Ricardo Barrientos-Villarreal and Martin Ramon-Villarreal first met in 2001, when Ricardo was a senior and Martin was a freshman in high school in Texas.
The pair reconnected years later, when Martin was done with medical school and Ricardo had started working with Border Patrol. They started dating in late 2015, and were married in late 2017.
“I've always felt I was ready to be a father, but I knew it wasn't the right timing because I hadn't met the person that I wanted to share this gift of life with,” Ricardo explained. “Once I met my husband, I knew we had to move forward with the steps on making this dream of a family come true.”
Soon after their wedding, the couple began discussing how to form their own family. They said their first step was to attend a convention called "Men Having Babies" in Dallas, Texas.
“We loved every minute of the conference, but for some reason we felt it wasn't for us to let an agency control every step of the process,” Ricardo explained. “We wanted to be more in control, so we decided to go on with the process of embracing the struggle it takes in becoming parents and experiencing every bit of it.”
They didn’t want to find a surrogate through an agency, which normally coordinates every step of a surrogacy journey, including matching intended parents with a gestational carrier. Instead, the couple said they made lots of calls and met with all the people needed to make it happen for them — on their terms.
Although they were set on surrogacy, they also gave themselves a limit — they told themselves if IVF did not work after two tries, they would pursue adoption instead.
Everything was set up and ready to go for Martin and Ricardo — they’d selected their egg donor, and created enough embryos to be able to continue with the process. All that was needed was a surrogate carrier.
“We had come to the understanding that it may not happen soon, like we had wanted it to, and we were okay with that,” Martin said. “After a month or two we still had no luck, so we were just taking it day-by-day. Hoping one day God would hear us and shine some light on us.”
One evening the couple were having dinner with Ricardo’s sister and sister-in-law, like they do every other week. They said they didn't expect anything, but the women had a surprise for them.
“My sister-in-law told us that she would be honored to be our surrogate and help us become parents,” he said. “We were thrilled.”
As many parents-to-be feel, Martin and Ricardo had doubts about the process of surrogacy. As much as they wanted to be in control, they knew IVF was one thing they had no control over.
“You just have to trust in the process and the professional in what they are doing,” Ricardo said. “My husband and I always had talks and reassured ourselves that we were in this together, and whatever happens we still have each other, and will continue fighting to make our dream come true.”
For the most part, Ricardo and Martin’s families weren’t too big on asking questions about the process. All they were worried about was the well-being of the dads-to-be, the surrogate, and the baby, and they reassured them all that they were there for the family if they ever needed anything.
Having that familial support was such a huge part of the process of having a baby. Martin says his biggest piece of advice for future parents is to remember to lean on your team, and each other.
“Never give up on your dreams of parenthood,” he said. “And remember you both are in this together, so never forget about your partner and take his feelings into consideration too.”
Martin and Ricardo's son Lucas turned two years old in February 2021, and he's keeping those beaming smiles on his dads' faces.