We are celebrating fatherhood in the name of Father's Day and thought Matt Flax and Richard Ding are two great dads with one incredible story. Technically, they could be the centerpiece on a number or stories ranging from immigration to surrogacy to being gay fathers and raising twins.
Did you ever feel like there was a time you wanted to give up on fatherhood and surrogacy?
Matt: No, once we started down the road of surrogacy we were certain to continue. That said, we did have multiple days of discussion around financing the process before making the final decision because we wanted to make sure we could support two children.
How did you finally decide?
Matt: Many deep conversations about budgets and future plans.
Who are some of the people you look up to and why?
Matt: Our IVF doctor in Portland that did such an amazing job working with our sweet and amazing surrogate to create the embryos that became Eli and Ian...as well as the perfect placing and timing.
Do you feel like what's happening to you is special?
Matt: Yes. Richard was only allowed to immigrate as a gay married man after the 2013 decision to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act. Without that, we would not have been able to live our lives openly and be accepted in the U.S. or consider starting a family. Also, there are only about 500 surrogacy births per year in the U.S. and a subset of that are to gay men.
How can people help your cause?
Matt: Be supportive of LGBTQ, IVF, and Surrogacy.
Who inspires you?
Matt: Our awesome and sweet surrogate. Without her and her family's help and support,we would not be celebrating this very special first Fathers Day. Our friend Donna so much deserves a special shout out for the many weekends she drove up from Portland to help us and give us opportunities to sleep. Words cannot say enough about how much that help was needed and how appreciative we are.
Are changes needed to help support all parents?
Matt: Surrogacy Laws: Our great state of Washington took a major step forward this spring passing a law to allow gestational surrogacy to begin in 2019. This was important to protect the surrogate, the intended parents, and the unborn child or children. However, there is a patchwork of laws in this area across the U.S. A federal law like the new law in Washington would be very helpful for all Americans considering surrogacy.
Paternity Leave: All parents need to bond with their newly born, fostered, and or adoptive child(ren). All fathers should have paid time off other than vacation or sick leave as a benefit to bond with their child(ren) and or help the mother that just gave birth.
What are the groups you turn to for guidance or assistance?
Matt: We have had a great local Issaquah/Sammamish PEPS group that has been super supportive. And have been referencing Twiniversity for advice on raising twins as well as using the What to Expect App.