Three single, homosexual dads focus on their journeys. - NPR

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Cenk Bulbul, a single dad by choice, together with his youngest daughter Gaia Bulbul in long island, ny. Cenk had both his daughters by way of the identical surrogate the use of donor eggs and his sperm to make the embryos that have been implanted. Jackie Molloy for NPR disguise caption

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Cenk Bulbul, a single dad through alternative, along with his youngest daughter Gaia Bulbul in manhattan, ny. Cenk had each his daughters by way of the identical surrogate using donor eggs and his sperm to make the embryos that have been implanted.

Jackie Molloy for NPR

Fatherhood comes in a variety of kinds, from the dads who are there from your first steps, to those you meet later in existence.

NPR spoke to 3 men, single homosexual fathers, who chose to become dads by way of surrogacy, after years of coming to terms with their identities, their households, and the technological advances that have made journeys like this possible.


Cenk Bulbul is at first from Turkey. He got here to the united states in 1994 – the early days of a tool that might help him, and numerous others, take into account the emotions for which they didn't yet have the phrases: the around the globe web.

"The issues that i was feeling as a young man, however I failed to know what they have been because there weren't any public examples the place I used to are living in Turkey and even at Carnegie Mellon [University]," Bulbul says of his time exploring the web while getting his masters degree in Pennsylvania.

"At that factor in 1994, you did not see many gays [on] the campus. So i spotted i was homosexual, however i was like scared, perplexed."

while he turned into finally capable of label his romantic feelings, he still felt lost. So he went returned home to Turkey and achieved his obligatory military carrier, earlier than returning to the us – this time to new york – where he accomplished a doctorate software.

"right here i'm, like, 20 years later."

Cenk Bulbul, a single dad by means of choice, along with his daughters Emi and Gaia. Cenk's mom, Nurten Bulbul, became also in town touring from Turkey, the place he became born. Jackie Molloy for NPR disguise caption

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experience to fatherhood

Bulbul had all the time dreamed of being a father. In his youth, he would think about himself in the 12 months 2000 – 28 years historic – married, to a lady, with two younger babies.

"Then I came out in 2002," he says. "there were no examples of same-intercourse fogeys or single parents by way of option of any kind round me, even like adoption circles.

"and then as the many years went on, further and further, as I grew to become greater comfortable with who i'm, I all started seeing examples and, you comprehend, then the law all started altering, and that also began to bring extra families of diverse backgrounds to the surface. And that childhood dream of mine started to nag me."

Cenk takes Emi grocery browsing and then receives her equipped for mattress. Cenk had each his daughters by way of the equal surrogate the usage of donor eggs and his sperm to make the embryos that have been implanted. Jackie Molloy for NPR disguise caption

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at the beginning, Bulbul desired to undertake. however the process for single individuals, above all quite older gay guys, he says, become intricate.

"If i am going to be a parent, I should still just are attempting to find the shortest route at this element as a result of, you recognize, or not it's not reasonable to the babies that they have got a geriatric parent. i wanted to be around," he says.

In 2019, his first daughter, Emi Jules, changed into born by the use of surrogate. In 2021, within the throes of COVID, Bulbul welcomed his 2d daughter, Gaia Mine, with the equal surrogacy accomplice.

"Her first identify, Gaia, capacity, mother Earth. And to me, that become very relevant for a kid that's simply going to develop up in a warming planet, whose future is under jeopardy. So i believed she'd be the future president," he says with a laugh.

Dr. Diarra ok. Lamar, M.D., a single dad via alternative, with his daughter Archie Madeleine Lamar at a park in new york, new york. Jackie Molloy for NPR disguise caption

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At 2 1/2 years historical, Archie is a precocious little one with multi-coloured bows adorning her hair and a vocabulary that belies her age.

"or not it's a specific language," says her dad, Diarra Lamar. "I speak Archie. Do you talk Daddy," he asks, turning to the sunglassed baby at his side.

Archie responds yes, earlier than asking her dad if he remembers the "Wheels on the Bus" and reminding him that she likes vanilla.

Lamar, who now calls long island domestic, grew up in Sir Bernard Law, Ala. Black, homosexual and heavyset within the South, he become raised via a single mom in a household of single moms.

"regardless of what one might are expecting, given these features – that geography, those circumstances – who i am as someone has made me reputedly oblivious to these perceived constraints," he says.

"Yeah, you be aware of, individuals would say derisive issues about me, however I failed to basically care," he says. "And the purpose I did not care become my mama adored me and my grandmother cherished me."

It become as a result of the love he felt in his family, and the energy of the girls round him, he says he felt it became his responsibility to convey a child into the area.

