The sole exponent of surrogate partner therapy in the UK in the 1970s was Dr. Martin Cole. Unkown to us, when Jane and I started our work in the UK it coincided with the stage in Martin’s life when he wanted to retire, but there was nobody to succeed him. If he had retired before finding a successor, surrogate partner therapy in the UK might have disappeared into oblivion. However, in 1994 my telephone rang; Dr Cole contacted me and told me how surprised and pleased he was to learn of our embryonic work in London. He handed the torch to us, and with it, the responsibility for lighting the bigger flame. I will always be grateful to Martin for his calm assurance: especially at times when we felt isolated and needed wise advice from somebody who understood the true nature of this work.
In the mid 90s, we withstood the onslaught of the UK national newspapers, and reeled under the pain of their insults. Of me, the tabloids announced,
Preaching To The Perverted!
Of my wife Jane,
Boggle Eyed Tart!
Of our first surrogate partner,
Amongst other accusations hurled at us was,
Procuring women for immoral purposes.
The most self-righteous double-page centre spread blazoned,
What Goes On In This House In The Name of Therapy?
There were many other such projections from hypocritical journalists, eager to impress and advance their personal careers. As soon as one exposé hit the news-stands, other tabloid newspapers and magazines swooped upon us like vultures hungry for their prey. Almost every major newspaper in the UK jumped on the bandwagon: promising to “put the story right”; to “deal with the issue with sensitivity”; they told us that they had “a lot of experience” in “dealing with highly sensitive areas of life and interest”. They thought our therapeutic work was “much needed” and “very important”. What they and their money-hungry editors really wanted was a sensationalist story involving the intriguing cocktail of spirituality, therapy—and sex. Their attempts to discredit us personally and locally within our community were blatant and dishonest. We felt invaded and betrayed: raped by journalists.
In the waves that followed, some associates distanced themselves from our work, afraid for their own reputations. Our family were deeply hurt and angry, but it was their love and support that gave us strength to search deep within ourselves for perspective; we had to fundamentally decide whether to go on with the work, or give up. Friends, clients and colleagues in this country and overseas rallied to support us. After a dark and lonely period of introspection, we chose to use the experience from which to learn: rather than allow it to divert our commitment from completing what we were building. Amongst other changes, we strengthened our infrastructure and protocols to ensure greater safeguards for staff and clients. We also deepened the initial health screening of clients and improved the training of our surrogates. Looking back now, the media actually did us a lot of good, although I suspect their intentions were malevolent and their tactics shameful: loaded with deceit.