#GWKThenAndNow: Michael and Eran

Michael Hammer was raised in New Jersey, about 20 minutes away from Manhattan; Eran Lahav was raised in Tel Aviv, Israel. In 2000, Michael Hammer and Eran Lahav were both living in New York City. Their paths crossed in October 2000 in an AOL chat room, and although neither of them admits to sending the first message, they quickly became inseparable.

Today, Eran, 41, and Michael, 38, live in Los Gatos, California, with their two children and their two dogs.  This is their #GWKThenAndNow.

After the two met, things got serious quickly, so serious that by 2002, Michael and Eran couldn’t wait to get hitched. Michael remembers, “At the time, there really weren’t many gay guys getting married – especially at our age: 25 and 28. Vermont was the only place we could go.”

So they had their civil union in Vermont in April with both families attending the union. Michael shared, “Our families were very supportive – Eran's mother was here from Israel, and our extended family all attended, including his grandparents who we both were very close to."  A week later, they had a large reception.In the following years Michael and Eran would be married twice more: once in Canada in 2003 and again in California in 2008 before Proposition 8.

April 13, 2002: Eran (left) and Michael's civil union in Vermont

October 28, 2004: Michael holding Zoe and Eran holding Josh on the day they were born

Michael and Eran both wanted to become dads and they decided that surrogacy was the right path for them. Michael said, "I had always felt the need to have children, and preferred having them biologically. When my sister was pregnant, I realized exactly how important it was to me to have the same experiences (without being pregnant, obviously)."

October 26, 2005: Josh and Zoe

Only a month after their civil union, Michael and Eran applied for information from “Growing Generations," a surrogacy agency in California. And so their long journey to fatherhood began. By the fall of the same year they were matched with their first surrogate. But after 15 months, three attempts with their surrogate and two rounds of egg donation, their surrogate unfortunately suffered a major miscarriage. Michael and Eran were told they needed to find a new surrogate.

December 27, 2011: Eran (left) and Michael at the spot where they originally got engaged

In January 2004, Michael and Eran met Annette and her husband Oscar. Annette had loved her three pregnancies and wanted to help a gay couple realize their dream and become dads;  Annette’s husband Oscar was incredibly supportive. In March, Michael and Eran transferred four embryos. By May, two years after beginning their journey to becoming dads, they found out they were going to be fathers to twins! A few weeks later, they were told they were going to have a boy and a girl. On October 28, 2004, Michael and Eran welcomed Zoe and Josh into the world.

Family portrait, 2014

The kids call Michael “Dad” or “Daddy” and Eran “Aba,” the Hebrew word for father.

When the men first got married, they decided to change their last name to Hammer-Lahav. It was very important to them that they and their kids all have the same name. In the long term, the hyphenate last name didn’t stick. “Turns out,” shared Michael via email, “having an 11-letter hyphenated name is almost never fun! Difficult for others to pronounce, have to spell it for everyone on the phone and forms for twins take forever!”

All four members of the family now use Hammer as their last name. (Eran gave himself the middle name Blade as a way to keep the name: Lahav is Hebrew for “blade.”)

December 28, 2014: Zoe and Josh

The family moved from New York to the suburbs in New Jersey in 2005 to be closer to Michael’s family. In pursuit of employment opportunities and following a deep-seated desire to move out west, they relocated again in 2008, to Los Gatos in northern California. Eran is an engineer currently working on his own startup; nowadays Michael is a full-time stay-at-home dad.

March 2016: Eran with Zoe; Michael with Josh

The most important lessons Michael and Eran are teaching their children? Lessons we should all live by: Be who you are. Do what you love.

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