Sharing is part of community. But what Theo and Christo Menelaou asked of their next door neighbour went far beyond the bounds of common courtesy. Desperate for children, the same-sex couple needed a surrogate mother. Rejected by adoption clinics for being unable to offer a conventional family environment, this was their last hope. Their desire was fuelled by the deepest, most fundamental human need: to have a family. And their neighbour understood, agreeing to carry the Menelaous’ precious cargo.
Their dream of having children was closer than ever, but the couple’s anxieties were far from quelled. The Menelaous provided sperm to fertilise two eggs, each given the DNA of one of the fathers. But during the pregnancy, one egg split. Complications followed, causing doctors to suggest that the couple terminate two eggs to protect the third. Refusing to give up on their children, the Menelaous searched until they found doctors who would fight for them. Birth came prematurely, but all three babies survived.
The Menelaou babies are the first triplets in history to be fathered by a South African same-sex couple. They came into the world in July 2016, just weeks after the world’s first ever same-sex-fathered triplets were born in America. Having overcome a storm of social stigma and practical obstacles to become the happy unit they are now, each family moment the Menelaous spend together is sheer bliss. Our nation is as strong as its communities, and they depend on the strength of families.