Dan and Ryan are raising twin boys. They conceived using a gestational surrogate in California.
Names: Dan and Ryan
Hometown/City: Denver, CO
Number of Children: 2 - Dylan and Reid, twins
When did you decide that you wanted to have children?
About five years ago. My partner and I hit 10 years together and decided to start a family.
How did you decide to either biologically have a child or adopt a child?
My partner was the one who really wanted a biological connection, so we went the surrogacy route.
Did you share your journey with your family and friends? If so, have they been supportive?
Yes. Initially, my family wasn’t supportive at all and this nearly ended my relationship with my parents. Since then, they’ve become supportive and come to visit their grandchildren twice per year (they live 700 mils from us).
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced raising a child/children as a gay man/woman? How have you overcome those challenges and what advice would you give new parents in a similar situation?
The biggest challenge has been my own personal doubts and fears. Doubting my parenting abilities, fearing how my children would be treated, fearing the reaction of other people, fearing that having two dads would somehow not be good for my children. I’ve overcome these fears and doubts over time because they’ve been proven wrong time after time. My boys are happy, healthy, and no one treats them poorly for having two dads. I rarely even think of our family as different from all the families around us. Another great challenge was working full time while taking care of twin infants with no outside help. I still don’t know how we survived that!
What do you wish you would have known before you started?
That it’s ok to be frustrated when parenting twin two-year-olds! I was home with the boys full time the entire year while they were two and at one point, I was overwhelmed and a little depressed. They don’t call it the “terrible” twos for nothing, and I had it times two! But I soon found out from a few stay-at-home moms that it’s just a very difficult age to parent and it’s ok to become frustrated with the situation. Even though you love your kids more than anything, at times you need a break from them!
How has your life changed during this process? Before having kids and after having kids?
Prior to having children, I suppose life was a lot more self-centered for us. I spent more time at the gym and more time in front of the television. We went out to dinner and the movies a lot.
The birth of our boys was the greatest life change I’ve experienced. Initially, it was very difficult and life seemed chaotic for the first year. Now that Dylan and Reid are three, it’s much easier and we feel like a family. Life is still a bit hectic, but it’s very fulfilling at the same time. It’s a lot of work, every day. But when one of the boys looks me in the eye, asks for a hug, and tells me he loves me, I know it’s all worth it.
How much did you budget for the process? How much has the process cost so far? What were the actual costs and how were they different from what was planned?
For surrogacy, we budgeted about $100K. It turned out to be closer to $120K. I think it’s difficult to put one price on the process and stick to it because there are so many variables involved, such as added testing, legal fees and insurance fees.
Was your state/location a challenge to the process? How did it impact your decisions, if at all?
We live in Colorado and our twins were born in California for legal purposes. At the time, it was easier to do in California and we didn’t need to go through any adoption process. Both of our names were placed on their birth certificates from the very beginning. While we were going through the process, Colorado law changed to allow same sex parenting. Surrogacy is also legal in Colorado. I believe same sex couples can now become parents through surrogacy in Colorado, but it might require the non-biological parent to adopt. Having the boys born in California wasn’t much of an issue for us because we’d moved to Colorado from California and had friends to stay with when we went out for appointments with our surrogate and for their birth.
How/Did/Will you prepare your children to answer questions about their donor/biological parent(s)?
I had to write down the following quote I heard from Ricky Martin during an interview on Oprah because I had been thinking about this exact question, and he had what I consider to be the perfect answer:
“I wanted you in my life so bad that with the help of God everything lined up for you to be in my life. My family is based on love. ‘I love you and you love me. That’s most important thing. Every family is different. I am mom and I am dad and I’m going to do my best. You should be proud, walk through life saying I have the coolest family. I am part of a modern family.”
I never knew my biological father, so I think I’ll have a bit of a connection to my boys in being able to explain that we don’t always know who our biological parents are. I’ve already begun having quick little discussions with them about how they have two daddies and we have two books that tell stories about kids with same-sex parents.
Would you be willing to share the name of the agency/sperm bank/other resources you used and why? If so, please list them below (and if you have any notes – was your experience good, poor? why or why not?)
We used Cori’s Egg Donor and Surrogate Services: http://www.coriseggdonorservices.com/ Our experience was very positive and we really had no negative experiences throughout the process. This agency was not specifically geared toward gay couples, but they do work with gay men. I believe Growing Generations is the largest in California, or at least in Los Angeles, and I believe they primarily work with gay men.
Dan Carver can be reached at his blog, 2 Dads 2 Be, where he blogs about life as a gay dad.