Peter Dundas and EV Bousis’s baby Alexios Peter Bousis-Dundas was born via surrogate on June 14. We connected on Zoom several days later to talk about the birth, new parenthood, and raising a son as two dads. Today, on their first Father’s Day, we’re posting some excerpts from that conversation.
Peter: Alexios was born on Monday morning at like 2:45, so I guess he’s going on five days now, which is crazy. He’s amazing and it’s an amazing experience, but it was a little bit daunting at first: You’re kind of afraid to go to sleep. Is he breathing? Is he alright? Is he too warm? Is he too hot? Every day he’s changing, and his eyes are opening a little bit more. He’s a real observer.
We started talking about parenthood quite soon after we met. EV brought it up to me and I was all for it. I didn’t think that it was anything we needed to rush, but it’s been quite a long journey. You kind of think that because you have the aid of science that it’s going to be, you know, something easy or something quick, but emotionally and in terms of your involvement in it, it isn’t at all.
From an emotional point of view, making the leap into parenthood, it makes a big change. I used to say, when people asked, ‘what’s your favorite look?’ in a collection, I was like, ‘how do you pick your favorite child?’ I’m not going to be saying that anymore, obviously. It’s really special because he decided to come on my mother’s birthday and, as you know, I lost my mother when I was three years old, so it was really, really special that he came on that day.
EV: Having friends [who’ve had a baby via surrogacy] kind of helped us prepare ourselves a little bit for what the experience would be. And being in LA made everything easier: It’s normal here to have a family the way we’ve created our family. No one kind of looks at you or asks you weird questions. You’d be surprised, people don’t know that much about it or how two men can have a baby, even when we’re living in 2021. We still get questions about it.
Peter: People are on so many different levels on certain things in society, and it changes from city to city, or from your friends even, and it’s not ill meant or anything like that, but it’s just how they’ve been conditioned, and it just slips out of them. They don’t even really think about it. I know people that have moved to LA for that reason. Here their child can go to school where there are other couples like ours. So they’re not like, you know, the strange one out; they’re not the only one there that has two dads or two moms. You think about those things now. Also to try to set an example.
EV: Peter and I spoke about this a lot during the whole process. You’d be surprised how many people don’t talk about it because they want privacy, but then what’s the point of having a voice, if you don’t actually talk to people about the situation to kind of make it better, for younger people to see that it is normal. I remember when Peter and I went to the first doctor’s appointment together, he was kind of silent. He said, ‘I didn’t think this would be possible when I was younger, that I could have a baby and we could have a family.’ We owe a lot to our surrogate and all the surrogates out there.
Peter: My family hasn’t been able to travel from Norway, but they’re sending handmade bonnets, good Norwegian style, and books on child raising. It’s been really amazing having my in-laws here. EV’s parents and his sisters are here, as well. The baby’s very, very loved. Very loved.
EV: Today we’re taking the baby for his first church outing, so he can get blessed by the priest. My mom’s like, we have to take the baby to get blessed by a priest before anybody sees him, so we’re excited about that. We have a nurse here but we take turns feeding and changing the diaper. We also had to start working the day after we came back from the hospital. In our wishful thinking we thought we were going to have a break, but that never happens. My parents did a very true LA welcoming; there were crazy balloons everywhere and the house was filled with flowers. It’s really nice to see all the support from your friends that you have and all the love you feel.
Peter: I think of us more as a family now. Of course I thought about it: You know, how are we going to raise him? What are the best ways? But I didn’t think about us as this unit until now, which is really wonderful. We want to treasure this moment as much as we can. It’s so great when you have him just laying on your stomach and he’s just in diapers and he falls asleep—it’s magic. It’s magic and your emotions keep getting stronger every day, so you kind of want more of them. So I think Father’s Day is probably going to be focused very much about that.
EV: You want all these things that you think are important, but then at some point you’re just like, I just want my baby to come out healthy and be okay. There’s this saying in Greek, your soul is in your throat. I wanted all these things: I wanted a baby that looks like Peter and this and that. And then you’re just like, hold on, I just want a healthy baby.
Peter: You want them to be healthy and happy, and hopefully have a good heart, and grow up in a world that is good to live in as well. I think about that now more than ever. You want your children to grow up in a good world.
EV: Hopefully things will change, the way gay couples are looked at having a family. I think the more people talk about it, the better I think it is just to normalize it all because it should be something normal. We always wanted to have a family and now we can, and everyone should be able to.
Peter: What I don’t get about the Supreme Court ruling [that a Catholic social services agency in Philadelphia could refuse to work with same-sex couples who apply to take in foster children], what is the purpose? Do they really think in 10 years from now that’s gonna fly? I don’t think so for a minute. It becomes this holding off on the inevitable, and progress in our society. Why on earth hold off on that? Don’t you want all children to grow up feeling comfortable with who they are and that they can have a future, that they can have a family, that they can have everything that everyone thinks are their rights? Don’t you want that?