John always knew he wanted to be a father. But as a gay man with a busy professional life, at some point he gave up on the dream. Then he met Anthony, and as their relationship grew, they decided to embark on the family building journey.
Despite their enthusiasm, the journey was not always easy. An adoption fell through, and Anthony’s mother began cancer treatment—which only increased their resolve to move forward. Turning to surrogacy, they experienced the “magical” process of bringing their twins, Francesca and AJ, into the world.
Our family is fun. It’s fun. We have twins, boy/girl twins that were born in 2012. Francesca was born first, followed by A.J. A.J. stands for Anthony John.
I knew from the time that I was a kid that I wanted to be a dad. I really, really felt a strong pull towards fatherhood. And then I think I gave up on the dream at a certain point, in my teens and my 20s. I didn’t think that it would happen for me; figured I’m gay, the odds are stacked against me. And then several years into our relationship, I started feeling a really strong desire, and talking to Anthony about it, and then obviously technology helped make it possible for us.
Our first instinct was to adopt. And we were in the middle of an adoption. There was a baby girl that we learned of, and we had a lawyer, and we were negotiating with the birth mother’s family and lawyer. The adoption didn’t work out.
It was horrible.
At the last minute, the birth mother changed her mind, and we accepted it, and decided that it was a blessing for us, because we learned from the experience that we were, in fact, ready to be parents. A friend of mine had gone through a surrogacy before. We learned everything that you could learn about surrogacy –the ups, the downs, the financial implications. But we were ready to do it.
We gave both of our sperm to the fertility lab, and when our egg donor gave us a certain number of eggs, we said to the doctors, “Just fertilize half the eggs with his sperm, and half the eggs with mine, and whichever embryos the embryologist thinks have the best chance of surviving in the womb….
We’ll take it.
We’ll take it. And we decided that God would take care of the rest.
We had no idea, and still don’t know, who’s DNA is responsible for the creation of our twins. And quite frankly, it doesn’t matter to us. They’re our angels. They were meant to be our children. And that’s what matters.
We had no idea that it could be such a spiritual experience. The embryologist walks in, and he’s got this long tube. And he says, “Your embryos are in here.” And we had no idea what to expect, but the next thing we know, they say, “Look at the screen.” It’s a sonogram so you can see what’s going on inside the womb. And they basically put the embryos in, and it was like magic. It really was a spiritual moment. We could see them like shooting stars on the screen. And for some reason, we knew, we just knew that we were gonna be pregnant.
She [our surrogate] was just right. We had a connection. She was nurturing, which was very important.
We send pictures, and she still feels connected to the babies, and when they’re old enough, they’ll understand how they came to us, and what an important role she played.
It takes a certain type of woman to do what she did—to carry our children, and just hand them, hand them to us.
Francesca has a lot of my personality. She mimics me. And A.J. has a lot of John’s personality. The craziest thing that I said to him was if we were a heterosexual couple that have children, they would look exactly like that, if one of us gave birth to them.
Francesca was beautiful the moment she was born. And then A.J. came out a minute later. And he wasn’t so beautiful. He has this old soul quality about him, and he’s a little bit more serious. But when he smiles, the whole world smiles with him.
We talked a lot about what would it be like for our children to have two dads, and not have a mom. The thing that we kept coming back to is that there are a lot of people out in this world that grew up with a mom and dad, and didn’t have such a great childhood. So why should we not have the privilege of raising children, when we know that we are going to raise them well, and love them, and protect them.
I think it’s made our relationship stronger. I just think that we have gained a lot of respect for each other, because we have the same goal in mind: their happiness, their health, and their growth.
It didn’t happen by accident that we had children. We worked for it, and we got back what we put into it.
I would say if you’re thinking about having kids, and you’re discounting yourself as a candidate—wrong. I don’t care: man, woman, straight, gay. If this is something you feel that you want, and that you know that you could do well—make it happen. The reward at the end, holding that child or holding that children, will be the greatest gift, the greatest gift that you’ve ever had in your life. So don’t let anybody, most of all yourself, prevent you from having that opportunity.
I feel like I can breathe, for the first time in my life.
I never thought I would have children. And—we have children. And it’s the best thing that ever happened to us.