Single dad's journey to fatherhood

04 July 2018 - 11:16
By Sinesipho Mbandazayo
Jonathan Kaplan had his son, Kaleb. His journey inspired him to write a book about it.
Image: Instagram Jonathan Kaplan had his son, Kaleb. His journey inspired him to write a book about it.

Surrogacy is not only practised by internationals like Cristiano Ronaldo and Kim K. It is slowly being embraced by South Africans who firmly believe that having children - no matter the route - completes any family.

Retired international rugby referee Jonathan Kaplan decided at 47 that he wanted to be a father when he retired and now, at 50, is a single dad to three-year-old Kaleb, whom he had through a surrogate.

A surrogate is a woman who carries a baby on behalf of future parents who are medically unable to do so.

His journey inspired him to write a book titled Winging It.

Kaplan has since been enjoying fatherhood after he found the perfect surrogate to carry his child.

Taking us through the journey of why he didn't choose the traditional way of having a child, Kaplan confesses: "I don't get permanent in relationships beyond a couple of years.

"At 47, when I retired, I couldn't wait [to be in a permanent relationship] any longer. I thought it was the perfect time to embark on something that was that important to me," he says.

He says surrogacy is not an easy option to choose.

"It's not an easy proposition to go after.

"I went on a platform to find an egg donor. So you pick and choose who you want. Egg donors are anonymous," he says, adding that he could only see pictures of the donors as young children - until the age of about four.

"Then you need to get a surrogate so you can go to court and get court orders in place so that you can get the legal rights and access to the baby."

He was fortunate enough to find the perfect surrogate to carry his child.

He found his surrogate, Jacqueline Davies, through the agency that was assisting him.

The agency recommended Davies as she had been trying for another couple who had given up around the same time that he started looking.

It's one thing choosing a surrogate and another deciding to become one.

Davies wanted to help families who had trouble having their own kids after experiencing beautiful pregnancies with her own children.

"My husband and I had decided that our family was done [having kids]. So, I thought if maybe my sisters battled, I could help. A friend needed help and I assisted, but it didn't work out. I then decided to join an agency that dealt with that," she says.

Davies says that she never thought of Kaleb as her baby and her family knew that. "It wasn't my egg. I was just an incubator."

Kaplan says it wasn't easy meeting Davies for the first time. He describes the meeting as "sweaty".

After receiving messages of goodwill about the decision to become a dad, Kaplan decided to pen a book. "People didn't know this pathway existed. So the book highlights my journey," he says.

Kaplan says that he now has a girlfriend who has also been a great support structure for him and Kaleb.

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