John Weltman | Surrogacy | Television | The New Normal

Another Look at ‘The New Normal’ and the Road to Becoming a Parent through Surrogacy



A surrogacy expert's continuing look at issues in NBC's 'The New Normal'.

“So… this baby is going to be the greatest thing that ever happened to us, right?” Bryan asks David in this week's episode of The New Normal. “It’s our little miracle. So when can we start enjoying it?”

Having a baby means embracing some uncertainty. It’s one of the most important events in a parent’s life, and yet, it is impossible to predict exactly how it will play out. This goes for straight couples, who conceive with or without the use of assisted reproductive technology, as well as for gay couples. And it holds especially true for those who have children through surrogacy.

David and Bryan show two different approaches to handling this uncertainty. Excited and eager to move forward and get ready for their future child, Bryan buys baby clothes before the first ultrasound. David—unsurprisingly, the measured doctor—is more cautious, reminding Bryan of all the remaining pregnancy tests and of their agreement not to buy any clothes before all they have received the results.

Here are two different responses, both reasonable. David is right to exercise caution. Pregnancy is unpredictable. For those who pursue surrogacy or utilize in vitro fertilization, there is no guarantee that a given embryo transfer will be successful. There is no guarantee that an egg retrieval will yield a sufficient number of quality eggs. Sometimes, there is a need to make adjustments along the way. Communication with an IVF physician can help couples who choose surrogacy understand the big picture.

At the same time, too much caution can stifle the joy of the surrogacy experience. Taking time to enjoy the process is important, as David comes to realize as the episode draws to a close. “So, even though it’s not going to be easy, I need to try to celebrate the wins,” he tells Bryan. “Like when we heard that heartbeat yesterday, I don’t think I’ve ever loved you more, because that—that was the sound of our family.” The depiction of love between the intended fathers in this moment is perhaps the most poignant and genuine we have seen in the show thus far.

KissAt the opposite extreme of the emotional spectrum is the scene in the store. While they are shopping with Goldie and Shania, Bryan and Davis share a kiss. A man walking by with his family asks them to stop, and calls them “disgusting.” David wants to ignore him, but Bryan responds, “Thanks for your intolerance and your bigotry and for fostering this ignorance in another generation.” The message was clear enough that the collective social conscience of much of the world hasn’t advanced as quickly as the scientific and medical achievement that has made surrogacy possible.

The scene brings up the issue of how gay couples should respond to ignorance and how, as parents, we need to address intolerance when our children are faced with it just because they have two dads or two moms. Bryan is concerned about how he and David will respond when their child faces the same bigotry they experienced in the store.

My husband and I shared these concerns. These are good conversations to have. We were worried that our children would be bullied for having gay fathers. Surprisingly, in the eighteen years since we had our first child through surrogacy, we have rarely found the prejudice we anticipated. We’ve been fortunate. We have supportive families, friends, and some of the best neighbors in the world. My hope is that every LGBT family should be so fortunate, but this is sadly not the case.

Gay couples considering having children should anticipate all of these issues. The surrogacy process has highs and lows. And these highs and lows continue after the birth. Gay couples in the process of becoming parents through surrogacy should talk about how they will address bullying and prejudice, and intolerance should they come up.

Before Cliff and I had children, we went to a lecture given by April Martin, who wrote the Lesbian and Gay Parenting Handbook. She said her kids had learned the “stupid” lesson: some people (the bigoted ones, of course) are just plain stupid. Try it. It helps and it works when it comes to keeping kids confident on themselves and on their families. 


John Weltman is the president and founder of Circle Surrogacy and an expert in assisted reproductive technology law. He and his husband are the fathers of two sons, 18 and 17, through surrogacy.  They were the first in America to have two children through surrogacy, one from each dad, through the same surrogate mom. 

Have your children experienced bigotry because of their gay parents? What are your strategies for addressing it? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Earlier in this series...
Surrogacy Expert Weighs in on 'The New Normal' [tlrd]

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  1. I'm still watching. It's cringeworthy at times, but I think it's improving. The dialogue is clunky, often. The little girl is fabulous, but she can't sustain the show. I'd like to see a man in the grandmother's life, as well as the surrogate's. They now need to start showing us in what ways the stereotypes aren't really stereotypes.

    Posted by: Fox | Sep 21, 2012 4:01:00 AM

  2. I try to watch it a few times, but just find myself diving for the remote to change the channel.

    It's wretchedly awful. David and Brian are obnoxious and played to the stereotypical extremes. And Ellen Bursten; just venom. She is not the show's "Karen Walker", she is just venom. Period.

    I feel like this show was written in the 1990's, the perceptions have not matured from then, but let's put some currency into it with man-on-man kissing.

    It makes me look forward to "Happy Endings" where the dialog is nothing greater than snarky, sarcastic put-downs, but at least they have an honest portrayal of a gay character.

