Gay Dad Family Stories

Sister Act: How Four Siblings Helped Joey and Rob Become Dads

The husbands *also* received help from Men Having Babies, a nonprofit helping gay men become dads via surrogacy.

"I first learned about Men Having Babies while searching the internet for insurances that covered surrogacy," said Joey Guzman-Kuffel, 40, a Marriage and Family Therapist. "As I researched our surrogacy options the Men Having Babies link popped up. When I clicked on their link, I learned that this awesome organization was bringing awareness to men wanting to have babies and the possibilities to do so."

Joey and his husband Rob Kuffel, 47, Protocol Officer for the US Navy, have been together seven years after meeting via OKCupid.com. They chatted for a week via the app, then graduated to a phone call which lasted 3-4 hours. "I always knew that I wanted to have kids and knew that I needed to be with a partner that wanted to have kids as well," said Joey. Rob felt the same way. The two were married in May 2014.


The husbands decided to have children through surrogacy in part because Joey's sisters (all four of them!) volunteered to help the husbands have children. "Three of my sisters volunteered to be our egg donors and another our surrogate. I shared with Rob that we were blessed to have family that were willing to help us." As the eldest of six, Joey is incredibly close with his tight-knit family. "I come from a Hispanic family and we were raised to always put family first," Joey added.

Their journey to fatherhood took four years. Sadly, Joey's sister who offered to be their surrogate was unable to move forward in the process and so the couple thought they'd have to work with a surrogacy agency to assist them in the matching process. They took the first steps, and had a successful egg retrieval with one of Joey's sisters and were able to create five viable embryos. It was at this point they first encountered Men Having Babies (MHB).

"Rob and I attended a Men Having Babies conference November 2017 in New York while Rob was mobilized with the military and we were temporarily living in Rhode Island," said Joey. "Rob and I found the conference to be very informative." Even though the husbands had already created frozen embryos, they wished they'd learned about MHB from day one in their journey. "Sitting there and hearing other people's stories about their journeys was an amazing experience and it allowed for Rob and I to look into the future and see ourselves just like the people who were speaking on the panel. It's a great place to get information and realize that gay men having babies is possible."

Despite having already begun their journey, they were still able to apply and ended up qualifying for Stage 1 and 2 of the MHB's Gay Parenting Assistance Program, which was a huge help to the dads-to-be.

Despite the financial aid, the dads-to-be still encountered hurdles. Due to some miscommunication with their first agency, they moved to work with a second agency, and they were able to present them with a surrogate whom they had found independently. Sadly after three attempted transfers, their doctor recommended finding another surrogate. As they had gone from having five viable frozen embryos down to two, they wanted to be extra careful and they followed their doctor's advice.

After three months of waiting, they matched with what was now their third surrogate in this process. Thankfully, their first embryo transfer with their two remaining eggs was successful. After a few weeks, the dads found out that they were expecting triplets as one of the embryos had split. Sadly the twins didn't make it past 9 weeks, and at the same time they received the news, Rob's mother passed away. "It was a difficult time, and I found myself in constant fear of losing our singleton and feeling happy about having one remaining baby after the loss of the twins."

In August 2019, Rob and Joey became first-time dads when their daughter was born with the help of their incredible surrogate. Camila is the apple of her daddies' eyes and they both describe her birth as a surreal moment. "An overwhelming sense of love consumed Rob and me. When we did our first skin to skin, I remember as I looked into her eyes telling myself that all the difficult moments Rob and I went through were all worth it to get to the moment where I was holding her. She was our baby and she was finally in our arms. Such a breath-taking moment."

The dads are thriving in new roles as fathers, although it has taken some time to readjust from their previous lifestyles. "Before having a child, my husband and I were used to coming and going as we pleased and just worrying about ourselves and our pup." Now, with Camila, their hearts have doubled in size, but so has Joey's tendency to worry. "For example, I am extremely hyper-vigilant and always making sure that my daughter is safe and okay. I have never felt a strong instinct to be overprotective." And, of course, sleep has gone out the window.

