Solidarity

My New Year wish for 2016 would probably be for solidarity among LGBT moms and dads of different stripes.

Parents in general are probably familiar with a phenomenon I call “competitive parenting.”  Because of their love for their children and a deep desire to do their best as parents, people often subscribe to different philosophies and methods: attachment parenting, free range kids, cloth diapers, etc.  Furthermore, insecurities about whether they are actually making the best choices for their own children sometimes leads them to go from self-affirmation to putting down other parents in order to make themselves feel superior.  This can be as subtle as singing the praises of a gluten-free kid diet in mixed company, and as extreme as telling formula-feeding moms that they are depriving their babies.  I find this competitiveness to be the best mom or dad unnecessary.  We are all in this together, we all love our children, we are all trying our best, and we really shouldn’t have to prove ourselves to anybody.  We have more in common than there are differences to be found.  Solidarity!

LGBT moms and dads in our unusual situation often struggle with even more insecurity because of feeling judged by society as a whole.  In attempt to prove themselves just as good, competitive LGBT parents grapple with how we raise our kids, as well as the manner in which we built our family in the first place.  Over the past few years, interacting with LGBT parents on social media, I have found some mutual support in these groups, but a lot of division as well.  I can easily dismiss hateful comments from outsiders, who know nothing about my circumstance, as ignorant.  When other gay dads talk about fostering and adoption as a more moral path to parenthood, or even suggest that commercial gestational surrogacy is selfish and exploits women, it really bothers me.  I also dislike when I see other gay dads through surrogacy turn up their noses at the idea of fostering or adopting kids.

Rather than putting each other down, we should be lifting each other up together.  We are all in this together, because society does not distinguish between gay dads through adoption, surrogacy, co-parenting and previous relationships.  We’re just perceived as gay dads.  We all love our children equally regardless of how they came to be in our care.  We are all doing what we think is best for our own families, because the truth is that there are merits and drawbacks to any family-building approach.  Josh and I have already discussed in previous posts how we carefully navigated surrogacy twice in effort to ensure, as much as possible, positive outcomes for all parties involved.  We have complete respect for gay dads who foster and adopt.  After considering that path ourselves, we decided to pursue surrogacy instead for very specific reasons.  The best way to have and raise kids in one’s own case is not necessarily the best nor the most feasible path to parenthood for others.  There should be more solidarity than divisiveness, because LGBT parents have more in common than differences.

In closing, I would just like to mention that Eric Rosswood’s upcoming book, “Journey to Same-Sex Parenthood: First Hand Advice, Tips and Stories From Lesbian and Gay Couples” takes a unified and balanced look at these varied ways same sex-couples become parents.  We are very happy to have contributed our personal family story to the section on surrogacy, and we are excited to read other family stories about assisted reproduction, fostering, adoption, co-parenting and more.  We hope prospective LGBT parents will find this resource informative and helpful in deciding their own best path to parenthood.  The book is available for pre-order on Amazon now.  Check it out!

Coming March 2016

Coming March 2016

Journey to Same-Sex Parenthood

Coming March 2016

Coming March 2016

We are excited to share our family story in an upcoming book by Eric Rosswood to be published in March of 2016!  “Journey to Same-Sex Parenthood: First Hand Advice, Tips and Stories From Lesbian and Gay Couples” is organized into five sections describing these different paths to parenthood for same sex couples: Adoption, Foster Care, Assisted Reproduction, Surrogacy and Co-Parenting.  We contributed our family story to the part on surrogacy.  Each section includes personal stories like ours as well as an appendix with legal issues and questions to ask before pursuing each family building approach.  We are excited to read other family stories and think prospective LGBT parents will find this resource informative and inspirational.  The book is available for pre-order on Amazon now.  Check it out!

About AJ and JJ

To replace my now obsolete page comparing international and domestic surrogacy, I have decided to put up pages about each of our two sets of amazing twins.