    Posted by: 99% | Sep 21, 2012 8:03:46 AM

  3. I think the show improves every week. The first episode had to introduce six regular characters and set the whole situation in motion. Don't be so quick to dismiss a show when it's trying to get on its feet. Look at the entire first season of NEWHART, a great show that found its winning formula (and supporting cast) after 22 episodes. Look at the first half-season of WILL & GRACE (never a bad show, but it took a dozen episodes to stop Will & Jack to relax and Karen to--literally--find her voice).

    Some people seem to be mad that the Bryan character isn't immediately likable or think he's too stereotypical (and Cam on MODERN FAMILY isn't?). But, by the third episode, he'd grown a heart beneath that facade.

    Granted, I'm apprehensive because this is a show created by (and often written by) Ryan Murphy...and his shows almost always seem to lose me (NIP TUCK after two great seasons, GLEE after one season, AMERICAN HORROR STORY after four episodes). He's pretty erratic with high highs and low lows. But the cast of THE NEW NORMAL is uniformly excellent.

    But, do we have so many shows that have gay characters in LEADING ROLES that we should be wishing for its failure after just three episodes? I don't think so. If you don't like it, stop watching. But stop feeling like you must stomp it out. You don't want to be lumped into the same chorus as One Million Moms (Minus About One Million), do you?

    Oh, and the kissing between Bartha and Randalls is the most natural and affectionate I've seen on TV.

    Posted by: kevin | Sep 21, 2012 8:22:53 AM

  4. Written and directed by NOM.

    Posted by: Major707 | Sep 21, 2012 10:36:16 AM

  5. I don't think Bryan is that bad. Yes the character is in many ways a gay stereotype but he also has moments of surprising depth that shows he's something more than just a shopaholic fashion queen and actually quite sweet. The flashback in the 2nd episode that showed them meeting was nice. I watched the 3rd ep last night and the scene at home where Bryan cries after they'd had a run-in with the homophobe at the clothing store was very effective, IMO. Particularly when he reveals a little about his own bullied past, but says he's not crying for himself by what their child might face. I thought it was a great scene.

    I also think the actors have good chemistry together. They have personality quirks that are annoying but there are those moments when they let down their walls and you finally think, "Oh, NOW I see what the other guy sees in him." Plus they kiss and show affection in a natural way, which is a nice change from other shows.

    FWIW, Will & Grace seemed to take place in a fantasy world where homophobia, REAL homophobia, was practically non-existent and that was unrealistic.

    I don't watch a lot of TV, mainly just The Daily Show and Colbert Report, so I've never seen Modern Family (or Glee or AHS for that matter) and can't compare The New Normal with it. Maybe that's a good thing since I can see for its own merits and aren't constantly comparing it to other shows or projecting attitudes toward Ryab Murphy on the show.

    Posted by: Caliban | Sep 21, 2012 12:37:09 PM

  6. I'm thoroughly enjoying this show. I hope it runs for years. The characters are warm and likeable - except for Grandma - but you can love to hate her.

    Although it does embrace more than a few stereotypes. We must remember stereotypes start somewhere besides people's imaginations.

    "Ladypants" (I'm sorry, but that will forever be his name to me now) wouldn't have any ladypants to wear if there weren't enough fashionista fem guys buying and wearing such items.

    I think the lead couple is adorable, the banter witty, and the message wonderful.

    Posted by: fanboi | Sep 21, 2012 3:13:03 PM

  7. you know, boys, there's no sense in continuing to be upset about "stereotypes" if you, yourself, refuse to live as openly and visibly as the so-called "stereotypical" people you've chosen to blame for your own insecurities.

    take a lesson from the people you can't stop hating - learn not to care so much about what others think.

    i think the show has a lot of potential. it's pretty darn sweet :)

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Sep 21, 2012 3:29:44 PM

  8. The idea is good, but the script, and subsequent reciting of that script is silly, and embarising to watch and listen to. The actor from "Glee" was terrible there, and his "graduation" has not improved anything. Nice try, but no cigar!

    Posted by: Jerry6 | Sep 21, 2012 9:05:06 PM

  9. Another disgusting immoral show. I watched the first episode to see what it was about but never again. SICK, SICK, SICK!!

    Posted by: Rosemary Miner | Sep 22, 2012 2:28:20 PM

  10. The show is supposedly to be about promoting the acceptance of minorities in the lead characters, but routinely bashes other minorities, (red heads, lesbians, ethnic jokes). It is a poor example of real gay couples and should be ashamed of their promotion of hate towards of others. This show is for people who make fun of gay people and other minorities...not for people who advocate for their equality and inclusion in a modern society.

    Posted by: Stacy | Oct 3, 2012 2:17:45 PM

  11. I read and liked the post and have also bookmarked you. All the best for impending endeavors.

    Posted by: nuestromirador | Jan 19, 2013 7:08:06 AM

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