Finding Aunt Cindy.
After two rounds of cancer treatment and a total hysterectomy, we knew I’d never be able to carry children. And as excited as we were to have survived cancer twice, our hearts still ached for children. We explored adoption, but surrogacy just felt right to us. One of my friends from college had been a surrogate and spoke about what a transformational experience it had been for her, and we wanted to be a part of something like that. She was not able to carry again, so we needed to find a surrogate to help us. We tried looking on our own, but didn’t have any success and decided to enlist professional help, with PrimaVita.
PrimaVita matched us with Cindy, and we hit it off immediately! It was an even better experience than we could have imagined! We loved getting to know Cindy’s family and her three amazing sons every time we went over to Houston for appointments. We got so lucky with Cindy, because everything felt so easy, and we knew she was taking such good care of our twins for us. And PrimaVita was there for us in those few instances where we needed some outside help, in addition to taking care of all of the complex legal issues. Simi is so caring, compassionate, and experienced–we knew we were always in outstanding hands.
While I still wish I could have experienced the full spectrum of motherhood, surrogacy was the best possible plan B. And now our twins have an incredible extended family in “Aunt Cindy” and her family.
We’re so grateful to PrimaVita for guiding us through the daunting process, and cannot imagine a better agency or experience.
We Couldn’t Have Hoped for Anything Better
We would like to share with you our personal experience with PrimaVita Surrogacy agency. We both dreamed of having a baby since the day we got married, nine years ago. As a gay couple who lived in Israel back then, our opportunities were limited. We did extensive research on how to go about finding a gestational carrier and what the process would entail.
Spending endless hours reading everything we could get our hands on and surfing the Internet until all hours of the night, we decided that the best way forward is to have conversations with the different agencies. Above all, there was one agency that stood out and that was Simi Denson with PrimaVita. From our first call, we realized that we found someone that we can trust, has an unbelievable vast experience but also has a huge heart and emotional sensitivity and compassion. If there was ever a manual about surrogacy, it was probably Simi Denson who wrote it. After we chose Simi, we were expecting to wait for a match with a carrier for up to six months. Within a week we had already a profile in place, and three weeks later we were matched with our carrier, Tiffany.
The one thing we remember Simi saying was not to jump at the first carrier profile just because we were anxious and ready to get the process started. She made it very clear that although there may be many qualified candidates, we may not “click” with all of them. She assured us that if the first few weren’t “perfect” matches, the next one would be. Inevitably, we screened several profiles before being matched with our amazingly wonderful carrier, Tiffany. We were blessed to have Tiffany and her family part of our life. Tiffany is responsible, sensitive, caring, loving and extremely intelligent carrier. We couldn’t have hoped for anything better. Simi made the process from the initial consultation, to the point where we are now, on the 19th week of our pregnancy, problem free. Any hurdle that arose, she took care of immediately and explained everything so that we understood what was happening then and what would happen next.
We are fortunate and lucky to have Tiffany as our Gestational Carrier and Simi and PrimaVita as our agency. Our experience with Simi and Tiffany has been nothing but positive. We owe them the world.
Light at the End of Our Tunnel.
Simi and team at PrimaVita were literally the light at the end of our tunnel. We dealt with many agencies taking huge fees upfront and provided zero appropriate matches resulting in wasted years. We were about to give up and by luck we met Simi and within one week she matched us and 15 months later our perfect daughter arrived. She was kind, honest, realistic and supported both us and our amazing surrogate through everything.
She was the one person who treated us with kindness and humanity in this emotional roller coaster.
Look no further. I only wish we met her first! We remain in touch to this day.
Our Path to Parenthood
Somewhere deep in the jungle of Facebook groups for would-be parents, I posted my shot in the dark. Here’s what I actually wrote in early 2015:
“Hello to all and thanks for the add!
My partner and I are potential IPs in the information gathering stage. We live in Austin where I manage a real estate firm and he’s a nurse. I think the goal right now is to casually make connections while we make decisions on gestational vs traditional, indy vs. agency. I hope it’s ok if we just kind of hang back and learn from you guys for the time being! Talk soon!”
I spent half an hour agonizing over just the right placement of exclamation points to help me sound easy-going and well-adjusted. Now, if I were being candid, here’s how it should’ve read:
Hello to all and thanks for the add!
I’m here to tell you about a huge hole in my life that I’ve tried desperately for a decade to fill with work, travel and volunteering! It’s not that I don’t know what’s missing. I’ve known since I was a little boy that I wanted a family, and for years have said we’d try “someday.” But really I’m paralyzed by a fear that if I take steps to make it happen, something will go wrong and I will be worse off for trying. I will have acknowledged that my dream for my life, the thing I silently pray for at night, is to become a father. So if I try and it doesn’t work out, I’ve admitted to myself and everyone else that my life was unfulfilled. I’m fairly certain that my partner feels the same, although I’ve actually never asked him for fear that together we’ll set our hearts on becoming fathers only to fail miserably and wind up in a deeper emotional chasm than when we started! Obviously, this is a cry for help. Talk soon!”
