Originally published August 14, 2018
Going on 17 years together, it seems like a lifetime ago that Martin Aranot-Lopez and Roger Lopez met in a chat room in the days of America Online.
The Miami husbands, who were married February 5, 2015, became first-time dads after a long -- and what often seemed like futile -- struggle. But all the pain and anguish melted away when they held their son for the first time.
When Martin and Roger first met, kids weren't on their radar. Roger, at the time, was not ready and didn't share Martin's strong desire, so they put off the topic for many years. But somewhere around the time they celebrated their 13th anniversary, things changed.
"It was as if something clicked inside him," explained Martin, "He was ready and always had been."
Martin (left) and Roger
In October 2014, the couple began to pursue surrogacy. They researched and found a fertility clinic in Cancun, Mexico, created an embryo and began working with a surrogate.
The first embryo transfer was unsuccessful. "Little did we know that was just the beginning of many heartbreaks and disappointments," shared Roger.
The couple pushed on in Mexico. After seven transfers, four surrogates, and three egg donors, their last transfer resulted in a pregnancy, a little boy.
"We were over the moon," shared Martin, "Telling our family and friends."
But around 20 weeks into the pregnancy, June 2016, their surrogate suffered a miscarriage. All attempts had failed, and all for different reasons. It was also around that time that the laws began to change in Tabasco, Mexico, regarding LGBTQ surrogacy.
The dads-to-be were devastated about the loss; it was almost enough to make them quit. Instead, they decided to take a break.
Midway through 2017, the dads were approached by a close friend, of 20 years, Dilia, who offered to be their surrogate.
The men were blown away, beyond thrilled, and immediately restarted the process.
They had two frozen embryos transferred. One took, and on May 6 2018, the two dads welcomed little Brandon into the world.
"Our journey wouldn't be possible without our beautiful friend and surrogate," said Martin. "She is our sister now and will forever be in our son's life as his aunty."
"We can't thank her enough," added Roger, "She gave us the gift of life."
Martin and Roger's friend and surrogate, Dilia, holding Brandon
Dilia has agreed to help the dads grow their family again early next year as they try for a sibling.
Right now, the dads are figuring out fatherhood and loving every moment. And despite their numerous failed attempts, they have a message for gay dads-to-be: Don't give up!
"Even when it seems it will never happen, push on," Martin said. "Once he or she is in your arms, all the time getting there will seem like it didn't even happen!"