Gay Dad Family Stories

Birmingham-Based Dads Suraj and David Tell Us About Their Vegas-Based Surrogacy Adventure

The UK-based dads spent 6 weeks in Vegas with their surrogate leading up to the birth of their daughter

Suraj, a 38-year-old software developer living in Birmingham, United Kingdom, met his future husband David, a 49-year-old journalist, 13 years ago at a Christmas Market with the help with the help of an online dating website.

When they started talking about creating a family, they immediately agreed on surrogacy. They looked at several different countries, but India had banned surrogacy for gay couples, Mexico was only available to Mexican citizens, and so on. Soon they settled on the United States. It would take them another five years to save enough money to make it happen.


The organization they used, Tammuz, had been recommended by friends of friends. Tammuz works with clinics and hospitals all over the world; Suraj and David went to New Delhi, India, to give their sperm samples. The egg donors also traveled to that clinic to donate their eggs, and everything was timed in such a way that both samples were, as they say, fresh.

The embryos were then shipped to their lab in LA where they were kept frozen until they were ready for implantation.

They were in touch with their surrogate, DaJon, via Skype at first; the first time the guys met their surrogate in person was during the 20-week scan when they flew to Las Vegas during Christmas.

Suraj and David enjoyed working with Tammuz as a surrogacy agency: Legal advice was included; the lawyers were experienced in the surrogacy process; and for first-time parents Tammuz also offered a one-off payment for IVF, meaning that if a cycle didn't result in a pregnancy they could keep trying at no extra medical cost. (Traveling expenses would be extra, of course.)

The dads were determined to be present for the birth, and the hospital in Las Vegas was most accommodating to both them and the surrogate. DaJon had asked her mom to stay with her from two weeks before the due date. And so, her mom was with them in the delivery room. She knew exactly what DaJon needed and how to handle the medical staff.

DaJon, who wanted a natural birth, had chosen to forego any painkillers. When the dads watched their surrogate push through the contractions, they realized they were dealing with SuperWoman.

With each contraction they knew they were getting closer to delivery. DaJon was trying to keep it together, the dads had their shirts off, ready for skin-to-skin contact, the baby heart rate monitor was showing a heart rate that wasn't recovering, the nurse was silently praying, and the doctor was demanding that this baby must come out now or else there will have to be a C-section. That was all DaJon needed to hear. One more push and Marnie was born, on Monday, May 21 at 9:17 a.m. A few seconds later Marnie cried for the first time. All was well! Their eyes filled up with tears. And it was at that moment the dads knew what it meant to have this baby in their lives.

David and Suraj had landed in Vegas on May 4, and were there for a total of six weeks. They had arrived two weeks before the due date of May 16 and wanted to get there in good time to get ready, and also to be there in case the baby came early. They figured they needed around three weeks after birth before the baby could medically fly and that time was enough to arrange for the social security number and passport. They came back on the flight they originally booked.

The new dads are considering expanding their family. They would use Tammuz again, even though this time around they would have to pay for each cycle of IVF.

DaJon would love to be their surrogate once again. In the meantime, she has been matched with another man, and the Birmingham dads wish them all the best. They're keeping their fingers crossed DaJon is available when they are ready for a second baby. They have frozen embryos from them both and are ready to go.

***

Surrogacy is well established in the United States, more so than other countries, including the United Kingdom. It's why they chose the United States: because the law is on your side. The downside is that it costs more. The men didn't have medical insurance, and being non-U.S. citizens they had to go the private insurance route. They advise those coming from outside the United States to bear in mind these medical costs, such as hospital stays for the dads as well as several visits to the doctor.

Additional costs will be the accommodation and car rental. Staying for six weeks, Suraj and David found an Airbnb host based near a Walmart near a park not far from the airport and the hospital. The apartment, very quiet and with a pool, was just what they needed and turned out much less expensive than a hotel.

Regarding the surrogate, it was important for them to know she had a support network for herself. DaJon was part of a Facebook group with other surrogates, and her family were very supportive of what she was doing. It was important that it wasn't just about them both: It was about three people. Piece of advice: When considering a surrogate, give thought to why she is doing it and what help and assistance she has available to her.

***

The dads stay in touch with their surrogate mostly via Instagram; they have also used Skype for a video call, together with their daughter Marnie.

Speaking of Instagram: Their account @twodadsandalittlelady is a wonderful history of their surrogacy journey and early life as new dads. In Suraj's words: "This Instagram page is proof that what we have worked so hard to achieve, against what society may object to around the world, is possible. I hope someone out there sees our journey through our Instagram posts from the start and understands what we went through and hopefully inspires them to do what they thought was impossible."

They also see their Instagram as a record for Marnie, for when she grows up and asks the question Where did I come from? One of the pictures is a framed photo of David and Suraj with DaJon from the day of the 20-week scan. It's on Marnie's bedside table and when Marnie is old enough and asks them about her origins they can show her this picture as the beginning of their story.

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Gay Dad Family Stories

This European Couple Became Dads Through a U.K.-Based Surrogacy Program

Janno, from Estonia, and Matthias, from Belgium, were accepted into the "Childlessness Overcome Through Surrogacy" Program.

Janno Talu, an accountant, and Matthias Nijs, an art gallery director, were born in different parts of Europe. Janno, 39, is from Estonia, and Matthias, 28, is from Belgium. Their paths crossed when the two moved to London, each from their different corners of the European Union.

Janno relocated to London earlier than Matthias, when he was 24, and his main reason for the move was his sexuality. "Although Estonia is considered one of the more progressive countries in Eastern Europe, when it comes to gay rights, it is still decades behind Western society in terms of tolerance," said Janno. "And things are not moving in the right direction." In 2016, same-sex civil union became legal, but the junior party in the current coalition government is seeking to repeal the same-sex partnership bill. "In addition," Janno continued, "they wish to include the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman in the country's constitution. Even today, there are people in Estonia who liken homosexuality to pedophilia, which is why I decided to start a new life in the UK, where I could finally be myself."

