Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Building a House, Master Card Baby!, Ovary Bootcamp and the Cryoshipper Has Left The Building

It's been almost two weeks since my last post and I feel like we've laid a lot of groundwork. Lately I've been saying that this is a lot like building a house, and we are the general contractors, with many subcontractors, suppliers, materials and laborers. Having experienced a home renovation a few years ago, the analogy seems to fit perfectly. Things have to be in sync or else everything that follows gets delayed. Along the way you are met with many frustrations and obstacles, but, as they say, you have to "keep your eyes on the prize" (thanks for that reminder, Mike). At this point there have been no major delays, but boy oh boy, there are times I feel like I'm working a second job. I'm guessing that the front-end legwork is the most intense as we have nothing really to do with the baking that goes on for 9 months. That will be an interesting journey totally separate from the preparation portion. And THEN getting to India for baby pick up will be a super adventure from what I've been reading based on other people's experiences. Oh what great fodder for this blog...

Communication with Rotunda has improved greatly now that we have direct contact instead of going through Planet Hospital. It's such a relief to email someone and actually receive a response in less than 24 hours. The other day we even got a schedule of all our appointments while in Mumbai (+- 1 day given that we ARE dealing with the human body here). I felt so hopeful knowing we were on target and had firm dates for all the procedures. Our tickets are very close to being booked! I also went online the other day to check travel visas to India -- we'll have to send our passports to the west coast to get them but that shouldn't be a problem. Other things on the list are booking the hotel, ordering fertility medications for KK, selecting a surrogate!, etc etc. In between all of this we've got my nephew Luke's wedding in L.A. on August 16th, where we will have another chance to see KK and several family members. It will be a nice reunion and a great time to touch base with everyone before we leave for India the following month.

Speaking of KK, I received a great email from her the other day that I have to share. She was getting back to us on her expenses incurred to date for the baby prep, and I think she knew it was going to end up on this blog as she wrote it...it was just waaaayyyy too classic...

Progesterone: $9
Birth Control: $30
Shuttles to and from SFO (LA Trip): $40
George's* Accessories: $20
Passport & Photo: $116

Total: $215

Little Baby: Priceless.

She seems to have the right attitude (LOVE HER), and thank goodness, because the last week before we leave and a few days while we are in Mumbai are going to be a little uncomfortable. When I sent her the schedule (which involves giving herself shots, going to the doctor for ultrasounds, traveling 20 hours on an airplane, more shots, ultrasounds, egg harvesting, fertilization and embryo transfer -- phew!), her response was

"sounds like bootcamp!"

More like ovary bootcamp, I said... but she's a tough girl and we'll be there to help her out. I can't imagine it being THAT bad...(oh stop saying famous last words...).

Finally, today was another momentous step forward as the cryoshipper that is going to transport Bill's goods from the clinic in San Francisco to Mumbai officially left India. In a few days it will arrive at the Pacific Fertility Center and they will move the 12 sample "straws" to the tank, and it will make it's journey back to Rotunda.

These shippers are vacuum-sealed tanks made of lightweight aluminum and are cooled to -150 degrees with liquid nitrogen. The good thing is that the tanks travel with someone the whole time. God forbid it goes through the x-ray machine (not good, I repeat, not good), gets left somewhere to thaw (another NOT GOOD), or washes away in a Mumbai monsoon! Another good thing is that each tank is charged for 21 days, though it doesn't take that long to get there. There's a lot of cushion for any kind of delays...I'm liking like that.

It's kinda neat to think that half of what we need to create this little miracle will precede us and be waiting patiently for our arrival on September 18th! I'm still amazed at what science can do. I'm thanking all those science geeks in high school right now. You guys rock!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Baby hiccup...

This past Friday we received a call that made us stop, assess what was happening, and shift gears a bit. Up to now, we have tried to remind ourselves that this is a complicated process, and there will be stumbling blocks, but that doesn't mean you can't react, right?? (please say "right")...

