Since AJ and JJ were born, we have taken family photos periodically on birthdays and holidays. With the addition of DJ and MJ, these photos have become increasingly challenging to stage because of the number of moving parts.
Last week we had our photo session and I was initially displeased because of how restless MJ was throughout the shoot. Somehow, the photographer managed to capture a couple moments of relative cooperation. Of course the beauty of our children won me over and now I love the photos.
Looking over the last few family portraits I am struck by how much the kids have grown over the last couple years!
First Portrait as Family of 6
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