After being on an adoption waitlist for two years with no progress, these dads decided to take matters into their own hands. So they switched paths and on March 20, 2017, they welcomed a baby girl.
PJ and Corey, both 33, met while working in the local mall during college. They've been together 11 years and were married May 23, 2014.
After putting down roots in Texas (the husbands had been living in Southern California) they began their path to fatherhood in February 2013 by signing with an adoption agency. "The adoption experience was very positive and frustrating at the same time," said PJ. "The company we were with was very reputable and in business for over 30 years but the constant decline in pregnancy rates put them in a very tough place where their listing of potential parents heavily outweighed the list of birth parents."
The frustrating wait with no news led PJ to begin researching surrogacy, and after 2 years with no development, they decided to switch course. (They found out in early 2017 that their adoption agency had closed, leaving almost 2,000 clients across eight states in the dark.) They briefly considered fostering but, as PJ and Corey shared honestly, "we did not feel strong enough to deal with the potential heartbreaks."
They began working with their first surrogacy agency in June 2015, but unfortunately that relationship was also unsuccessful. After working with them for six months, they still had not been matched with a surrogate they truly felt comfortable with. "It was important to us to find someone with a great personality that we could consider a friend," explained Corey. They switched agencies and were matched right away.
They had less trouble with selecting an egg donor. "When looking for an egg donor we really searched for someone who represented the best traits we saw in each other," said PJ. "We wanted our children to share a biological bond with each other and each fertilized half of the eggs from our donor."
In June 2016 they became pregnant on their first transfer. The dads-to-be were thrilled and were able to experience the entire pregnancy process alongside their surrogate. They enjoyed a "baby-moon" in Puerto Rico before they officially became dads, something they encourage others do: "We highly recommend everyone step away from their responsibilities one last time by making time for a fantastic vacation before their world completely changes with the arrival of their child."
On March 20, 2017, the dads were present at daughter's birth and little Etta was placed in their arms immediately.
Now that Etta is well into toddlerhood, the dads are even more aware of what parenting means, their own abilities, and also thankful for their welcoming local community. Etta attends a non-denominational church daycare and they are treated like every other parent by the staff. "We've lost count of how many birthday parties we've attended of other kids who attend our daycare," said Corey. Occasionally the dads will encounter questions from the general public like "when did you get her?" and they simply reply with "she's ours" and they don't feel the need to elaborate.
They are still in touch with their surrogate, chatting almost weekly, swapping updates on Etta and their surrogate's daughter, and discussing what's happening on their favorite shows.
Both dads sometimes worry about Etta being treated differently or having preconceived notions and stereotypes thrust upon her for having gay dads. Although not adverse to pink, Corey's own tastes are more gray and white, but he doesn't want to stifle her desires for "girly" things. "People saying any reason her hair/outfit looks cute is because she has gay dads so 'of course she's going to have great style,'" is something Corey doesn't want unfairly dumped onto Etta.
PJ worries that one day Etta will encounter judgment and prejudice based on her family but so far their experience hasn't reflected this. "I am optimistic that we won't have to encounter negative experiences often; I just want to focus on raising Etta and doing the best we can."
Above all, PJ and Corey are both aware of their strengths as parents, and those are the important attributes: patience, stability, and love like no other. "Loving my kid no matter what and being fiercely protective," said Corey, when asked about his best qualities as a dad. He's also keen on teaching Etta an important life lesson: "Knowing not everyone is going to understand or like who you are or how you live you life and being 100% okay with that."