Exclusively for Gays With Kids, new blogger Jordan Letschert wrote a three-part history (with husband Robby Price) of their surrogacy journey to fatherhood. This is the second part. Read the first part here.
Because of our persistence, we were successful on our surrogacy journey. Moreover, during that journey marriage equality came to Florida. When Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi attempted to block this in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, I was among the 200 current and former first responders who filed an amicus brief in favor of same-sex marriage. Ultimately, marriage equality became the law in Florida in January 2015, and a few months later in the entire country.
Jordan and Robby, with a nurse about to take them back into the O.R. for the c-section
With marriage equality newly the law of the land, we could now use to our advantage a surrogacy statute in Florida originally designed to prohibit same-sex couples from becoming parents. (Florida law states that you must be married to do a surrogacy in Florida. Obviously until marriage equality this was impossible for us.) However, once same-ex marriage was legal, we used this statute to find a surrogate in Florida so we wouldn’t have to move to another state and to both gain parental rights (once not afforded to both of us). We became legally married May 22, 2015 in Sarasota, Florida and were part of HRC’s “2015 – A Year to Remember” video.
Because we had already chosen our egg donor in California and loved working with our L.A. fertility doctor, we continued the process with a Florida-based surrogate who would travel to Los Angeles with us to get medical clearance and undergo the transfer. Though a major hurdle was cleared, the path was still not clear to the finish line.
As intended parents we had to agree to terms no straight-man-and-woman-who-meet-in-a-bar-and-nine-months-later-have-a-child would ever be subjected to. We had to prove we had the financial means for a child; we had to be open to psychological assessments, drug tests, STD tests and more, many times over. (None of these tests were covered by insurance; all major insurance companies have an exclusion for surrogacy.)
Despite all the advance testing available for genetic issues, when it was time to retrieve and fertilize eggs from our egg donor, the egg donor turned out to have a genetic issue and none of her eggs were mature enough to produce a viable embryo. We had to start a new search for a new egg donor, paying all the extra fees and getting delayed more than four months. Luckily, the IVF doctor was generous enough to apply heavy discounts. The egg donor agency and attorneys also slashed their fees to help us continue on with minimal delay.
Four months later our new egg donor was medically cleared and underwent two weeks of hormone therapy to stimulate her to produce more eggs than normal. Then a successful retrieval occurred with healthy, mature eggs.
Here comes the cool part: We each fertilized half the eggs. At Day 5 the specialists evaluate the embryos. The ones that have divided into eight cells and formatted correctly are called blastocysts. This is a crucial step in the IVF process, as this is the stage where the blastocyst is considered viable for transfer. But first a laser biopsy is done. Under a microscope a genetic specialist removes one of the eight cells from the blastocyst and performs what is called preimplantation genetic screening (PGS). This testing can screen for genetic imperfections at 99.8 percent accuracy and takes about one week. During this week the viable blastocysts are cryogenically frozen until the results come back. Typically about 40% of the blastocysts come back free of mutation. At this point you even already know the gender of each blastocyst.
In late October of 2015 the two of us, our surrogate and her husband flew from Florida to Los Angeles for the long awaited transfer. A simple procedure where we got to see two of our blastocysts (one with Jordan’s genetic material, and one with Robby’s) under a microscope before transfer into the uterus of the surrogate. And 10 minutes later it was all done! After 72 hours of bed rest, the surrogate flew back to Florida.
We heard a nurse say to another surrogate, “Honey, you can walk normally; they’re not going to fall out!”