I’m a father to three children under 5 years old, happily married for almost a decade, and working a white-collar job in Central Pennsylvania while my husband stays home with the kids. We chose surrogacy instead of adoption given the challenges some of our same-sex-partnered friends experienced navigating the world of adoption in our conservative community.
But these are facts. Blogs are supposed to focus on the rest of our lives. Let me try that on and see how it feels.
It was so unexpected for my partner and I to have found each other in a small town, given that most of our ilk coalesce around proper metropolitan areas where acceptance isn’t earned but rather reasonably assumed.
Our relationship developed quickly because it seemed so natural.
It was easier being together than it was being apart, and we each knew that we wanted to become fathers. It wasn’t long after we’d first met that my partner and I agreed that we would one day have children.
We knew it wouldn’t be easy.
Adoption is difficult in our conservative community given that the biological parents have to choose for a gay couple to take their children, at least in the state of Pennsylvania. And the onerous cost and remarkable logistical challenges of surrogacy put the process out of our reach in our early years together.
But we eventually found ourselves fortunate enough to be financially able to consider surrogacy.
We were introduced to an amazing human being who, with the support of her husband and her own children, chose to carry our children for us.
The process took four years in total.
Embryos were created and transferred, there were pregnancies and sonograms during which we would sit with technicians listening for a heartbeat that would never come. A crushing sense of defeat overwhelmed us all, at times.
After two miscarriages, we saw the sonogram of our oldest son, a black and white curled-up puff of a human, printed out on thin, heat-sensitive paper in the doctor’s office, and we held it with soaring joy.
There were two more babies to come.
The fertility clinic transferred embryos, and we facetimed our surrogate often. She sent us baby bump pictures, celebrated milestones while our babies grew, and we came to love her and her family and to add them to our own family tree.
I kept a tally of the bills, not that that matters now, but we spent much of the cost of our childrens’ presumptive four-year college education just to have the opportunity to meet each of them.
And before we even wrote the first check or interviewed the first attorney or doctor or fertilization specialist, well before any of that, we asked each other, my husband and I, if this was the right thing to do.
The LGBTQ+ community would likely smack me around for asking, but when you’re having a baby in such a deliberate way (gay couples don’t have ‘accidental’ pregnancies, obviously), when you’re bringing another human being into the world, doesn’t it warrant a few questions about whether or not your living situation is healthy for children?
I was surprised.
I might have my gay card revoked for even considering the question, but once we understood that the stability of the two-parent household was more important than the gender of the caregivers, then the most difficult parenting question became “who will be ‘papa’ and who will be ‘daddy’.”
For all of this, for the sleepless nights and the prioritizing and juggling and schedule shifting and arguments and under-eye-baggage, there are rewards beyond our expectations:
We tell our 2-year-old we want a hug, but he still thinks that means we need a kiss, he stumbles toward us and nearly falls on the floor, smiling to oblige.
Our 4-year old tells me that he doesn’t want me to leave for work because he loves me too much, he falls face-first into a clumsy-limbed hug with reckless abandon. And at least twice each night he climbs down from his bunk bed solely to ask his papa for another tuck-in; my heart melts and I oblige.
There is the smudge of chocolate on the wall that might be poop but is probably chocolate, though we just won’t take our chances to find out, and our oldest willingly takes the risk before we can stop him. (It was chocolate, thank God.)
There is the nighttime routine cleaning teeth, and reading books, and finding the stuffed Hammerhead shark and the worn and stinky blankets to keep the kids calm and in bed until morning.
They need us for so much, and the ache of how much we needed them is pure and consequential.
Alex Rodgers is a contributing writer for Central Penn Parent operating under a pen name. Central Penn Parent’s editors know the writer and have agreed to keep his name anonymous.