Grooooooooow babies!!

How 2 men + 2 women - sex + science = 2 babies!!

This is the funny, heart-warming, tearful, inspiring, and shocking truth about my journey to have a child.

How a man, another man, a woman, another woman, a couple lawyers, a few doctors, a psychologist, a couple social workers and some agencies make a baby.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

She likes me...she really likes me!

Today was the day I had to decide about my surrogate. Well, technically I was supposed to decide yesterday, but because I'm indecisive I put it off for an extra day. I just needed to think.
Today, at about 9:00 a.m., I talked with the agency and said I'd agree to work with “Chloe”. At 1:49 p.m. I got the email saying “Chloe” agreed to work with me too.

This decision was so tough. And I feel like there's no time to breathe because there is still more to do. It's never ending. Next “Chloe” has to go to the doctor for medical clearance, I'm going to the doctor in 2 weeks for clearance, the lawyers start doing more contract stuff, I have to sign my contract with the surrogacy agency, I still have to think about an egg donor and I have to pay the agency my next installment of money. I keep telling myself that a child is so much work that this is just preparation for the long journey ahead. If I can't handle this then I shouldn't be having a child. I'm just trying to take it one step at a time.

My friend Kristine talked with me yesterday and helped me make this decision. She gave me some good advice to keep in mind throughout this process. She told me that everyone is scared having a baby. My way has some extra issues, but fear is normal. She also told me to think about the outcome because I was getting stuck in the moment. And she said that people just have to make the best decision at that time with the information you have at that moment. I could think this through for days or weeks or a year and still be no closer to a decision. There's some faith and some praying and some luck involved with any pregnancy and getting stuck in my process isn't getting me to my goal. I have to try because if I don't, I'll never achieve my goal.

I need to find someone hot and wise to play Kristine in my movie!

Monday, March 29, 2010 this is awkward...

On Thursday morning at 10 a.m. I met the potential surrogate. I went to the agency and met with the surrogate, “Chloe”, and two of the women who run the agency. As we started the meeting one of the ladies opened with, "So...this is always a little bit weird." It was when we started, but it wasn't bad by the end.

“Chloe” explained that she wanted to be a surrogate because of three things. When she was about 11 she saw a Lifetime movie about surrogacy and that put the idea in her head. A little later she saw Phoebe give birth to babies as a surrogate on "Friends." And recently her cousin has been trying to get pregnant and she talked about the idea of being a surrogate for her cousin, but the cousin didn't want that. She also said she liked being pregnant and feeling the baby move. I liked that surrogacy isn't an idea that popped up 6 months ago. It obviously has been something she has thought about for a while.

Then I explained why I came to the surrogacy agency and why I wanted a child. I cried. No surprise there.

We went over a lot of the things that must be agreed upon: is “Chloe” ok with me in the delivery room, what are our thoughts of selective reduction if she is pregnant with multiple babies, what are our thoughts on pregnancy termination, how involved do we want to be during appointments and after the birth. For the most part we were on the same page.

We looked at her insurance policy. There is a slight chance that “Chloe”'s policy does not have an exclusion about surrogacy. Many policies nowadays don't cover a pregnancy if the woman is acting as a surrogate. The lawyer needs to read the policy more carefully to know for sure. One of the agency ladies was looking at the policy and said usually an exclusionary clause is a whole paragraph in bold. “Chloe” said that she looked at all the insurance policies at her company and the plan she took was the only one that didn't clearly have the surrogacy exclusion. I have to say I was impressed she read through policies in preparation for becoming a surrogate.

I liked her.  I liked her more than I thought I would.  It is making the decision harder than I thought.  Honestly, I went in thinking she wasn't the right match for me and by the end of the meeting I thought she could be the right surrogate.  If I went in resistant and she still convinced me that's a testament to how much she impressed me.  It's true that meeting someone in person gives you a much fuller picture of who she in compared with reading an application.
I'm supposed to decide by tomorrow. I'm still torn. I went into the meeting thinking I wasn't going to pick her. But I like her. She seems sweet and genuine and serious about wanting to be a surrogate. I give her credit for having a baby so young and going to college and getting a job and having plans for a future. I may not know what I'm going to do til tomorrow when I talk with the agency.

However, I did just watch the "Friends" episode where Phoebe is a surrogate and gives birth to her brother's kids. Maybe that's a sign. Out of all the "Friends" episodes that could have been aired, what are the chances I'd see the one about a surrogate giving birth?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I signed some paperwork to hire a lawyer yesterday. I had to sign at the line that said "intended father." Wow. I might be a father. :-)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I've got another call to make...

