Joe Tang is not your average dad. He became a single father by choice to his son, Aaron, at the age of 55 with the help of an egg donor and gestational carrier through Egg Donor & Surrogate Solutions. Joe was inspired to share his story to encourage other single men to pursue their dreams of parenthood.
“I don’t think having a child should be limited to couples or single women,” Joe says. “I want other men to know that it’s never too late. So, don’t think it can’t be done, or you can’t have a happy ending because in my case it very much is.”
While Joe says that before having Aaron, he didn’t consider himself to be a “kid person,” he still contemplated what it would be like to be father.
“I always thought it would be wonderful to pass on my family legacy by having a child of my own,” he explains. “I figured I would learn whatever I needed to along the way.”
The timing was right
Joe was inspired to pursue fatherhood on his own after witnessing his cousin become a single mom with the help of a donor and surrogate. In late 2017, as he was approaching retirement, Joe knew the timing was right to start the process.
“I waited until I was at a stage in life where I was more mature, and I had the financial resources necessary,” Joe says.
A Google search for egg donor and surrogacy agencies led Joe to an article about a doctor in the Dallas-Fort Worth area who had worked with Egg Donor & Surrogate Solutions and was a single parent to twins. “When I reached out to the agency and mentioned the article, they actually put me touch with the doctor,” Joe explains. “I was able to talk to him about his experience, and it was really helpful.”
Regarding his own personal experience with Egg Donor & Surrogate Solutions, Joe says, “It was all very positive. The process was seamless; there were no hitches.”
Choosing a donor
For Joe, a retired lawyer, choosing the right donor was extremely important, even more so than the gestational carrier because as he explains, “that’s where the legacy comes from and half your child’s DNA.” Education and intelligence were the most important criteria for Joe, followed by someone who is attractive and has a good personality.
“In my family, we’re all introverts, so I wanted someone who is outgoing,” Joe says. After doing a Skype session with his chosen donor, he knew she was the right person to help him create his family.
“I was very lucky she was available,” Joe recalls. “During the Skype meeting, I could tell that she was who she presented herself to be in her profile and photos. She was very extroverted and friendly and became emotional when I shared my story.”
Both Joe and the donor signed up for the Donor Sibling Registry so he can have access to updated medical information for Aaron in the future. While he says the donor is not open to contact right now, he’s hopeful that will change at some point.
“Whether our egg donor wishes to be a part of our lives in the future or not, she will always have a place in our hearts as her blood is in Aaron, and she shared herself in creating him,” Joe says. “I am hopeful she will change her mind in the future and be willing to be in our lives.”
Recognizing inherited traits Aaron was born 10 days early on July 4, 2019. Joe was able to be in the delivery room to witness the birth and got to hold Aaron right away – an experience he describes as “surreal.”
“I’d love to say it was like heaven and very emotional, but I was in shock,” Joe explains. “I handled it pretty well and was calm about it. For me, the experience felt matter of fact, like ‘he’s here, it’s happened.’ It wasn’t a fairy tale. That was my honest experience.”
As Aaron has gotten older, Joe has become more confident in his role as a parent, and his love of fatherhood has grown exponentially. Now at two years old, Joe describes Aaron as “scary-smart, hilarious, outgoing and high-energy.”
While Aaron is like Joe in many ways, Joe shares that he also recognizes traits Aaron likely inherited from the donor.
“The donor is a Disney actress – she’s played Snow White and Elsa – and Aaron is a drama king who loves attention,” Joe says. “That definitely doesn’t come from my side; it comes from our Disney actress.” Becoming a “kid person” One of the surprises for Joe in becoming a father is the amount of sheer joy Aaron has brought to his life. “Watching Aaron become his own little person has brought me so much joy, more than I ever anticipated,” Joe says. “He’s talking a lot now and has his own personality. I absolutely love him and would do anything for him. When he’s sick, I’m upset about it. His pain is my pain, and his joy is my joy.”
Aaron has also brought great happiness to Joe’s parents as their first and only grandchild. “One thing I didn’t contemplate was how over the moon my parents would be with Aaron,” Joe says. “My dad was ill and passed away 14 months after Aaron was born, but he was so proud to have a grandson. After his passing, I moved my mom to be closer to us, and she loves spending time with Aaron. She’s here several days a week.”
As a single parent, Joe has been intentional about creating a support network for himself and Aaron, which includes his mom, a full-time nanny, his church community and friends. “I’ve never received any negativity about being a single dad,” Joe shares. “Everyone has been wonderful and accepting.”
When asked what advice he has for other men considering single parenthood, Joe says, “First and foremost, be sure it’s what you want. Also make sure you’re financially prepared because egg donation and surrogacy is an expensive process. If you can say yes to these things, I would definitely recommend it – for single men or women. Even if you think you aren’t a “kid person” you will become one. I didn’t think I was, and now I’m happier than I’ve ever been. Aaron amazes me every day.”