Two and a half years later, I can poke fun at myself for that tentative, guarded attempt at connection because right now, across the room, I am watching silently as my husband Shannon makes funny faces at our three month-old son Jake until he squeals.
Our parenthood story really begins in rural East Texas in 1979. Born within a few months of one another and in small towns about 80 miles apart (which made us neighbors by East Texas standards,) we both grew up with the inborn need to be parents. Some thirty years later, we met in Austin and fell in love. We discussed children early on in our relationship, but quickly filed that discussion in a folder labeled “Someday.”
Born two years before the start of the AIDS crisis, our generation grew up with very few gay men to look up to as examples of how to be in the world. A great number of would-be role models had died, and many of those who survived were shell-shocked from losing friends by the dozen. Coming of age in a world where being queer was dangerous, not to mention social suicide in our small towns, we both learned to keep our heads down; to blend into the background like wallpaper, avoiding exposure at all costs.
Thanks to folks like Ellen DeGeneres and positive media portrayals of gay people (think Will & Grace), the tide turned enough that more of us started living our lives openly. Still, that acceptance was conditional. The social messaging had changed. Now we were allowed a seat at the table — as long as we stayed in our lane. We could be the funny friend or the overachieving colleague, but our relationships were deemed inferior. The idea of two men in love still made people too uncomfortable, and that’s where the line was drawn. We called it ‘tolerance’ back then, and for those of us starved for connection, we bought into it. Many of us, including myself, built lives around work, having fun, looking good and creating a ‘chosen family’ of friends. We stayed in our lane.
I told myself that my life was working just fine and tried to ignore the voice that said, “Something’s missing.” Over time, the sense of being unsatisfied grew from a vague, undefined feeling to a gnawing urge to make a change. Then I met Shannon. An unintended consequence of being in a healthy, loving long-term relationship was that it made me comfortable enough in my own skin to want to live authentically, instead of cramming my days full of ‘stuff’ as a means of distraction. When I slowed down enough to listen to what I really wanted, it didn’t take long for my lifelong dream of becoming a dad to bubble up to the top. The first place I went was Facebook, since I thought I would find a group for parents pursuing surrogacy and just lurk around and leech information off of those guys. I did find a group called Texas Surrogacy, which was a mix of parents, surrogates and professionals — and as planned, I lurked around like a weirdo.
Maybe a week later, Shannon and I were in the middle of purchasing an investment property, and while writing the offer, I asked him, “Why doesn’t this feel right?” We finally had the talk. We tore up the contract; we knew we were meant to make a different investment. I told him that I’d been exploring the subject online and he agreed that we should start digging. We reached out via the Facebook group and were introduced to Simi Denson, who sat down with us at Blue Star Cafeteria and laid out for us, very plainly, what we would be biting off if we moved forward. Simi gave us the full reality but in a way that was, for lack of a better word, loving. We both walked away from the meeting with a feeling that we were exactly where we needed to be. Taking that initial meeting is maybe the single smartest thing that I’ve done in my adult life. Simi would eventually become our attorney, friend and trail guide on our journey to meet Jake.
You might be wondering, why did we choose surrogacy? Adoption would’ve certainly been more affordable and may have gotten us to our goal a little earlier (and let’s face it, we’re getting a late start at this parenthood thing, so time is precious.) We actually plan on continuing to build our family through adoption in the near future. And we will love those children as much as we love Jake. But both of us felt compelled to try for children with our genetics as well. There is something innate within people that wants to continue their family lines. We wanted the same experience that everyone else gets; we refused to stay in our lane.
Getting from there to where we are now was not easy. If you’re reading this, I assume that you are considering whether this process is right for you, and with that in mind, you should know a few things. Gestational surrogacy is fraught with stressful moments. Like us, you may experience loss and disappointment when the first few attempts don’t work. At times, you will feel like you are hemorrhaging cash. You will spontaneously, inexplicably burst into tears at inopportune moments. And you might as well wad up your ideal timelines and throw them out the window; instead, accept that now you are at the mercy of the human body (actually, several of them) and you will have a child if and when God (or biology, or the universe, whatever) sees fit.
But holding our son, I have to work hard to dredge up those memories of the rough spots. We transferred two embryos to our surrogate, one from each of us, and got one beautiful baby boy. When I look at him I see my chin, my grandfather’s smile, but then I look at Shannon’s baby pictures and Jake is his spitting image. It is impossible that his genetics are from both of us; we know that. And yet, somehow, we’re both in there.
I cannot tell our story without telling you about our angels, because without them, there is no story. To get where we are today took the help of two egg donors, two carriers, one attorney and about a dozen supportive characters (many of them surrogates themselves) who played parts large and small. All are women who devote much of themselves to making the impossible a reality for those of us who need help.