Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Gay Belgian Dads Give Detailed Account of Their Two Surrogacy Journeys in the U.S.

Gay dads Wim and Dirk pen a detailed essay to give a glimpse into what the surrogacy process is like in the United States as a foreigner.

Written by dads Wim and Dirk.

At first we didn't know about the surrogacy possibilities in the United States, so we prepared ourselves for adoption. We followed the mandatory adoption courses, as most gay couples in Belgium do when they want to have children. We started with the international adoption course but when most countries closed international adoption for gays we decided to give up international adoption and go for national adoption. While we were in the process of being evaluated (psychologically, financially, ...) we read an article in a newspaper about a gay couple that was expecting a child through surrogacy. We managed to contact them and they've told us their surrogacy journey.


Even though we had lots of doubts, we contacted their surrogacy agency CSP (www.creatingfamilies.com), set a date for our first Skype contact and gathered as much information as possible. As the adoption process was continuing we needed to make a choice and decided surrogacy was the right path for us. Mostly because national adoption was presented with lots of caveats like the uncertainty of the health of the child (drug addicts) and the possibility of unplanned contact with the birth mother, father or grandparents.

But since surrogacy is expensive, we still had our doubts about how trustworthy surrogacy agencies are. Luckily Wim's mother overheard a conversation at the local bakery about a heterosexual couple that was pregnant through surrogacy. They we're using the same surrogacy agency and assured us all expenses were acceptable (no excesses) and carefully reported. That's when we decided to stop the adoption process at once and start our surrogacy journey.

It was about one month after finishing all administration that we were chosen by our first surrogate mother, Sabrina. She had been working with a heterosexual couple, but they didn't get pregnant and decided to work with another surrogate. Nevertheless, we we're very happy to be chosen by Sabrina and couldn't wait to start working with her. In October 2012 we travelled to California to meet Sabrina and her husband in Laguna Beach. The meeting was arranged by our counselor who was also present. It seemed like time stopped when our counselor left to get Sabrina. But the moment she entered, we immediately felt what a warm person she is. We had a drink in the restaurant, went for a walk and had an enjoyable conversation the next few hours. We didn't have that connection with her husband though, who didn't seem to be interested.

During our trip to California we also had an appointment at the fertility center and the doctor made us feel comfortable. We both left a specimen of semen for the insemination.

Unfortunately, our first egg donor turned out to have chlamydia, so she couldn't donate at the time Sabrina was ready for the first attempt. We either had to wait 6 months and try again or choose another egg donor. We chose the latter to be able to do the first implantation 3 months later. The egg donor donated 14 eggs out of which 12 could be used. The doctor inseminated 6 eggs with each of our semen. When the DNA of all embryo's we're tested for abnormalities, it turned out all of Dirk's embryos were flawed but 3 Wim's embryos were good. We chose to use the strongest male embryo.

We had to wait about 2 weeks until the doctor would check if Sabrina was pregnant or not. Sabrina couldn't wait that long and tested herself at home. Of course, she couldn't hold the positive result to herself :-) A few days later the doctor confirmed the pregnancy. We were so very lucky our first attempt was successful!

Usually we had a Skype meeting once a week. Besides discussing personal topics, she kept us up-to-date on her doctor appointments and surrogacy group meetings. Funny fact: in Belgium it is custom to keep the name of the baby secret until the baby is born. That's why Sabrina always referred to the baby as B6, the embryo's designation (boy number 6).

After a few months we learned she was divorcing her husband. Besides the emotional aspect we had doubts about the financial strength of Sabrina but we were assured that wouldn't be a problem. More importantly, we had to look for insurance since she couldn't use the insurance of her husband, who wasn't working for the government, anymore. On the bright side, she was already involved in a new relation and we had a great contact with her new companion.

When Sabrina was 6 months pregnant we went to visit her again. She had an amazing surprise gift for us: a 3D ultrasound of our baby. Besides spending time with Sabrina and James, we also enjoyed the Californian sun.

About 3 weeks before the planned birth of our son, we received a phone call from our counselor in the middle of the night (Belgian time). Sabrina didn't feel well, went to the doctor and was diagnosed with sepsis. Our counselor told us Sabrina had to go in labor that day! We immediately realized we wouldn't make it for the delivery. Even though we booked our flight right away, we wouldn't arrive until 2 days later. In the meantime, Sabrina did take care of our son, Thomas.
When we finally arrived, we were exhausted but went to the hospital right away to hold our son. Finally, the moment we had been waiting for so long had arrived.

