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This Gay Couple's Surrogacy Journey was a Logistical Nightmare. But it Fulfilled a Lifelong Dream: Fatherhood

Grant and Gabe's surrogacy journey stretched across four cities and two countries, but it was well worth the extra effort.

Grant Gochnauer and Gabriel Fontes de Faria met online in late November 2006 while the two were both living in Chicago. Before meeting, the two spoke on the phone several times over the course of a week and quickly realized they had so much in common. Eventually, they decided to have their first date at a local Thai restaurant.

Grant, co-founder and CTO of an enterprise software company, says Gabe quickly proved himself to be a gentleman: "I remember how I was immediately impressed with simple things such as Gabe's good manners and the way he treated those around him" says Grant.

After they finished their meal, Grant escorted Gabe back to his condo, and proceeded to help fix his computer. (That, if you were wondering, was not a euphemism: they ended their date with a simple hug.)

It was clear to them both that they had found something special. "[We] both knew in that moment that there could be magic in a relationship. Even though we grew up in different countries, we shared the same values and had a similar upbringing." Grant said.


Gabe (left) and Grant with their daughter, Elle

Gabe, originally from Rio de Janiero, was a 20-year-old student at the time attending the Illinois Institute of Technology for his Bachelor of Architecture degree. Grant was 26 and originally from California. Even early on in their relationship, fatherhood was a topic they discussed early and often.

As time went on and their relationship flourished, the idea of fatherhood began to push to the forefront of their relationship, but there was still a major hurdle in their way. As a student, Gabe had no assurances he would be able to continue living in the United States after he graduated once his student visa expired. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) still in effect at the time, which prohibited the government from recognizing same-sex marriage on the national level. Even if the couple married, then, Grant would have been unable to extend his citizenship to Gabe through marriage, a right enjoyed by heterosexual binational couples.

The prospect of fatherhood seemed hopelessly dim until Gabe's status in the country could be made more permanent.

On July 20th, 2013, Gabe and Grant were married in New York City – one of the first marriages after the Supreme Court struck down DOMA a month earlier on June 26th. With DOMA repealed, it meant Grant could finally sponsor Gabe for a green card through marriage. It also meant the couple could confidently begin pursing their dream of becoming dads.

Grant and Gabe chose surrogacy as their path to fatherhood as it provided them with the most control over their journey.

"We were fortunate to know other gay couples that used an agency and had such a wonderful experience. We felt we wanted to start with this approach," said Gabe, whose sister offered to donate her eggs to the dads-to-be.

The couple was very fortunate to experience a very smooth surrogacy journey. The biggest challenges they faced, they said, were logistical: it proved difficult to coordinate the relevant parties who were scattered all across north and south America. Schedules were hard to coordinate: the dads were located in Chicago, while their surrogate lived in Virginia. Their fertility clinic was based in Los Angeles, and the egg donor resided in Brazil.

"We worked with an agency out of Boston," explained Grant, "and based on their recommendation and comparisons with other fertility clinics we chose PFCLA in California," he continued, using the acronym for the Pacific Fertility Center Los Angeles.

But with the help of PFCLA, they pulled it off: Grant and Gabe's daughter, Elle, was born June 1, 2016.

What's changed for the men since becoming dads? They've become experts on children's television and music. They've become fast friends with other parents raising similarly aged children. They've learned that they can't control things as much as they'd like. Most importantly, they have experienced the joy and love that children bring into a family. The hugs, the smiles, and laughter are precious. "There really isn't anything better than coming home to see your daughter who runs into your arms yelling 'daddy'." says Grant.

It's a journey that's soon to have a second chapter: Grant and Gabe have begun their second surrogacy journey with PFCLA. They're excited for Elle to have a little baby brother or sister in the not too distant future. All of us here at Gays With Kids wish them success, health and happiness in their exciting chosen path of fatherhood.

*We've partnered with Pacific Fertility Center Los Angeles to share some of the stories of the men whom they helped become dads. Be sure to keep an eye out for next month's family!

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Politics

Utah Court Rules Gay Couples Can't Be Excluded From Surrogacy Contracts

The Utah Supreme Court found in favor of a gay couple attempting to enter into a surrogacy contract.

