Daddy Squared Around the World: United Kingdom
Daddy Squared: The Gay Dads Podcast looks at gay rights and fatherhood options in the UK. We talked with Brit actor Charlie Condou to get a taste of what it’s like being a gay dad in the UK, and researched options for gay men who want to become dads.
The number of gay dads in the UK is increasing. Many gay men are exploring parenting options, and to make things easier, Alex and Yan have called for the help of actor Charlie Condou who has been outspoken about his life as a gay man and as a parent.
“Things are certainly better than they were when I was a young man,” actor Charlie Condou tells us in this episode, “and you see it with the younger generation of the LGBTQ community. They walk around holding hands, which is something that we certainly never would have done. Everything seems to be much more acceptable. Gay relationships as a whole, the fact that we can get married now, and the fact that we can have children.”
“It’s relatively new, I suppose. I mean, I think that gay women have been getting on with having kids for a long time, because, you know, it’s easier for them to have children. Gay men have never really been a part of the conversation for a long time and I think, if you were a gay man and you wanted to be a parent, you either got married to a woman and went down that lie, or you parked it and you thought ok this is something that I have to put out of my mind and put out of my life because it’s not an option for me.”
“We couldn’t adopt, surrogacy wasn’t a thing, and we’re a very different place now, and younger gay men today, when they get into a relationship and even if they don’t want to have kids, it’s still part of the conversation, they’ll still have that discussion.”
During our interview, Condou described his inner thoughts, from the idea of wanting to become a dad, to figuring out how to do it as a gay men in the UK at the time.
“As I got older and realized that I want to do it sooner rather than later,” he said, “surrogacy wasn’t a thing then, gay men couldn’t adopt then, certainly single gay men couldn’t adopt. So co-parenting was something that, it wasn’t even a word, but it seemed like the best option to me. I’m going to have to find a female friend who wants to have children with me. Of course in my naive early 20s mind I thought ‘yeah that’ll be fine, somebody will want to have a kid with me, you know, who wouldn’t?!’ I did not realize that a lot of straight females– it’s not their first choice.”
“I started to have this conversation with girl friends of mine, just in a very vague kind of ‘what if’? And I had one friend in particular, Cathrine, who said, ‘yeah, I wanna be a parent, and if I’m still single at 40 then, yeah. Let’s get on with it.’ It was a bit of a joke, because why would she still be single at 40, but she was.”
Gay Dads in the UK: Co-Parenting
“We sat down and said, ok, let’s talk about it then. How would it work? We didn’t know anybody who did anything like this at all. It was a completely new territory. So we talked about every eventuality, all the possible scenarios. What happens if someone moves to Australia? I don’t know why even, but we talked about it. And I knew very quickly that if I was going to co-parent, it had to be 50-50. I didn’t want to be a dad that is just around every other weekend.”
At some point during the conversation with Catherine, Charlie met his now-husband, Cameron. Early in their relationship Charlie had told him about his plans with Catherine and Cameron was on board. “And then it became the three of us, and the conversation had to change a little, because how does that work, with three parents? What will the three of us bring? How do we navigate that?”
The Three of Us – Charlie’s Column in The Guardian
“It works really well,” Charlie says, “We have the kids completely half and half, and that’s the way that it’s worked for a long time. Catherine has them on a Monday and a Tuesday, we have them on a Wednesday and a Thursday and we alternate weekends. And that works really well, because it means that we’ll get time off, which means that we are not exhausted and strung out, and we don’t get snappy and ratty with them, because we never get to the point where we think ‘Oh my god I just need a break’, because we get a break, and Catherine gets a break, and the kids get a break from us.”
“I’m not saying it’s ideal and it’s an ideal situation, of course. There are pros and cons, but I genuinely believe that the pros of our situation outweigh the cons.”
While many gay men co-parent with female friends they have already known, there are co-parenting dedicated websites where you can set yourself up with a profile with the intend to find co-parents.
Adoption and Foster Care for Gay Dads in the UK
Adoption stages in the UK:
- Enquiry Stage
- Stage 1 – check you and your home (2 months)
- Stage 2 – assessment meetings and training (4 months)
- Approval (panel) (about a week)
- Family Finding – matching you with a child (6-12 months)
Over 65,000 children across the UK. Every year thousands of foster families needed. Learn more about becoming a foster family in the UK. Also, The Fostering Network is a non-profit organization that brings together everyone who is involved in the lives of fostered children.
Surrogacy for Gay Men in the UK
Surrogacy agreements are not enforceable by UK law and surrogates are the child’s legal parent at birth. If the surrogate is married or in a civil partnership, their spouse or civil partner are the child’s second parent. Legal parenthood can be transferred by parental order or adoption after the child is born.
Men Having Babies
Similar to South Africa, only local residents can benefit from surrogacy domestically; and similarly to Canada, surrogates are not formally compensated. A lot of these elements of the British system are currently under review. There is a law commission that is getting a lot of feedback, but as it is now, and because of these limitations, many gay parents choose to leave the United Kingdom and pursue surrogacy elsewhere.
Check out Men Having Babies website
Sign up for the Men Having Babies upcoming conference in Europe
Our Guest: Charlie Condou
Charlie Condou is a British actor, columnist and LGBT rights activist. Condou secured a series of television movie roles during his teenage years in the 1980s. He later had guest roles in British television series during the 1990s. In 2007, Condou gained wider recognition when he took on the role of sonographer Marcus Dent in the soap opera Coronation Street, which he remained in until 2014. He also played the role of Ben Sherwood in the medical drama Holby City. Condou has used his fame as a platform to promote LGBT rights, becoming a patron for charities and being an advocate for same-sex parenting.
- Stonewall’s guide for gay dads
- Pink Parents
- Two Dads UK
- NHS website
Gay Dads in the UK: Related Articles and News
- Two gay dads on the reality of starting a family through surrogacy (The Times, January 2021)
- Phillip Schofield announcement: How it feels when your partner comes out as gay (Coming out after having kids) (BBC News, February 2020)
- Phillip Schofield comes out as gay, saying on live TV
Co-Hosts: Yan Dekel, Alex Maghen
Guest: Charlie Condou
Opening Theme: Hercules & Love Affair, “Leonora” buy here
Articles Related to this episode:
My Problem with the Phrase Openly Gay (Charlie Condou, Attitude Magazine)
Charlie’s gay icon: Princess Julia
Yan’s gay icons: Sonia, Jennifer Saunders, Lisa Scott-Lee
Listen to previous seasons of Daddy Squared
Join our Facebook group
Connect with us on Instagram