Joey and Rob are forever grateful for organizations like MHB that helped guide them through the complicated surrogacy process. "I believe that organizations like MHB are important because they provide a platform of information for gay men wanting to have babies. It can help with teaching where to start and how to start, and on a larger scale, it brings awareness to a larger community outside that of the gay men wanting to have babies on the need for services to assist gay men with having babies."

"What MHB does is really special and I am happy that there is an organization as such that is bringing awareness to our needs and advocating for us as well."

***

Join Men Having Babies at their 7th annual MHB West conference in San Francisco, January 17 to 19, 2020. The conference will look at parenting options in the United States and Canada, and also debut the Advocacy and Research Forum on Friday along with the complimentary services expo on the Sunday.

Click here for more information and to register.

Joey and Rob with their surrogate and her wife before and after baby Camila was born


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Surrogacy for Gay Men

Interested in Surrogacy? Check Out These Bay Area Events This Weekend

If you're in the Bay Area this weekend, two major events are happening that will be of interest for dads-to-be and surrogacy advocates: the Men Having Babies San Francisco Conference, and the SF Advocacy and Research Forum for Surrogacy and LGBT Parenting (ARF)

If you're in San Francisco or the surrounding area, clear your calendar this weekend. Two events are happening simultaneously that are significant for dads-to-be AND surrogacy advocates: the Men Having Babies San Francisco Conference, and the SF Advocacy and Research Forum for Surrogacy and LGBT Parenting (ARF). For an outlines of both events, check out below.

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Surrogacy for Gay Men

A Dream Becomes Reality, After a Men Having Babies Conference

New Yorkers David and Brian said their dreams of fatherhood crystalized only after receiving a "ton of information" at a Men Having Babies conference.

New Yorkers David F.M. Vaughn 39, and Brian Becker, 37, are new dads. Over the past three months, the two most important things they've learned as fathers is "patience, and how to swaddle LIKE A CHAMP!" David and Brian chose surrogacy as their path to fatherhood, but making that decision was one of the more difficult parts of their journey. Brian's siblings are adopted, and while they still want to make adoption part of their family journey, certain opportunities arose that made their surrogacy decision easier. Brian's sister enthusiastically offered to be their gestational surrogate, and they discovered more about the process with the help of Men Having Babies (MHB).

But let's jump back to the beginning of their story.

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Sponsored

A 'Men Having Babies' Conference Started These Happy New Dads on Their Path to Parenthood

In the Bay Area? Sign up now for the next Men Having Babies Conference taking place this January 12-13!

Last year, after 12 years together, Jimmy Nguyen and Michael Duque were finally ready to become dads. And so in 2017 they began their journey to fatherhood. Little did they know how quickly that would become a reality. What began with a serendipitous sighting of an ad for an upcoming Men Having Babies conference resulted in the joyous birth of their son in October 2018. Here's their story.

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News

What's it Like to Be a Child of the 'Gayby Boom'?

Tosca Langbert, who grew up with two dads, writes a piece for the Harvard Business Review about what it's like being among the first children of the "Gayby Boom" to come of age.

We've previously written about the pressure on LGBTQ parents to appear perfect, given that so many in the United States still feel out families shouldn't exist in the first place. And we know this pressure trickles down to our kids. But In an article for the Harvard Business Review titled 'The Gayby Boom Is Here to Stay," author Tosca Langbert eloquently writes, from her perspective, about the experience of beingone of the first children to come of age during an era when LGBTQ parenthood is far more commonplace. She and her two siblings, she notes, "were raised in a family that was an impossibility only decades ago."

In the article, Langbert said she knew from a young age that her family was different from those of most of her peers, who had one a father and a mother. But otherwise, she writes, she didn't feel like her family differed much. "Like any other parents, Dad sat in the carpool lane after school and taught us how to ride our bikes," she writes, "while Papa took us to the movies on the weekends and separated the whites from the colors."

Despite this mundanity, her family remained something to marvel at for much of her youth. When the family moved into a new neighborhood in 2006, it made the local newspaper, with a headline titled, "Gay Father Tests Tolerance in the Park Cities."

She and her siblings have spent much of their lives, she explained further, having to respond to the question: what's it like having two gay dads? For Langbert, there is only one correct response, which is: Amazing! "Any other response, even if simply accounting for a family's nuanced experience, might as well be an outright admission of failure on behalf of the entire LGBTQ community," she wrote.

