This month, we introduce a new series of interviews: Personal Family Building Stories. We’ll talk with couples who have completed their family building journey as patients of Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMACT), the IVF fertility clinic with whom GayParentsToBe partners with. First up: Peter and Luis.
Building A Family | The Beginning
The couple met 11 years ago, at a gym in Boston. They dated, and simultaneously moved to New York. “It’s been bliss ever since,” Luis says.
At their wedding last year, the priest surprised them by giving them an opportunity to say something unscripted to each other. Luis talked about the difficulty they had deciding to actually be married – and how they should now move on to become a family.
Peter adds, “We decided this was something really important to us. So we started thinking about how we could make it happen.”
The couple saw eye to eye on most parts of their journey. After all, they’d been together for nine years when they decided to have a baby.
As with many aspects of their relationship, Luis pushed and Peter pulled. The first step was attending an event where Dr. Leondires spoke. They made a connection, and began their research. After attending an LGBT family building expo, they decided to use a surrogacy agency.
“Meeting Dr. Leondires and his staff opened a huge world for us,” Luis says. “From there, it was exponential learning. There’s so much that we didn’t know. RMACT / GayParentsToBe held our hand. They were very supportive, and we learned a lot.”
The Egg Donor, Surrogacy & IVF Process | Getting There
One of the most beneficial parts of the process, Peter says, was meeting a psychologist and their potential carrier (also referred to as a surrogate), to talk through some of what they might encounter and how they – and she – would feel.
Though they’d spoken before, Peter notes, “it was all very clinical. We weren’t really talking about how we would relate to each other, timing, communication and expectations. Really talking about those issues was very helpful.” They also felt very comfortable with Dr. Leondires.
The couple was very fortunate to become – and remain -- friends with their carrier. She and her husband came to Peter and Luis’ wedding. Along the journey, the two dads-to-were at the transfer, and many medical appointments (it helped that they were not far away geographically). They enjoyed the process.
Regular Facetime meetings helped. Luis and Peter even met her children that way.
“They’re just really good, fun people,” Peter says of their surrogate and her husband. “We really related to them on a personal level.”
“What she did for us was absolutely incredible,” Luis reiterates. “Our son is the most amazing thing that’s ever happened. We owe her a mountain of gratitude.”
Of course, the journey from agency to baby was not always easy. The process is long and exhausting. Peter says that neither he nor Luis is “incredibly patient.” Waiting for test results was difficult. So was not knowing what was next, and how to prepare for it. “Managing our own anxieties,” as Peter calls it, was the hardest part.
The couple also wish they’d known about unforeseen finances.
There were other issues too: Who will be chosen as the biological father? Whose last name will the child take? Who’s “Daddy,” and who is “Poppy”?
Our Baby | Sweet Results
Finally, their son was born. “For the first two months, I was scared I would break him,” Peter admits. “I was scared he wasn’t sleeping the right way.” But, he notes, that’s probably common to all new parents, regardless of how their child was conceived.
Before their son arrived, Luis and Peter discussed their different roles and tasks. Because neither is breastfeeding, they have taken turns for night feeding – and for most other chores.
The moments when their son smiles, coos and recognizes his parents are the times when their hearts melt. That’s when “every bit of anguish, energy and money seems well worth it,” Luis says.
“Some men talk about the moment when their wife started to show, or they went to their first ultrasound,” Peter says. “I think, because we went through this process as spectators, to a large degree, the big moments for us were when we were in the hospital. There he was!
“We weren’t there every day during the pregnancy. We didn’t feel him growing. So I think when we saw him – full red hair, real live baby – it was pretty profound.”
Their son’s birth had special meaning for Luis, who was part of a large family with plenty of kids. When he first came out as gay, he heard from friends and family that he’d never have a family. He never thought it could happen, until a gay friend had children through surrogacy. He calls this “a dream fulfilled.”
For 10 years, he says, he and Peter have explored and traveled the world together. The chance to do that now, with their son, thrills him.
Luis offers “a million thanks” to both their egg donor (who they never met), and their surrogate. Every time they see their surrogate, they tell her how great it is that she could help them become a family. She has told them that she loves being part of her own family, and believes it is important to help others create their own families.
The GayParentsTobe Be / RMACT team – including Nora and Dr. Leondires -- was also vital. “Every person we had interactions with through the process was very compassionate,” Luis says. “They understood the experience we were going through. If we called, whether it was about timing or billing, or if we were in a panic, they met our anxiety and came from a knowledgeable, special place. It’s a very warm, very embracing, very gentle environment.”
“This could very easily be an impersonal process,” Peter adds. “It’s a medical procedure. But from the very beginning we built a personal relationship with the people there. They were receptive to us, and excited to have us there.
“Frankly, we weren’t sure what to expect, being a gay couple. But their practice - the people, were really inspiring and excited to have us join them, and to go through the process with us.”
The process worked. It’s been a “huge blessing,” they say, and they cherish every moment of it.
“There’s an unconditional love that you are able to give to a child, and also to get from a child,” Peter says. Luis – busy taking care of their son at the moment – nods in agreement.