MP Tāmati Coffey says he and his husband Tim Smith are feeling excitement – and “a bit of trepidation” – about raising a daughter.
“We don’t know much about girls,” he told the Rotorua Daily Post with a laugh after announcing on his Facebook page yesterday that the couple “can’t wait” for their second child – expected in March – to be born.
The baby girl is being carried by surrogate Danae Bernard – also known as their “Wonder Woman”. She is the biological mother of the baby and their son, Tūtānekai Smith-Coffey, born in July 2019.
The Rotorua-based Labour MP said that to have Tūtānekai, Bernard gave them an egg. Then another friend carried Tūtānekai.
“This time around, she’s given us the egg to use again for our baby number two, but this time she’s carrying.
“Given our situation, it’s the most awesome possible arrangement that we could have made, because Tūtānekai was made with Tim’s sperm and this next baby is made from me.
“The biggest thing for us is that Tūtānekai and our little baby girl will be biologically connected through the same mum.”
Coffey - whose Improving Arrangements for Surrogacy Bill is before Parliament - said he and Smith had so much respect and gratitude for Bernard, and for all surrogate mothers who went through pregnancy on behalf of couples who could not have kids.
“It’s so selfless and it’s created this really special opportunity for us.”
The former broadcaster said the couple were excited to grow their family and had plenty of places to turn for support.
“As two guys with a little boy in the house, we felt really confident and capable about raising him through personal experience and knowing what it’s like. But we will be looking to our friends and our whānau for support on how to adjust what we know for our little girl that’s going to come into our life.”
Coffey said his mother, who lived downstairs from them, was “ready to swing in with her grandmotherly tips”.
And his sister was “standing by and waiting to meet a little niece”.
“I feel as though, despite the fact that we’re not necessarily experts on girls, but actually we’ll be okay. We’ve got plenty of aunties and plenty of nannies around to be able to help us.”
Asked if he had wanted another boy or a girl, Coffey said they had taken a “2022 approach” and were just “stoked” to be having a baby.
“Whether it was a girl or a little boy didn’t actually worry us.
“And also noting that these days, whatever gender they’re born with may not be the gender that they choose to live when they come of age, so I come back to the fact that we just feel grateful and fortunate to be able to grow our little family one more.”
Coffey said their shared ethos was that everyone needed somebody to “go through life with”.
“If that can be a brother or a sister ... then that’s a really special bond and connection that we can give to our kids to enable them to tackle some of the big challenges that life throws out.”
Earlier this year, Coffey and Smith sold their two Eat Streat businesses, Rotorua International and Our House, with Smith planning to return to his teaching career as Coffey continued his work as a list MP.
Coffey was MP for Waiariki in 2019 when he submitted his surrogacy bill - his first member’s bill.
The bill aimed to simplify surrogacy arrangements, ensure information recorded on birth certificates is complete, and provide a way to enforce surrogacy arrangements, in case an intending parent chooses not to take custody of the child.
Under current laws, intending parents of a child born via surrogacy are not offered automatic rights to custody of the child, meaning a formal adoption process is required to complete the arrangement.
“Having observed the process and been through the process ... I recognise lots of things needed to change,” he told the Rotorua Daily Post at the time.
The bill was introduced to Parliament in September last year, passing its first reading in May.
It is at the select committee stage, with a report being prepared for the House, including recommended changes to the bill.
On Thursday, Coffey said he felt “even more” motivated about the surrogacy bill and addressing “some of the shortcomings of the system”.
“It’s still before the committee and we’re in the process of moulding it and folding in the recommendations from the New Zealand Law Commission on surrogacy, so that work is currently going on with officials and in our select committee.
“So we look to be able to make announcements about where we’ve landed kind of early next year.”