Well, I have not commented on the last couple of full moons, so today I thought that I should put that right and mention my book ‘Eighteen Moons’. Rather than post a chapter, I have decided to give you a full synopsis. I hope you enjoy the read.
Eighteen Moons is the extraordinary and moving story of Andi and John and how they brought together, against huge odds, the family they had longed for.
Today they are loving fathers to five beautiful children including two sets of twins, all of them under the age of six. But the story of how this very special family came together is a tale filled with heartache and frustration, determination and courage. It’s also a story full of humour, human frailty and, above all, love.
Their quest for children took them across the world and brought them up against seemingly impossible challenges. But as the whims of officials and government directives thwarted their every move and sent them on a wild adventure which took them from India to Thailand and on to Nepal, Andi and John refused to give up.
Extraordinarily, Andi and John’s first twins were the last British surrogate babies to leave India, their son was the last to leave Thailand and their second twins were the first British children to be born through surrogacy in Nepal.
Happily together for twenty years and the besotted owners of two daft but loveable Dalmatians, Andi and John longed for children to complete their family. Two, they thought, would be perfect, ideally one fathered by each of them.
After looking at surrogacy options worldwide, India seemed to offer everything they hoped for and in 2012 they went to India to begin the surrogacy process. A few months later, they heard that their surrogate was expecting twins.
Andi went to India for the birth; the plan was that John would join them and together they would bring the babies home. When two gorgeous daughters were born they couldn’t have been happier. But what followed was a nightmare of bureaucracy and obfuscation, as John, the twins’ natural father, was refused a visa and the Indian Government refused to let Andi leave with the babies. For month after month Andi lived in India, caring for the girls, while he and John struggled to find a way to bring them home. At every turn they were thwarted until they became so desperate they considered smuggling the girls out of the country by boat. Their daughters were eight months old when, finally, John was ableto go and bring them home.
Same-sex surrogacy had been banned in India, so Andi, still longing to father a child, turned next to Thailand. With the news of a successful pregnancy everything looked rosy – until the Thai government also clamped down on surrogacy, the clinic was closed. For several heart–stopping days they didn’t know what had happened to their surrogate, or their baby. Finally they heard that all was well and Andi said goodbye to John and the girls and went to Thailand to be with his child. A son was born and a delighted Andi hoped to take him home within weeks. But what followed was an extraordinary saga of delays, denials and, eventually, Andi’s arrest on trumped up drug charges. Given the option by the arresting officers of waiting three months for a court date and a guaranteed three, month sentence, a second option was put on the table. No criminal record and the chance to be the first westerner to serve in the Royal Thai Army. This would take him to an army barrack’s deep in the Thai jungle, he had just one phone call, to tell John what had happened.
On the day he was freed Andi found John, and their son, waiting for him. Days later, after five long months of waiting,they flew home, to introduce the girls to their new baby brother.
When the surrogacy clinic in Thailand had closed Andi and John’s remaining embryos had been transferred, with the help of an Israeli agency, to Nepal, where surrogacy was still possible. At that stage, unsure of the outcome in Thailand, they had given the go-ahead for a surrogacy attempt. Now they heard that once again twins were expected, this time on the roof of the world. The massive 2015 earthquake in Nepal devastated much of the surrounding area of Kathmandu, plus many ancient temples and monuments in the city itself and for some time Andi and John didn’t know whether their surrogate or their babies had survived.
With the happy news that all was well, once more Andi kissed his family goodbye and set off, hoping that this time all would be well and he’d be home again soon with a new brother and sister for the children. But once again his attempt to bring the children home was thwarted by delays and difficulties and it was five months before he was able to bring the babies home. The babies passports were only issued after locals organised a ‘Witch Hunt’, his own visa had expired and the death of his mother.
It took Andi and John three and a half years to fulfil their dream of a family and during that time eighteen full moons passed while Andi remained stranded in India, Thailand and Nepal, waiting to bring their children home. As he waited the moon was so often his comfort and companion. He would sit and look at it, thinking of home and trusting that all would be well and that, no matter what it took, the children were coming home.
For John, holding the fort at home, it was a long, painful wait, whilst on the other side of the world, Andi went through hell – frightened, alone and facing hostility, prejudice and obfuscation. But he also found friendship, kindness and support and it was these things that he would ultimately remember. And when he finally arrived back with the twins in December 2015, the journey over and the family together, it brought with it a wonderful sense of completion. All five children became British citizens and at last Andi and John could look to the future.