This evening we celebrated the beginning of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. Josh’s parents came over and we sang the blessings before having a meal including apples dipped in honey for a sweet year. I am proud to have mastered brisket recipe shared from a coworker. AJ and JJ loved the brisket so much they asked for second and third helpings until it was completely devoured!
A Chinese man made this brisket and the Jewish side of the family endorses it as legit
In other news, AJ and JJ have started third grade. They are matched with two teachers that work as a team this year. One teacher focuses on math, the other focuses on reading and writing. They swap classes in the afternoon, so AJ and JJ are working on the same things with the same teachers while separated through the course of the day. A wonderful benefit from this arrangement is that the boys have the same homework sent home each day. This is much less confusing for Josh and I to supervise, and all we have to do is make sure they don’t cheat off each other’s work. The school year seems to have gotten off to a sweet start!
1st day of 3rd grade. Yes, AJ is wearing a pepperoni pizza backpack
MJ and DJ are our second set of twins born through surrogacy. A few years ago Josh and I started talking about the idea of having more children. We thought it would be nice to have a girl to break up all the testosterone in the house, and it would also be an opportunity for the non-donor partner from our last surrogacy experience to make a genetic contribution to our family. Because of the economy and our finances at the time, international surrogacy seemed the way to go this time around. We researched our options and decided to look into an agency and a clinic operating in India.
The next step in our plan was to travel to Mumbai, India to see for ourselves. We visited the clinic and were presented with some options for prospective surrogates. We personally met and chose to work with Pavitra because she was experienced having served as a surrogate previously. Regardless of language barrier, we knew that Pavitra understood exactly what kind of process she was getting involved with because she had done it once before. We knew that we would not have the close relationship with Pavitra like we did with our first surrogate, but the financial benefit for Pavitra and her family in India’s economy would be life changing. The beaming smile on Pavitra’s face when she learned we had chosen her told us everything we needed to know.
When we did IVF in India, we asked for the doctor to transfer two embryos instead of the standard three because we were trying to aim for a singleton. As fate would have it, two embryos implanted anyway and we had a second set of twins on our hands! Because of laws against sex selection in India, we did not know the if we had boys, girls or both until their birth. Baby girl DJ was delivered first via c-section and baby boy MJ arrived moments later. MJ and DJ were born during a period of change in the surrogacy industry of India, and this complicated and prolonged the process that ultimately allowed MJ and DJ to come home to the US one month after their birth. After we left, the door seems to have slammed shut for gay couples seeking surrogacy in India. Thailand and Nepal have followed suit in the years since, and we do not recommend international surrogacy at this time.
MJ has a name that is the masculinization of Josh’s grandmother that died a few years before. DJ is named after a pop culture icon. It is a name I have been saving for my daughter since before AJ and JJ were born! DJ is a bit of a fashionista. She insists on choosing her own outfits out of the closet proclaiming them to be “cute!” She is partial to clothes with her favorite characters Minnie Mouse and Hello Kitty. MJ has a voice that carries and honestly was singing before he could talk. He started out with “ABC” and “Twinkle Twinkle” but has begun to branch out into singing along to pop tunes on the car radio.
DJ and MJ shortly after their birth
2nd Birthday cupcakes
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!
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
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!
Last weekend, we celebrated the end of the school year with a trip to Orlando. AJ and JJ were excited to visit Universal Studios to see the Harry Potter attraction on Friday. The whole family (with nanny Pat and her son) got to experience Gay Days at Magic Kingdom on the customary first Saturday of June. DJ and MJ got to meet the “mouf” that is featured on their diapers at Epcot Sunday. We had a great weekend and were glad that we even got to spend some time with some other gay dads we have met and become friendly with over the last year.