I'd had a bad taste in my mouth for a few days as I had been trying to get some answers from our Planet Hospital case manager about our upcoming trip to India in September -- no luck. After a few days of calls and texts and emails to her I started to get nervous. Something was up. When I finally did make contact the bottom line was that she was leaving Planet Hospital because she didn't feel confident they had their clients' best interest in mind. I swallowed hard and tried not to react (I mildly succeeded). While trying to process this and talk at the same time, I considered our options. Basically there were four. One, we could stay with PH and get another case manager. After some talking on the phone with someone who was leaving the company because she didn't feel they were ethical, that option was very low on the list. Two, we could go with our case manager who offered to work with us independently. To be honest, we trusted this person, we met her when we were in L.A. in April, and I could tell (for the most part) that she was genuinely excited for us as we continued on this baby journey. She also had a good relationship with the clinic in India, and Dr. Kadam. That was a good option. Third, we could abandon this idea of becoming fathers and cut our losses. To think of this was devastating to me. We had invested too much emotionally over the past few years and there was also the financial investment (which, to me, was very secondary to the thought of just not having a child). This was NOT an option. Fourth, we could contact Rotunda in India and work with them directly. After communicating with them a bit over the past few months, I had a fair amount of trust in them. I had also read several comments on blogs and websites that were overall very positive (some were negative, but everyone has an axe to grind, right?). I hung the phone up and decided that I needed to talk to Bill. That was a depressing call to make. But Bill is so level-headed, and really takes time to think about things, so I knew we would make the right decision, together.

After doing much more research and contacting a few couples online about their experiences with Rotunda, we decided to work with the clinic directly, and use our old case manager at PH as a consultant, if we needed her. This decision was cemented when I sent an email to Rotunda on Friday and received a reply within a few hours. In fact, I had several questions over the weekend that I sent their way and got an answer within 24 hours. This was much more than we had ever received from PH -- and they were only 3 hours ahead of our time zone. Sheesh!

Sunday during the day we spent with a gay couple that had two boys through surrogacy. We had so many questions!...and it allowed Bill and I to ponder things that we never thought of (with our friends as referees!). It was a fun day and they were so helpful. It's amazing that they just came in to our lives about a month ago, and we had never really met another gay couple who had children from a surrogate mother. It's crazy how the stars align...

That night I got a text from my niece. She had just finished her period and she was feeling great. She was off to apply for her passport on Tuesday for the trip in September. She commented that the birth control was having some positive (shapely) effects on her body that were appreciated by her significant other. She, too, seemed to be enjoying this ride...I laughed and called her "booby girl" and decided to call it a day before eating leftovers with Bill and watching a movie.

Before we sat down for a little dinner and television, I smiled and glowed in our sense of accomplishment. For a weekend that started out VERY crappy, it was ending on a very high note.

As a sidebar regarding the above, many of these feelings of anxiety regarding Planet Hospital and the eventual decision to work directly with Rotunda were alleviated by three couples who I've been emailing almost on a daily basis since Friday. I found them on the internet via their blogs, and each of them are in different stages of this crazy journey. The comforting part is that they are working with (or worked with) our clinic Rotunda. They have been an amazing resource for Bill and I. So I want to say MAHALO to Mike and Mike (who are fathers to two beautiful girls Rose and Eva, born in April), John and Chris (who are in Mumbai RIGHT NOW picking up their twin boys), and Terry and Steve (who are eight weeks pregnant!). You guys have been invaluable to us. Thanks for taking the time to answer emails and for being available in the midst of your busy lives.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

How we got to where we are today: Part 2

June 2009
Ok, so I just went back and viewed my first two posts and I have to apologize for using so many exclamation points. Can you tell I’m excited?!?!?! Well, bear with me while I figure out my writing style on here. Regardless, thanks for keeping up with our journey…
So the last I posted everything is a big, fat “GO”, KK and Bill are viable candidates, and now we can tell our family about our plans. In the process of testing Bill and KK, there were a few leaks internally so a small group knows, but people like my brother (KK’s father), my father, and my two other brothers and their families do not know. This was in no way to keep it a secret or because we didn’t trust them, it was mostly so we could manage the flow of information and make sure that the right person was there when the news broke. We wanted to be THOUGHTFUL about how we presented what we were doing. Especially to family.
First was KK’s father. My sister-in-law decided to tell him over coffee one morning. She couldn’t have handled the delivery better. She presented it in the most loving and sincere way and my brother's response was amazing. From what my SIL told me, he was so proud and emotional about the whole thing…everything from our choice to ask KK, his genetic link to the child as “grandfather”, and the journey that Bill and I were about to go on. A few days past after that conversation and he called me to talk. It was one of the best conversations I’ve had with my brother in years. His emotion poured through and I felt so connected to him – what an amazing experience that was, and so bonding. Bill and I are so lucky to have this support...I can't say that enough in this blog. We are soooo sooooo lucky.
(As a side note and if I am able to communicate this properly, it feels like an army is forming around the idea of this child. This army is the "united front", as my SIL said, that will not only help raise it but communicate to other people in our lives the importance of what we are doing. It overwhelms me how powerful this is. It takes my breath away. Ahhhhhh, BIG sigh and grateful smile).

