Calgary man becomes single dad through surrogacy after 8-year quest

A Calgary man is going public about his eight-year quest to become a father that finally came to be through surrogacy.

Nathan Chan overcame obstacles, doubters during 8-year quest to have baby

Nathan Chan holds his four-week-old girl, Nanette, at a welcoming celebration for her on the weekend. (CBC)

A Calgary man is going public about his eight-year quest to become a father that finally came to be through surrogacy.

At a welcoming celebration on the weekend, Nathan Chan introduced his four-week-old baby girl, Nanette, to a room full of family and friends. 

Chan, 33, felt the urge to become a parent eight years ago.

"I was just a normal guy, working a corporate job, and then I hit 25. Call it paternal or maternal instinct, I said, 'Hey, this is the right time to become a dad,'" he told CBC News.

But as a single man it wasn't easy. 

Nathan Chan says it was not easy, as a single man, to fulfill his dream of becoming a father by way of surrogacy. (CBC)

Chan says when he started down the surrogacy path, he quickly encountered lots of obstacles — going through five fertility clinics, five failed surrogacies and a number of devastating losses — as well as the stigma that he says he faced as a single man wanting to become a father.

"Really random comments, like, 'Why don't you just go and get a girlfriend', or 'Why don't you wait until you get married,'" he said. 

But Chan says it was worth all the effort and pain along the way. 

"I've experienced late-term pregnancy loss with a stillborn and also a miscarriage. So, I've just come a really, really long way, and I'm just so grateful for having this day today," he said.  "It's really challenging. It was very hurtful."

Chan says that in the wake of the earlier failed attempts at surrogacy, his emotions sometimes got overlooked by people.

"Of course I shared this pain with the surrogate mom, the different surrogate moms that have had these losses with me," he said. "Those kinds of feelings are normally not validated, as a single male."

He faced similar discrimination during his earlier, and sometimes concurrent, attempts to become a father through adoption.

Crystal Lane, who acted as a gestational surrogate for Nathan Chan, said helping him bring baby Nanette into the world was a great experience for her. (CBC)

In fact, it took several attempts before any agency would even accept Chan's application to be considered as a possible adoptive father, believing no women would want to give their child to a single man.

"They didn't want to even entertain me in meeting with them. There was no point in getting on the list. I had to beg.... I said, just take a chance on me, let me just get on the list and then somebody might choose me."

Success at last 

But in the end, it was with Chan's sixth surrogate, Crystal Lane, that he was able to become a father.

"Crystal was my sixth surrogate mom, and it fortunately worked on the first embryo transfer," he said.

Lane said the experience was wonderful, and getting to know Chan has been an inspiration.

"I mean, I would have given up. So, I look up to Nathan. It doesn't even matter that he's a single father. He can do it all," she said.

"My son asks about Nathan all the time. He's become so big in our lives."

It was a gestational surrogacy, meaning that Lane had an embryo implanted in her uterus rather than one of her eggs being fertilized as in a traditional surrogacy.

Nathan says Crystal will be part of his and his daughter's life, and he hopes sharing his story will encourage others to look into surrogacy.

"I think that, regardless of whether you're single or if you're older or if you're HIV positive or maybe you're experiencing secondary infertility, that you have every right to become a parent," he said.

Chan now runs a surrogacy consultancy business based in Calgary. 

With files from Terri Trembath