FASHION designer Jayson Brunsdon and his partner Aaron have opened up about their journey to parenthood through surrogacy in a new book.
Aaron Elias Brunsdon met Jayson 18 years ago at the Stonewall Hotel, hitting it off immediately and discussing the prospect of having children from their first date. From that point, they started a relationship and established a fashion design company together.
“It was a tumultuous time in our lives,” Aaron said. “We had a pretty tough time.
“When the hard times were over we started looking seriously at having a child.”
Aaron and Jayson had previously considered adoption, but were inspired by a television story about a couple who had pursued surrogacy in India.
“We contacted [an agency in Thailand] and they were so friendly and so helpful,” Aaron said.
The two wanted their child to be biologically related to both of them, and chose to use Jayson’s sperm with eggs from Aaron’s cousin. A Thai surrogate carried their child.
“We had one go, because we had one egg that worked,” Aaron said. “Sometimes the IVF process takes years. We were very fortunate and very blessed in that regard.”
During the pregnancy, Thailand outlawed surrogacy.
“We were told it was going to be very difficult for us to bring our baby home,” he said.
“It was a constant battle. Three hundred or so couples were stuck there. Finally they gave a one-year grace period, during which time people were allowed to bring their children home, and we went back to Thailand to pick him up.”
There was drama at the airport, though, when they tried to leave.
“They detained us. They were making really awful jokes about our sexuality and laughing at us, asking us who the mother was,” Aaron said.
“We felt discriminated. I don’t think any parent should have to feel that way, when it’s supposed to be the most joyous time of your life, and having to experience something so awful.”
The new family almost missed their flight home because of the trouble, but made it back to Australia. Their son, Roman, is now two years old.
“He’s two, going on five,” Aaron joked. “He talks like a parrot. He’s the cutest kid in the whole world, but I guess that’s bias. We’re really proud parents.”
With laws around surrogacy varying in different jurisdictions, Aaron thinks more regulation and consistency is needed.
“There needs to be one common law rather than different state laws,” he said.
“And there needs to be some form of understanding and acceptance that there are people facing big challenges each day when they’re trying to become parents. If there’s a will there’s a way.
“It’s a conversation that really needs to be had. At the end of the day, we’re just couples that want to be parents.”
Aaron is the author of Designer Baby: A Surrogacy Journey from Fashion to Fatherhood, which has just been released.
“I hope that this book will help a lot of other parents. We live in a world where acceptance is so important,” he said.
“There are so many same-sex couples who have children and want children, and I hope this will inspire them to never lose sight of their dreams. Don’t let anything stop you.”