Though we have been really trying to get prepared for the adventure of becoming parents, I don't think either of us thought it would actually happen so soon!! So, we thought we would blog about the process and experience(s) to share with our family, our friends, and others that may be interested in learning about two guys and their adventure in having kids and raising a family.
Where to start?!? Since this is our first blog, lets get you caught up...
My husband and I are two gay married men (thank you MA Supreme Court). We originally thought we would adopt children. So, we spent last summer (2008) participating in MAPP training (Massachusetts Approach to Partnerships in Parenting) through the Home for Little Wanderers here in MA, and prepared for our home study.
Then came the late great election of 2008. While most people were focused on getting rid of Bush and his silly conservative policies and resetting things by getting a Democrat into office, the conservative right was busy making gay adoption illegal. With so many questionable parents out there that keep pumping out kids and live in squalor, why should two guys (or gals) that love each other be allowed to share their lives and love with their own kids?!? After all, that's just going to lead to more kids lacking direction and becoming questionable parents, or - horror of horrors - more gays and lesbians, right?!?
So, since we don't really know where our lives will take us in the future, and since we don't want to be limited to "gay friendly states" (yes, CA, we still consider you to be gay friendly), we decided that it would make more sense to surrogate, than to risk having our kids taken away by people who think they know more than us, just because they can quote more bible verses than we can.
And, since surrogacy isn't something most folks have been exposed to other than hearing about the OctoMom, we thought we could set the record straight, explain a little about the process, and a little about the choices we have made to date:
- No, we aren't interested in 8+babies. One would be just as welcome as two - we're just interested in having kids to share our lives and love with... Though we are working on having two, through the same egg donor, so that they would truly be twins!
- Yes, there are many options out there for surrogacy. Frozen eggs, shared eggs, and fresh eggs, in increasing order of respective expense.
- We chose to go the shared egg route, working with a proven egg donor (who has successfully donated previously. Half of the eggs retrieved will be shared with the IVF clinic for their frozen egg bank.
- Yes, we do choose an egg donor, and while everyone may have different criteria, ours was based on health. Incidentally, the egg donor is very pretty, but that wasn't a contributing factor, as all of the egg donor profiles we reviewed were very pretty. The egg donor will provide eggs to be separated into two batches; each batch will be fertilized with our sperm. Hopefully, zygotes from each batch will make the grade, and can be implanted into the gestational surrogate.
- Yes, the egg donor's complete biological/health history is revealed, and she is open to contact by the resulting children, if they so choose to at some point later in life. We believe that this is important in case there are any biological issues that may arise in the future, whether with our kids, or their own eventual kids.
- Yes, we do choose a gestational surrogate, as opposed to using the egg donor for the surrogacy, which is often referred to as a "traditional surrogate".
- No, the gestational surrogate is not the same as the egg donor, so as to mitigate the legal risks of surrogacy (e.g., "I think I'll keep the baby" which she can't since there isn't any biological basis to do so).
- Yes, we have to choose a fertility clinic to conduct the various medical components related to the entire process. The egg donor needs to go through a battery of genetic tests, and a series of hormone treatments to prepare for the stimulation of her eggs, and their retrieval (the half that we don't use are placed into the frozen egg bank at the clinic). My husband and I have to go through a battery of genetic tests, and have our sperm retrieved and prepared. The gestational surrogate needs to go through a battery of genetic tests, and a series of hormone treatments to prepare for the implantation of the subsequent embryos.
- After lots of research and due diligence, we finally chose the IVF clinic ("the Clinic"), and and we can't say enough wonderful things about them. Incidentally, we also chose to use their inventory of egg donors for the shared egg donor cycle.
- Yes, we are responsible for reviewing all of the egg donor profiles and selecting the egg donor, based on whatever criteria we want to apply.
- Yes, all of this is done through lawyers. Lots of them. So many in fact, that they have gravitated towards each other and created many different firms/agencies across the country.
- After LOTS of research and due diligence, we finally chose the surrogacy agency ("the Agency"), and we can't say enough wonderful things about them and their talented staff - though professional, courteous, caring, thoughtful, and helpful immediately come to mind!
- The Agency also handles the process of identifying gestational carriers that we may be matched with, conducting the due diligence, screening, psychological reviews, etc.
- Yes, the Agency will take care of all the contracts between all parties, and protects everyone's rights.
- Yes, it is not exactly inexpensive.
- Out of courtesy and respect, the actual names of the egg donor and surrogate will not be used in our blog, neither will the names of the IVF clinic and/or surrogacy agency. For consistency, we will refer to the egg donor as Susie and the IVF clinic as "the Clinic"; the surrogate will be referred to as Jane and the surrogacy agency as "the Agency". We ask anyone that posts here that may know their true identities to refrain from using them, and to use these names as well. (Thanks!)
In March we were notified of a potential gestational surrogate match (Jane). Fortunately, we had also narrowed the egg donor list to the donor we were interested in. We reviewed the gestational surrogate profile, and were excited to learn about this wonderful woman, living not too far away, who is educated and responsible, and open to working with us. We asked that our profiles be sent out to Jane, and nervously crossed our fingers while waiting to hear back. Within a few days, we were provided with Jane's telephone number, and we arranged for a telephone call. Prior to the call, the Agency arranged for a prep call from one of their staff (which was REALLY helpful, since this is really so foreign to us).
The call with Jane went great - the Agency really made a great match! We wound up talking for a little over an hour, and decided to move forward with a face to face meeting.
While waiting to meet Jane, we contacted the clinic and worked on finalizing the egg donor. We are hoping to have a final answer re the egg donor's schedule this week, and keeping our fingers crossed...
We met Jane this past weekend, and were really blown away with the match. Jane is a very intelligent, responsible, stable, caring, and outgoing person. She is married to a very nice man, has two beautiful young children, and lives in a very nice home. We wound up spending almost five hours visiting together, and my husband and I left feeling unbelievably ecstatic over this entire experience. Though we had never met before, we felt like we were hanging out with an old friend.
And that essentially brings you up to date....
We are now waiting to hear from the Clinic re the egg donor we have chosen, and the Agency is working on contracts for everyone involved. Um, did we mention the lawyers? I don't see how anyone could navigate this without them!
It is entirely possible that we could be the proud father of twins by this time next year (2010)!!
This really is the start of a new life!!