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.