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Aspen was sobbing.. Brooklyn said: Don't worry, your daddy will be here in a minute and your dad's home soon; EXCLUSIVE: GAY MILLIONAIRES ON THEIR NEW BABY JOY.

Byline: JANE RIDLEY

LIKE many mischievous youngsters, Aspen Drewitt-Barlow loves to eavesdrop on his parents' private conversations.

And when he heard that a new baby was on the way he couldn't contain his excitement.

Within minutes of arriving at nursery school, he blurted out the news to his teacher and the rest of the class. They included his pal Brooklyn Beckham, son of superstars Posh and Becks.

However, while Aspen's playmate is Britain's best-known child, the blond three-year-old has a claim to fame of his own.

He and his sister Saffron have two dads, Barrie Drewitt and Tony Barlow - the gay couple who made legal history when they became fathers using an egg donor and a surrogate mother.

Now the unconventional family is eagerly awaiting its new addition in September.

Millionaires Barrie and Tony's son is expected to be born in the UK. The mother, who lives in California, was implanted with embryos remaining from their 1999 attempt, making the child the twins' biological brother.

"We're absolutely delighted," says Tony, 38, who shares a mansion in Cheshire with Barrie, 34, and their children. "But it was meant to be a big secret. We hadn't even told our parents.

"Then we went to collect the kids from school the other day and their teacher said: 'I hear congratulations are in order!'

"Aspen, who hangs around quietly listening to everything that's said, had overheard us and told everyone he was having a new baby brother. Now both the children are excited and Saffron can't wait to have a go at changing the baby's nappies."

Manchester-born Tony and Barrie, who own homes in Beverly Hills and Spain, shower the children with expensive gifts. The three-year-olds drive miniature motorised Mercedes cars around the nine-acre garden.

AT the twins' lavish third birthday party in December, attended by Brooklyn, there were clowns, jugglers and acrobats - and elephants, zebras and llamas.

"The elephants were a pain," says Barrie. "They ate the fence."

He knows he could not have been a parent if he and Tony had not been rich. The road to fatherhood cost more than pounds 200,000.

"They say money can't buy happiness, but if we didn't have money we wouldn't have our children now," says Barrie.

But the pair faced a storm of protest when they fought to bring the twins to Britain before they were allowed to stay indefinitely as US citizens.

Now that UK adoption rules are being updated to allow gay couples to raise kids, there could soon be hundreds of families like the Drewitt-Barlows.

Tony insists they are ready for the inevitable questions from the twins as they grow up.

"We'll teach them to cope," he says. "They know where they came from and their heritage."

The couple have told them about Los Angeles mum Tracie McCune, who donated her eggs, and the surrogate, Rosalind Bellamy, who was paid pounds 20,000.

Rosalind has since fallen out with the men after they sued her over the fee, but Barrie says the twins have regular contact with Tracie and other female relatives.

"The kids have a female nanny and they know that Tracie is their mum," he adds. "They talk to her all the time on the phone. But to them it's completely natural to have two dads. I'm Daddy and Tony's Dad.

"The other day at school, Aspen got a bit tired and tearful. Brooklyn came up to him and said: 'Don't worry, Aspen. Your daddy will be here in a minute and your dad's home soon."

Saffron, meanwhile, is the archetypal little princess.

"Saffron couldn't be more girly," says Barrie. "Everything has to be pink. She's got a thing about shoes and she keeps her own make-up bag with lipstick, nail varnish and mascara.

"Aspen, on the other hand, wants guns and is crazy about Bob The Builder and tools."

Tony says they take their role as parents very seriously.

"Having children changes you completely," he adds. "You feel so much more mature. When one of the twins comes over and says: 'I love you, Dad', the emotion breaks you up.

"But there's the anxiety and the responsibility, too. Sometimes, if I've had to tell them off because they're naughty, I worry about it afterwards. I say to Barrie: 'Do you think I'm a good father?' But you can't let them do just anything."

The couple, who sold their dermatology business for pounds 4million in 1998, had long wanted children.

"We had a big house in Essex and a mansion in Beverly Hills," explains Tony. "We bought flash cars, we flew to New York for weekends and gave parties.

IT was exciting at first, but you soon realise it is so shallow. You think: 'What's the point?' Something was missing."

They tried to foster, but despite glowing references they were turned down. So they learnt about surrogacy on the internet and paid for five attempts in the US, which failed.

Then an agency put them in touch with Rosalind and Tracie.

"We wondered which of us should be the father," recalls Tony. "But then we discovered that we both could be. In the US they can separate the male and female sperm. We decided that I should provide the male sperm and Barrie the female. That way, the children would be able to trace their genetic background."

Two male and two female embryos were implanted in Rosalind. One of each sex took.

Barrie and Tony were at the Caesarean birth in California on December 9, 1999. Aspen was born first, at 6lb 13oz, and Saffron a minute later, weighing 5lb 3oz.

"The first thing I heard was Aspen screaming and it was such a miracle that I broke down," recalls Tony. "Barrie kept telling me to shut up. It was the happiest moment of my life."

Barrie adds: "At last I felt like I had my family. I thought: 'My God, now it's real.'"

Next morning, a nurse handed each father a nappy and a baby and said: "Right, guys, one for you and one for you", then left them to get on with it.

Now they are counting down the days to the new arrival, secure in the knowledge that they can make double fatherhood work.

CAPTION(S):

A version of this interview by Linda Hawkins appears in this week's NOW magazine, out now.; FUN: Brooklyn Beckham with parents Victoria and David; DADS' DELIGHT: Tony Barlow (left) and Barrie Drewitt with twins Saffron and Aspen
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 12, 2003
Words:1077
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