It's not just women. Guys can feel their "biological clock" start to tick, too. And men who find themselves ready to start a family but don't have a partner are starting to turn to surrogacy to become dads.
Matt Morgan, 41, of Allen, Texas, is one of those guys. He's a single dad of two kids—a boy and a girl born 14 months apart and carried by two different surrogates. Morgan, who is a physician, says when he was in his 30s, he often dated professional women who weren't ready to have kids. He began looking into surrogacy in his late 30s, and after a relationship didn't work out when he was 38, he decided to go forward with it.
"I've never been a high energy person," Morgan says. "Energy declines with age. You need energy to take proper care of children. It was a rational consideration that I made. I felt I just couldn't keep waiting."
How it works
For single men, becoming a dad through surrogacy requires an egg donor and a surrogate. Costs vary, but egg donation can cost about $10,000, and the surrogate is generally compensated for about $25,000. When medicial costs are added in, the total could add up to $150,000.
Morgan says his surrogacy journey began a little more than two years ago, when his sperm was joined with donor eggs that resulted in nine embryos. One was implanted in his surrogate using in vitro fertilization (IVF), and nine months later, his baby boy was born.
The remaining embryos were frozen, and one of them was used for the second pregnancy. That time, Morgan worked with a surrogate who lived a little closer—across town instead of across the state—so he could more easily make it to doctor appointments and meetings with her since he also had a baby to care for.
A new trend
Gayle East, owner and director of Surrogate Solutions in Hewitt, Texas, the surrogacy agency that connected Morgan with the surrogates, says Morgan's story might not be one you hear every day, but it's certainly becoming more prevalent.
"We're not a huge agency, and we've probably worked with three single dads, and right now, we're working with a couple more of them," East says. "Three or four years ago, we didn't see any at all."
The dads she's seen interested in surrogacy are like Morgan: professionals who are financially stable and ready to settle down but they haven't found a partner yet.
"They're single guys who've been working in a career, saving money and becoming more financially secure. It's very doable for them," says East. "In the past, there was the stereotype of moms raising a family, but they're seeing same-sex couples with families. And now, watching other guys go through this process will probably give more single guys the courage to do this."
East says the surrogacy process for a single man isn't different than it would be for anyone else. The men just have that extra first step of finding an egg donor.
Surrogates do get to choose who they carry babies for, and East thinks there may be some who'd choose not to work with a single dad—mostly because their husbands or partners could find the situation awkward—but she hasn't known of that happening. Morgan says being single and male didn't inhibit the surrogacy process for him at all.
Being a single parent is certainly a challenge, says Morgan, but he does it with a support system. Close friends and his mother live nearby and are willing to pitch in when he needs help. He hired a daytime nanny after he did the math and figured it would cost about the same as having both children in daycare.
"I don't think this would be Plan A for anybody in my situation, but it's a great Plan B and alternative for them," he says.
And what about dating? While Morgan isn't dating anyone right now, he hopes to meet more people as his kids get older.
"I haven't given up on marriage," Morgan says. "I would just be doing it in a different order: children and then marriage, instead of the traditional way. I have no regrets."