Doctor's Orders: Work Less, Live More
Marcelo, 30, and Pedro, 25, have been together for 7 years and were married in April 2015. Both are physicians, Marcelo specializes in emergency medicine and Pedro in radiology and they live in Brasilia, Brazil. Since their wedding, they've been trying for a family through IVF. Last year, they also went on the adoption waiting list. Today, they are new dads to their daughter Antonella, born via surrogacy on July 7, 2017.
Pedro was on vacation, casually meeting up with a friend of his at a gay bar, when would met his future husband and father to his daughter, Antonella. Still, at the bar where they first met, "we just exchanged glances," Pedro explained. The following day, however, Marcelo did some Internet sleuthing and found Pedro online. "He had asked my friend about me, so we began to talk and set up a date to get to know each other better and we discovered we had a lot in common." The two went to the same college, for example, but had never met before.
Two months after meeting in the bar, the couple became boyfriend, and things progressed from there: they moved in together, lived together for five years before they got married.
The couple have been trying to become dads since 2015, and decided to pursue fatherhood via surrogacy. "Adoption in Brazil is a lengthy and unfair process," Pedro said. Despite registering for the adoption process more than a year ago, he explained, the couple has yet to even be contacted.
Surrogacy in Brazil also has its limitations, however, in that it is permitted only "altruistically," meaning no money can exchange hands. To serve as a surrogate, moreover, you must be a close relative of one of the parents. "This is to prevent it turning into a commercial surrogacy," Pedro explained. "The surrogate needs medical approval that she is emotionally fit and, then everything must be in a contract that clearly defines everything."
So beyond the cost of surrogacy, the couple had to find a relative who was willing to serve as an altruistic gestational carrier. With few options at hand, Pedro's mother offered to serve. "The first four IVF attempts we tried with my mom, but it didn't work." Pedro explained. "So we tried with my cousin, who also offered being our surrogate." The couple had high hopes that their fifth attempt would take hold. The two were traveling when their cousin called with the news--it hadn't worked, she said.
In that moment, the couple began having second thoughts about fatherhood. "Maybe being parents would not be our destiny," Pedro said of his though process. "We decided to take a break." But when Pedro's cousin picked up the couple from the airport following their trip, she revealed it was a joke--she was, in fact, pregnant. And on July 7 2017, their daughter was born. As for Pedro's mother, she was initially sad she was unable to help out. "But nowadays, she is radiant with her first grandchild. She's the happiest grandma."
As medical professional, Pedro and Marcelo initially thought they were well prepared to take care of an infant. "We took care of babies during college, and all the shifts we had to stay awake," Pedro explained. "But it's totally different when is your own child. Having time for myself decreased but spending more time with my family is worth it. My new philosophy is work less, live more. Since having Antonella we have changing for the better. It's challenging but we are more than happy to live up to. My whole life I have always wanted to have a big family, and it's already starting to growing."
For other gay men considering fatherhood, Pedro has this piece of advice: "Just believe in your dream even if it appears difficult because all the good things in life won't easy. In the end, all the efforts you have made will be worth it."
**Quotes edited for clarity**