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Diver. Olympian. Knitter. Icon. Legend. OBE. Parent to son Robbie. Tom Daley barely needs any introduction. As a nation, we’ve watched him grow from his first Olympics in Beijing to his recent Gold medal winning efforts where he took the Tokyo pool by storm. He joined Gi on the Happy Mum Happy Baby podcast to for a natter about what being a father means to him, how it has impacted his approach to his sport and his journey to parenthood through surrogacy.

For as long as he can remember, Tom has wanted to be a parent. In fact, he remembers travelling through an airport when he was 15 or 16, seeing a cute baby outfit and making the decision to buy it for his future child. “I think it was because of the relationship with my Mum and Dad,” he explained. “It was so close and then when I lost my dad it was like I wanted to be everything he was to me to someone else because every child deserves to have what I had with my dad because it was such a special relationship. We were so close and I wanted to share all of the lessons that he taught me just through being an amazing parent.”


Extremely complex

His Dad may have been embarrassing at times but “now being a parent I realise that if Robbie qualified for the Olympics at 13 years old I would want to go and give him a hug at all costs at any moment. He just didn’t care what other people thought. He had this such an amazing outlook on life that was so positive and so like energetic and I just loved that. Now being able to do that for my son has just been absolutely incredible.”

Once Tom began to realise he was gay, he began to question how he would have children and what the future of that would look like for him. Once he met his husband Lance, they began to explore their options. Tom told Gi: “It is a lot more complicated for same-sex parents to have children. You have to really think about it and really, really want to have kids in order to be able to make it work. It’s extremely complex for same-sex couples in a number of different ways.


Pass on the people we’ve lost

He added: “We looked at the process of adoption and then we also looked at the process of surrogacy both in the US and in the UK. Lance and I have both lost people. I’ve lost my dad. Lance had recently lost his mum and also his brother and so we had lost so many people in families and I don’t know. There was something about surrogacy that we were drawn to that just meant that we could pass on the people we’ve lost – their their genes and their thoughts, their feelings, their personalities and being able to bring someone into the world like that felt so extremely special.”

For Tom and Lance, meeting and getting to know their surrogate was a really special part of their experience, allowing them to “gain a whole other dimension” to their family. They got to meet her and her family and they’re still in touch, speaking often on FaceTime. Tom described her as “our guardian angel”. To Robbie, she’s his “tummy buddy”.


Fly higher than I’ve ever thought

Parenting has changed so much for Tom, including his approach to diving. “It has made my life better in so many ways. Just that sense of perspective of what really matters most is that my family love me and support me and it’s just taken so much pressure off what goes on in my work life with diving. Because I know that whatever happens, if it’s good or bad I know that I’m going to be able to go back to a family that loves me which allowed me to fly higher than I ever thought”.

Like every other parent, Tom feels the weight of parenting judgement: “All parents are trying to do the best that they can and and I think so so many people are so quick to judge. But people don’t have any idea about what might have happened early on in the day or how they might be feeling if they’re  well or if they’re unwell. And being same sex dads I felt a lot of extra pressure to be good parents and to be doing the right thing.”

“You always do feel a bit judged when you’re out in public because you want to be showing that you’re doing the best you possibly can. I think it can be weird sometimes for people to see two dads and a baby and so we always felt like we had to really be the best parents that we could ever be.”


Listen to the Tom Daley chat with Gi on the Happy Mum Happy Baby Podcast wherever you find your podcasts or watch the whole conversation below.

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