It’s nearly two-and-a-half years since Lee Matthews became a dad for the first time, but the experience is still fresh for the Melbourne-based 36-year-old.

He admits to difficult moments and an emotional rollercoaster full of highs and lows before the birth of son Alexander in December 2002.

But in the end Matthews’s take on fatherhood was like that of many new dads.

Ultimately it was a life-changing experience, he said.

With his partner Tony Wood, Matthews became father to Alexander through a surrogacy arrangement organised in the United States.

It involved selecting an egg donor, sperm donation by both partners and six attempts at an in vitro fertilisation (IVF) transfer to the surrogate mother before a successful result.

Now other gay men interested in becoming parents the same way can learn more when Will Halm, chair of Growing Generations, the LA-based agency which helped Matthews and Wood, visits Australia later this month.

Halm, himself a father-of-three through surrogacy, will speak in Sydney and Melbourne at the Want To Be A Dad? forums, designed for both gay male couples and single gay men.

Surrogacy is a controversial issue.

Some people believe it amounts to emotional exploitation of the woman who carries the child.

And would-be parents often worry the surrogate mother will refuse to give up the baby.

But Halm said all Growing Generations surrogates are psychologically screened and that the concept of a woman refusing to relinquish a child is a movie-of-the-week sort of drama that really doesn’t play out in real life.

The forum will be an opportunity to discuss these issues, while it will also touch on US and Australian surrogacy laws -“ they differ from state to state -“ and the cost of becoming a parent through Growing Generations, which Halm said is at least $US75,000.

That price tag may deter some, but not Lee Matthews and Tony Wood.

The couple, who will not publicly discuss the money spent on Alexander, will again become parents through surrogacy in August, this time to a baby girl.

The forum will be held in Sydney on 17 April. Call 0414 230 707 for more info.

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