B.C. couple hopes search for surrogate ‘provides more visibility for queer families’

As many families gear up for father’s day celebrations, two men in Metro Vancouver are hoping they’ll soon become dads themselves.

Aaron and Kyle Demes, who live in Port Moody, are hoping someone out there will help them grow their family as they search for a surrogate and egg donor.

They’ve been looking ever since they tied the knot in 2021.

“Even from our first date, we knew that we wanted to be dads,” Aaron told CityNews.

“We knew that it would take more time for us as a queer couple not having all the right parts to have a family on our own, that we’d rely on a community of people to make that happen for us.”

Unlike some other countries, in Canada, you cannot pay a person to be a surrogate. As Aaron puts it, it has to be done “through altruism.”

“And as two men, we don’t have eggs between us, so we need to find somebody who’s willing to donate eggs and go through that donation procedure and then find a surrogate who’s willing to, essentially, grow an embryo and eventually a child,” he explained.

Kyle and Aaron Demes, pictured with Aaron's mother Selina Robinson, have been searching for a surrogate since they got married in 2021

Kyle and Aaron Demes, pictured with Aaron’s mother Selina Robinson, have been searching for a surrogate since they got married in 2021. (Submitted)

Kyle admits he and his husband could go elsewhere and take the financial route. However, he says that can come with its own challenges.

“Even though it might seem easier if you have the financial resources to do that, we were pretty set on that’s not how we wanted to create our family. So that was something from the beginning,” he said.

“There’s also some challenges legally, particularly in the [United] States, if we were to use a surrogate. The rights, internationally, become a little bit more complex with multiple partners. So we want to make sure that when we’re bringing our children into this world and our family, that we’re doing it in a way where we get to be the parents and that we feel good about having a community support us and help us in doing that because they want to do that and they want to bring kids into the world.”

It’s for these reasons Aaron and Kyle say they’ve been reaching out to their network, with the hopes someone will help them fulfill their dream.

A connection to surrogacy

It’s an experience many people may not be familiar with. However, it’s something Aaron has some insight into, given his mother, MLA Selina Robinson, was a surrogate herself years ago.

“My experience, which was 23 years ago — the little boy that I had for my friends is now 22, just had a birthday last week. So for us, it was about a heterosexual couple who couldn’t have any more children,” Robinson said.

Selina Robinson, Kyle Demes, Aaron Demes, and Dan Robinson are pictured in this family photo

Selina Robinson, Kyle Demes, Aaron Demes, and Dan Robinson are pictured in this family photo. The Demes are looking for a surrogate, and are hoping more awareness will help other members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community. (Credit Braden Scheck)

She says Aaron was around 11 years old at the time, adding she also consulted with him before she made her decision.

“It was a gift for a friend and the question for me was, how can I not offer to do this for somebody?” Robinson continued.

The mom is now hoping someone else will ask themselves the same question, and help her son and son-in-law become dads — and make her a grandmother.

“When [Aaron] came out to me at 17, my first thought was, ‘Please, I hope you want to be a dad because you’ll be a fabulous dad.’ And I really believe in this notion of paying it forward and I believe that there are women who like being pregnant and want to help, just want to help,” she told CityNews.

Selina Robinson and her son Aaron Demes at his wedding

Selina Robinson is hoping a surrogate will come forward to help her son, Aaron Demes, and his husband, Kyle, grow their family. Robinson knows first-hand how the process works, having been a surrogate herself for a couple of friends years ago. (Submitted)

Aaron says seeing his mom go through this process “set a pretty good expectation” for what surrogacy can look like.

“I think other people have explored it and they’ve had to figure it out on their own,” he said. “It kind of makes me a bit hopeful for the future. Part of the reason we wanted to share our story more widely is it also provides more visibility for queer families, because the way we grow our family is not traditional in the sense of other families, where you’ve got two people, they decide to have a baby and have a baby. We require a community, we require somebody who’s going to put their hand up and say, ‘I’ll help you do this.'”

‘Gay couples often have to be much more intentional around decisions for growing their families’

Aaron hopes as new generations come forward, this type of situation becomes more normalized. He says it’s important the conversation about surrogacy — especially as a member of the queer community — continues.

“You just have to keep talking about it and sharing your message with people that you’re looking for surrogates, and people come out of the woodwork. And so far we haven’t had any volunteers, people thinking it’s a great opportunity or they’d love to be surrogate but they’re a little to old, they’re looking to be an egg donor but again they’re too old. The recommendation from the medical community is to find someone … sort of under 30 generally, who’s had one successful pregnancy to be a surrogate, and that’s sort of the same time they look for eggs as well,” he explained.

Selina Robinson and her son Aaron Demes at his wedding

Selina Robinson with her son, Aaron Demes, at his wedding. Aarond and his husband Kyle are hoping to grow their family with the help of a surrogate. (Submitted)

For Kyle, his first exposure to surrogacy was within the queer community, with many friends having sought out this option to grow their families.

He would also like for thinking to change and be more open as we move forward.

“Gay couples often have to be much more intentional around decisions for growing their families. So when we started talking about surrogacy and reflecting on going to another country and potentially paying someone versus staying within our country and finding someone who would help, knowing that they can’t get paid, we really reflected on those values for us,” Kyle said. 

The Demes’ search for a surrogate and egg donor was also complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Kyle says the fact more people are waiting to have children until later in life has also challenged the situation.

However, the couple isn’t giving up hope. Aaron and Kyle hope their story will help others in the 2SLGBTQ+ community see a future for themselves and not feel like they can’t have it all.

“Aaron and I didn’t hear stories like this growing up and that’s always been very important to us,” Kyle said. “We’ve spoken with media before about different parts of our relationship because we do want there to be more stories out there so that someone who’s 15 or 16 thinking about their sexuality and what that means for wanting to have a family later on in life, they’re not thinking those are two separate things like I was as a kid. That’s a really important piece.”

Selina Robinson and her son in law Kyle Demes at his wedding

Selina Robinson with her son-in-law Kyle Demes, and her son, Aaron, at their wedding. (Submitted)

When it comes to Kyle and Aaron personally, Robinson describes them as loving and caring individuals who have a large support system around them.

“These amazing human beings, I want them to have that experience. Their situation is far more complicated because they don’t have the parts. So they need the altruism of others who will say, ‘I can help in that way.’ And I firmly believe that there are tons of people with a womb or with eggs who will want to help, and part of what we’re missing is a system that allows people to do that. That’s why I know the boys decided that they would let the world know, this is what it’s like for men who want to have a family. It is far more complex,” Robinson told CityNews.

“Going public with it, I think, is really important so people understand. And it is Pride, and I think it’s helpful for all of us to understand that there are folks who would make great parents and it’s just complicated for them to make that happen for themselves.”

Anyone who would like to have a conversation about potentially helping Aaron and Kyle Demes can reach out to the couple at demesfamily1@gmail.com.

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