DRAKE BUSATH/ UTCOURTS.GOV

Earlier this month, the Utah Supreme Court ruled that a same-sex couples can't be excluded from entering into enforceable surrogacy contracts, and sent a case concerning a gay male couple back to trial court to approve their petition for a surrogacy arrangement.

As reported in Gay City News, the case concerns Utah's 2005 law on surrogacy, which was enacted prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage in the state. As a result, the content of the law is gendered, saying that surrogacy contracts should only be enforceable if the "intended mother" is unable to bear a child. When a gay couple approached District Judge Jeffrey C. Wilcox to enter into a surrogacy arrangement, he denied them, arguing that the state's law only concerned opposite sex couples.

"This opinion is an important contribution to the growing body of cases adopting a broad construction of the precedent created by Obergefell v. Hodges and the Supreme Court's subsequent decision in Pavan v. Smith," according to GCN. "It's also worth noting that same-sex couples in Utah now enjoy a right denied them here in New York, where compensated gestational surrogacy contracts remain illegal for all couples."

Read the full article here.

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The Most Important Woman a Gay Man Will Ever Date

Kristin Marsoli of Circle Surrogacy gives some tips and tricks for getting to know your surrogate once matched

It's time to fine tune your dating skills because you're about to enter into the most important courtship you'll encounter. And it all starts with the biggest first date of your life.

And it's with a woman.

This woman is your gestational carrier; the woman who will carry and care for your baby until she delivers this little bundle of joy right into your arms.

Matching with a gestational carrier – or surrogate – is one of the most exciting milestones in your journey to parenthood through surrogacy. However, it can also be the most nerve wracking. Chances are you've seen a profile about your potential surrogate match so you know a little bit about her and her family. But before you commit to this woman, you'll need to meet her first – either in person or via video. And this is one first meeting you've probably never prepared for!

Circle Surrogacy has been matching surrogates and gay dads for almost 25 years. Here are tried and true tips and tricks to getting to know your surrogate...and keeping the relationship alive during pregnancy and after birth!

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Gay Dad Life

"Daddy, Which Belly Did I Come From?"

How do gay dads talk to their kids about the women that helped bring them into the world?

When you tell your kids the story of how they came to be, is the woman who delivered them identified by a face and a name? That's a decision that every gay dad has to make when it comes to having kids through surrogacy or adoption. In this episode we explored two ways of keeping in touch with the birthmother (for adoptive kids) or the gestational surrogate (for IVF and surrogacy) as part of gay dads' children's birth story.Some adoptive parents choose to have an 'open adoption,' where the child gets to meet the birthmother. Parents who go through surrogacy sometimes keep in touch with the surrogate and have their kids meet her when they are old enough.

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Thoughts and Prayers Aren't Working:​ One Father's Plea for Gun Reform

One gay dad's plea to our leaders to enact sensible gun control

My articles on GaysWithKids aspire to be lighthearted, helpful and humorous. This one won't be any of those things. Because I'm feeling heavyhearted, helpless and sad. Last week I woke up to news of yet another mass shooting. This time at a family-friendly Garlic Festival in northern California. I don't know if it's because this one hit so close to home, or if it's because the headline included a picture of the innocent 6-year old who was among those killed, but I am overcome with emotion. But mostly I am angry. And I don't know what to do with my anger.

Then, just a few days later came two additional horrific mass shootings that stole the lives of at least 32 more innocent people, many of them children. And then there's the "everyday" gun violence that plagues American cities like Chicago, where guns injured another 46 people this past weekend alone… creating so much turmoil, a hospital had to briefly stop taking patients.

How does one verbalize the collective sadness felt around the world? One can't. And that's why I am asking everyone reading this article to commit to getting involved in some way, to help end this epidemic once and for all. Even though the solution is so obvious, we can't allow ourselves to become numb to mass shootings. Because becoming numb isn't going to save anyone.

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Politics

Gay Russian Dads Forced to Flee Moscow

Fearing the Russian government might take their adopted kids into custody because of their sexual orientation, Andrei Vaganov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev fled Moscow

A married couple in Russia, with two adopted children, were just forced the flee their home in Moscow for fear that the authorities would take their children away, according to German news site Deutsche Welle.

