Joseph Fobbs and Juan Hernandez had been together for about 11 years, and they knew from the start of their relationship that they wanted to have a family.
In fact, it was one of the many things they had in common. As their relationship grew, it just became a matter of when and how to do it.
“The timing never seemed to line up with life in the military and then school, so at some point we thought it would never happen,” Juan said. “However, one day we just decided to go for it. We started gathering information and it just took off from there.”
Initially, the couple explored several different options for parenthood, such as fostering and adoption, but they said they just kept coming back to the idea of surrogacy.
Then, it all came together when Joseph’s twin sister volunteered to be their surrogate carrier. He said it was something they had discussed since high school, but it was always in theory.
“We sat down and had a serious conversation about it, and she again was very adamant about doing it,” Joseph said of his sister. “So I would say she was the driving force in our choice, and I can’t imagine it being any other way.”
The dads’ twins, Maddox and Mackenzie, were born in their city of Houston, Texas in January 2021. The first moment Juan said he really felt like a dad was when they were bringing the babies home.
“He’s very emotional,” Joseph smiled. “He spent the first couple of hours at the house crying and saying, ‘I can’t believe they’re ours, we created them, and they are here in our home!’”
However, for Joseph, that first-time dad feeling came a couple of days later at the pediatrician’s office for their newborn follow-up.
“I think everything was just so surreal up to that point, but when the nurse shouted, ‘Parents for Mackenzie and Maddox?’ I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m someone’s dad! This is for real!’” Joseph said. “So far, I’ve just been Joseph; son, brother, husband, soldier, and nurse. But now I can add ‘dad’ and it’s just an amazing feeling.”
So far, the dads said the best thing about parenting has been gazing at their small family and feeling content.
“Sometimes I walk into my living room and see Juan feeding or interacting with them and my heart swells,” Joseph gushed. “I believe for both of us, though, it’s realizing that it’s only just starting — it’s imagining them as toddlers, what their prom will be like, and so many other memories that we will get to build with them.”
For any other gay military members who are considering starting their own family, Joseph said it’s incredibly important to have a solid community around you before you start.
“Get connected. Build a village,” he said. “There is no one ‘right’ way to do this. My friend was a great resource for me to access dad groups. Talk to anyone you can.”
Juan said it helped them to absorb all the information they could from folks already in the parenting community. And while it may seem impossible at times, it’s important to remember everyone’s journey is different.
“Some have more resources than others, but the one thing that we all have in common is that we all started out at this information stage,” Juan said. “That information is key in getting started.”