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Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Process of Surrogacy

Once we decided to become parents, we first looked into adoption. We talked to a gay couple around the corner who has a five-year-old boy they adopted as a newborn, and they explained the process they went through. They told us which adoption agencies worked with gay parents and how the agencies try to get you to take an older, special needs child. I believe they even brought a child home, only to have him taken back just after they became attached. In the end, they were very lucky and adopted a newborn. The entire process took years for them. This didn’t really sound like the best option for us.

Friends of ours gave us the names of another gay couple nearby who were going through the surrogacy process, so we gave them a call, had a few phone conversations, and finally met them for wine and cheese at their home last winter. When we first met, they were only a couple weeks away from birth, so they were happy to show us their house and the nursery they created for their little boy. It was a beautiful nursery with everything ready to go and a closet organized with the next year’s worth of diapers, clothes and other assorted gear. The baby even had his own bathroom with vessel sink, granite counter and custom tile. All I could think was, “This is the way I should have been raised!” What a lucky kid.

The couple was near our ages and I could tell what great and loving parents they would be. They explained the process to us and recommended a few surrogacy agencies in California. I’m not sure how many agencies there cater to gay couples, but the reason for doing this in California is the law. California will recognize both of us as equal parents of our babies and both our names will go on the birth certificates. This means that all states must honor us as parents, no matter what the law is in individual states regarding same sex adoption/parenting.

A couple weeks later, they flew to California for the scheduled birth and came home three days later with their healthy baby boy. They’re very busy, but we see them from time to time and their little boy is growing fast. He’s now at the “fun baby stage”, as I call it, when he sleeps through the night, laughs, giggles and interacts with people. Soon he’ll be crawling and getting into things, so we’ll have to consult with them on home baby proofing. They’ve enjoyed their son so much, they’ve decided to go through the process again to have another child. I’ve mentioned that I tend to be stressed over situations I’ve never been through before, so seeing this couple go through the process has really helped me understand what to expect and calmed my nerves. Once all our children are a bit older, hopefully we can spend more time with them. I also think it’ll be important for our children to see another family just like theirs so they don’t grow up feeling like they’re all that different from other kids.

Nick did the research on the different agencies, comparing costs mostly. We settled on an agency in Los Angeles and began the process. In the beginning, we met with an attorney who walked us through the entire legal agreement (something like 60 pages) and he counseled us on choosing a surrogate and what to ask and look for. We interviewed a couple surrogates and chose one who lives in San Diego, so they babies will be born there.

The next step was to choose an egg donor. The agency had many to choose from, each thoroughly screened. They were all young, mostly college students, and they were beautiful. Some were working on advanced degrees, a couple were aspiring actresses (this is L.A., after all!) and they all seemed to have great genetics. We chose one who was of a similar “Euro-mutt” background as myself, because we had decided that Nick was going to be the biological father from the beginning. Unfortunately when they contacted her for the egg harvest, she had just found out she was pregnant. We had one day to choose another egg donor, so we picked another donor of European descent, although she didn’t look like me as did the first choice. I was a bit disappointed about this, but I got over it. Just the fact that any woman would do this, help someone she’ll never know create life, amazes me.

Nick had to fly out to L.A. for the sperm donation last winter. They quarantined the sperm for six months to ensure there was no disease and no risk to the surrogate. There was a little back and forth with the surrogate over the contract, so we met a few times with the attorney until everyone was happy and the process could begin.

From the time we signed the contract to actual conception took about four or five months. Partially due to the sperm quarantine, and then the surrogate and egg donor both underwent treatment to synch their cycles. The big day was near, and we hoped they would give us a couple weeks notice before the embryo transfer, but no such luck. We received the call and in two days, the eggs would be harvested and then the following day the embryos would be created. They created seven embryos and monitored them for three days or so to see which ones are the most viable. This left us scrambling for last minute plane tickets, hotel arrangements, and lining up dog care for a couple days.

1 comment:

Luis said...

Excellent post! I too agree that it's important for the children of LGBT parents to see and spend time with other children of LGBT parents.

You and Nick should really look into Family Pride and then when the kids are older, COLAGE (Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere).

Family Pride recently changed their name to Family Equality Council, but still do the same type of work. They hold LGBT family gatherings every year. A weekend a year in Palm Springs, CA and a one week long afair in Provincetown, MA

My partner and I went to the Palm Springs gathering a few weeks ago and it was awesome! Over three hundred LGBT families were there this year! We took over the entire hotel!

Some links: