This month is LGBT History Month, a time when I, personally, like to give thanks to those that paved the way so me and my family can live (somewhat) more openly, as well as increase visibility for my community. With this, I thought I’d re-visit a feature I did a few years ago where a few of my favourite rainbow families tell me their story for LGBT History Month.
Today, we hear a story from Chris & Ryan, aka Oliver’s Fathers, about their Surrogacy story. Please do give them a follow over on instagram – they really are a beautiful family.
“I have an oven that has never been used, in good shape, and I wanted to see if you needed it?”
It was this line in an email to us that started our road to becoming a family via Surrogacy.
Our story started out somewhat conventionally. We had been together for nearly 9 years, legally married, and settled into our careers. For us, the next obvious step was to start a family, which is something we had talked about all along. We decided Open Adoption was morally and financially the best option for us at the time. We chose the Open Adoption and Family Services agency based in Portland, OR. We completed the Open Adoption seminar, filed stacks upon stacks of paperwork, passed a thorough home study, and were only one or two steps away from jumping into the waiting pool. Then came the email that changed everything.
It was from Ryan’s sister, Kimberly. She knew we dreamed of having kids and being fathers, and she wanted to help by giving us a tremendous gift: to be our surrogate.
We shared this unbelievable news with our longtime friend who happened to be a genetic counselor, to learn more about the process of surrogacy. To our surprise, she said, “If you guys are looking for eggs, I’d be more than happy to donate mine!” Everything seemed to be falling into place for us. We separated from the Open Adoption Agency and started doing our research for Surrogacy. In an effort to keep the cost down, we chose not to work with a third party surrogacy agency. Instead, we would do all the legwork ourselves. We knew things would be not without complication, though. Kimberly was family and this would be her first pregnancy and on top of that, our egg donor was a really close friend but we knew it would be worth it in the end. Everyone was so well connected. After months of searching and being rejected countless times, we finally found a team of lawyers, psychologists and a fertility clinic who would work with us regardless of our unique situation. Thankfully, California had some of the best surrogacy laws already in place for us.
Our egg donor produced twenty-one viable eggs. The eggs were then separated into two groups, which each of them fertilized with our sperm. Next, one embryo was selected from each group and implanted into Kimberly’s uterus. From the two, only one of the embryos took, and we’re not exactly sure which one it was. A few months later, the long awaited gender reveal had arrived. “It’s a boy!” exclaimed our Gynecologist.
Thankfully the pregnancy for Kimberly wasn’t too difficult. She was a wonderful surrogate and kept us up-to-date on everything. Because we lived a great distance apart from each other (she was in California and we, in Guam), we would Skype in on all the doctors appointments, ultrasounds, androutine check-ups. The months leading up to our due date, we spent time attending “Baby Daddy” classes and taking general childbirth educational courses. Armed with all this knowledge, and our concrete birth plan in hand, we joined Kimberly in the hospital for the delivery. We were all scrubbed up and ready to bring our son into the world. Unfortunately, everything we had hoped and planned for would go flying out the window! A placenta abruption during labor sent Kimberly into an emergency c-section. Watching the birth of our son, cutting his umbilical cord, and the first skin-to-skin contact that we had hoped for never happened. Due to the traumatic hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) event that had occurred during delivery, our son was transferred by ambulance to the Children’s Hospital of LA. For three days, he underwent neonatal therapeutic hypothermia treatment. It was an unbelievably difficult and sobering experience seeing our newborn son lying in the hospital connected to numerous tubes and monitors, unable to pick him up and hold him. Hours turned into days, which turned into weeks. Fortunately, it was only a matter of time before each milestone was met with a positive prognosis and we were finally able bring home our healthy baby boy who we now called Oliver.
Parenthood has been an absolute joy. There isn’t a day that goes by that Oliver doesn’t make us smile or laugh and luckily he was never colicky or too fussy while teething. The Ferber Sleep method worked wonders for us and by day three, Oliver was sleeping soundly throughout the night. The abundance of paperwork, the outrageous financial impact, and the emotional journey wasn’t easy, but it was worth every sleepless night without question. We’re happy and blessed to have such an incredible little guy in our lives and we look forward to growing together as a family and experiencing all the wonderful things life has in store.
We encourage same-sex couples interested in starting a family to do research and educate themselves on all the possibilities of becoming parents. Consider the pros and cons of surrogacy, adoption (open & closed), and fostering and although the roads may be different, they all lead to parenthood, which will be one of the hardest, most rewarding jobs you’ll everhave. We are happy to share more of our journey and be a resource for others so please feel free to reach out and connect with us.