"A lot of love" ... Stuart Gent and daughter Lucy. Photo: Meredith O'Shea
Stuart Gent hopes his daughter Lucy will grow up believing herself blessed, a girl conceived and born with love in mind and with the greatest care and deliberation. She was no accident or afterthought.
At two years and seven months old, she knows she has a ''tummy mummy'', a biological one, and a dad who adores her. Planning of her life began in London; the first steps to conception were taken in Boston; she was born in California; she's being raised in Melbourne.
''Lucy knows,'' says Mr Gent, 38, who is gay.
''I tell it in the way of a fairytale.
I tell her that I wanted to have a little baby girl and that I went to a big land called America … and they were able to help me find a nice lady who helped me have my little girl and there was another lady who gave me the seed. The story changes, it gets more elaborate as she gets older.''
Mr Gent is speaking about his experience at a moment when surrogacy is again in the headlines. Last week Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban announced they had become parents via a surrogate mother in the US. At Christmas, Elton John and his partner David Furnish revealed they had become parents by the same route.
Mr Gent hopes his story can also shed light on a practice steeped in controversy.
When in his early 30s, he had been living in London for more than a decade, a long relationship had ended and he was starting to ponder his future. A certainty was that he wanted a child. He considered adoption, but was defeated by red tape. So he turned to surrogacy.
Online, he established contact with a surrogacy agency in Boston. The agency matched him with an egg donor, then with a woman to carry the child. Everyone involved had psychiatric and medical tests. He first met Lucy's ''gestational carrier'' Stacy and her husband at a Californian restaurant and the match seemed perfect.
Mr Gent's sperm fertilised the eggs, which were implanted at an IVF clinic. Result: pregnancy. Nine months later, in July 2008, Lucinda was born in California. Her dad missed the birth when she arrived a few days early. He made a cross-Atlantic dash to the hospital.
''I went up to the nursery and they said, 'Which one do you think is your daughter?' and I said, 'The little one, frowning.' And I was spot on.
I just knew.''
Mr Gent brought her home to Melbourne a month later. His family was supportive. Friends rallied around. He now has a partner, Craig Swain, although they don't live together.
''I'm a single father, that's it,'' Mr Gent says. ''I just happen to be gay. It took three years for me to become a father. There's a lot of love goes into that. My objective is to give her as much courage and confidence as
I can so that if there are any problems, she can weather them.
''It comes down to the amount of love you give to a child, and she has plenty of love.''