So...on to other family members like my two brothers, who again, couldn’t have supported us more. There were a lot of questions about the process, the travel, the procedures…but in the end it was magical and exciting and made Bill and I so happy. Everyone just couldn’t wait to see what KK and Bill were going to produce in achild. What would the baby look like? Would it have dark hair and long eyelashes or light hair and green eyes? It really was a trip to see this all happening…another surreal experience.

The final step with our family was to talk to my father. Ultimately, after some discussion, my brother (KK's father) decided to tell him over the phone, as my dad lives in Illinois. I have to say I was pretty nervous about this one. My father has always loved me unconditionally and supported me, and really loved Bill like a son. I had a feeling that this may be different, and I wasn't sure how it was going to pan out. In the end, he couldn't have proved me more wrong. He surprised me with open arms and an outpouring of support for what Bill and I had decided to do. Chalk up another crazy, surreal experience -- what an awesome family we have. We couldn't have asked for anything better at this point.

Hero of the day: Our family for being supporting us and making this so much easier than anticipated.

June 20, 2009
Today KK started progesterone to help induce her period. This was prescribed by the doctor in India and then re-written by Dr. Sahakian in L.A., who Planet Hospital works with. It has been a lot of waiting with the docs in India (We are working with Dr. Kadam) but I guess that is to be expected. I have to remember patience…it’s what my mother always used to say, “patience is a virtue” – breathe, stretch, relax – in time this will happen! Remind me of that when I’m freaking out for the next year, ok? Oh boy.
So “the plan” is that she takes the progesterone pill for ten days and it will induce her period shortly after. I hope this works. No period means things get complicated. I don’t want complicated now, it seems there have been a few too many hurdles even BEFORE we get to pregnancy, so please let this work. More to come later. Fingers crossed.

June 30, 2009
KK finished her last progesterone pill today and no period yet. She said she doesn't even feel like she's getting it. Impatience setting in…deep breath, stretch, relax. It’s gonna be ok. I guess the fact that we are in Hawaii and KK is in SF is a bit challenging. I have to stay away from calling and texting too much or else she’ll get really sick of me and never answer her phone. So I try to stay away from contact until she gets her period…waiting, waiting, waiting...
...more waiting....OMG!

…OK! so I couldn’t do it and thought I would text her a funny joke. I asked her if I could call her period “George” so I don’t have to say the word “period” – it just sounds so funny to be asking my niece that question. Plus it's what a pack of girls I was very close to in high school used to call their periods so it was familiar to me. We laugh (as much as we can via texting) and I feel better. More waiting…ugh.

July 3, 2009
It's 5 pm on Friday night and I am exhausted from thinking about the pondering of George's arrival. I decide to lay down and try to get a nap in before the crazy July 4th weekend..."ding ding" my iPhone tells me I have a text message. It's from KK -- "george arrived abt ten minutes ago. at least he didn't interrupt my nap."
I couldn't have been more happy to be woken up from a nap in my life! I jumped up from the bed and Bill and I celebrated. I called KK right away and we all shared the moment together. She said it was perfect timing because she and Ellysa had been watching a marathon of vampire movies – I guess to induce George?! I’ll have to remember that one if we ever do this again (hopefully not but good to know for the superstitious). We all laughed. And then I got that lump in my throat again and had a moment of realization -- this is really happening…what a lucky man I am...

July 16th
So that was over a week and a half ago and things have been going somewhat smoothly. We are just waiting for KK to have two more of her cycles and then she starts the fertility medications, and THEN we go to India. As for as a date, we did get confirmation from Rotunda and Dr. Kadam on a date we would have to be there in September, which was very hard to do, by the way. It seems these clinics are INCREDIBLY busy and I knew that after reading a lot of information online, but sometimes it's just makes me crazy when no one (including PH sometimes) is hearing you, or responding to you! Heap on top of that all the things we are putting my niece through it's just been a bit nutty. But again...breathe, stretch, relax...we are in this for the long haul.

So one of the exciting things is that we are close to booking our tickets for the dates of September 16-30 to Mumbai. As we've shared our story with friends, some who have airline benefits have offered buddy passes and miles to help with our travel costs. This is another example of friends and family coming forwards to help us fulfill this dream. I have to say it again, we are so overwhelmed with the support that comes out of the woodworks at time like these. We are soooo lucky...have I said that enough, yet? :)
I'm now pushing to get some answers from PH on visas, estimates for fertility treatment for my niece before we go (we have an option of doing that in India but that would mean more time away from work, etc), shipping "the goods", choosing a surrogate!, and more money talks...all exciting stuff if I could just get an answer.
So that puts us up to date for the time being...I'm happy to have this all down "for the record" and hopefully blog on things as they happen. Bye for now.