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Gay Dad Family Stories

Meet the First Same-Sex Couple to Receive a Grant Through Best Buy's Adoption Assistance Program

Keegan and Paul Schroepfer are believed to be the first gay couple to receive a grant through Best Buy's adoption assistance program.

Keegan Shoutz and Paul Schroepfer met at college in 2010, when marriage equality wasn't legal in their home state of Minnesota. Back then, kids were a far off distant thought. After the U.S. Supreme Court struck down DOMA in 2015, the pair married a year later and began discussing their future as dads. In 2017, the husbands began their adoption journey, and the long wait began.

Keegan, 31, works in public relations for Best Buy's corporate communications team, and Paul, 35, is a lawyer. Their journey to adoption took over two and a half years, and they describe it as "a LOT of waiting." The couple considered surrogacy but decided adoption was the right path for their family. The first part of their journey was focused on a pile of paperwork, in-person classes, and then social outreach.

Their nursery sat empty for a year after all their "homework" was completed.

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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.

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Change the World

Miami Tourism Board Releases Vacation Guide for LGBTQ Families

Miami isn't just about circuit parties! The LGBTQ Family-Friendly Miami Vacation Guide showcases many options for queer parents, too.

As gay people, it can be difficult to find vacation spots that are LGBTQ-friendly out of the normal travel "fruit loop" — New York, Mykonos, San Francisco; repeat. For those of us with kids, the Venn diagram of destinations that are both queer and kid friendly can seem practically non-existent.

Fortunately, that's starting to change as the tourism industry realizes that LGBTQ families are a growing segment of vacationers. One city to quickly pick up on this trend is Miami. While the gays have long flocked to Miami for party weekends, the city has also recently noticed an uptick in the number of LGBTQ visitors who are parents. In response, Miami's tourism board release a guide, LGBTQ Family-Friendly Miami Vacation Guide, that includes loads of options for queer parents and their kids. Amid Miami's legendary circuit parties, it turns out, are tons of family friendly things to do — like the Museum of Science, an eco-adventure theme park, and other kid-focused events all year long.

Who knew?

"When I came onboard as Director of LGBTQ Marketing a little over a year ago, I found that our LGBTQ messaging was centered around our annual events," said Dan Rios, who works with the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau. Massive parties like the White Party and Aqua Girl are a central part of the city's LGBTQ offerings, he said, but he was also worried the city was "developing a reputation solely as a party destination. "I want to diversify that message to highlight everything else that Greater Miami has to offer."

Hence the city's family-friendly guide that includes offerings within "art and culture, dining, beaches, fitness," Dan said. "We have unique and amazing family attractions that we had been promoting to our general audiences for decades. I saw this as an opportunity; an opportunity to introduce our attractions to LGBTQ families, and an opportunity to further promote our attractions -- it was a win-win."

Dan said the Bureau is also in the midst of a campaign that will prominently feature LGBTQ parents within different travel destinations throughout the city, which will be featured throughout both LGBTQ and mainstream websites, publications and advertising.

We applaud the effort to reach out to LGBTQ families, and hope more cities follow Miami's lead! Be sure to check out the guide here.

Gay Dad Life

Gong Hei Fat Choy! Happy Chinese New Year!

As we usher in the year of rat, we asked some of our dads how they honor this special time.

Today we're celebrating, alongside our families, the Chinese New Year! As we usher in the year of rat, we asked some of our dads how they honor this special time, what they do to celebrate, and how they're instilling these traditions in their kids. Here are some of their responses.

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News

Indiana Court Says Couples Using Sperm Donors​ Can Both Be Listed on Birth Certificate — But Ruling Excludes Male Couples

The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in the case, a major victory for LGBTQ parents — but the Attorney General may appeal to the Supreme Court.

On Friday, a US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling from a lower court that said that both parents in a same-sex relationship are entitled to be listed on the birth certificate — previously, the state of Indiana had required the non-biological parent within a same-sex relationship using assisted reproductive technologies to adopt their child after the birth in order to get her or his name listed on the birth certificate, a lengthy and expensive process not required of straight couples in the same situation.

It's a double standard LGBTQ parents have long been subjected to in many states across the country. So this represent a major win. As reported by CNN, this ruling "takes a lot of weight off" the shoulders of LGBTQ parents, said Karen Celestino-Horseman, a lawyer representing one of the couples in the case. "They've been living as families and wondering if this was going to tear them apart."

The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals deliberated the case, according to CNN, for more than two and a half years, which is one of the longest in the court's history.

However, because all the plaintiffs in the case involved female same-sex couples using sperm donors, the ruling left open the similar question of parenting rights with respect to male couples. Indiana's Attorney General, moreover, may also appeal the case to the Supreme Court.

We'll be following the case closely and be sure to keep you up to date. For more on this recent decision, read CNN's article here.

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

As a Gay Dad, What's the Impact of Letting My Son Perform Drag?

Michael Duncan was excited when his 10-year-old son asked if he could perform in drag for charity — but he also felt fear and anxiety.

As LGBT parents, we have all lived through some sort of trauma in our lives. For many it is the rejection of our family, being bullied, or abuse. We learn to be vigilant of our surroundings and often are very cautious of who we trust. As adults, we start to become watchful of how much we share and we look for "red flags" around every corner.

So, what effect does this have on our children? Does it unintentionally cause us to be more jaded with our interactions involving others? For some the answer may be a resounding "no." But as we look deeper into the situation, we often find that through survival our interactions with others have changed and we may not even realize exactly how much we are projecting on those around us.

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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