With Father's Day around the corner, we're so excited to feature Charles and Jason, the amazing dads of two little ones, Arthur and Daphné. This story is extra special to me because they happen to be two of my favorite humans in the world. Charles was my neighbor and has been one of my dearest friends for over 20 years and Jason in one of the most generous, creative, kind-hearted humans you'll ever meet.
Charles is a vascular surgeon and Jason a stay-at-home dad/DYI King. They live in Toronto with Arthur (almost 3!) and Daphné (1).
Talk to us about your journey to parenthood! Can you talk about your struggles and/or triumphs?
We both made it clear early in our relationship that having a family was something we both wanted. We talked about it for years, but after we got married and settled with jobs we felt like it was the right time to take the jump. We were excited, but we quickly realized we didn’t know anything about our options to create a family. We signed up for a course at a local community centre that focussed on the LGBT community and they sent us in the right direction! Whether you choose adoption or surrogacy (or anything in between), everything has its pros and cons and no shortage of ups and downs along the way. It’s an emotional rollercoaster for everyone involved. We hit roadblocks and we had many things that didn’t go as planned, but the same things happen with every other big change in life. We were fortunate to have been connected with a surrogate who had helped a couple previously so she also acted as our guide to navigating the process! When it comes to building a family our best advice is ask lots of questions and support everyone involved because you all share a common goal.
Your surrogate is now your friend and your son calls her his “first best friend". How important was this for the both of you to establish such a loving relationship?
Over the course of our journey to become parents, we met with a few potential surrogates but for one reason or another they didn’t work out. It’s a lot like dating, only more complicated. You have to discuss and be prepared for some pretty heavy topics so finding the right fit for both sides is key.
We remember our first meeting with her and her family and the question of ‘how do you see your surrogate/intended parent relationship going post birth?’ Looking back on it, I think we all nervously said ‘we’re open to anything’ because it’s like you’re on a first date and you don’t want to scare anyone off. We all had lunch and talked for hours. We drove off and we turned to each other thinking ‘she’s awesome—I hope she picks us’. Sure enough we got a text shortly after with something like ‘I’m game if you are!’ And it confirmed she was going to be the one that makes it happen for us.
I think we’d all agree we are surprised by how close we all have become. We made it to every single appointment, so we spent a lot of time getting to know each other. We always had her back just like she had ours. As Arthur was getting older and understanding all the characters in his life, we wanted to make sure our surrogate had a special title that was unique to their relationship. ‘First Best Friend’ summed it up nicely because you’d do anything for your best friend and in this case, she actually kept you safe and loved for 9 months!
How did you decide what the kids would call you?
This is a tough question and it actually extends beyond just us. We received many calls and emails from grandparents and great grandparents with proposed names for them to be called! Since having kids we’ve been lucky to meet other same sex parents and seen umpteen iterations of ‘dad’ names. Jay stuck with the tried and true ‘Dad/Dada’ while Charles played on his bilingual side with ‘Papa’.
Pride month is coming up! What does pride mean to you and your family?
Growing up we didn’t know any gay people or certainly any same sex couples with kids. Keeping that in mind, it became even more important for us to show our kids all different types of people and families. We chose to live in a very diverse neighborhood so they can see it and experience it every day. We’re proud of ourselves and the family we’ve created. We walk around as a family, we hold hands like a family and we have snacks in the park like a family. It’s important for our kids, friends and neighbors to see that we’re just like any other family. It seems to be working! Anyone with a toddler knows, ’expect the unexpected’ when it comes to things they do or say. Arthur is no exception but I can tell you there’s nothing more heartwarming than when he tells a complete stranger ‘I have TTWWWWOOOOO DADS!’ bursting with confidence and excitement.
Charles, you're a doctor! What has this pandemic been like for your line of work? How have you and Jason balanced things at home?
The past year has been crazy in the healthcare industry, but it’s also given me some unexpected flexibility because hospitals have cut back on non-emergency work. As with other work places we’ve been able to do virtual meetings and appointments when we can. With the kids in and out of child care I’ve been able to be at home more than usual to help out. Working at a hospital has me conditioned for early starts in the morning so I’m always on breakfast duty. I’ve also had the opportunity to administer vaccines which is really satisfying knowing I’m doing something that’s directly impacting the spread of Covid.
Do you have any favorite kids books or TV shows that you can share with us?
‘Zog and the Flying Doctors’ and ‘The Gruffalo’ (Julia Donaldson, Axel Scheffler) are both really fun stories that Arthur loves and we tend to read them in ridiculously overly animated voices. ‘The Lost Words’ (Robert Macfarlance) is another favourite that has words you may not use everyday but they are brought to life with beautiful illustrations.
And what's your favorite family meal to make?
Pizza is a crowd pleaser in this house. Even little Daphné has recently gotten a taste for it. Arthur watches intently to make sure we’re doing it right and to make sure we don’t sneak any vegetables on his (olives only for him).
A few rapid fire questions:
Your favorite show to unwind with at night (or during your 'free' time!): We’re ‘Drag Race’ superfans
Who's the chef of the house: Jay. Although Charles is in charge of pancakes.
What books are on your nightstand: (Jay) A book about investing that I has never been opened; (Charles) ‘Whole Brain Child’ which he periodically opens the kids had a challenging day
Your favorite summertime activity: Pools, splash pads, boating—anything that involves water!
Your favorite family tradition: Croissants and scones on Saturdays!
Photos by Jenna Marie Wakani