Miraculously, I’ve discovered another great article about surrogacy – The Gay Baby Boom, and this one is an excellent read on so many different levels. Found on Details.com, the online version of a popular men’s magazine:
"The stereotypical image of the American gay man—single, fabulous, social, and up for endless anonymous sex—is giving way to a new norm, one that has couples and even unattached gay men settling down to raise children. Statistics are hard to come by, but academics, doctors, lawyers, and gay advocacy groups say that there appears to be a boom in homosexual men having babies. And as with many trends, the increase in gay fathers has afforded its own terminology: the gayby boom."
I write at great length about surrogacy as an option for infertiles, but surrogacy is also gaining prevalence as a family-building option for gay couples and singles. Though surrogacy in general and surrogacy for the GLBT community specifically are still subject to harsh criticism and gross misunderstandings, I am glad that we live in a day and age when it is becoming increasingly accepted to be who you are, love who you choose, and not have to do so at the expense of giving up your ability, nay, your right to parent.
Over the years on SMO, I have witnessed the joyous journeys of several Intended Fathers (IFs) and the women who are their surrogates.
There is the story of my friend and SMO co-moderator Jeff and his partner Chris. One of my most memorable SMO moments was Jeff’s post about finding out that he and Chris had a baby on the way with their surrogate, Jess:
"We then headed to a rural part of Michigan to my partner’s uncle’s house for Christmas dinner – literally out in the middle of nowhere – but in the woods and on a lake and gorgeous.
We pull up, and it starts to snow – it was beautful!!!! Then (and this is probably the part of the story you’ve all been waiting for) ….. our cell phone rings. It’s our SM! We exchange Merry Christmas wishes, and the cell phone signal dies! [remember, we’re out in the middle of the woods!]. We turn the phone on roaming, and call her back. Are able to get a couple sentences out, and the signal is lost again!!!!! We’re running all over the yard, in the snow, holding the cell phone up to the sky trying to find out where there might be the best signal!! Of course, we could have gone inside and used the landline phone – but we also didn’t really want everyone to know what we were doing at this point!
Finally, we get through again – the signal is choppy, and her voice is breaking up. Then, finally, she says, "Well before we lose the signal I should tell you we’re PREGNANT!"
Now, we’re just goofy! Jumping up and down in the snow, trying to hold the cell phone!! We finally did have the good sense to go inside and get a land line (trying to be discreet!). She had tested the day before, but wanted to wait and tell us on Christmas Day! It was the most amazing present we could ever have asked for!!!"
Or the heartbreaking, then finally triumphant epic of David and Chad, who after four years, three retrievals, 65 eggs, three surrogates (including Chad’s sister, who got pregnant with their twins), then the tragic premature delivery and subsequent loss of their twins Asher and Holland (who sadly lived for only three and six days respectively), finally, finally became fathers to live babies when their third surrogate, Gail, gave birth to their son, Jansen. The SMO community rallied for Asher and Holland when they were born and when they died, mourned with David and Chad and did what we could to offer support. After spending time to grieve and regroup, David and Chad found Gail and tried again with their 6th transfer, which unfortunately, resulted in a drawn out chemical pregnancy. So when Gail got pregnant again on David and Chad’s 7th transfer, we all held our collective breath right through to the glorious end. As told in the The LA Times in the conclusion to a series of feature articles on their journey:
"Jansen was born Oct. 13 at Massachusetts General Hospital, weighing 8 pounds and 2 ounces. When a nurse read out the time of birth — 6:16 p.m. — his fathers burst into tears. The time echoed the date of the twins’ birthday: June 16."
On SMO, Chad later posted:
"Surrogacy can be a tough path but ultimately it is just amazing and incredible. Everyday, we look at Jansen and marvel that he is here. It has been such a long journey with so many heartbreaks, but we couldn’t be happier. Jansen is an amazing blessing just like Asher and Holland were. It is astounding how these little people have remarkable power to shape and change who we are and how we look at the world.
When they announced Jansen was born at 6:16pm, we all knew that the spirits of Asher and Holland were in the room with us and that was their way of saying to their little brother and us that they are always here looking out for him. It was an incredible affirmation for us all. We were all together as Jansen came into the world and it was such an incredible gift from God!!!"
Gail’s thoughts echo the happiness common to most surrogates after delivery:
Oh Chad you have me crying here. It has been such an incredible journey with you and David.
A lot of posts here thank their surrogate but I have to thank you and David, my IF’s, for coming into my life and making my surrogacy journey so amazing. You are such an inspiration for never giving up and for hanging in there. You have taught me so much about hope and perserverance…. It is amazing how Asher and Holland were with us on delivery day.
Thank you so much for everything. I feel truly blessed that we were brought together.
I also enjoyed the The Gay Baby Boom because for once, traditional surrogacy (TS) is presented in a positive light. Traditional surrogates achieve pregnancy via home insemenations or IUI and obviously, are genetically linked to the babies they carry. Due to this genetic link, when poorly orchestrated, a TS journey is open to more potential complications than is a GS journey; this is what usually prompts the media and others to cast the negative shadow on such arrangements. The media is slanted when it comes to surrogacy, but even moreso with traditional surrogacy. Though vast majority of traditional surrogacies end well, it is rare that these stories are placed in the media’s spotlight.
While Chad and David are fathers through gestational surrogacy (GS) with egg donor, Jeff and Chris are fathers through traditional surrogacy. Jeff, on their independent traditional surrogacy journey:
I’m a huge advocate of TS journies, as well as doing things independently. I know what some agencies charge — and it’s the difference between taking a "do-it-yourself" approach from Home Depot versus hiring the most expensive designer to come in and do everything for you. We’re VERY glad we did things our way — not only because of the huge cost savings, but because it meant we were able to develop a relationship with our TS on our own terms. We had an amazing journey, and our TS is a member of our family in our eyes!"
Just as it takes a special kind of woman to be a surrogate in general, it takes a special kind of surrogate to be a traditional surrogate. These women give their IFs and intended parents (IPs), what is in my opinion the ultimate level generosity. It’s about time that someone has given them the credit that they deserve.
There are countless other happy endings and also journeys in progress like the ones mentioned here. Whether through gestational or traditional surrogacy, these special daddies and their surrogate mothers are helping to redefine the terms of "acceptable" family building and parenting. Whether for single, coupled, gay, straight, lesbian, transsexual, or transgendered parents, surrogacy is blazing a way and is expanding the parameters of parenthood.