During thunderstorms, Marc, a single, 45-year-old gay dad from Chicago, spends sleepless nights in a cramped child’s tent comforting his toddler and loving it.
Thanks to modern medicine, surrogacy made his dream of parenthood a reality.
"I know that this isn’t the best option, but I ended up finding a surrogate myself on the Internet," says Marc, a pediatric nurse who requested his last name be withheld to protect his daughter.
For Marc, the egg donor was anonymous, but the surrogate was a married Missourian in her late 20s who already had four kids and a husband in the military.
"My first thought was why would they want to do this for a gay man," he says. "But being a surrogate was something Pam was actually going to do for her brother and his wife, and when that didn’t pan out, she still wanted to do it."
Isabella was born with Marc and his mom in the delivery room Aug. 26, 2005, in a small town outside of Kansas City, Mo. Initially, Marc had planned to have the baby in Chicago because in Missouri the woman who delivers the child is considered the mother, regardless of the biological connection.
Four local lawyers found a loophole and the following Monday Marc, his parents and Isabella resolved the birth certificate issue in court. Marc was the first man in the history of Missouri to have his name on a birth certificate sans mother.
In Chicago, Marc’s parents helped him through the first 10 months by traveling from Peoria over long weekends to stay with their granddaughter while Marc worked. As Isabella grew, even though he was reluctant, she began daycare. To help manage single parenthood, he has befriended a single mom, another nurse with whom he can commiserate and swap play dates. And Marc broadens their world through Rainbow Families, an online social group for gay families.
"I feel like I am part of a new frontier in the gay community," Marc says. "I had wanted to do this as a couple, but if I had to do everything again as a single dad, I’d do it in a second. I can’t get enough of her. Isabella is my life."