A homosexual couple who defied convention by going to the United States to father surrogate twins took a more conventional route yesterday when they had the babies christened in a 13th-century church.
Barry Drewitt and Tony Barlow, who are wealthy businessmen, dressed Saffron and Aspen, aged five months, in matching Christian Dior christening robes for the 20-minute service at St John the Baptist Church in Danbury, Essex.
Mr Drewitt, 31, said afterwards: "Times change - there is no such thing as a normal family these days. We just want to get on with our lives now. I don't think that the children will suffer in any way."
The godparents include Tracie McCune, 35, who donated her eggs for the surrogacy arrangement, and her husband Jeff, a milkman. They flew from Los Angeles for the service with their two children. Mrs McCune said: "We have kept in touch since it all began and we shall always keep links with Aspen and Saffron."
Absent from the congregation of 250 was the surrogate mother, Rosalind Bellamy, who was paid £20,000 to have the twins for the pair in California, after they were turned down by adoption agencies in Britain. The couple fell out with her last year because of a dispute over her access to the twins.
Mr Drewitt said the experience had changed his view of surrogacy and that he would advise couples in similar positions against it. But he also said he and Mr Barlow still had 24 frozen embryos and did not rule out having more children.
The rector of St John's, the Rev Graham Blyth, said he was happy to christen the twins and said the family's circumstances were of little relevance. The fathers are not regular worshippers and requested the service six weeks ago.
Dr Blyth said: "Since it was revealed that the children were to be baptised there has been a lot of support from the community. This service was really about the children and the beginning of their journey through life. The church does not make any distinction about parents - we baptise the children of single parents and couples who are cohabiting."
Mr Barlow, 35, added: "I am convinced it was the right thing to do. We have had a very positive response from people. And if anyone cannot accept it then it is just too bad. They are in the minority."
The babies were born in December. When Mr Drewitt and Mr Barlow arrived back from the United States in January the twins were refused automatic entry because of their legal status. The Home Office later granted them temporary permission to stay at the men's home in Danbury.
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