My family…two boys with two girls

I had the opportunity this weekend to attend a parents’ symposium at my daughter’s school.  The event allowed me to immerse myself into the valuable insights and learnings from experienced people in education and parenting.

The audience comprised people from all walks of life – mums, dads, people of different colour and religion – but this difference meant nothing. We were all there for the same purpose, and that was to be the best parents we could be to our children.

To be amongst people where, regardless of your story, you were accepted as an equal, was an amazing experience.  Because for me, as a father of two, and a gay man as well, I realise that the difference for some can be something to embrace or quite polarising.

I have pondered for some time about whether to write this story – I mean, why would anyone want to hear my journey? But, as time has gone on – and possibly a reflection on life as I turn 40 next year, I realised that sometimes having a voice may contribute to change.

It is probably worthwhile at this point to fill in some of the gaps – in particular, how did I come to this place of being a dad, or in my case, papa?

I met my partner Greg nearly 10 years ago. Like all new couples, we did the storm/norm/perform in our relationship – and during that time we laid down our cards – what did we want on this journey together?

One of the things that Greg wanted to be was a father. Well, let me just say of all the things I was expecting, that wasn’t on the agenda. I mean, how were two guys going to have a baby? Whilst I didn’t do human biology at school, I still understood the mechanics of creating life – and for us, one piece wasn’t part of the equation at hand.

We researched widely, spoke to many people – and received supportive and dissenting views – all of which were important in making our final decision. We were breaking new ground here.

It all finally came together nearly 5 years ago, in a birthing suite in Salem, Oregon. Together with our amazing surrogate, Mary, we welcomed into the world our first miracle, Eliana Rosalee De-An.

I reflect back on that moment – and like all parents – it is a true epiphany. A moment when something beyond words is given to you. This moment is permanently etched into my memory. When Eliana was passed to Mary, I stood with Greg in absolute awe, speechless and so emotional. It was at that moment that her little head came up, turned, looked me straight in the eye and grabbed my hand – as god is my judge that is what happened. My immediate thought was “that’s my girl”.

Still to this day, it moves me. We were blessed with nurturing this little life and soul.

Just over 2 years later, we welcomed our second daughter, Saraya Avalee De-Xuan into our lives.  It was as amazing as our first journey. To be blessed with two miracles into my life to date, I am truly a lucky man.

So back to the purpose of penning this story, which was about the notion of being a parent and what family is? It astounds me when I look around and see the diversity of “family” that is in our world – it is an amazing thing and something which I think should be embraced and celebrated.

What does concern me is the minority who voice dissenting views, who say what Greg and I have is not family – that somehow – what we have, is wrong. Whilst I respect we all have our right to a view, I can say without hesitation and know in my heart, that these views are wrong.

My belief is that where there is love, where there is an emotional desire and readiness to be a parent and a family, then regardless of the make-up, that is the best place to start and most importantly, it is right. Whether this is a single person, a man and a woman, two women or in my case two gay men, if the right foundations to be a family are in place, then we should all be saying – it is ok.

I hope for this, not to prove a point and to say I was right; but to ensure a future for our daughters where because of who they are and whom they love, it will not impact their desire to be a parent and have a family.  I want them to know that if they find the person they love and want to create a new life or, if they fill the want (and are ready) to walk this journey on their own, it’s ok.

So, invigorated by a weekend of learning and reflection, I know in my heart, this was always the journey I was meant to walk. To enrich the diverse tapestry of the world we live in.

If everyone’s family could have the love, joy and sense of purpose that Greg and I share with our girls, the world would be a much more beautiful place.


21 thoughts on “My family…two boys with two girls

  1. Hi Mark, I am a very old close friend of your beautiful mum. I was there when you were born. I was bridesmaid at your mum and dads wedding. Your story is amazing and I think your two little girls are the luckiest little people in the world to have you and your partner Greg as parents. As you say it’s all about love and by gosh your two babies are surrounded by it.

  2. Mark, well done for sharing your story! It all sounds so normal here, but we should remember that we live in a privileged world threatened by regressive forces, not just those who say “it is wrong”.

  3. Thank you to everyone for the kind words of encouragement and support – it means a lot.

    I have been truly overwhelmed by the response to this article.

    I do hope my words make some contribution to understanding in this space and change in the future.

  4. Thanks Mark, you have demonstrated great strength and courage sharing your story. I was deeply moved and agree love is the essential ingredient. You and your family deserve, as everyone does, to be treated with dignity and respect.

  5. Mark – I didn’t realise you had a second lucky little girl in your life! Congratulations! Very special times. Thank you for sharing your story.

  6. Hi Mark, fantastic news to hear that your have two beautiful daughters. Congratulations. It has been a long journey. Remember the days when you and Greg had just started out. Love to the family. Rosie

  7. Thank you for sharing the specialness Mark. Great to know the journey along this track of unacknowledged parenthood and family is at least not travelled alone. I think by your story, you widen, broaden and smooth it just a little more for the next generation of modern family

  8. Well said Mark! thank you for having the courage to share your story at work. I hope it inspires others at KPMG to think differently about the meaning of what a family is or can be. Your daughters are lucky to have a father like you 🙂

  9. What a wonderful gift you have given us all today Mark, thank you for sharing.
    A timely reminder that love is the connection for family.

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