By: Devin Bergman
When I met my husband, Zach, I was still in the proverbial closet because of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. I was unsure then if I would ever have a husband, much less a family. Since then, the military – and the world – has changed so much. We’ve now been married for more than seven years, and our children, Kai and Claire, are somehow already almost three. My, how time flies!
Like many families, we weren’t initially sure we even wanted children. And like most LGBTQ families, we weren’t even sure how we’d have kids. When the time came that we decided we did want to start a family, Zach and I were both open to adoption, but in the end, we decided we wanted to use a surrogate to have children who were genetically ours.
It wouldn’t be hyperbole to say that the processes and the barriers to two men having biological children were both extensive and expensive. We decided to take a year to continue considering it, looking into our surrogacy options and various agencies, and most importantly, saving money. By the end of that year, we were ready to take the plunge.
The agency we used was Family Source Consultants, based in Chicago. We are both from Illinois, and were stationed at Offutt AFB, Nebraska, so it was only about a 7-hour drive for the few appointments we had to attend in person. I can’t recommend them enough to anyone considering surrogacy; they gave us continual information and updates, helped us through all the paperwork, helped us choose our egg donor and our surrogate, and were by our side throughout the entire process.
The conception journey wasn’t without its setbacks, however. Two of the egg donors we initially selected were eventually ruled out for various reasons, and the wait for a surrogate to choose us seemed excruciatingly long. The agency would not allow surrogates from some states, like ours, that had less friendly LGBTQ surrogacy and adoption laws, so that limited our options.
On top of that, despite trying to save money the year prior, we were still nowhere near able to financially pay for all the costs adding up, and the military didn’t cover any of the costs we were incurring. Thankfully, both of our families were there to help out with any costs that we couldn’t cover ourselves. Never underestimate a parent’s desire to become a grandparent!
Everything seemed to get ‘real’ when we were matched with our surrogate, Yelena. It likely took longer than normal for us to be matched because we knew we wanted to try for twins, and I’m sure not all surrogates are willing to carry and deliver two babies for a relative stranger. However, when Yelena chose use, we were so glad we waited until we found her. She was amazing throughout the entire process, encouraging us to come to any doctor appointments we could make, sending us almost daily updates, and being just completely selfless.
On May 20th, 2018, our lives changed when Kai and Claire were born. Like most twins, they were born early, so they had to spend about a week in the NICU, so we essentially lived in Minnesota with them for that week before we were finally able to bring them home. That week was actually a blessing in disguise, as we learned how to parent two infants with the supervision and advice of several nurses. We were nervous to finally take them home with us and be fully responsible, but again, we were so lucky to have parents and grandparents who would frequently visit to help relieve our sleep deprivation and take some of the burden off us.
For those considering surrogacy, I have a few recommendations. First, make sure you both manage your expectations. We were told the entire process would likely take anywhere between 18-24 months. Additionally, we were advised that even with implanting two embryos, there was only about a 33% chance we would end up with two children. Furthermore, there’s no guarantee that the invitro-fertilization (IVF) will even be successful the first, second, or third time, which would add to the overall cost. Be mentally and emotionally prepared for these kinds of setbacks, among others.
All told, our surrogacy journey cost about $115,000. That is a lot of money, and unfortunately not every couple can afford that. However, I can unequivocally say it was worth every penny. Parenting is hard, and parenting twins is, in many ways, harder. But every time I get an enthusiastic “Daddy’s home!”, or hear Claire singing “Let It Go!”, or see them playing and laughing together, I’m reminded how perfect they are, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.