Trouble started last month after investigators in Russia opened a criminal inquiry into the proceedings that had allowed the gay couple, Andrei Vaganov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev, to legally adopt the two boys —adoption by LGBTQ people in Russia has typically not been recognized. The government became aware of the adoption proceedings after the gay couple brought their 12-year-old son to the hospital, who was complaining of a stomachache. The boy was fine, but after he mentioned offhand that he was adopted and lived with two fathers, the doctor called the police.

Andrei and Yevgeny granted an interview with Deutsche Welle after escaping Moscow, but on the advice of their lawyers have yet to disclose where they are currently located. Here is a quick recap of that conversation:

"In connection with the 'propaganda of non-traditional values,' the state representatives are accused of having neglected their duty of supervision," Andrei said, when asked to explain on what basis the Russian government might take his children into custody. "This means that lesbian couples could even have their biological children taken away because, through their lifestyle choices, they propagate "certain values."

Yevgeny also explained the events that led to the couple's harrowing escape "I was alone in Moscow at that time. A week after Andrei and the children had left the country, there was a knock on my door, but nobody called 'police, open up.' After half an hour the violent knocking stopped. My parents' home was searched. They were looking for the children and our Danish marriage certificate because we got married in Denmark in 2016. My friends then got me out of the country."

Read the full interview here.

Gay Dad Family Stories

This Couple is Using 'Wheel of Fortune' Winnings to Help Fund Their Adoption

Need to raise money for your adoption fund? Why not try your luck on Wheel of Fortune like these guys!

Doug and Nick Roberts connected three and a half years ago via a dating app, and on their first date, the two immediately felt a connection. Doug, a psychologist, and Nick, a neuroscientist, were married 18 months later. Today the couple live in the suburbs of Philadelphia, and they're ready to start their next exciting adventure together: fatherhood.

The husbands would like to have children, and Nick has always wanted to adopt. "We considered surrogacy, and may consider it in the future as we expand our family," said Doug, "but right now, it is cost-prohibitive. Adoption was easily the right choice for us as we begin to grow our family.

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Change the World

4 Tips for Using Instagram to Connect with Gay Dads Offline

We asked gay dads who have successfully met up with other LGBTQ families offline for some of their tips

Last week, we ran a story about several gay dads who did the unthinkable: meet other gay dads IRL after connecting on Instagram! We get MANY questions from gay dads wondering how they can meet up with others in their area, so we decided to dig a bit deeper this week to get their advice. What can gay dads do to meet others off the 'gram?

1. Be kind — share others' excitement in parenting!


From @twinlifedads Ben and Andy:

"Be kind. That is absolutely it. Be kind to each other and don't be afraid to reach out. Respond to each other when you can. Share in excitement for each other. There is no reason to bring someone else down who might be excited about how they are parenting."

2. Drop a couple comments and likes before reaching out!

From @brisvegasdad Tim and Nic:

"I think drop comments now and then on their posts and instastories and see where things land. Chances are, if you're commenting on a post and it is a heartfelt response, they'll click through to your account, look at your photos and connect with you. And that's when the magic happens - you can introduce yourself, talk about your lives and how things are being a parent... and after a while, if you're in the same neighbourhood, you meet up and grow your friendship organically. That being said, I'm obsessed with Bobby Berk from Queer Eye and his husband Dewey Do - if they ever had kids, I'd probably be completely unsubtle and leave strange awkward comments on their instaposts saying, 'GAY DADS MEET UPSSSSS'."

3. Go in with no expectations

From @stevecsmith Steve and Ben:

"I always try to reach out without any expectations – mostly just to provide a positive comment. I like to leave it up to the other parents to comment or message back before suggesting meeting up or a playdate. Every family is different, so how each person is going to respond is different too."

4. Keep trying!

From @theconways13 Ricky and Jeff:

"Reach out to other families, start a light friendly conversation. Get to know each other and let conversations happen organically. If they lead to a play date great! Our first experience in meeting another lgbt family (not through ig/gwk) was very awkward cause there wasn't a whole lot of conversation happening before hand. The conversations leading up to the play date will help make the first play date with the family go a lot smoother and fun. Don't be afraid of not connecting with the other families. If it isn't successful the first time, continue reaching out to to other families- don't let it deter you from reaching out to others."

Fatherhood, the gay way

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