It's a tale as old as time, really.Against all odds two people find each other. They fall in love. They get married. They want to start a family but, for one reason or another, they can't have children. But their hearts are full and they have much to offer and so they find a way. Maybe they hire a surrogate to bear them the child they want so badly. There's much to do. Diapers to buy. Clothes to find. A nursery to build. Then all that's left to do is wait.
Nine months later, a son is born.
The happiest day of their lives has finally come.
Except in this case the happy couple in question is two Belgian guys living in France, the surrogate mother is in the Ukraine, and homophobic red tape has left a nursery empty for two years while the child is stuck in an orphanage...
In the above photo the biological father, Laurent Ghilain, is on the left. His husband, Peter Meurrens, is on the right. The empty crib in the middle is where their son, Samuel Ghilain, should have been.
A while back I read about their struggle to get a passport issued for their son so they could bring him home. I made a comment about how fucked up it was that a baby was in an orphanage when he had two perfectly good parents who were waiting for him. Literally begging for him. But nobody would hear their plea.
Then today I was emailed a link to a follow-up story.
Little Samuel is home at last...
And despite the fact that such insanity is nothing new, I watched this footage and wondered all over again how anybody could be so fucked up as to believe this child belonged anywhere except with his father. Later on, there was one part of the story that caught my attention. It was a set of still-photos showing Laurent and Peter visiting Laurent's newborn son...
And that's when it kind of hits you.
Breaking the situation down to its base elements, you end up with this...
Two images of fatherhood that would tug at the heartstrings of just about anyone, anywhere.
But put the two together, and a segment of the population inexplicably loses their fucking mind...
A child lucky enough to have two daddies who will love and cherish him forever is unacceptable. But a child who is orphaned, unwanted, or unloved is somehow better off.
A kid in a loving home is a bad thing when his parents are gay. But shoving that same kid in an orphanage somewhere is what's "best for the child."
How can anybody think this way and not be seen as anything less than a monster?
How can we tolerate a society that justifies such heinous treatment of children?
How can we live knowing that anybody could look at an image like this...
...and not see it as anything but a joyous and wonderful event?
Sometimes the people on this world we live in fill me with such depression and despair that my heart feels as though it can't take it any more. I get to the point where all I can see is the hatred that plagues humanity day after day and the weight of it crushes me so I can barely breath. All the pain, the suffering, the sadness, the death, the destruction... so many senseless horrors... they wear on my mind so heavily that I don't even want to exist anymore.
But then I watch something beautiful like this and it's all forgotten...
I like to think that one day all the bigoted assholes of this earth will be dead and forgotten to the betterment of all humanity. Indeed, some days it's the only thing that keeps me going.
In the meanwhile, welcome home, Samuel.
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OMG…Totally bawling my eyes out. What a beautiful story, Dave. If you don’t mind, I’d like to share it with 500 of my closest friends on FB.
While it is certainly tragic that this beautiful baby was kept away from his daddies for the first two years of his life, the joy comes in knowing that the rest of his life will be filled all the love in the world.
Welcome home, Baby Samuel. Welcome home. xoxoxo
If that happy homecoming makes you cry, then don’t watch the video below. This was the original story I saw which documents the struggle they endured to try and get baby Samuel home. It’s almost unbearable to watch their obvious pain and frustration. But I think it’s also necessary that people see what they went through, because you just know there are others having to endure the same thing…
Again, you can “use original player” and turn on Closed Captioning (CC) to get the English translation. If that doesn’t work, here’s a link to the original video.
I truly believe that we (on this planet) are on the right path. We’re getting there, albeit very slowly. There will always be bigoted assholes who stand in the way with setbacks, but we’ll still have our steps forward.
In a matter of time the insensitivity this married couple faced will be the exception to the rule rather than the norm. I only hope it happens sooner rather than later.
I’m sure you’re right. It’s just that some days it’s so hard to see it.
As always, it’s the little things that puts the doubts in my mind. Because the Big Picture is often impersonal and easy to detach yourself from, whereas the tiny details always make something personal and relatable. In the original video I watched (posted in the comment reply above) I was moved by their struggle, of course. But it was the footage of the couple just living their everyday lives… going to work, doing chores, tending to their garden, etc… it was these painfully normal moments that everybody has which plunged me into despair. They’re just two guys like anybody else. But, because they happen to love each other, they can’t have permission to bring their own son home? How can something like this be allowed to happen on this earth?
