Our Surrogate: One of the Family
By: John Jericiau
It’s hard for me to believe that almost a decade has passed since I started trying to make my family. As a single gay man who nearly gave up on the hope of finding true love, focusing instead on having kids, the fact that I’m on the cusp of having a third son with my incredible husband is nothing short of a miracle to me.
Not that there hasn’t been some heartache. I’ve written before about losing my first real chance at fatherhood when the newborn I had in my home for 24 hours was unceremoniously returned to her mother because of her heartache. I can’t be mad at her – it’s got to be extremely difficult to give your child to someone else – but it was devastating nonetheless. Luckily I had supportive friends that helped me through that dark period. I also had the fortune of having my future husband enter my life at that time.
It took over a year for him to get on board about becoming parents together, and together we made it through more tough times. One year a woman changed her mind a week before our baby daughter was due, and the next year a woman from Las Vegas tested positive for meth halfway through the pregnancy. A few other near misses and we were thinking that adopting a child just wasn’t in the cards for us.
Enter an angel who I will call Elle (not her real name), because she is a very private person and I respect that. Elle and I had worked together for years, and she was one of the supportive friends I mentioned earlier, albeit in a very quiet and unassuming way. She was someone you could always count on. One day out of the blue we were at work and she proceeded to tell me how she had a dream that she had a baby for Alen and me.
Elle is not from the USA, and I’m not even sure that she knew that surrogates actually existed and could be found in a number of agencies around town. I had not even mentioned going the surrogacy route to fatherhood since I had invested so much time with the adoption. But there was Elle, describing a plan she had hatched to “get us that child we have been dreaming about for so long.”
We both decided to sleep on it. Alen and I couldn’t sleep that night. We lay awake wondering what type of person would be willing to do this for us. By 4 am we came to the conclusion that Elle was an angel, and we should go for it. When I saw Elle at work the next morning, we both yelled “YES” at the very same time. I made an appointment with the fertility clinic that day.
Elle is unmarried and has never been married. She has been through her own heartache with love, and simply has never found the right man. She also has never been interested in having children of her own. Elle speaks of Alzheimer’s and cancer in her family medical history, and for this reason insisted that we not use her eggs for the procedure. (We wouldn’t have used them anyway, for several reasons.) She was very interested in the chance to experience pregnancy however, so she saw this as a win-win situation, and so did we.
It took three tries before the IVF procedure worked, using a very young egg donor and a random mix of our DNA. Elle and I continued to work together as we made doctors’ visits, toured the hospital, and attended Lamaze class. During the workweek I could talk to my future son, feel his kicks, and watch Elle’s tummy grow. On the weekend I could check in by phone and make sure all was well. Her water prematurely broke at 35 weeks, and our big 6-½ pound healthy boy finally arrived.
I left my job to be home with my boys, and Elle left her position and relocated to another one. We invited her to come over whenever she was able, mostly because we enjoy her company, but also because we wanted the boys to get to know her better.
Over the subsequent months after our son’s birth, our relationship naturally evolved. Elle would take the bus to our home each Saturday afternoon, watch the boys during our weekly Saturday date night, stay through Sunday enjoying any and all activities that we as a family would partake in, and then I would drop her off at work on the way to my early Monday morning Master’s swim workout. She’s come with us to weddings, family get-togethers, birthday parties, and more, introduced simply as our close friend Elle. It was not as Alen and I ever imagined our family would be, but it works for us.
Flash forward to our son’s first birthday, and we’re sitting at the dining room table listening to Elle discuss the fact that she has no residual issues from the pregnancy, that she cannot even tell that she was ever pregnant, and if we were ever inclined to try for a third child, she is on board for that!
A month later we were repeating the IVF procedure with the few frozen embryos we had remaining (just in case we ever felt inclined to have a third child). When that procedure didn’t work, we shelved the idea for several years until we were ready for the procedure again with a brand new egg donor and another random mix of our DNA.
We were successful on the first try, and now we are 29 weeks pregnant and expecting our third son! And while we won’t, after son Number 3, be adding to our brood again (Elle is ageing out and Alen has reached his maximum limit), we feel so lucky to call Elle one of the family. And a family it is.