Grant Gochnauer and Gabriel Fontes de Faria met online in late November 2006 while the two were both living in Chicago. Before meeting, the two spoke on the phone several times over the course of a week and quickly realized they had so much in common. Eventually, they decided to have their first date at a local Thai restaurant.
Grant, co-founder and CTO of an enterprise software company, says Gabe quickly proved himself to be a gentleman: "I remember how I was immediately impressed with simple things such as Gabe's good manners and the way he treated those around him" says Grant.
After they finished their meal, Grant escorted Gabe back to his condo, and proceeded to help fix his computer. (That, if you were wondering, was not a euphemism: they ended their date with a simple hug.)
It was clear to them both that they had found something special. "[We] both knew in that moment that there could be magic in a relationship. Even though we grew up in different countries, we shared the same values and had a similar upbringing." Grant said.
Gabe (left) and Grant with their daughter, Elle
Gabe, originally from Rio de Janiero, was a 20-year-old student at the time attending the Illinois Institute of Technology for his Bachelor of Architecture degree. Grant was 26 and originally from California. Even early on in their relationship, fatherhood was a topic they discussed early and often.
As time went on and their relationship flourished, the idea of fatherhood began to push to the forefront of their relationship, but there was still a major hurdle in their way. As a student, Gabe had no assurances he would be able to continue living in the United States after he graduated once his student visa expired. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) still in effect at the time, which prohibited the government from recognizing same-sex marriage on the national level. Even if the couple married, then, Grant would have been unable to extend his citizenship to Gabe through marriage, a right enjoyed by heterosexual binational couples.
The prospect of fatherhood seemed hopelessly dim until Gabe's status in the country could be made more permanent.
On July 20th, 2013, Gabe and Grant were married in New York City – one of the first marriages after the Supreme Court struck down DOMA a month earlier on June 26th. With DOMA repealed, it meant Grant could finally sponsor Gabe for a green card through marriage. It also meant the couple could confidently begin pursing their dream of becoming dads.
Grant and Gabe chose surrogacy as their path to fatherhood as it provided them with the most control over their journey.
"We were fortunate to know other gay couples that used an agency and had such a wonderful experience. We felt we wanted to start with this approach," said Gabe, whose sister offered to donate her eggs to the dads-to-be.
The couple was very fortunate to experience a very smooth surrogacy journey. The biggest challenges they faced, they said, were logistical: it proved difficult to coordinate the relevant parties who were scattered all across north and south America. Schedules were hard to coordinate: the dads were located in Chicago, while their surrogate lived in Virginia. Their fertility clinic was based in Los Angeles, and the egg donor resided in Brazil.
"We worked with an agency out of Boston," explained Grant, "and based on their recommendation and comparisons with other fertility clinics we chose PFCLA in California," he continued, using the acronym for the Pacific Fertility Center Los Angeles.
But with the help of PFCLA, they pulled it off: Grant and Gabe's daughter, Elle, was born June 1, 2016.
What's changed for the men since becoming dads? They've become experts on children's television and music. They've become fast friends with other parents raising similarly aged children. They've learned that they can't control things as much as they'd like. Most importantly, they have experienced the joy and love that children bring into a family. The hugs, the smiles, and laughter are precious. "There really isn't anything better than coming home to see your daughter who runs into your arms yelling 'daddy'." says Grant.
It's a journey that's soon to have a second chapter: Grant and Gabe have begun their second surrogacy journey with PFCLA. They're excited for Elle to have a little baby brother or sister in the not too distant future. All of us here at Gays With Kids wish them success, health and happiness in their exciting chosen path of fatherhood.
*We've partnered with Pacific Fertility Center Los Angeles to share some of the stories of the men whom they helped become dads. Be sure to keep an eye out for next month's family!