Since we've started to share our story more widely, we have been answering a lot of questions from people who are curious about our plans to grow our family and about our choice to pursue gestational surrogacy. We posted a brief overview of the surrogacy process previously (The Basics of Surrogacy). Below are answers to some of the questions we've been asked. We will keep this post updated as we continue to have more conversations with people.
Why don't you just adopt?
This is by far the most frequently asked question. And it's totally legit, but let's be clear: when an opposite sex couple announces they are trying to get pregnant, they are not instantly encouraged to adopt. Both of us were employed at an infant adoption and foster care agency for several years. We are very familiar with the adoption process. We have friends and family who have grown their families through adoption. We are in no way against adoption, but adoption is not a straight-forward, inexpensive, or easy process. You can't "just" adopt a child. Adoption is a journey that comes with its own unique challenges, risks, and rewards.
We both have a deep belief in attachment theory and this was one of the factors that lead us to the decision to pursue gestational surrogacy. The main idea of attachment is how an infant develops a deep relationship with at least one primary caregiver. This can obviously happen with adoption too. Research also suggests that attachment begins before, during, and directly after birth. Some of these first experiences in the womb can prime a baby's brain and body responses for a lifetime. We don't know where this journey towards fatherhood is taking us. It may start with gestational surrogacy and end with adoption. No matter how our baby arrives to us, we will be blessed.
Are you guys going to swirl your sperm together and see which one makes it to the egg first?
While this is technically possible, the science of assisted reproductive technology is a bit more nuanced than that. Generally, sperm from each partner is used to fertilize a number of donor eggs in a controlled laboratory environment. After the embryos develop for several days, they are assessed for health and viability for implantation into the surrogate's womb. We could choose to transfer an embryo from each of us with the hope that they would both successfully implant and grow into fetuses. But, we haven't decided if we'll do that or not.
How do you decide who will be the dad?
We'll both be the dad. Genetically speaking, we have decided to each fertilize a portion of the eggs. We will then consult with the medical team about which embryo(s) appear to be the most healthy and ready to get cozy in a womb for the next 9 months. We've dreamt about siblings, but we haven't yet decided if we will transfer one or two embryos. From what we understand now, we can freeze the remaining embryos for up to 5 years should we decide to get pregnant again in the future. Regardless of all this, we will both always be dad to our child(ren). We've talked about using different names so that our child(ren) can differentiate us. Kirk will probably go by "Dad" and Anthony will probably go by "Papa", but maybe our kids will come up with their own names for us!
Why don't you just find someone or ask a friend to carry the baby for free instead of paying a professional surrogate?
Pregnancy is a huge undertaking for any woman. Growing and nurturing a new life inside of your body for nine months is not an easy task. Asking any woman, whether a friend or a professional surrogate, to carry a baby to which she has no genetic connection feels truly monumental. There is no way to put a price tag on that kind of gift and, frankly, it's difficult to imagine asking a friend—much less a stranger—to carry our child without any kind of compensation. We hope to have a unique and life-long relationship with our surrogate, and that relationship will have to be built intentionally with a strong foundation of respect and trust.
If you're curious to know more about how the costs break down, we have a separate post here: The Cost.