AJ and JJ are our first set of twins born through surrogacy in the Summer of 2007.  Up until their birth we took turns visiting the surrogate Marie in California to spend time with her and her family, as well as prepare for the arrivals.  Josh had in fact spent the weekend before they were born in California to attend the 32 week ultrasound and tour the hospital.  Josh returned to our home in Florida on a red-eye flight early Monday morning, only to get that fateful call Monday evening that the babies had decided to make an early arrival!  The boys were born premature at just over 4 lbs. each.  We both raced back to meet our boys in the NICU Tuesday morning and instantly fell in love.  Marie graciously agreed to pump breast milk to help the boys thrive in the NICU.  We spent several weeks camped out in an extended stay hotel close to the hospital shuttling breast milk to the hospital every three hours to help the NICU nurses feed and care for our boys.  I remember the NICU nurses fondly because they were so kind to us as a gay couple and helped teach us the basics of feeding, diapering, and not panicking when these fragile little babies starting crying.  The boys were discharged from the hospital after they had grown to 5 lbs., and we returned to Florida where our parenting adventure continued.

We tried to juggle AJ and JJ on our own for the first few months, but with some of the preemie issues they had feeding and apnea, we felt our sanity slipping by the Fall.  We met our wonderful nanny Pat, who has been a godsend for all of our children ever since. These preemie twin boys grew to have some typical speech delay issues, so they spent a year going to speech therapy before entering preschool.  They have flourished since, and AJ and JJ are now working their way through elementary school in the gifted program.  AJ and JJ have personalities that complement but sometimes clash.  JJ has a detail oriented approach to life, and has turned out to be an avid gamer just like his Papa (me!).  AJ is an easygoing kid and has distinguished himself as a bit of an athlete.  He enjoys basketball, bicycling, and swimming in the pool at our home at every opportunity.  They get along well most of the time, but their level of twin closeness naturally leads to occasional flareups as well.  I foresee them sharing a special bond as twins and in their special circumstance for many years to come.

AJ and JJ having their first encounter "on the outside" before discharge from NICU. BFF's ever since!

AJ and JJ having their first encounter “on the outside” before discharge from NICU. BFF’s ever since!

AJ and JJ - Summer 2015

Summer 2015 – AJ is on the left and JJ is on the right in both photos

For more on our story, keep an eye out for a page about our second dynamic duo DJ and MJ to be posted soon.  Our journey to become gay parents will also be featured in an upcoming book to be published early 2016.  For more details, check out www.ericrosswood.com

The Surrogacy Landscape in 2015

Surrogacy in US or abroad can be wonderful. Our family is living proof.

Surrogacy in US or abroad can be wonderful. Our family is living proof.

A lot has happened in the 2 years since DJ and MJ were born in India.  India has implemented the discriminatory regulation that surrogacy can only be offered to heterosexual couples married for more than two years.  Gay couples looked toward Thailand as an alternative only to have it shut down amidst military coup and scandal last year.  The next destination, Nepal, was hit with an earthquake earlier this year, and yesterday a court in Nepal suspended commercial surrogacy pending further review.  The options for gay couples seeking to become parents through surrogacy have become much more limited, and so my 2013 comparison of international vs. domestic surrogacy is no longer accurate.  International surrogacy has become a treacherous path to parenthood that I cannot in good conscience recommend because of possible disastrous situations like this one and this one.  I will be taking down the comparison page and leave the original 2013 entry in my archive for historical purposes.  Surrogacy in the US remains a safe option, and costs have decreased somewhat as more agencies come into operation to compete for clientele.

Josh and I are forever grateful for our positive surrogacy experiences in both California and India.  We are saddened that the options for gay couples hoping to become parents through surrogacy around the world have dwindled so.  I can only hope that in places like the UK, Israel, and Australia, their respective governments can recognize the extraordinary lengths gay couples have gone to have children, and better allow for well-regulated fair practices of surrogacy closer to home.

End of Summer Road Trip to Visit Our First Surrogate

Marie, our first surrogate, gave birth to AJ and JJ while she and her family were living in California.  Being a military family, they have moved a few times since then to Tennessee, Alaska, and just recently Georgia.  We were excited that they are closer than ever to Florida, so we decided to celebrate the end of summer vacation by piling into the minivan for an old fashioned road trip.  It has been a few years since Marie and the twins have seen each other, and both our families have welcomed two more additions since last we met, but everyone including all eight children got along wonderfully like lifelong friends.  We are so grateful to be connected to such an amazing family in such a special way!

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