Friday, 14 January, 2011

Elton John: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, hello nappies and sleepless nights

Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John was born weighing 7lb 15oz, to an unnamed woman in California.
There was speculation that his second name was a tribute to Sir Elton’s friendship with the late singer Michael Jackson and Levon is the title of a song from Sir Elton’s 1971 album Madman Across The Water.
The couple are believed to have paid an agency more than £100,000.
“We are overwhelmed with happiness and joy at this very special moment,” Sir Elton, 63, and Mr Furnish, 48, said in a joint statement. “Zachary is healthy and doing really well, and we are very proud and happy parents.”
It was not clear whether the birth was natural, induced or the result of an elective Caesarean. Mr Furnish, as the younger man by 15 years, is thought more likely to be the sperm donor.
He said it typically took 18 months for a couple to complete the process, and the total cost for a same-sex couple, including medical and legal expenses, was about $150,000, including a $20,000 to $30,000 fee for the surrogate mother.
Prospective parents usually meet the surrogate several times before the pregnancy, and provide the agency with photographs of the baby up to the age of 24 months.
Age was considered when prospective parents applied: “One might be a bit older but the other might be younger. We do worry about longevity but it averages out.”
Sir Elton and Mr Furnish’s civil partnership was formalised in 2005 and the singer had spoken of his desire to become a father, announcing last autumn that he had overcome his doubts about his age and wanted to adopt a 14-month-old orphan boy from Ukraine.
The plans were thwarted by Ukrainian laws which do not recognise same-sex civil partnerships. British law changed in April when it became legal for two men to have a child by a surrogate and for both men’s names to appear on the birth certificate as legal parents.
Surrogacy is still tightly regulated in Britain and couples often consider travelling abroad, where the rules are less strict.
Sir Elton’s announcement was greeted with concern from some groups. Josephine Quintavalle, founder of Comment on Reproductive Ethics, said: “Although I am sure Elton’s child will not want for anything, money is not everything. There is very much an age for being a parent and an age for being a grandparent.
“It would be very difficult to adopt a child at 63 but we seem to have a different approach to approving surrogacy parents.”
Andrea Williams, head of Christian Concern, said: “Children are not commodities. Just because you can buy or access something does not give you the right to do so.”
Elizabeth Hurley, the model and actress, was among the first to offer her best wishes, writing on the Twitter microblogging service: “Massive congratulations to David and Elton on having their beautiful son. Can’t wait for my first cuddle.”
Piers Morgan, who spoke to Sir Elton on ITV’s Life Stories, was caught out by the news, writing: “Feel such a fool – Sir Elton never even hinted he was pregnant during our interview.”
The singer Boy George commented: “What does it matter, gay or straight, if they make great loving parents?”

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