Single dad Tom Garden cried tears of joy as his son entered the world last June.
Four years ago, Garden was single and not thinking about having children. Having run his own business for so long, he wasn’t focused on much else.
“I was married to the business. I never thought about kids. Then we sold the business in 2013,” Garden told InsideEdition.com.
Garden, 47, who is Jewish, travelled to Israel and randomly ran into his cousin who brought up a truth that Garden had never thought of.
“One of my cousins said, ‘If you don’t have kids, your lineage is going to die.’ Being the last male in the Garden line, that reality hit me hard,” Garden said.
Once he returned to his home state of Minnesota, he told his mother about his idea of having children, but as a heterosexual, single man, he thought it was too late for him.
"I told my mom I’d like to be a dad and I am sick of the dating life," Garden said. "She recommended a surrogate and I had no idea what that was. My mom really encouraged me."
Garden’s mom began researching IVF clinics and eventually Garden was able to find an agency in New York, New York Spring Life, which provided Jewish egg donors from Israel.
“I got in touch with the agency and they sent me all these profiles of these Israeli girls that wanted to be egg donors. It was very surreal. It was a very kind of weird feeling just kind of looking at these profiles picking which person you want to be the genetic mother of your kid,” Garden said.
Once he chose the donor, Garden then had to go through the process of finding a surrogate, which he was able to do relatively quickly. Garden chose a woman named Nicole, who lives in Arkansas and is married with four children of her own.
On October 6, 2015, at the Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey, Nicole had the embryo implanted and she became pregnant on the first try.
Garden said Nicole kept him updated throughout her entire pregnancy and the two actually became friends.
“She would send me sonograms," he said. "She would show me the baby and how it was doing. We were close. I was really insecure because I had never even held an infant. I knew nothing about it. My relationship with the surrogate and doctors was really helpful because I knew nothing about raising a child.”
Garden said he was petrified as his son’s due date approached. He’d never so much as held a child in his entire life. He hired a doula to show him how to take care of his son and to be there during the delivery process.
Joseph Garden, who is now almost a year old, came into the world on June 25, 2016. His dad said raising a son by himself is challenging but rewarding.
"There are incredible moments when my son will come up to me and grab my leg and say “da da” and smile and it melts your heart," Garden said. "I still talk to my surrogate every two weeks. I get a lot of encouragement from her. If you asked me a few a years ago if I would have done this, I would have asked if you are crazy.”
While men resorting to IVF may seem rare, Garden says he encourages others who feel like they are running out of time to consider it.
With six frozen embryo’s still left, Garden is now trying for a second child which would be carried by the same surrogate at the end of June.
“I have no cousins here or relatives here," Garden said. "It’s just me, my mom and my son. I really want a big family so I may keep going if it works the second time.”