While waiting for all the paper works – birth certificate and passport – we stayed close to Sabrina. After a week we wanted to go to Santa Monica for the remaining days but on our way, we got a call of the hospital that Thomas was dehydrated, and it would be best to stay nearby, just in case. So, we stayed a little longer in the high desert region.
Luckily, all the paper works were quickly settled, and we were able to return to Belgium, with Thomas, 2 weeks after his birth.

On the airplane we got a lot of attention of the flight crew, because of our very little travel companion. We got even more attention at the airport in Belgium as all our family was waiting for our arrival.

Back in Belgium we stayed in touch with Sabrina, having Skype calls one a week. In the next months, our Skype contact diminished, and we gradually switched to liking each other Facebook post. It still is a fantastic way to stay up-to-date without intruding each other's life.

We always wanted 2 kids and we both wanted to be the biological father of one of them. Since all of Dirk's embryos weren't viable, we knew we had to work with an egg donor again. Be preference, that would be the same egg donor. At first, we didn't plan on starting a new surrogacy cycle for the next year (or two?). But when we were informed our egg donor wanted to go on a long trip to Europe, we decided to move quickly to ensure ourselves we could use same egg donor.

Because of the sepsis, Sabrina wasn't allowed to be our surrogate once again, so we had to work with another surrogate mother. Fortunately, we found a match in Sheila very soon. Our counselor had suggested us to Sheila as we would be a good match. She was a single mother with an 18-year old son, Jordan. Like Sabrina, she experienced a failed conception with a heterosexual couple, but our surrogacy agency ensured us the problem was not with her.

A few months after our first Skype contact later we travelled to L.A. with Thomas, to meet up with Sheila. This time we would meet in Newport Beach at the Marriot hotel. We invited Sabrina too, so they could meet each other as well. After our we met Sheila and her son Jordan, we had a lovely diner with Leila, Jordan, Sabrina & James. Even though neither one ever told us, we had the impression Leila and Sabrina didn't get along very well.

Just a few days later, we had an appointment at the fertility center to do a fresh cycle. Our egg donor would donate while Dirk would provide a fresh sample of semen. Kind of strange we weren't allowed to see each other, but we respected the anonymous nature of our contract.

This time only 6 eggs were donated, out of which 4 were good enough for fertilization. Since all embryos were flawed last time, our hope on having a at least one good embryo wasn't very high, and we were already thinking about our next moves in the worst-case scenario. Fortunately, 3 embryos turned out to be viable. The only little downside was there were no female embryos, so we couldn't have a girl as we would have preferred.

We didn't have any more setbacks as Leila got pregnant with the first attempt too. If everything goes that smooth, you almost consider it normal even though we did realize we were very lucky.

Compared to Sabrina, our relationship with Leila was more reserved and business-like, but as we're rational and direct ourselves, we didn't mind. We kept each other up-to-date with a weekly Skype call.

Between Christmas and New Year, when Leila was about 7 months pregnant, we – including Thomas – went to California to meet her in Palm Springs. Because of the holidays we didn't spend that much time together but we both appreciated the ability to see each other in person.

Just one month later, we got another phone call in the middle of the night. Our counselor told us Leila would give birth to our son that same day. Once again, we would be too late for the birth of our child. We arranged our flight right away, but we were only able to leave the next morning. It was strange being at work while our counselor – who was with Leila during birth – kept sending us WhatsApp updates on the birth. Getting a picture of your newborn son via WhatsApp just isn't the same as waiting in the hospital to see him. Luckily, we both aren't very emotional persons.

Two days later we were able to hold Matthias for the first time. In the meantime, Leila had cared for him, together with her parents.

We stayed close to Leila and the hospital the first week of our stay. As Matthias did have jaundice, we received a UV mat we had to wrap around Matthias. Some people must have thought we were aliens when we plugged in our glowing baby at a restaurant.

After a week we moved to Marina Del Rey to enjoy the beach until we had received all papers. This time we were able to return to Belgium 10 days after our arrival. We had a lovely final dinner with Leila and Jordan, but Leila did have a hard time saying good bye to Matthias. We almost felt guilty about having to keep your son. Luckily, her son was there to support her.

