Gay couple to be fathers of test-tube twins

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THE FACES of the fathers-to-be show the same mixture of pride and apprehension felt by all new parents. But Barrie Drewitt and Tony Barlow have special reason to feel both. The millionaires are to become the first gay couple in Britain to be helped to father their own children using in vitro fertilisation.

Beside them is the woman pregnant with their twins, Rosalind Bellamy, whom they hired as a surrogate mother in the United States. She is due to give birth in December.

Mr Drewitt, 30, a toxicologist, and Mr Barlow, 35, a dermatologist, live in a bungalow in Chelmsford, Essex, with a yellow Lotus and a Range Rover in the drive, and have a second home in Beverly Hills.

Their story, told in Woman's Own, has drawn criticism from family campaigners who have accused them of depriving their children of a mother.

The men considered adopting and then tried artificial insemination with a friend, but that failed. In 1997 they sought help in the US, where there are fewer restrictions on gays seeking help to have children. They are believed to have used an agency in Los Angeles which works for wealthy gay clients. After an initial false start they met Mrs Bellamy, 32, who with her husband has four children and has acted as a surrogate mother once before.

Eggs from a separate donor were mixed with sperm from both men and four embryos - two fertilised by each of them - implanted in Mrs Bellamy's womb. It is unclear who is the biological father of the two surviving embryos.

Family welfare groups accused the men of selfishness. Valerie Riches, director of the independent think-tank Family and Youth Concern, said: "We talk in this country about putting the needs of the children first, but it would seem that their needs are secondary to the needs of adults. It is not a natural environment for children to be brought up in, and children have a right to know their heritage."