Saturday May 06, 2017

Desperate for fatherhood: From adoption to surrogacy, Shawn Thorn explores every option

Shawn Thorn wants nothing more than to be a dad, and his friends have started a Go Fund Me to help make that a reality.

Shawn Thorn wants nothing more than to be a dad, and his friends have started a Go Fund Me to help make that a reality. (Go Fund Me)

Listen 14:17

When Shawn Thorn was 17, he knew he wanted to be a father.

"I remember walking into the living room and my mom was sitting there. I just said, with this look on my face like I have something to tell you, 'I want to be a dad.' She just looked at me and started crying. She was like, 'don't do it, go to school first, find someone special, don't make a mistake'. And of course I listened to her," said Thorn.

While he's surrounded by many wonderful children — he's a co-parent to his cousin, he spends time with his twin god-sons and he works as a behavioural therapist with children who have cognitive and behavioural challenges in Vancouver — he still doesn't have the one thing he's wanted for over 30 years: a child of his own.

"Every time I'm with kids, I want to be their dad. I want my own child," he said.

Shawn with a few of the kids in his life

Shawn is thankful for the wonderful kids in his life, but still wants to be a dad. (Shawn Thorn)

Thorn's journey to fatherhood has had many highs, and crushing lows. A four-year relationship ended when his partner said he wouldn't sign an adoption application.

"It was hard and devastating. We ended things the next day," Thorn recalled. 

Despite the breakup, Thorn went ahead with the adoption papers. 

"I filled out the paperwork within 24 hours, every single question and box that needed to be checked, I filled it out and submitted the paperwork. And my journey had really started right then."

Not too long after filling out the adoption paperwork, Thorn was told there was a child that seemed to be a perfect fit for him. After reviewing the case files, he realised that the child had needs that exceeded his capacity as a single parent. He had to say no.

With his name still on the adoption list, Thorn began his surrogacy journey. A friend offered her eggs, and six embryos were created. He found a surrogate and they did an embryo transfer. 

"I've been in delivery rooms before. I've been around dads who were in the room for the birthing of their child. I was in the room transferring an embryo into this woman who was going to carry my baby. It felt like a confirmation. I held her hand and it was really beautiful," said Thorn.

The pair waited a few days, took a pregnancy test, and it came out positive. Elated, Thorn thought his journey to fatherhood was finally complete. At the same time, he was told of another child he could adopt, but because of the pregnancy, he declined. 

Three week later, his surrogate miscarried.

After four more unsuccessful attempts, two maxed out lines of credit totaling $75,000, Thorn is out of money and has just one embryo left. 

"I was really devastated. I felt like now it's ended. I really felt like it was done, I was just done, that I couldn't go through this anymore," said Thorn.

While Thorn may have felt like giving up, his friends stepped in to help make his dream a reality. 

They set up a GoFundMe page to raise the $10,000 he needs for the last embryo. They've also found a new surrogate for him. 

"It's like a gift. It's like a random gift of love. It's not Christmas, it's not my birthday, it's like random acts of kindness," he said.

To hear more of Shawn's story, including why his friends think he needs to be a dad, listen above