The welcoming party at the airport was once more heartwarming. Especially seeing Thomas again after so many days.

Facebook is still the best way to automatically keep each other up-to-date. Unfortunately, Leila doesn't want to use Facebook or Instagram, but we send an automated e-mail each time we post a picture. That way, she receives our updates and she usually responds with comments.

Show Comments ()
Gay Dad Family Stories

David and Ben Met on the Dance Floor — and Are Now Grooving Their Way Through Fatherhood

David and Ben, who became fathers with the help of Northwest Surrogacy Center, live in Melbourne with their daughter, Maia.

In 2003, while both studying at Reading University in the UK, Ben Suter and David Cocks met after locking eyes on the dance floor and then being introduced by a mutual friend. Ben, a meteorologist and Operations Manager, and David, an Assistant Principal, have been together ever since. They moved to Australia together in 2010, seeking a different life, and an overall better work-life balance. The chose Cairns in Queensland as their new home, between the Great Barrier Reef and the tropical rainforest, "taking life a bit easier," said David. The couple were also married in June 2016, back home in England.

While David always wanted kids, Ben took a little convincing. So they started their parenting journey with a dog, Titan, who quickly became like their first born. From there, Ben came around rather quickly.

Keep reading... Show less
Change the World

A Gay Fertility Doctor Opens Up About His Own Path to Parenthood

Parenthood is the "one and only job" held by the majority of the population, wrote gay fertility doctor Mark Leondires in a recent op-ed for The Advocate

Dr. Mark Leondires, founder of the fertility clinic RMA of Connecticut, has helped thousands of LGBTQ people become parents over the years. But in a recent op-ed for The Advocate, he discussed his own path to parenthood as a gay man, and some of the lessons he's learned along the way.

"Similar to most gay men I struggled with the coming out process," Dr. Leondires wrote. "I strongly desired to be a parent. And as a fertility doctor I knew this was possible. What was enlightening was after we had our first child is that in the eyes of my community, I went from being a gay man or gay professional to being a parent just like most of my straight friends."

Dr. Leondires goes on to say his reasons for opening up about his parenting journey is to offer some perspective LGBTQ people who are considering parenthood. "Once you have a family you will have this common bond with the vast majority of our population and something they can relate to — having children," he wrote. "You are no longer someone living this "special" lifestyle, you are a parent on a shared journey."

Being a parent is the "one and only job" held by the majority of the population, he continued. "It is also the only job you can't be fired from."

Understanding this commonality helped Dr. Leondires in his coming out process, he said. "I had to be proud of my family because I want them to be proud of our family," he wrote. "It wasn't about me anymore. The reality is that 5-7% of patients identify as LGBTQ+, and there may be a greater likelihood that your child might be LGBTQ+ because you are. Therefore, you need to be proud of who you are and who your family is, establish and maintain this foundation unconditionally."

Read Dr. Leondires entire essay here.

News

People Magazine Interviews Four Surrogates in Latest Issue

People Magazine helped humanize the experiences of surrogates by interviewing for women who carried babies for other people

There are common misperceptions about what motivates women to do the seemingly unthinkable: carry a child for another person. The only motivator, people assume, must be money. But as anyone who has been through the process will tell you — the reasons women decide to carry children for other people are varied. Financial compensation is of course a factor, but typically it is not the only one, and rarely is it even the most important.

Recently, People Magazine ran a feature on four women who served as surrogates, which helped reveal a plethora of other motivators. Sammie Diaz, for instance, carried a son for a gay couple in Seattle, because she was motivated to help people who can't have children on their own start their families — money was just a minot factor.

Keep reading... Show less
Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Single Gay Dad and the City

When Kyle decided to take his four kids, ages 6-11, to New York City on vacation, his friends thought he was crazy.

"You're crazy, Kyle."

"You can't be serious? A single dad taking four kids to the Big Apple? Think again."

"That's bold. There's no way I'd do that."

Those were a few of the responses I heard from my friends as I told them I was thinking of booking a trip to New York City with four kids, ages 11-6. My children's fall vacation from school was approaching and I wanted to get out of the house and explore. Was the Big Apple too much of an adventure?

Keep reading... Show less
News

National's Pitcher Cites Wife's Two Moms as Reason for Declining White House Invite

"I think that's an important part of allyship," Doolittle said of his wife's two moms.