I feel like I was on the phone so much this week talking with more and more people. I'm losing track of what is what now. This is the first time that I feel so overwhelmed and had to wonder for a minute if I could do this and if it is worth it all. I know it will be worth it. I can put that doubt out of my mind. But whether or not I can do it is another issue. However, I'm trying to remember that if I can make it through this process that will just be proof to myself of how strong I really am. I don't consider myself a very strong person but I'm slowly but surely I'm finding ways to notice my strength.

The good news is I hired a lawyer. I like her so far. We have a meeting this coming Tuesday to meet, sign a retainer and to talk about a million things including preparing for my meeting with the surrogate on Thursday. I like knowing that I have someone on my side looking out for me. She is going to look at the profile of the potential surrogate to give me more specific advice before the meeting.

I also called a second doctor's office. I didn't like them as much. They put me on hold probably a half dozen times during the conversation and couldn't answer several questions. I felt much more confident with the first doctor I contacted for IVF. I didn't realize that after the IVF process is done I switch to another ob/gyn. I thought I used the same doctor for the IVF and pregnancy. They overlap a little because after the embryo is transferred the IVF doctor will continue to see the surrogate a few more times to make sure everything is going well.

I also found out that there are most costs than I expected. I knew the price of the surrogacy agency. I thought we went over every cost. We did. But I didn't know that I'll owe more money to the IVF agency. That's a surprise. However, the good news is that I found out I can use my HSA (pre-tax account) to pay for (I believe) a good chunk of the costs associated with the IVF agency and it's possible my insurance will cover part of it too.

I have a meeting set up with the surrogate next Thursday. I thought I would meet the surrogate with the psychologist. I recently got an email saying that I'll be meeting her with one of the surrogacy agency owners. If we like each other then we'll move on to meeting with the agency together. I'd rather meet with the psychologist, but I guess I have no choice.
The last piece of news is that last night. at the hospital where I work, I saw a baby being born. Normally I think female interpreters should interpret a birth but I was the only one available. Of course there are ways to place myself that I don't see anything so it was ok. The mom had to have a C-section and I was in the room with her and the father during the surgery. It was pretty exciting to see the newborn baby and hear the first cry. C-sections are relatively quick and it was kind of nice to see one happen in case my surrogate needs to have a C-section. I'm taking that experience as the universe's way of telling me that it's my turn to have a child.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Doctors and Surrogates and Gay Parents, Oh My!

So this week a lot happened.

I talked with one of the doctors the surrogate agency recommended. I played telephone tag with a nice woman named Jennifer for a while. We finally connected on Thursday morning. I learned a little bit about the role of the doctor in this crazy process. If I use this particular doctor I get assigned a "Third Party Coordinator" who is a nurse. She helps coordinate everything since I am using an egg donor and a surrogate. It's nice to know someone figures out the timing of all of this. Apparently I donate my sperm the same day that the egg donor donates her eggs. Since the egg donor is (99.9% of the time) anonymous my guess is that she comes in the morning and I come in the afternoon or vice-versa so we don't run into each other in the waiting room. But I could be wrong. Regardless, we donate on the same day so the eggs and sperm can be put together. The surrogate comes in 3-5 days later to get the embryos transferred. There is a battery of tests I do, the egg donor does, and the surrogate does before any of this can proceed. There's some basic blood work, std testing, pap smears, semen analysis, etc.

The next thing that happened was huge. I got an email from the agency saying that they have a potential surrogate. WOW! It was only four weeks after I put down my deposit and they told me on average it takes 6-8 weeks to find someone. I really didn't expect a potential surrogate to come up so soon. A little while later I was emailed the dossier. The dossier includes no identifying information, but does include a lot of her surrogacy application which includes: weight, height, age, marital status, education, children, eating habits, exercising habits, smoking and drinking habits, reasons for wanting to be a surrogate, how she will break the news to family and friends, who will support her, insurance status, work status and more. I certainly have a lot to think about now that I have a possible surrogate. There are some positive aspects to her. She has a degree in science, she wants to get a doctorate, she says she is ok working with same-sex couples and single parents, she lives in IL (which has good surrogacy laws), and she has her own health insurance. It's just so hard to know if she's the right match from a piece of paper.  She is a black Baptist. I have to say that on first look a black Baptist and a single, gay, Jew from New York don't seem like a likely couple. I would prefer someone who is not very religious, although I do get the impression that she isn't overly religious. The race issue poses an interesting question. When the child is born he or she will have to figure out how he or she came into being. Children try to figure out their history and their identity. My child will have enough to grapple with having a gay, single father. When the child learns about the surrogate and either sees pictures or meets the surrogate adding the race may just be one more piece to an already confusing story. Although, on the plus side, it could make the child a lot more accepting of other races. I guess there are two sides to everything.

