June 8, 2012— -- At a lavish baby shower outside of Boston, there was no pregnant mom in sight. The diaper genie and burp cloths were for a 45-year-old middle school principal named Peter Gordon.
Gordon has been dating and searching for Ms. Right for more than two decades, but hasn't found a wife. Yet, he badly wanted to start a family.
"I'm still hopeful," he said. "Some people are lucky in love. I haven't found luck yet. It's not for lack of trying."
Steven Harris, a 57-year-old lawyer from New York, found himself in the same predicament. He knew he wanted kids but didn't have someone to have them with and said he felt a "profound sadness" about 15 years ago.
"I really felt like I really was missing something," he said.
So Gordon and Harris, both heterosexual bachelors, made the decision to become dads on their own through surrogacy, using their sperm and a donor egg.
Gordon said he tried adoption before surrogacy but kept getting turned away.
"I called five different agencies and every one of them told me that either I would not be considered or that I would be at the bottom of the list because I was a single father," he said.
Harris said he too was rejected from adoption agencies.
"Who is going to give their kid to a 50-year-old bachelor living in SoHo, you know? I wouldn't," he said.
So both Gordon and Harris turned to surrogacy.
"I didn't want to wake up in five years when I'm over 50 and say, 'if you'd just kind of done this earlier, you might have been able to use the energy and be able to kind of give the time that you can give,'" Harris said.
Stephanie Scott, the executive director of Simple Surrogacy in Dallas, helped set up the arrangement between Gordon and 24-year-old Sara Eaton, the surrogate Gordon ended up choosing. Scott said more and more of her clients are single, heterosexual men.
"Over the last few years it's become the norm," she said.
But when Harris decided to go the surrogacy route, his mother was appalled.
"She said, 'Stevie, this is the worst thing that's ever happened to me," Harris said.
That is, until he introduced her to baby Ben, who was born with the help of in-virto fertilization and another surrogate. Today, Ben is a 5-year-old spitfire and Harris is a busy dad.
"I get him ready for school, I take him to school, then I go to work and the babysitter picks him up at 3, and I come home at 6 and she leaves, so it's really all me," he said.
Making a family this way is not cheap, especially for Gordon, who discovered he was having twins. Like most men in his situation, he was responsible for Eaton's medical bills.
"I'm looking at probably close to $85,000-$90,000," he said. "I'm 100 percent sure that I'm going to be able to make it work."
Both single dads acknowledge that their kids will have questions about their family situation one day. Harris said Ben has already started to ask him if he has a mother.
"I say 'there are all kinds of families. There are families with two daddies and two mommies and a daddy and a mommy and we're a kind of family with one daddy,' and that's fine for him now," he said.
Both Gordon and Harris said they still have high hopes of one day finding a spouse.
"Dating is a snap," Harris said. "Ben is a chick magnet."
"Definitely want a wife," Gordon said. "I definitely want that family, and a child on each arm, and walking to the park and a stroller with her and, I mean, who wouldn't? I just think for me that would be ideal."
But the wife will have to wait. Gordon's twins, Olivia and Noah, were born six months ago and this single dad could not have been happier.
"To have what I've been wanting for many, many years now is here," he said. "What an amazing miracle. It's just unbelievable."