Originally published July 15, 2017
Tony Chien and Brian Mills live in Roseland, New Jersey with their daughter. Tony is called "Baba" which is Mandarin for Dad; Brian is "Dad."
The couple met on OKCupid, have been together 5 years, and were married on August 30, 2014.
Brian works in human resources at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Tony runs marketing at Atari. They both work in New York City.
"[We chose] surrogacy as our path to parenthood," Tony said. "We always wanted a family and knew surrogacy was a viable option for us."
Their beautiful daughter is now the light of their lives. But the couple faced several obstacles on their journey to becoming dads.
"The gestational surrogacy process was complex but completely worth it in the end," Tony explained. "Starting from scratch and not knowing how to go about having a baby via gestational surrogacy was a challenging experience."
The husbands prepared themselves by doing research online and talking to people from various sources, such as the LGBT Center in New York City, and other gay men who were going through the same process.
"We attended seminars, and also joined their Facebook group to connect with others," Brian said. "Speaking with fellow gays who already had a baby through surrogacy was the most inspirational because it showed us this was all possible. We had a lot of questions along the way such as figuring out which surrogacy agency and IVF doctor to use, what the best approach would be – should we transfer fresh or frozen embryos, how many embryos should we transfer and other important questions."
Their first surrogate successfully got pregnant, but sadly she had a miscarriage at 8.5 weeks.
"That was devastating," Tony recalled. "That was our biggest obstacle to overcome. The miscarriage was tough on us and it took time to process our loss but we knew we still wanted to have a baby and we shouldn’t give up. We were fortunate to have more embryos and the resources to try again."
Following that initial loss, the couple said there were some moments that they experienced doubts about their path to fatherhood. But a supportive community helped them push through.
"After our surrogate had a miscarriage in 2015 we questioned if having a baby of our own was meant to be," Brian said. "But after speaking with others who also experienced a miscarriage and went on to have a healthy baby, it gave us hope and inspired us to not give up."
Tony and Brian said their lives have not changed considerably since becoming dads. They both still work, and do the same things they did before their baby arrived, but they said they are more homebodies now.
"We are so happy now that our baby girl is finally with us in this world and we couldn’t imagine our lives without her," Tony said. "Taking care of our baby was something we had to figure out on our own, but just like many first-time parents, gay or straight, you learn and get more comfortable with time and experience. We are fortunate that my parents live nearby and can help out and our in-laws are within driving distance."
"Our family and friends are wonderful," Brian said. "They are inclusive, supportive and we are very lucky. We have yet to fully venture out in public with our baby since she is still a newborn but the few times we have gone out we have not experienced any negativity."
In the next few years, the dads hope to add another baby to their family. "From here on out we want to go on more adventures with our family and watch our kid (or kids) grow up," Brian said. "We are excited for what the future holds!"