"My mother is a beautiful lady," he says. "My grandmother turned into a beautiful lady. My aunt is a beautiful woman. My uncle is a brilliantly creative man. My first-rate-grandfather changed into an enormous. the area needs to see the subsequent generation."

And so in 2016, he began the process for Archie to be born.

Dr. Diarra ok. Lamar, M.D., at home with his daughter Archie Madeleine Lamar. Jackie Molloy for NPR disguise caption

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event to fatherhood

a 3 time Harvard-expert medical expert, Lamar speaks with a scientific detachment about getting attainable embryos and finding a surrogate.

"My mother had referred to in a couple of conversations that we had had ... 'Oh, if i am round then,'" recollects Lamar. "And we had certainly not pointed out my having children, nonetheless it become within the context of different things. And when she pointed out that, i used to be like, 'Oh, okay, I truly received to get going.'"

"It was a extremely lengthy event," to parenthood, he says.

there were a few bumps within the street, including one in all his advantage surrogates having to excuse herself as a result of her husband suffered a suicide attempt and an extra being involved in an enormous vehicle crash correct before the implantation became scheduled.

however in January 2020, Archie changed into born – named in honor of her late first rate-notable-grandfather.

"however we [Lamar, his mother and newborn Archie] received off the train in Penn Station and, you comprehend, got here at once domestic. And my mom has not left because."

in the early months of Archie's life, she lived together with her grandma in an apartment Lamar received for her, just a short stroll away from his own rent-controlled condo in the West Village.

"I did my work during the day, at 5:30 or so, i might go over and make dinner for us to devour, play with Archie and, you comprehend, do all of the things," he says, "put her down round ten-ish or so with a [late-night feeding] at nighttime. and then i would walk over returned domestic in the dark, rinse and repeat."

Now, the three reside in a brightly colored three bedroom condo, six blocks far from the Montessori school Archie attends.

"I consider that Archie is special," Lamar says. "I agree with that she deserves a disproportionate share of all those issues that are good, and a disproportionately low share of all these things that are dangerous. and that i trust it's my honor, project, job, privilege to make certain that occurs unapologetically."

"i know that she become supposed for me," he says. "i was intended for her."

Dustin Ling, single dad by way of alternative, along with his son Spencer Kai Ling. Jackie Molloy for NPR conceal caption

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"once in a while the gay group is seen as, oh, or not it's the funny guy who's at all times about trend or always about shuttle," says Dustin Ling.

"Fathers – gay fathers and mothers – are available in distinctive and a number of types, no longer simply that one-observe identity. We can also be many things, and you may be those things and be a parent as neatly."

Raised on the island nation of Aruba to Asian fogeys, Ling says there weren't many examples of gay men around.

"in case you're someone who's an underrepresented minority, you do not understand what's feasible," he says.

experience to fatherhood

Ling's son became born in can also 2021, after a tough surrogacy search.

"You ought to sell yourself, correct. And the surrogate, possibly some surrogates need to assist straight fogeys. Some surrogates need to best aid couples," Ling says. "Some surrogates need to support a single mom who desires to have a baby as a result of she cannot. after which you might be variety of there because the adult of colour or as the single dad. So it took a while to even simply discover a surrogate."

The baby, a rosy-cheeked 13 month old, is called after Ling's brother, who died by suicide in 2015.

"His first name is Spencer, honoring my brother," Ling says. "His 2d identify is Kai, which in reality signifies the ocean, due to the fact we're from the Caribbean."

As a brand new father or mother throughout COVID, Ling's journey has had its challenges.

"The start is type of like one of these moment where you need to have a good time and you are looking to have family unit over, wish to have friends over," Ling says. "And the first 12 months become like, 'really, no thanks, don't come for now,' as a result of we want to offer protection to Spencer from any type of publicity."

Dustin Ling, single dad by using option, with his son Spencer Kai Ling. Jackie Molloy for NPR conceal caption

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The pair acquired COVID in April, which made childcare intricate, considering Ling's folks regularly discuss with from Aruba to support with the child.

"The folks that you're type of looking after, as well, as a result of they're intimately involved with my son's lifestyles," he says. "you're concerned about your elders, the elders within the family, considering that they're of their seventies. and you're involved about Spencer, who, you know, does not have the vaccine."

but of their time collectively, exacerbated with the aid of the isolation of the pandemic, Ling says he and Spencer have spent time studying one an additional.

"he is bought a fantastic will to him," Ling says.

it's a determination the two have in common. regardless of the challenges of existence as a single gay dad in ny, Ling continues to be an optimist.

He said he is nonetheless hopeful to find romantic love, and plans to start a new surrogacy journey in a few months.

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