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  • Writer's pictureRalph M. Tsong

Surrogacy Film Review: Baby Steps (2015)

baby steps

Released in 2015, “Baby Steps” is written and directed by Barney Cheng who also plays the lead character as Danny Lee. The film was featured in a Q&A with the director at the 2018 Men Having Babies conference in San Francisco. This multicultural comedy-drama film takes its audience on an emotional rollercoaster that highlights the challenges experienced by individuals pursuing parenthood through surrogacy.


The film follows the life of Danny, a successful Taiwanese-American man, and his American partner Tate (played by Michael Adam Hamilton). Danny longs to become a father, but the path to parenthood is not straightforward for him. “Baby Steps” explores Danny's decision to pursue surrogacy as a means to fulfill their dream of having a child. When Danny’s traditional Taiwanese mother, Ma (played by Ya-Lei Kuei), finds out about their plan, she is horrified and tries to stop them. Upon realizing Danny’s unwavering determination, Ma shifts to micromanaging all aspects of the delicate situation. Ma’s unwillingness to accept a less-than-perfect candidate, leads the parties to travel around the world to Taipei, Bangkok, Mumbai and Los Angeles in search of the ideal gestational surrogate.

What’s Realistic About This Film?

“Baby Steps” depicts the realities of surrogacy and assisted reproductions. It portrays the journey of a gay man and his partner who embark on a path to parenthood through surrogacy and assisted reproduction. The film effectively highlights the emotional rollercoaster that intended parents often experience while navigating the complexities of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), including choosing a surrogate, addressing legal hurdles, and dealing with societal perceptions. While this film focuses on describing a gay couple’s journey navigating the world of surrogacy, it also touches on the resiliency of single intended parents. Danny’s drive to become a parent no matter the obstacles thrown in his way, over his mother and even prioritizing it over his relationship with Tate, is a virtue we see in some of our intended parents and was seen in the film Together Together. Like other single intended parents, Danny will not be discouraged by the judgments of society or the difficulties of being a single parent, he just knows he wants to be a dad and that love will be enough.

Aside from surrogacy, another noteworthy aspect of "Baby Steps" is its exploration of cultural identity and the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ individuals within traditional family structures. Through Danny’s turbulent relationship with his Ma, a tiger mom who embodies traditional Taiwanese values, the film portrays the cultural clash Danny experiences as he reconciles his Taiwanese roots with his American lifestyle. Throughout the film, viewers see how Ma struggles to accept Danny’s sexuality and his decision to pursue parenthood through surrogacy. In fact, Ma forces Danny to hide his sexuality and surrogacy journey from his Taiwanese extended family and friends in fear of being judged. All in all, the film sheds light on the importance of acceptance, understanding, and open dialogue within families, and the power of love to bridge cultural and generational gaps.

How Accurate is it from a Legal Standpoint?

baby steps

The film does not involve any discussion of the legal aspects of surrogacy, however, legality looms large with trying to navigate international surrogacy. This is especially seen when the law changes in Mumbai, India. Danny and Tate are no longer able to proceed with their surrogacy journey in India because of an amendment to the law that only allows married heterosexual couples to pursue surrogacy in India. (Note, India does not allow commercial surrogacy to non-Indian citizens at this time.) As a result, Danny and Tate are forced to reconsider how and where to proceed with their surrogacy journey. Moreover, there is some exploration about whether an intended parent can really monitor the activity of a surrogate in the United States. This is shown in the beginning of the film when Danny and Ma are looking at surrogate candidates and Ma is doing everything in her power to find the perfect surrogate for her first grandchild, even following a potential surrogate home to spy on her private life. When Danny finds out, he reprimands Ma and explains that an American surrogate cannot be micromanaged.


“Baby Steps” not only touches the hearts of its viewers, but also sheds light on the emotional journey and legal complexities associated with surrogacy and assisted reproduction. It weaves together the themes of love, family, culture, and the legal aspects surrounding ART. “Baby Steps” is a film worth streaming for anyone interested in surrogacy and it is currently available to stream on Hulu and Prime Video.

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