Next Up: Baby Hiccup

Sunday, July 12, 2009

How we got to where we are today...

January 2009
Where do I begin? The year started terrible. I found out I herniated my L3/L4 disc in my back, our beloved dog, best friend and loyal companion Zoe was diagnosed with cancer and passed away in our arms on our deck at home, and I was entirely depressed about all of the above. On top of everything Bill and I were supposed to go to Obama's Inauguration in DC and I had to cancel the trip to have back surgery in L.A. What a great trade-off -- NOT!!! I had to go to L.A. because no neurosurgeon in Honolulu could see me for two months (something about an unwritten policy that if you don't see your physician for two years after a diagnosis you become a "new patient". Basically this means you get put to the bottom of the list and you become pond scum -- but I'm not bitter). Anyway, off we went to Cedars-Sinai for a consult and hopefully surgery -- me all hopped up on pain killers and anti-inflammatories and Bill had been reduced to being my nurse 24/7. And let me tell you this wasn't an easy job.

Well to our surprise, this unwanted trip is where everything started for us in the baby arena, I mean the stuff that made us realize that being parents was very possible. What do they say, through suffering comes refinement? Well, this is a spot-on example of that. As I was recovering after my back surgery and in the hospital for two days, Bill is doing his nursely duties and getting me food from the neighborhood cafe, Joey's. Bill loves this place, it's got great, cheap food and is right around the corner from our friend's house, where Bill is staying while I'm at Chateau de Torture Chamber. Here it is if you are ever in West Hollywood...we consider it the genesis of our idea to go to India for surrogacy!

Joey's Cafe
8301 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA

So...Bill goes in to Joey's and picks up some yummy food but is distracted by a flyer on the counter that says "Surrogacy in India". He grabs it and starts reading about how gay couples can go to India through an organization called Planet Hospital who works with a fertility clinic in Mumbai. The costs were quoted as being considerably less than in the U.S., which was a huge barrier for us a few years ago when we considered it. The flyer was for a seminar with the doctor from the clinic a few days later, to learn more about the process. The only issue is we weren't going to be in town anymore! But Bill brought me the flyer and the wheels started turning all over again. This was exciting. Mostly because I've felt that over the past few years I have been the one moving this baby train, with bouts of resistance from Bill along the way. We both knew we wanted to be parents, but for Bill it was more about having a biological connection to the child, so when he was dragging his feet on the adoption papers I just figured he didn't want to do it. But here it was, Bill bringing information to ME as opposed to the other way around. This was a huge breakthrough. Houston, we have lift off! Well, kind of...

April 2009
For three months everything baby-related was at a standstill. My back health was improving but very slowly, and if I didn't have a good back, a baby probably wasn't the best idea. But, as things improved, "someone" decided to bring the flyer out again. This was another good sign that Bill was excited and on-board about this venture. If you haven't figured it out yet, having a biological connection through hiring a surrogate was a turning point for us in making the decision to have a child. It was definitely Bill's "a-ha!" when he knew he could have a genetic link -- and it really allowed me to understand him better. Growing up as an only child, he felt strongly that he should leave his genetic footprint. For me, it's never been about a genetic link but about raising a child -- whether it was his or mine or some woman in Uganda. Plus, I have a huge family so there are enough of us running around by now...

So, with little fanfare or major disagreements, Bill was our man!

On to choosing an egg donor (ED), which can prove to be a tough thing to do when neither one of us was producing any eggs (sans uterus). Yes, we DID have friends who over the years had offered us their eggs. Usually that was over a couple glasses of wine and we were never REALLY sure if they were serious. Fast forward 10-12 years and now most of those eggs are not good candidates (sorry girls we love you, but time is of the essence here). We also considered going through the clinic in India to find an ED. We found after some research that not only was there a waiting list of women wanting to be surrogates but also a long list of women who wanted to be egg donors. That was definitely an option. If we decided to go this route, the clinic would send us profiles with a photo and list of physical characteristics, etc. and we could choose one before we traveled to Mumbai.

These were all secondary options because we were really hoping our first option worked out. It was something that would make this little miracle a super miracle for us. And it involved my niece, KK.

