Teacher, 42, becomes one of Britain's first single dads by surrogate
One of Britain’s first single dads by surrogate: Teacher, 42, shows off his six-month-old son Miles after realising his dreams of becoming a father with surrogate mother and anonymous egg donor
- Teacher David Watkins, 42, welcomed son Miles into the world on July 19, 2020
- He is one of the first single fathers to take advantage of change in surrogacy law
- Previously only couples were able to become legal parents of surrogate babies
- This changed in January 2019, allowing David to start his ‘journey to fatherhood’
A teacher has become a single father by choice after using a surrogate and anonymous egg donor.
David Watkins, 42, from Southampton, Hampshire, is one of the first single men in the UK to have a surrogate baby after a law change in January 2019.
He welcomed his son Miles, now six months old, into the world on July 19 2020.
David met his surrogate Faye Spreadbury, 37, from Leicester, East Midlands, at a social event. They clicked and Faye, who is a mother-of-two, reached out to David and volunteered to carry Miles.
David chose an anonymous egg donor who had similar characteristics to himself such as Caucasian background and blue eyes.
Previously, only couples were able to apply for a parental order, which transfers parentage from the surrogate to the intended parents after the baby is born.
This meant that single parents were unable to get a parental order and, theoretically, the surrogate could reclaim the child at any time.
Fortunately for David, the law changed in 2019 to allow single parents to also apply for the order to become the child’s legal parent.
The teacher, who works with deaf students, said he was ‘elated’ when the law changed as he didn’t want to wait to find a partner before becoming a father.
Teacher David Watkins, 42, holding his now six-month-old son Miles. He is one of the UK’s first single fathers by surrogate
David chose an anonymous egg donor who had similar characteristics to himself such as Caucasian background and blue eyes
He met Faye Spreadbury, 37, from Leicester, East Midlands, at a social event. Faye, who is a mother-of-two, reached out to David and eventually became his surrogate
Previously, only couples were able to become parents of children born by surrogate. This changed in 2019
He said: ‘I have always wanted to be a dad. I am a teacher and love being an educator and role model.
‘I used to envy dads who came to pick their children up at the end of a school day and put their kid on their shoulders.
‘I became completely struck with the thought of becoming a dad but never met a man who shared the same desire.
‘As I approached 40, I started looking into how I could do it alone.
‘I didn’t want to waste time meeting someone for it to possibly not work out.
How has the law for single parents by surrogate changed?
When a baby is born by surrogate parental rights do not immediately transfer to the intended parents.
Instead, the parents have to apply for a parental order which transfers rights from the surrogate mother to them.
This process can take several months and can only begin after a child is born.
Previously, only couples could apply for a parental order.
This meant that single parents by surrogacy could theoretically see their child or children taken back by the surrogate at any time.
In 2016, the government conceded that the law discriminated against single parents when the president of the family division of the court declared it incompatible with human rights legislation
In 2019, the law changed to allow single parents to apply for a parental order.
The Human Fertilisation & Embryology Act 2008 (Remedial) Order 2018 came into force in January 2019.
‘But I thought it may not be possible as it was very expensive for a surrogate abroad and I didn’t want to fake a relationship to have my name on the birth certificate.
‘I was elated when the law changed for single people and immediately started my journey to fatherhood.
‘It is hard being a single parent but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
‘Being a single dad is quite liberating as I can raise him exactly how I want.’
Speaking about his meeting with Faye, he added: ‘Faye and I met in July 2019 and we instantly clicked.
‘She didn’t want to have any more children of her own but wanted to help others.
‘I was so grateful that she approached me and wanted to help as she was amazing.
‘I connected with her husband Lee, who is a musician, as I am a writer by heart so we shared a creative passion.
‘I don’t think it would have worked if her whole family wasn’t on board.’
After three months of getting to know one another, the pair began the embryo transfer process in October 2019.
David had four embryos ‘ready and waiting’ at CRGH fertility clinic in London.
A pregnancy test revealed two lines in November 2019.
David said: ‘They found a donor pretty quickly. I was extremely lucky as there can be waits of many many months for egg donors in the UK.
‘I wanted to match the donor’s characteristics to mine. At the time I felt it important my baby looked like me. I had this need to be instantly recognisable as his father.
‘Having that clear biological connection was one of the reasons I choose surrogacy instead of fostering or adoption. But, now he’s here, these things matter less and less.’
David and Faye kept in regular contact and visited one another’s hometowns during the pregnancy.
He also left voice recordings for her to play to Miles whilst in the womb.
David said: ‘I have always wanted to be a dad. I am a teacher and love being an educator and role model’
David planned to stay in Faye’s hometown two weeks before and after the due date but on the day after he arrived, she went into labour
David had four embryos ‘ready and waiting’ at CRGH fertility clinic in London before Miles’ birth
He said: ‘It was quite strange describing my day to my unborn child but I think it definitely provided us, father and son, 1:1 time to bond.
‘I will always remember the first time I felt him kick inside Faye – it was amazing. She was so chilled out and I never felt like she would change her mind.
‘It was obvious she was just looking after him for me. It is like an extreme form of babysitting.’
David planned to stay in Faye’s hometown two weeks before and after the due date but on the day after he arrived, she went into labour.
He said: ‘He definitely knew my voice which might have prompted him to come early.
‘I was in the pool when she gave birth and he came straight into my arms. I instantly felt a connection.
‘I first noticed how curly his hair was – I was like ‘wow that doesn’t come from me’.’
David and Faye kept in regular contact and visited one another’s hometowns during the pregnancy
When he was born Miles weighed a healthy 7lb 8oz. David says he has already told him about how he was born
Surrogate Faye Spreadbury, 37 (centre), with David Watkins (right) and her husband Lee (left) at the 20 week scan
David and Miles (centre) with the Spreadbury family. Father Lee with son Eugene, seven (left) and mother Faye with son Vinny, six (right)
Miles weighed a healthy 7lb 8oz.
Now, six months on, the proud father couldn’t imagine his life without his little bundle of joy, though, he admits it can be tough without a partner.
He said: ‘It is exhausting and there have been times I’ve wished for someone to help with the night feeds.
‘I am grateful to have supportive parents who help me. We FaceTime the Spreadburys to keep in contact. They will always be in our lives.
‘I have already told Miles about how he got here – I am very open.
‘My mother created a book for him with pictures of all the important people in his life so far. The Spreadburys are there and I go through the pages with him explaining his special journey.
‘I’ve had a very positive experience and I want other single men to know they can do it too.’
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