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“A father without a child.”

I used the phrase above to describe how I felt to a friend recently when asked why I’m pursuing parenthood. It just slipped out, but she thought it summed everything up so well that she suggested I use it as the first line in my blog - so there it is!

Hello everyone, and welcome to my FIRST EVER blog. My name is Salim from London, I’m a paralegal, I’m gay and I’m 37 years old.

Oh, and three weeks today I'll be a father.

So how did I end up here? Well I’ve wanted a child for as long as I can remember.

I guess the feeling became its strongest around the time I hit my thirties. I started to think about being a father all the time and even dreaming about it. It’s a feeling that’s hard to put into words. Its not like wanting to bounce a baby on your knee and squidge its cheek. I’m so NOT a baby person in that way. For me it was a deeper, even spiritual desire to love something, to raise it and teach it. I told my family how I felt and they were wonderfully supportive. This is the thing about my family, as dysfunctional as they are, they have always been encouraging, progressive and bursting with love.

I live with my father in East London. My sister, Suraiya (pictured – I’m a sucker for an arty shot), lives with her three boys and my mother just outside Houston in Texas, USA. Suraiya and I are single and our parents are divorced, but we are all very close. Actually it’s Suraiya who played a key part in my becoming a parent. A couple of years ago she did something incredible - she offered to be surrogate for me if I could find a donor. Her suggested approach was as follows:

My Sperm + Donor’s Egg + Suraiya’s Womb = BABY!

This plan was great for me because I’m not super rich and the traditional approach of the biological mother and surrogate being the same person was way too expensive for me. But by just paying for the egg and having an amazing sister willing to carry it altruistically, we managed to make it just about affordable for me.

I found a donor through an agency in the states that grants access to online profiles for a fee, containing medical history, pics and career and educational info. Choosing the right girl was a typically Indian family effort and we made the decision as a committee. To be honest I just wanted a pretty girl, my mum wanted an intelligent girl and my dad didn’t care who the hell she was as long as she had eggs (he’s the bouncing-knee-squidging-cheek type). In the end I reached a compromise in the form of ‘Ali’, an Anglo-Hispanic girl from Idaho, really cute and with a psychology degree. I arranged for my sperm to be shipped to a clinic in San Francisco using one of those nitrogen tubes that you expect to see in a sci-fi movie about clones. When the clinic received it, they fertilized the eggs and from that batch created an embryo. This was transferred into my sister and, to cut a long story long, went on to become a baby.

My sister is, in every way possible, my hero.

So here we are, on the verge of me becoming a dad. I’ll fly to Houston on 28 January in advance of the birth on 1 February, and I’ll stay in Houston for my three months’ parental leave. I have all sorts of thoughts and fears running through my head right now, but maybe I’ll share them with you on the next blog entry. I’d like to make each entry short-ish so that people don’t feel like I’ve set them homework when I ask them to read it.

Thanks for listening!

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