And even in the happy follow-up video where Samuel gets to come home at last… do you know what I focused on that just gutted me? One of the guys is wearing the same jacket that he was in the original video…
He has a favorite jacket… just like anybody else on this earth might. Just like me. But he had to wait TWO YEARS for his family to be complete because he fell in love with another man and so the courts didn’t feel he was worthy of being a father? How can this possibly be for real? How could anybody accept this travesty? It just can’t be possible. And yet it is. Horrendous injustices like this happen every single day, and I just can’t take it sometimes.
I try to focus on the Big Picture and see that we’re on the right path, honestly I do… but all the little details keep getting in the way and I can’t let go.
Thanks guys, for those nice words and pictures. Samuel is doing fine now, less and less nightmares as well, although he wets his pants when spoken to in Ukrainian. As for my jacket : not much money to buy clothes if you have to pay thousands of euros to lawyers, even for a cardiologist…
Peter, one of the proud fathers
Ah, but Samuel is worth a million jackets, and so your money was put to its best possible use! 🙂
Many happy congratulations to the three of you… a happy family at last!
I will never understand how people can deny such a beautiful thing…ever. Through tears…Welcome home Samuel!
You and me both.
Because you know that feeling you have when something terrible happens. That overwhelming feeling of sadness and dread? That feeling of being lost and alone in a crowded room? That feeling of not know what to do or how to act because the soul-crushing despair that weighs on you simply will not leave?
I look at Laurent Ghilain in that photo as he stands in an empty nursery and it’s written all over his face…
And yet there are people who are unsympathetic. Who think he got what he deserved. Who feel that the very idea of him wanting a child of his own is so abhorrent that making him, his husband, and his child suffer for TWO YEARS is perfectly acceptable.
You and me both.
One Man. One Woman. Every child needs a Mommy and a Daddy.
Yes. We must think of the children!
WON’T SOMEBODY PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, THINK OF THE CHILDREN?
Oh. Wait a second…
Every study has shown that children from loving homosexual couples grow up as healthy and happy as those from heterosexual couples. The only difference is that they have to deal with prejudiced jerks who give them a hard time about their parents.
You mean they DON’T end up being sexually-confused dregs of society whose lives have been ruined by the heinous deviant lifestyles of their parents?
Oh. I guess not.
Wow. What a wonderful video showing a very nice, articulate young man.
That’s all. No comment about the parents. A wonderful nice young well-spoken man.
Right. Because children grow up in a vacuum. Parents have absolutely no bearing on the people they become.
So why does anyone care if Timmy has two mommies or two daddies or a mommy and a daddy?
Given her other comment here, I don’t think she was saying the parents don’t matter. I think Peggy was referring to the part of his speech where he was talking about how having two women as parents had zero negative effect on his development as a person, and nobody would ever be able to just look at him and tell that he’s the product of a same-sex couple. His identity isn’t defined as being a son of two lesbians.
And you’re absolutely right, nobody SHOULD care if he had two same-sex parents… or even a single parent… or no parents at all. The only thing anybody should care about is that he is raised happy and healthy in a safe, nurturing environment. Sadly, there are people who inexplicably think otherwise, and feel they should get to decide what constitutes a family. So very sad.
i can’t imagine what that child had to endure for the first two years of his life. may he always know how loved he is, that his daddies fought for him and that not everyone is as close minded as those who kept him from his parents.
most people won’t understand or appreciate my desire to end my comment with god bless little samuel, but i just can’t believe god hates anyone (especially for being loving individuals) so i will. may god abundantly bless samuel and be with him always.
There are so many horrible parts of this story. The most unfortunate is that the fathers can’t even communicate with their own son… he was raised in the Ukraine, and so he speaks Ukrainian. Now he has to start learning a language all over again. I know kids are resilient and can adapt fairly quickly, but this is just one more thing… on top of many other things that’s wrong here.
also…thanks so much for posting this story. sadly i wouldn’t have heard about it otherwise.
