Fredrik Eklund's Husband Derek on Fatherhood: "Everything Happens for a Reason"
The #MDLNY artist opens up about his role as a dad to his son Kai.
Fredrik Eklund and husband Derek Kaplan have let Million Dollar Listing New York viewers in on everything from date nights to wedding vows to even something as personal as their journey to fatherhood. And this past season of MDLNY things got even more personal for the pair as viewers were introduced to Derek's son, Kai. Kai lives in London full-time with his moms, but as Derek told The Daily Dish, he makes sure that he balances his life in NYC with his role as a dad to his young son.
"It is very difficult not seeing my son grow up close to me, but I knew from the beginning that I would have to make that trade in order to have him as a single man living alone in London," he said. As we learned on MDLNY, Derek became a dad after he donated his sperm to a lesbian couple he met in London about seven years ago. "I did not anticipate moving to New York and being so far apart. I always block time off throughout the year and try to involve my parents for short holidays with him and Fred. It’s about trying to create some good lasting memories as a kid from him to remember me by so that he knows I was there for him regardless of distance," Derek added. "It’s hard, but it gets easier because we spend more and more time together. And you know Fred, he is so adventurous and loves to travel so it makes it easier. All Fred talks about now is to plan the next trip to see Kai… So, that warms my heart. Everything happens for a reason."
The choice to film with Kai — and thus introduce him to the world — wasn't an easy one for Derek. However, that family time in London led to quite a moment of clarity for Fredrik, who has long wanted a child. "Honestly, I was hesitant at first and had my concerns. He is my son and I love him so much. But when I thought more about it, I realized he is such a big piece of our life puzzle. You see, little Kai unknowingly has been so inspiring for Fred and I to pursue a family of our own, and I am really proud to share a few moments of our world with him," the artist said, noting that it was during Season 5 that Fredrik realized that he already has a son in Kai. "I know Fredrik reacted weirdly at first to him in London, but he came around and opened his heart to Kai. I know Fredrik, and behind the apartments and all the sales he does, this is what is really important to him. We both feel the same. We are both his fathers now. So it’s great to share a small part of that with the viewer."
And sharing that side of his life has certainly been well-received by those who watch the show. "So many amazing responses! Well, at first [there were] very varied questions from people asking if I was straight and married to a woman, to excited people just wanting us to share more moments with Kai!" he said. "I think a LOT of people can see themselves in our situation: there are so many types of families out there today, and different kind of parents. It’s not about biology, it’s about love and giving the child that. The truth is before I meet Fred, I found an amazing lesbian couple who also wanted to have children, and co-parent with a gay dad. There was so much chance and destiny involved in the way this worked out, and Kai happened almost immediately! I think I hit the jackpot as they are two amazing mothers and he is the most loved kid ever! Now he has four parents moving him. Anyone who have met him says he is a little angel, and I think it’s because he gets so much love from so many people."
Kai has adjusted to living his life in front of the cameras quite well — thanks to the Big Apple agent. "[Kai] is quite chilled out with the cameras and not too fazed. I know he really wanted to see Fred, and that’s all he cared about, not the cameras," Derek recalled. "After they hugged, and Fred started acting like the big child he really is himself, and pulling funny faces in front of Kai and made him laugh he forgot the camera completely! And then we took him and my parents to the bigger ferris wheel in the world!!!!"
While Kai has been a father for several years now, Fredrik's dream of becoming a dad had yet to be realized until he decided to embrace his role as Kai's dad, as he explained on the MDLNY season 5 finale. "I think Fred has struggled more with the failures of trying for a child than I have — so by him distancing himself it was his way of dealing with the hurt and disappointment he was still feeling at the time," Derek said. "It had nothing to do with Kai personally as Fred loves Kai like his own and is no less a role model father than I am. If anything, Fred is obsessed with Kai and loves him so so much, that it was just a matter of turning a switch in his head, to accept that he already is a father, always was. I see them together now, as Kai is visiting us in NYC this week, and they are always together. It’s so natural for them."
In case you're wondering, when it comes to Derek and Kai, the apple definitely doesn't fall far from the tree. "I am told he is like me in some ways. I had to laugh recently as his mum told me he likes eating raw butter (which was also my childhood thing!). As a kid I used to leave teeth marks in the butter and infuriate my mum! Like father like son?" he said. "He has this calm around him, and twinkle in his eyes. He is so happy all the time. I’m more moody, I think, but then again I’m an artist [Laughs]."
Being Kai's dad definitely has Derek excited for the next chapter in his life as he and Fredrik are still looking to expand their family. "Before meeting Fred, I had spent years thinking about having a child and felt becoming a father was something I was destined to be," he said. "I had set a goal of becoming a dad at the age of 35 regardless of whether I was in a relationship or not, and my ideal situation — at the time — was to co-parent with two women who were in a long term committed relationship. One day I woke up and said today is the day I start my journey! It was something inside that spoke to me. Within 2 weeks I had meet Kai’s mothers through an agency, and the moment I heard from them, I instinctively knew they were ‘the' ones. We spent a few months getting to know each others families who were all supportive before we brought Kai into the world! It was the most surreal experience of my life when I heard his heart beating. I was very lucky to find Kai’s mothers as they are the most loving parents I could have dreamed for. We were also lucky that all of our families came together and gave us all the love and support. And now when Fredrik is Kai’s father, too, everything has fallen in its perfect place. Actually, there is one last thing I can’t wait to see: the day Kai gets to greet his new brother and sister from us."
There's definitely space for Kai to come and visit at Fredrik and Derek's dreamy Connecticut mansion. Take a tour of the home, below.