From the Dance Floor to Diapers: Allen and Justin's Journey to Fatherhood
14 years ago, on the eve of Justin's 25th birthday, Allen Gaoiran and Justin Brumfield found themselves enjoying a 2-hour open bar from 10pm to midnight at the now defunct Opaline club in Manhattan's East Village. After taking advantage of the open bar, the couple promptly met for the first time on the dance floor at 12:05am. They've been together ever since.
"Within a few months of dating, we knew we both wanted children," said Allen. "It took over a decade for that dream to become a reality, but most of that time was spent traveling, focusing on our careers and becoming the people we wanted to be as parents."
They now have two children via surrogacy, Rowan and Sutton, born March 6, 2017. Here's their story.
After meeting in 2003, Allen and Justin bounced around the country for quite a bit trying to find the perfect place to buy a home and raise a family. After 4 years together in New York, the couple did a three year stint in San Francisco before returning to New York for a year. Eventually, they decided to call Atlanta, Georgia home.
It likely comes as no surprise, then, that the couple loves to travel. Their first major trip together was to Hawaii, where Allen was born, so that Justin could meet his family. Since then, they've traveled around the globe, including South America, Europe and Asia. On a trip to Barcelona in 2010, Allen proposed to Justin in front of the Sagrada Familia. They were married in downtown New York on April 9, 2012.
But before the couple got serious about starting a human family, they decided to first test their parenting chops with a couple of four-legged babies: Greta the dachshund and Pearl the French bulldog. In many ways, they say, this furry twosome prepared them for fatherhood.
When the time was right to start a human family, Allen and Justin first considered adoption. They signed with an open adoption agency and worked with them for 2 years. During that time, Allen and Justin felt let down by their agency. Their main contact was switched a number of times, and the communication and correspondence was slow. While they were on the waiting list, they began to contemplate surrogacy.
"Intuitively, we didn't think it was going anywhere which led to us speaking to a surrogacy attorney," explained Allen. "A few months into our surrogacy process, we found out that the adoption agency applied for bankruptcy and closed all of their offices."
The dads-to-be were glad they had gone with their gut instinct.
"We know many families that started with a wonderful adoption story, but the agency we chose prevented us from having a good experience."
Allen and Justin found Tomorrow's Parents International, an agency in Marietta, Georgia. They chose to work with TPI due to their experience, location and the people they met there. In less than 6 months after signing with TPI they met their surrogate, and a year after that, they were holding Rowan and Sutton.
"The relationship we have with our surrogate will last our entire lives," said Justin. "We instantly connected and had incredible communication from the start."
They attended every doctor's appointment, every ultrasound, every false alarm and as well as the delivery of the babies earlier in the year. Allen, Justin and their twins meet with their surrogate regularly so she and her daughters can see the babies.
Now that they're new dads, everything has changed. They've had to become much more disciplined in their routines. While one runs errands, the other stays at home with Rowan and Sutton. Despite their intense schedules, the couple both manage to prioritize the gym, which itself takes a feat of strength: Allen wakes up at 4am to feed the dogs and do prep, then heads off to his fitness class at 5am while Justin sleeps. Allen gets home at 6:15am, and while Justin gets ready to go to the 7am class, Allen showers and gets the babies' milk ready to feed them at 7am. Justin gets back around 8:20 and Allen heads off to work.
"Exercising gives us stamina to keep up with their energy level," said Allen. "We run a pretty tight schedule and stick to it as consistently as we can. I am lucky to be part of their morning and evening routines. I look forward to that everyday."
And as dads to twins, they're going to need to all the energy they can get! But if they ever need a break, their first two children can step up to babysit. Sutton and Rowan are just as smitten with the Greta the dachshund and Pearl the French bulldog as the dogs are with them. And isn't it always the biggest blessing for the parents when the siblings get along so well?