British Columbia

Gay dads turn to 'hero' sister in surrogacy struggle

Craig Parkes and Matthew Hinton turned to family when alternative means of having a child were closed to them. Now they’re spreading the word on the difficulty of having a child as a gay couple.

Canadian laws make surrogacy especially difficult for gay male couples

Craig Parkes (right) and Matthew Hinton were able to have their son, Fitzgerald, thanks to Matt's sister Laura agreeing to act as a surrogate. (CBC)

This Father's Day, Craig Parkes and Matthew Hinton will have a new reason to celebrate family. Their son, Fitzgerald, was born earlier this year, and although he's been more than a welcome addition, the road to his birth was anything but easy.

"It's been a lengthy progress," says Hinton. The couple originally attempted insemination with a surrogate in India, but without success. On top of that, while he was there, the country shut down surrogacy for gay parents.

The solution eventually arrived through a familiar face. Hinton's sister Laura volunteered to be a surrogate for the couple. Although that solved the issue of who would carry the baby, they still required an egg donor, which was unavailable in Canada.

"We ended up having to go through an agency and actually compensate an egg donor, which you can't do in Canada. So because Laura lives in South Carolina, it actually worked out for us," says Hinton.

Since the birth of their son, Parkes and Hinton were approached by Tylenol to star in its newest commercial. Parkes says it was an opportunity to destigmatize gay couples having children.

"I think the more people see regular couples with babies — whether they're gay or straight — the more comfortable they are around it. I don't think we set out to make a point or to change people's minds, but looking back, it's kind of inevitable that that's a role we're falling into."

Unique challenge for gay parents

The entire process made clear to Hinton the difficulty for gay couples of trying to start a family.

He says there were few options available to them because many countries do not allow two male partners to adopt a baby. On top of that, Canadian laws add to the complication of using surrogacy.

"The issue for us is that there's a ban in Canada on paying a surrogate. You can reimburse her, but you don't know where that line is. You also can't pay a woman to donate an egg to you. Realistically, for a gay couple you need have both," he says.

The Vancouver couple refer to Laura as a hero for allowing them to start their own family. Laura says the decision came easy for her.

"Family is so important. It was a way to help a family member and I wouldn't have it any other way."

To hear more, click the audio labelled: Gay dads want surrogacy laws to change.


  • A previous version of this story suggested surrogacy agencies are illegal in Canada. In fact, a number of surrogacy agencies exist in this country. Hinton and Parkes decided not to use a Canadian agency in part because of their fear it would be operating outside the laws they are advocating to change.
    Jun 18, 2015 2:35 PM PT