And that would be a real shame, which is why I try to do my part. If people aren’t aware, they can’t help change what’s gone so terribly wrong.
Thank you for sharing this. I need to go have a little cry now. I’m a 2x surrogate mother for two sets of gay fathers so this story had a little extra emotional impact on me. It makes me ill to imagine one of my surro-children being kept from their fathers for any reason. It makes me ill to think we live in a world where someone thought this baby was better off in an orphanage than home with his parents.
It does make me feel better that there are people out there like you who are part of the solution though. Thanks for that. 🙂
And yet, it just made my day to see that he’s where he belongs! So awesome.
(But you’re right, of course – the red tape and homophobic BS kill me.)
At first it sounded like it wasn’t tied to homophobia… it was just a flaw in the Belgian legal system when it came to surrogacy. But after listening to all they went through, and how the courts made them feel like monsters for trying to have a child… well, it’s difficult to believe that any heterosexual couples would ever be treated this way, regardless of the law (or lack thereof), so there we have it. So terribly sad.
What every child needs? Is a loving home. I don’t care if it’s a mommy/daddy, if it’s mommy/mommy, or daddy/daddy, or grandma/grandpa. WHO CARES???? What that child needs is love.
and a home.
Family is not defined Daddy, Mommy, Brother, Sister. Hell most of my ‘family’ isn’t even related to me.
Someday hopefully we’ll get it.
I certainly hope so. But every time I think humanity is making progress, a horror story like this comes along to show how we’re still moving backwards as we try to move forward. We can only hope that eventually momentum will push us in the right direction.
Dave, thanks for sharing this story. At least this one has a happy ending.
I just try really hard to think of all the stories out there that don’t.
This is beautiful! Totally awesome… Family is not just mommy and daddy! I grew up with only mommy, so clearly my family was weird. Oh, just give me a break…. All kids need is love, lots of love, and understanding.
That’s such a wonderful story. I’m so glad that that little boy finally got to go home.
Thanks for sharing this, Dave. At least there’s a bit of hope that sanity may prevail in the end.
I hadn’t heard of this story until now either. Evidently I live in the People’s Republic of Redneckistan where such stories are not given the light of day for fear of corrupting young people and making them want to go gay. That happens, y’know. Kids see the world being completely irrational and intolerant of gay couples and they immediately want to become gay themselves.
Dude, I’m a parent. Maybe there are some days I wish I weren’t… but for better or worse, I am. If someone had kept any one of my children from me for TWO fucking years, I’d come unhinged! It is reprehensible and unimaginable what has happened to that family. Seriously, what the hell is wrong with society that we can sit by and let a story like this happen??
Like Becky said, I wouldn’t have known about this story had you not posted it.
The thought that Samuel had to be in an orphanage for two years is bad enough, but the thought that he might possibly suffer long-term effects from that experience makes me absolutely want to explode. Such willful ignorance on the parts of the courts…such sorrow and pain for the parents who wait for their baby…just makes me weep in frustration for our future.
So glad the baby’s finally home with his loving parents, and I desperately hope that I live to see the day when this insane bigotry towards same sex couples dies a well deserved death.
I take heart that at least stories like this are being reported. It might not be in the mainstream but its out there for people like you to find and share. Not so long ago a story like this would have been buried. It would have been a “non story” not even worthy of wasting film and a journalists time. So although its horrendous at least we get to know about it. The more we know, the more we can share, the more we can change so events like this never ever happen again. I hope Laurent, Peter and Samuel can get over this and have a happy, healthy, loving life.
It’s my hope as well that we can get past homophobia as a society and just let love happen where it will. That you for sharing this story – I would also have missed it otherwise.
This breaks my heart though I am glad to hear for them that there is a happy ending. I do not understand the homophobia at all. It pisses me off and makes me hate humanity. 🙁 But people like you help restore it. I’m glad I’m not alone.
As with apricoco above, I only grew up with a mom, who did an incredible job raising me.
It’s so sad that there are those in society that continue to subject their narrow views on how their version of society it right. BULLSHIT! Families have been and will continue to be diverse and every changing and there is no mold or template that can define what constitutes a family.
I hope, as Shiny said above, that this comes sooner than later.