling as a young man, but I didn’t know what they were because there weren’t any public examples where I used to live in Turkey and even at Carnegie Mellon [University],” Bulbul says of his time exploring the internet while getting his masters degree in Pennsylvania.
“At that point in 1994, you didn’t see many gays [on] the campus. So I realized I was gay, but I was like scared, confused.”
While he was finally able to label his romantic feelings, he still felt lost. So he went back home to Turkey and completed his compulsory military service, before returning to the United States – this time to New York – where he completed a doctorate program.
“Here I am, like, 20 years later.”
Journey to fatherhood
Bulbul had always dreamed of being a father. In his youth, he would imagine himself in the year 2000 – 28 years old – married, to a woman, with two young children.
“Then I came out in 2002,” he says. “There were no examples of same-sex parents or single parents by choice of any sort around me, even like adoption circles.
“And then as the decades went on, more and more, as I became more comfortable with who I am, I started seeing examples and, you know, then the legislation started changing, and that also started to bring more families of different backgrounds to the surface. And that childhood dream of mine started to nag me.”
Initially, Bulbul wanted to adopt. But the process for single people, particularly relatively older gay men, he says, was difficult.
“If I’m going to be a parent, I should just try to find the shortest route at this point because, you know, it’s not fair to the children that they have a geriatric parent. I wanted to be around,” he says.
More at NPR.org.