Sean Doolittle, pitcher for the Washington Nationals, declined an invitation to the White House after his team won the World Series this year. In an interview with the Washington Post, he listed his numerous reasons for staying home — and a main consideration, he revealed, was his wife's two moms.

"I want to show support for them. I think that's an important part of allyship, and I don't want to turn my back on them," Doolittle said during the interview.

Trump's treatment of a minority groups, generally, factored into his decision as well. "I have a brother-in-law who has autism, and [Trump] is a guy that mocked a disabled reporter. How would I explain that to him that I hung out with somebody who mocked the way that he talked or the way that he moves his hands? I can't get past that stuff."

Doolitttle clarified that his decision had little to do with policy disagreements with the White House. "There's a lot of things, policies that I disagree with, but at the end of the day, it has more to do with the divisive rhetoric and the enabling of conspiracy theories and widening the divide in this country. My wife and I stand for inclusion and acceptance, and we've done work with refugees, people that come from, you know, the 'shithole countries.'"

He concluded by saying he respected his teammates decision to attend the White house ceremony. "I want people to know that I put thought into this, and at the end of the day, I just can't go."

Read more of the Washington Post interview here.

News

New York Will Fight 'Repugnant' Trump Rule on Adoption, Says Cuomo

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York promises legal action of the Trump administration moves ahead with plans to allow discrimination against LGBTQ adoptive and foster parents

Last week, the Trump administration announced plans to allow adoption and foster care agencies to discriminate against prospective LGBTQ parents — but he may face a legal fight from (former) hometown. In a tweet, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York said the proposed move "isn't just discriminatory and repugnant to our values,— it's also heartless and dumb as it would deny countless children a loving family and a safe place to call home." If the proposal moves forward, he continued. "we'll take legal action to stop it.

Governor Cuomo's office followed up the tweet with a lengthier statement posted to their website:

Once again the Trump administration is attacking the hard-earned rights and protections of the LGBTQ community, this time proposing a new measure that would give foster care and adoption agencies license to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Trump's proposal isn't just discriminatory and repugnant to our values — it's also heartless and dumb as it would deny countless children a loving family and a safe place to call home. If he moves forward with this rule, we'll take legal action to stop it.

No matter what happens in Washington, New York State is and will continue to be a beacon of equality in this country. Our Human Rights Law and adoption regulations expressly prohibit discrimination against the LGBTQ community, including when it comes to adoption. I encourage any LGBTQ New Yorker who feels they are a victim of this discrimination to contact the State Division of Human Rights for assistance.

Our message to the Trump administration is simple: there is no place for hate in New York or in our nation, and we will not allow this noxious proposal to stop LGBTQ New Yorkers from becoming parents or providing care to children in need.

Surrogacy for Gay Men

'Men Having Babies' to Make Case for New York Surrogacy Reform

Come this Friday to hear how Men Having Babies and other advocates plan to pass surrogacy reform in NY

Three MHB members lobbying in Albany, with Senator Brad Hoylman, who led the passage of the Senate version of the bill

Since it's very first meeting in the form of a 2005 support group for biological gay dads and dads-to-be, Men Having Babies (MHB) has been advocating and educating folks on surrogacy. This has taken place in the form of many elements including conferences for those considering surrogacy, their Gay Parenting Assistance Program which helps fund many gay men undertaking the expensive surrogacy journey to fatherhood, and their extensive directory and review system on surrogacy agencies and clinics.

MHB has recently moved further to make their conferences a meeting place for committed surrogacy and gay parenting supporters, including parents, surrogates, researchers, professionals, and policymakers by creating the Advocacy and Research Forum for Surrogacy and LGBT Parenting (ARF). The program provides opportunities for formal and facilitated discussions about topics and developments relevant to parenting through surrogacy and / or by LGBT parents.

Now, in the aftermath of the stalled Child Parent Security Act (the CPSA bill), which was set to reverse the ban on compensated surrogacy in the state of New York, Men Having Babies have gone a step further. As part of the ARF initiative, this Friday November 8 in New York City, Men Having Babies welcomes folks to join them at an open to the public event: The Case for NY Surrogacy Reform.

Keep reading... Show less

Fatherhood, the gay way

Get the latest from Gays With Kids delivered to your inbox!

Follow Gays With Kids

Powered by RebelMouse