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Choosing single fatherhood

  • Trey Powell holds his six-month-old daughters Kylan, left, and Ashton in their home in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Trey Powell's first name has an extra resonance these days. Though still a bachelor, he now presides over a family of three as the dad of twin daughters born six months ago via a surrogate mother.

"I feel so lucky every day," Powell said.

At 42, he's a new addition to the ranks of men who intentionally seek the role of single father. While some opt for adoption, others yearn to have children with genetic ties and are willing to invest $100,000 or more to make that happen.

There are no firm numbers of how many men have taken this route. It's clearly still a rarity, although Growing Generations, a leading for-profit surrogacy agency in Los Angeles, says its caseload of single men has risen steadily and totaled about 25 cases last year.

Experts say the driving force is generally a male equivalent of the "biological clock" that prompts some unmarried women to have children while they're still fertile.

"They say they've always wanted to be a dad, they haven't found a partner that they want to start a family with, they're getting older and just don't want to wait — the same things single women say," said Madeline Feingold, an Oakland, Calif., psychologist who has done extensive counseling related to surrogacy.

That was the case for Powell, a pharmaceutical company executive in Seattle who spent three years futilely trying to adopt.

"I was in an adoption pool for a year and half, didn't get any calls and got bummed about the whole experience," he said. "I just wanted to be a dad. Time was not on my side, and I didn't have the luxury of waiting for an ideal mate."

Before approaching Growing Generations, Powell discussed his options at length with family members and with people who'd been through surrogacy. There was a lot of self-interrogation.

"If something happens to me, who's going to take care of my daughters? Is this an egotistical, selfish thing?" he recalled asking himself. "I had to be sure it was the right thing to do."

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