Man Spends $300K On Surrogate And Dream Of Being A Dad

July 15, 2016  |  

Alex Kaplan/NY Post

NY Post/Alex Kaplan

So often we hear stories of women taking fertility matters into their own hands to realize their dream of becoming a mother, but rarely are we told the tales of men who are willing to stop at nothing to become fathers as well.

Dr. Conrad Cean is one such man. The 44-year-old pain management specialist from Harlem recently spoke with the New York Post about his journey to single fatherhood, which actually began eight years ago.

“I’d been longing for a family for years and, not having met Miss Right, decided to go down the surrogacy route to attain my goal of fatherhood around the age of 36,” he told The Post. “People might think it’s unusual — but why shouldn’t straight, single guys have the right to raise kids, just like everyone else?

“That feeling that my biological clock was ticking kicked in during my mid-30s, when physiologically a man’s sperm is already past its prime. Also, I didn’t want to postpone fatherhood until my 40s or 50s, when I worried I might be too old to be an active, hands-on dad.”

Not wanting to “rush into finding a wife or girlfriend simply for that purpose,” Cean said he began researching surrogacy in 2011. And in case you’re wondering why he didn’t go the adoption route, the doctor said he briefly considered it, “but heard it’s not easy for a single guy to adopt in the US. Besides, I wanted children of my own flesh and blood.”

Eventually, Cean’s dream came true, but not without significant costs, in more ways than one. He explained:

“I contacted a few surrogacy agencies in the US to start, but hated how lawyer-driven it was. I wanted to be able to talk to the OB-GYNs directly about the surrogate’s pregnancy and the birth. Having lawyers as middlemen seemed like an expensive inconvenience.

“I found that overseas doctors were more amenable to this, so I started looking outside the country. I also knew that if I paid a woman $30,000 to carry a baby for me in a place like India or Colombia, that kind of money could really change her life. I liked the idea of helping someone buy a house and maybe putting her kids through school.
My first attempt at surrogacy was just outside of Mumbai, India, but the implantation failed. Then, in 2012, I worked with a Johns Hopkins-affiliated hospital in Panama City and found a young, college-educated Panamanian donor and a surrogate, who was already married with two children of her own.

“After two more failed attempts, the third time worked like a charm. Two embryos were implanted in the hope I would have twins, and, amazingly, both of them took. I was finally going to have the family I craved, even though it ended up costing me about $300,000 after all the various hospital and legal fees and airfares across the world.”

Cean also dealt with much of the same criticism women who choose to become single mothers do, explaining his parents, who are Haitian immigrants and believe in the traditional confines of conception and child rearing, needed some convincing when it came to his plan. Meanwhile, outsiders questioned why he needed to go this route.

“Nobody directly criticized me, but I heard a few negative comments secondhand — mainly about there being a lot of beautiful Black women in New York City looking for husbands and men to father their children. But mostly, I found that people, especially women, were delighted that I was willing to take on such a responsibility.”

Brian Zak/NY Post

Brian Zak/NY Post

And a big one it was. On August 30, 2013, Kennedy-Josephine and her brother Konrad were born at 32½ weeks. Cean held his babies for the first time in the NICU at 4 days old, and after  six weeks he was able to bring his twins home to quite the welcoming reception. When Kennedy and Konrad were 2 months old, Cean had a baby shower on Long Island with 200 people.

In an ironic twist of fate, Cean didn’t exactly end up becoming a single father as he expected– at least not completely.

“Funnily enough, I met my current girlfriend, Shawna Thompson, 37, just four months before the twins were born,” he shared. “She’d been a friend for a while and we moved in the same circles. I finally plucked up the courage to tell her about the surrogacy arrangement on our third or fourth date.

“At first, she didn’t know what to make of it. But she went with the flow, and now the kids call her Mommy and adore her. As far as they’re concerned, she fits right into that role. She doesn’t live with us at the moment and I employ a full-time nanny, but she looks after the children whenever she can because she loves them so much.”

Expressing the belief that more single men should consider surrogacy, Cean also acknowledged the way men and women choose to have kids is “very much a personal choice,” and when it comes to his decision, he has no regrets.

“I haven’t done any harm by creating these beautiful babies. When they are older, I will tell my children exactly why it happened like it did: “Truth is, I wanted you, I didn’t want to live my life without you, and it’s a blessing that you’re here.”

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