It wasn't until age 35 when seemingly out of nowhere, I woke up and knew it was time for fatherhood. I was living in Los Angeles and my search began where most searches initially begin in Los Angeles — on Craigslist.
I posted ads in the strictly platonic personals section looking for someone to have my baby. I was a Will seeking his Grace. I was searching for the right co-parent for a non-traditional family arrangement that would be lightly infused with traditional sentimentality.
And guess what? I started getting replies. Many replies. Now I'm a 40-year-old man in the fifth year of his quest to have a child. The journey has spanned four cities and two continents. And it began with the first lady to ever respond to one of my posts: Dawn.
Our one-time coffee chat lacked the connection I imagined having with my Grace. And so I kept looking. But the people who knew me as somewhat self-involved, having never uttered a word about children nor shown any interest in procreating, met my search mostly with silence.
I was a youth leader at the MCC church in West Hollywood, helping mentor persons aged 18 to 24 in their coming-out process. And as my Craigslist ads continued to garner attention, I mentioned my newfound quest to a fellow youth leader named Melissa.
Maybe it was just bad timing, but do you know the feeling when you're telling someone a story and there happens to be a 101 distractions? When I told Melissa about my dream, she smiled and nodded until being whisked away unintentionally without saying a word.
Later that week, some of the youth leaders met at a barbecue, all of us adults but for the exception of one 8-year-old named Froy. It was like a natural, gravitational pull took over and my big brother instincts kicked in. Despite my being 6 feet tall, a bit on the awkward side, tall and lanky, the rest of the day was spent playing games.
I have also been accused of appearing freakishly youthful, like the original Karate Kid, who was 18-years-old for like two decades. I have named this phenomenon Ralph-Machi-itis. But regardless of slow-aging on the outside, we have to grow up sometime. Spending that afternoon with Froy not only helped cement my wanting to be a dad, but also made me feel like a child again. Something I had long forgotten.
After the barbeque, as I returned home that evening with a taste of what a future family life could be, I received an unexpected text. It was from Melissa and it read, "Based on what I saw today, you are going to be an amazing father."
I took the encouragement as a sign that I was most definitely on the right path, even though I ultimately did not find my co-parent in Los Angeles. The next year I moved back to New York where I reposted my Craigslist ads. Then another year went by of replies and coffee dates, but no co-parenting sparks.
So I started thinking outside of the box, and outside the country. This time, I posted my Craigslist ad in Australia. As early as age 7, I started to develop an affinity for Aussie pop-culture thanks to a leather-clad Olivia Newton-John — Sandy from Grease. In appreciation for all things Aussie, I moved to Australia, sight unseen.
In Melbourne, I made my first attempts at the turkey-baster method. Two attempts with two different women thankfully did not take — my blinding desire to be a dad prevented me from seeing that there were plenty of red flags.
Continuing my search, I discovered co-parenting websites and created profiles. Only then did I realize how many countless people are in a similar search, in so many countries.
On a Facebook page dedicated to co-parenting in Australia, I came across a profile picture of a lovely face. Something about her eyes and her smile was mommy-like. And so I sent the lovely-faced woman a quick message, "Are you seeking a co-parent? What is your location in Australia?" Two days later she replied, "Hi Fabian, I am. I live in Omaha, Nebraska. What is your location?"
I thought to myself, "Nebraska?" It was a state I’d never visited. And I had no plans of returning to the United States. Still, a few basic introductory emails soon turned into a fantastic phone conversation that had me shaking with excitement. We spoke as if we had known each other for 20 years, laughing and energetic. Our goals and beliefs matched so closely it was like speaking to a long lost sister.
Coincidentally, her name was Dawn, like the first woman I had met in Los Angeles five years prior. But the connection with this Dawn was like no other.
Our first Skype video chat blew the roof off any other conversation with anyone. We discussed how lonely this co-parenting search had been and that it was odd feeling so alone considering the hundreds or thousands of people out there in the same boat, navigating blindly.
We had both felt the sharp sting of disapproval. Even some hard-hitting comments came from those closest to us. One life-long friend told me, "I would feel sorry for the child that would come out of this type of experiment" and called our relationship "a splintered one from the beginning."
Another person told us it was egotistical that we seemed to talk only about ourselves and our openness to meet others, and not about the child.
One of the worst comments was that our child would come out of a loveless relationship.
But, what is love?
My child’s mother and father won’t have had sex, but that doesn't mean that child is not conceived out of love. It is love that is the driving force sustaining us on this journey.
Even though I had never met Dawn, I loved this beautiful stranger. I loved her honesty and her fearlessness.
Who are these people to judge and to insinuate that our bringing up a child won't be any better, structural, stable and loving than the way a traditional couple would? Countless modern families exist out there with well rounded and happy children who prove these non-believers wrong.
I am getting to know the person who might become the mother of my child. I have resisted just being an instant sperm donor to the first ovulating person I met. And I don’t regret the five years that’s taken because it’s been an amazing journey, and now I’m here at this new leap of faith about to come.
FABIAN BLUE, 41, is now living in Nebraska and trying to have a baby with Dawn. To learn more about his journey, watch The Baby Daddy Project.