The third thing that happened was I talked with a man who used a surrogate. My voice teacher put me in contact with his friend who, along with his partner, had two kids using the same surrogate. The couple lives in Illinois but their surrogate lives in California. Some of the issues are a little different, but some of his advice was really good. He said that he would recognize the surrogate for Mother's Day and her birthday. Making more of a personal connection made him feel like she would be more invested in taking care of the baby. And he mentioned that the motivations/personalities of the egg donors and surrogates are very different. The involvement and time commitments are vastly different so they tend to attract different types of women. One great question he suggested I ask the agency is "Why did you match me with this surrogate?" The agency obviously knows more about the surrogate than I do and I think that's a great question to ask. I also mentioned to this father that the whole process of picking an egg donor from an internet data base and having a stranger carry my child seems odd. Looking at the egg donor profiles seems a little voyeuristic and the surrogate selection is weird and scary. He agreed with me and said that he knew what I was feeling. That was nice to know that this slightly creepy feeling was normal. He also said "after you get your kid the process just fades away." His children are now 5 and 7 and it was funny to hear him try to remember what he did during the surrogacy process because it's just a small, and in some ways an insignificant, part of a long journey.

I like that. I'll have to think about who I want to play him in the movie. :-)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

You have a what???

This week I was calling doctors. I have to get some things worked out with the doctors since there is a lot to coordinate between the egg donor, the surrogate, myself, insurance companies, legal contracts, etc. One of the doctor's offices and I have been playing phone tag for the last few days. But my mind has been on the doctors.

This afternoon I got an email from the surrogacy agency asking me if I had talked with doctors and what my thoughts were about egg donors. And then there was a sentence about the agency having a suggestion for me. I read it quickly and thought it was a suggestion for an egg donor. After all, tomorrow is only 4 weeks after I put down my deposit and I wasn't expecting things to work so quickly. But when I read it again I saw that it was not a suggestion for an egg donor, but a surrogate.


I didn't expect that to happen so soon. A few hours later I got a dossier of the potential surrogate. It gives me information about her height, weight, previous pregnancies, health history, eating and exercising habits, her boyfriend/husband, why she wants to be a surrogate, who will support her in the decision, etc.

She does have health insurance which is big because not all surrogates do. However, some insurance companies don't cover surrogacy pregnancies so her insurance may not do me any good. She does have a 4 year degree in biology and wants to pursue a higher degree. Being educated often is associated with better health so that's a good thing. She seems a little religious. I'm a little concerned about her answer about being resistant to selective termination if there are more than two fetuses. But if that's the only issue it might be ok. I believe I will only transfer one embryo and the chance that it will split into three is extremely rare (if not impossible?). I'll have to talk with the doctor about that.

So I have a lot to think about over the next day or two. If I think we're a potential match then I tell the agency and they will arrange a meeting between the surrogate, her partner and myself. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Ahhh...the legal system

I'm still waiting to hear from the agency to be matched with a surrogate. The agency told me it usually takes 6-8 weeks. It has been almost four weeks so I'm wondering if I'll get a call any day. Could be tomorrow...could be 2 months from now. We'll just have to wait and see.

In the meantime I called two of the lawyers who handle surrogacy cases in Illinois. Both of them seem good and knowledgeable and answered my questions well. So I'm sure that either one will be fine. I got a little more information about how all this works.

After I pick an egg donor I will have a contract with her and that only takes about a week or two to make. That contract is pretty straightforward. The surrogate is a longer process. After I get a potential surrogate from the agency, if I think I will like her and she thinks she will like me, we will meet. The meeting will be with the psychologist so we're not two strangers thrown into a room together. If, after the meeting, we think we like each other, we both go to our lawyers and the negotiating begins. That contract usually takes 3-4 weeks to finalize. Not bad.

One lawyer has a checklist of things to consider for the surrogate. She is sending it to me. Some of the big issues are things I have considered, but I'm sure there will be more issues I never even thought about that are on her list. Illinois has some of the strongest laws in the country that protect the parents. Other states range from not bad to surrogacy being completely illegal. My surrogacy agency won't get a woman who lives in those states (at least I think they won't). But some surrogates live just over the border in Wisconsin or Iowa. My concern is that the surrogate will go into labor or need an emergency C-section and will be brought to the hospital 10 minutes away in her home state instead of 30 minutes away in Illinois and that could cause some minor issues. It's not the worst thing in the world, but it causes more paperwork and legal proceedings. Plus I have to deal with the fact that the hospital she goes to may be out of the insurance network. So I'm hoping to get a surrogate from Illinois. If I'm matched with someone outside the state I'll have to seriously consider if it's worth the small risk or if I'd rather wait til a surrogate from Illinois is available.

One example of how Illinois is so good is that when my baby is born the birth certificate puts my name down as the father and for the mother it just says "gestational surrogate" so there is no identified mother.

This week I'm going to try to call the two doctors who were recommended and figure out how that process works.