Ever since I can remember, I always wanted to have children. I hoped to start a family with a partner - so I gave myself a deadline of 40 years old. If I didn’t find my person by then, I would begin the journey on my own. And so, as life would have it, one day after my 40th birthday I started researching surrogacy. I couldn’t be happier to say that today, I have an amazing husband and two beautiful daughters, Ariel and Yael. But it took a long time to get here.
I was the first among family and friends to pursue surrogacy. I had no idea where to start and spent weeks weeding through many different websites and pdfs, on phone calls, on email chains… and still felt lost. I didn’t know which agency to choose, didn’t even know how to make the choice, had no idea of what the roadmap ahead looked like (how long would it take?, how much would it cost?, where was surrogacy legal?, what should I expect on this emotional rollercoaster?, and so much more). As I was trying to plan everything out, I got frustrated with the lack of transparency around costs. I had no easy way to compare fertility providers to make an informed decision about my future family, I didn’t get support as a gay man (without an infertility diagnosis) from my company’s insurance policy — and the list goes on. I also found it difficult to find an egg donor. I had specific criteria that I was looking for and each egg donor agency had limited inventory, so I had to go to four different agencies before I matched with the wonderful donor for both of my girls. I’ve now learned this is a common experience for many other intended parents, so long story short, if you’re going through it as well, I can relate. And there is hope!
Eventually I began to piece things together and started my journey. Fast forward eight months, a dating app matched me with my now husband Mike! We both lived in NYC, where he was doing a research year at NYU while in medical school. But as fate would have it, he was moving to Boston literally the day we matched. So, within our first conversation I told him I was already doing surrogacy, ‘take it or leave it’ - I wasn’t going to waste time dating anyone who didn’t hope to have a family as much as I did. We’ve been together ever since.
It’s so cliche… but the rest is history. When Mike finished medical school he moved back to New York to be with me. In the meantime, having matched with an amazing gestational carrier, my dream of fatherhood came true with the birth of my little Ariel. And even better, with Mike as a supportive and equal partner to me in this journey to fatherhood, we got married by her first birthday.
Learning how to be parents was an incredible experience. I often hear people say there’s no perfect guide book for parenting, but I actually read multiple books and we figured it out together. There was an added element I needed to research though: how and when it’s best to tell children their birth story. Luckily, we found a few really helpful children’s books to introduce the subject as early as possible, so Ariel’s been hearing her story from the very beginning - and now Yael is as well.
Ariel is now four years old, and she of course knows she has two dads. I’m Abba and my husband is Dad or Daddy. She understands that some kids have a mom and dad and others have two moms. We read books written specifically for donor-conceived children and we add snippets from her own story. Ariel knows that another mom (the gestational carrier) helped Daddy and I have her, but egg donation is still a complex concept for her age. Our goal is to talk to her about it consistently and answer all of her questions as they come. Yael is only a year old but she loves it when we read to her - so I’m sure she’ll start to love books about diverse families and the many ways to make a family.
Despite all the difficulties to start our family, I’m grateful for where it led to. It’s a blessing to be surrounded by our girls (and we’re hoping for more kids soon!), but also to be helping so many other intended parents on a similar journey. In 2020, with Ariel as my co-founder, we launched GoStork, an online marketplace where fertility patients and intended parents can find, compare, and connect with top fertility providers - all one platform. We have over 10,000 egg donors from 40 trusted egg donation agencies all in one place. Intended parents can easily sort by their favourites for the criteria that are most important to them (appearance, age, education, religion, reproductive history, costs, location, etc.), compare profiles side-by-side (including all associated fees) and easily connect with the agencies of the ones they’re interested in. We also have 60 top surrogacy agencies in our platform and soon to come, fertility clinics in over 100 locations. For those who need one-to-one help, our concierge is available to support and inform them and for those who need financial support, they can apply for a loan right from our homepage (currently in most US states only but we hope to expand this offering in the future). All in all, It’s an incredible joy to see the first babies being born by intended parents who started with us!
Personally, we’re now on a third surrogacy and egg donation journey and will hopefully welcome another sibling for Ariel and Yael soon. This journey provides opportunities for us to talk about how our family was built and continues to grow. We’re also very grateful for organisations like the Donor Conception Network who provide so many helpful resources for families like ours!