In 2007, Sebastian and Johnny met through mutual friends at a club in New York City. Sebastian, who is German, was attending business school at NYU Stern. "I was a one night stand!" Sebastian says laughingly. "Johnny, a native New Yorker, had just broken up with an ex and I guess I was his rebound."
"Yes, it's true," admitted Johnny, but quickly added that he had acted prematurely. "A few months later I happened to bump into Sebastian again and realized how much I liked him … I had to grovel and work very hard for Sebastian's forgiveness."
The couple were married on July 24, 2011, and it wasn't too long afterwards that baby fever hit the newlyweds but it would be another few years till they would become dads. "Our path to fatherhood began more than three years ago and launched us on an emotionally taxing and expensive journey," began Johnny. Here's their story.
Sebastian and Johnny always wanted to be dads, and this shared aspiration played a key role in making them work as a couple. When they first began discussing the various paths to fatherhood, both adoption and surrogacy were considered, but ultimately Sebastian wanted to try surrogacy first. "He didn't like the idea of having his life scrutinized and judged by an outside party who would subjectively determine whether he was fit to be a father," explained Johnny. So after much research and consideration, they embarked on their surrogacy journey.
The men went through three different egg donors and two different surrogates, and tried four times to get pregnant. Three times, there was only one viable embryo viable for transfer and none of these three attempts lead to pregnancy. "It was incredibly perplexing and it led to a lot of second-guessing and negative emotions," said Sebastian. Fortunately, the fourth and final attempt with a new donor yielded ten viable embryos. "We have no idea why we had such a different outcome, but we were over the moon," said Johnny. "Since this was going to be our final attempt at surrogacy, we decided to transfer two embryos in order to increase our chance of success."
The decision resulted in their surrogate being pregnant with twins. Sadly, at week 9, Sebastian and Johnny received the news that one twin had failed to develop. "As you can imagine, this made us incredibly anxious about the pregnancy- so we spent the entire time figuratively holding our breath," shared Johnny.
To further complicate matters for the expectant dads, Johnny's parents were struggling to come to terms with their son becoming a dad and raising a grandchild in a two-dad household. "They come from a very old world, traditional view of family, so the idea of two men raising a child was very confusing to them," said Johnny. His mom in particular was grappling with the idea that there wouldn't be a "mother" in the picture and that would somehow be harmful for the child.
Fortunately, Johnny's siblings intervened in a major way and helped change their parents' minds. "His brother and sister were instrumental in having conversations behind the scenes and helping their parents grow more supportive of Johnny's decision," explained Sebastian.
On February 13, Sebastian and Johnny finally became dads when their baby son Vaughn was born. It was love at first sight for the new dads. "Officially the best moment in our lives," love was the message via Instagram.
The pair are thriving in their new adventure as dads. "We appreciate each day and each moment," shared Johnny. "Our capacity to live has definitely grown," added Sebastian. Sure, there's been challenges and adjustments but they're willing and glad to make them. Change was something that used to sometimes frightened the men, but their new life is proof that change can be good.
From their own rollercoaster ride with surrogacy, Sebastian and Johnny have some advice to pass on to other dads considering the same path: plan ahead, realize that it's not a quick process, and speak to other dads who have gone before. "Even in the best case scenarios, it can take more than two years to have a child," explained Sebastian. "I think that hearing about people's experiences can be highly beneficial and informative," added Johnny. "Hear their stories, and learn from their choices."
"Being a father is an amazing gift," concluded Johnny. "Be prepared to get drained and tired – but in the end , it will all be worth it."