My two daughters look very like their cousins. Nobody is surprised; my husband, Steven, and his brother, Alan, also look very much alike. But the truth would shock everyone – because Steven is the biological father of his brother’s kids.
The three of us and Alan’s wife, Nora, have kept this secret between ourselves for nearly ten years. We already had our first daughter by the time Alan and Nora started trying for a baby, and I was pregnant with our second when Alan told Steven he was infertile.
It was sad to see Alan literally crying on Steven’s shoulder; we had the one thing they wanted and couldn’t have.
I’m a hairdresser and Steven works in local government, but Alan and Nora are seriously wealthy. He owns four large car showrooms and she’s a lawyer. Their lifestyle is totally different to ours – they have a huge house, a second home, fantastic holidays. It was sad and somehow ironic to see Alan literally crying on Steven’s shoulder; we had the one thing they wanted and couldn’t have. I thought they might consider adoption, but Alan didn’t want anyone to know he couldn’t give Nora a child.
When our second daughter was about two months old, Steven came back from a night out with Alan. He looked shell-shocked. I was catatonic with a lack of sleep and worrying about the bills we had to pay. There was no maternity pay as I work for myself; we were depending on our skimpy savings to keep us going.
Perhaps that’s why I listened when Steven said Alan had asked him to father children for him and Nora. She has two lesbian friends who became parents via the ‘turkey baster’ method. A good friend of theirs acted as the sperm donor. Now, Nora and Alan were asking Steven to do the same.
Steven thought the whole idea was weird and was very squeamish at the thought of what the practicalities would involve.
He was totally against it; I was more willing to consider the idea. I felt so sorry for them; I’d often hidden my jealousy over their money and success, but their not being able to have a baby made us the truly lucky ones. Steven thought the whole idea was weird and was very squeamish at the thought of what the practicalities of donating his sperm would involve.
He completely shut down all discussion on the subject, even with me. Three weeks later Alan and Nora came to see us, and apologised for putting us on the spot.
Alan said they wouldn’t expect him to do it for nothing – they would be happy to pay off our mortgage as a thank you.
Nora was trying to be upbeat but Alan was so sad. He kept saying he felt like a failure, our girls were lovely and he’d give anything to be a dad. Eventually, Steven said we’d talk about it between ourselves. As they left, Alan said he hoped we wouldn’t be offended, but if Steven did this they would be happy to pay off our mortgage as a thank you.
We just stared at each other. Neither of us had ever thought of money being involved and it was hard to admit that made a difference. We were totally broke. I couldn’t imagine having enough money to pay off a mortgage so casually. I could picture how much easier our lives would be as a result, though.
A week later, Steven phoned Alan to say ‘yes’. None of us wanted to put anything in writing so we agreed Steven would help them have two children if possible and that we would never tell anyone. Alan paid off our mortgage the same day. We were worried about what would happen if Nora didn’t get pregnant, but they told us the mortgage was settled no matter what – they were just so grateful we had agreed.
I had nothing to do with the actual ‘turkey basting’ processes, but I really felt for Steven.
He was so embarrassed as he headed over to their house, and was even more so when he came home. Luckily, Nora fell pregnant after just three attempts and we were genuinely thrilled for them when their son was born. It was clear how grateful they were to us, too. I did wonder how Steven felt about having a son, but he said it really didn’t feel like his child in any way.
Mostly I can forget that Steven is their ‘real’ father, but sometimes I feel uneasy about something like illness revealing the truth.
A year later they had a daughter. We hadn’t asked for any more money, but this time Alan set up a trust fund for each of our girls, saying they could never repay us. Nora gave up work completely and they both dote on their kids. Our girls adore their cousins and everything seems to have worked out well. Mostly I can forget that Steven is their ‘real’ father, but sometimes I feel uneasy about something like illness revealing the truth.
Alan and Nora’s little girl was two years old when they asked if we’d agree to trying for a third child. I don’t know why, but that really upset me. I didn’t want more children, but the thought of them having a third got to me. It seemed greedy.
Steven was confused by my reaction; he’d come full circle and it didn’t really bother him now, especially as Alan promised this was the last time and he’d pay for our girls to go to private school. So they got a second daughter, and now I feel as though we’re the greedy ones.
I suggested once that we should tell the children the truth once they were all over 18, but the others were horrified.
If the children find out the truth when they’re older, I’m sure they could accept that we acted out of kindness but not that we benefited financially. I know, logically, that’s nonsense – why shouldn’t Alan help out his brother after Steven gave him such a gift?
I suggested once that we should tell the children the truth once they were all over 18, but the others were horrified. The thing is, DNA tests could reveal the truth anytime – but even Steven thinks I’m being ridiculous and can’t see how that would ever happen.
The thought rattles away in my mind all the time, though. People taking DNA tests to reveal their ancestry is increasingly popular – what if something like that revealed the secret? The children wouldn’t forgive us if they found out like that and they might even think we were covering up something far worse, like Steven and Nora having an affair.