Children of the 'Gayby Generation,' are also put in the position of having to come out on behalf of their parents, and "often with mixed results," she wrote. She gave the following anecdote as an example:

"My father was asked to step down from his leadership position in my brother's Boy Scout troop on account of his sexuality. Even though my siblings and I were only fourth graders at the time, we understood that our family was under strict scrutiny, and that even the slightest misstep could beget severe consequences for how competent our fathers were perceived as being. In the face of this pressure, the first generation of 'gaybies' recognized the importance of presenting their families as perfect; doing otherwise would only present ammunition to those already dubious about the rights of LGBTQ parents to raise children."

The entire article, which includes the perspectives of multiple now-grown kids that are part of the "Gayby generation," is well worth a read, which you can access here.


Politics

Utah Bill Would Allow Gay Men to Enter Surrogacy Contracts

Rep. Patrice Arent of Utah is sponsoring a bill that will remove a provision that currently prohibits gay men from entering into commercial surrogacy contracts in the state.

Though Utah is not one of the three states that currently prohibit commercial surrogacy contracts, the state's current policy does specifically exclude gay men from doing so. That may soon changed, however, thanks to a bill in the state's legislature that was unanimously voted out of a House Committee that would remove that restriction.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, a Democrat, was created in response to a ruling by the Utah Supreme Court this past August that found the ban on gay men unconstitutional.

Gay men have been excluded from legally entering surrogacy contracts due to a provision in the current law that requires medical evidence "that the intended mother is unable to bear a child or is unable to do so without unreasonable risk to her physical or mental health or to the unborn child," Rep. Arent told the Salt Lake Tribune — a requirement that clearly excludes gay male couples.

The state's original surrogacy law dates back to 2005, before same-sex marriage was legalized in the state, which accounts for the gendered language. Though the state's Supreme Court already ruled the provision unconstitutional, Rep Arent further told the Tribute that, "People do not look to Supreme Court opinions to figure out the law, they look to the code and the code should be constitutional."

Politics

Colorado Republicans Try and Fail to Outlaw LGBTQ Marriage and Adoption Rights

A bill introduced by four Republican state legislators in Colorado that would outlaw same-sex marriage and adoption rights was voted down.

The "Colorado Natural Marriage and Adoption Act," which would have outlawed gay marriage and adoption in the state of Colorado, was voted down in the state legislature this week. The bill was sponsored by Republican Rep. Stephen Humphrey and three of his conservative colleagues: Dave Williams, Shane Sandridge and Mark Baisley.

If enacted, the bill would have enforced "state law that marriage is between one man and one woman" and restrict "adoption of children by spouses in a marriage ... that consist of one man and one woman."

The bill, which had little chance of success, particularly in Colorado which has trended more progressive over the past several election cycles, was mostly symbolic, according to Sanridrge. "We all know this bill isn't gonna pass in this current left-wing environment," he told Colorado Public Radio. "It's to remind everyone, this is the ultimate way to conceive a child."

In a sign of how far we've come on the issue of LGBTQ marriage and parenting rights, most Republican legislators in the state did not endorse the bill.

Though the bill had little chance of passage, LGBTQ advocacy groups in the state are taking the threats seriously nonetheless. Daniel Ramos, director of the LGBTQ group One Colorado, told LGBTQ Nation that the bills were an attempt to return Colorado to its "hate status" of the 1990s, adding the aggressiveness of the measures were "a bit surprising."

Surrogacy for Gay Men

Dads Talk About Surrogacy Process in New Video for Northwest Surrogacy Center

The Northwest Surrogacy Center interviewed some of their gay dad clients for a video to celebrate their 25th anniversary of creating families through surrogacy!

Image: NWSC Clients

Last year, Northwest Surrogacy Center celebrated 25 years of helping parents realize their dreams. And they celebrated in style by inviting the families they've worked with over the past two and a half decades to join them!

At the party, they took the opportunity to film queer dads and dads-to-be, asking them a couple of questions: how did it feel holding your baby for the first time, and tell us about your relationship with your surrogate.

Watch the video below and get ready for the water works!

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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