KK is a beautiful, green-eyed, blond-haired girl. She lives in San Francisco and has a ton to offer the world: she's fun, smart, mature, responsible, stylish, has a great sense of humor, and understands the idea of an alternative family as she is a lesbian. I remember the day I called her to ask her if she would consider being our egg donor. I hadn't told anyone in my family I was contacting her because if she said no, then it wouldn't even be an issue. Why stir the pot, right? I recall being a tad bit nervous as the phone rang but deep down inside I knew that it was pretty much our only shot at having a kid that was genetically linked to not only Bill, but me as well. It was all so perfect I couldn't stand it! If she agreed, it would change our lives forever (all three of us). If she couldn't do it, then we are off to India to find an egg. Which still provided us with a child and fulfilled our desire to be parents (which was very comforting). The good thing is that my niece knew Bill and I wanted to have kids and we had even joked with her and her parents that she could mother our child, but it NEVER went further than that, just a joke. She also knew that we would be great parents, provide a good environment, and have the support of my 20+ member family here in Hawaii and on the mainland. So we were off to a good start. In the end, the call went well, and I was very encouraged that she genuinely wanted to help. It's hard to describe in words and it sounds so cliche, but if she decided to do this it WOULD be her ultimate gift to us. Our conversation ended with "I really want to say yes now but I have to do some research and think about it." I quickly called Bill and gave him an update. We were ecstatic and all I could think of is...this is REALLY happening!

After a couple weeks and a few conversations with her mother (who fully supported whatever KK decided to do), my niece decided to move forward with donating her eggs. All things considered, it's not a light decision to make. Take in the fact that she has to go through a bunch of fertility tests, regulate her period with progesterone and birth control, start fertility meds to stimulate egg production, AND THEN hop on a plane for 25 hours to India for harvesting...I wasn't surprised she wanted some time to think about it and consult her mother and other family members. But WOW!!! This really IS happening...time seemed to be ticking faster now and there was so much to do. Now the real work starts. But I am so ready for it!

Heroine of the day: My niece. Where do I begin???? What an immeasurable gift. I am speechless. The end.

May 20, 2009
Because my niece had an irregular cycle, we sent her to see Dr. Sahakian at the Pacific Fertility Center in LA, which Sarine our case manager at Planet Hospital set up. Dr. Sahakian works with PH and is a very compassionate doctor and was very helpful. What we needed to do was to have her ovaries checked out and make sure she is definitely a viable candidate. Once she is viable then we'll need to regulate her cycle. This was another nerve-wracking moment and I wish we could have been there. But some of our best buddies Asher and Scott picked her up and whisked her to the doctor for her ultrasound and blood tests. Asher even snapped a photo of her (below) in the waiting room with a caption that said “Lay-go my Eggo!” Bill and I chuckled when we got this (I needed a laugh)...but I was still super nervous about her results. Thank God we get them immediately...that was a huge bonus.
So the good news was that KK checked out all fine, had super healthy ovaries and Dr. Sahakian promised she would produce many eggs for us -- the only thing we had to worry about was OVERstimulation. Which after reading some blogs on fertility drugs, I understand can be very uncomfortable. So that’s definitely on our watch list when we get to that time (which we were hoping was VERY SOON!). My niece also had a ton of blood work that the clinic in Mumbai requested, and everything tested out GREAT. Yippeeee!!!!
Heroes of the Day: Asher and Scott for being such great friends and transporters of KK and her eggs! :) Thank you!!!!!
Ok, so right before we got KK's news we received results of Bill's semen analysis. Can you believe it? Just when we thought we were in the clear we get some news that Bill needs more tests to determine his viability. This was a stumbling block that neither of us thought we would come upon. But as I did research, male infertility is more common than you think. It is said that the male alone is the cause of 20-35% of cases in infertility. So time to get to the bottom of it, roll up our sleeves and do some more work -- again! But as I read on another same sex couple's blog about their experience with surrogacy in India, "the only people that end up without a baby, are the people that give up!" So cheers to Johnny and Darren in Australia...we need all the inspiration we can get!
May 27, 2009
A week after we got the awesome news about my niece, Bill and I were on a plane to San Francisco to have more tests for Bill. We saw Dr. Paul Turek at the Turek Clinic (http://theturekclinic.com) and he was amazing. Super knowledgeable, very interested in our plans of going to India for surrogacy, and extremely excited that our egg donor was 25 years old. It’s funny the things you find out about reproduction when you are going down this road…it’s like a crash course in biology all over again. But this time (hopefully) with better results than just a passing grade.
I saw this cover of The Economist in the Honlululu airport and HAD to snap a photo. We need all the good news we can get...
What Dr. Turek determined literally within minutes of our consultation and exam was that Bill needed a common medical procedure, and he could do it the next day! I'm not going to go in to details here but it was about a three-hour procedure and not for the too faint of heart. If anyone wants the details, let me know. It’s amazing what these doctors can do. This couldn’t have been better news AND after retrieval everything could be frozen and shipped for use in India at a later date. Science is simply amazing!
Next day we checked in to the Pacific Fertility Center which is just a couple floors above Dr. Turek’s office. This made it super convenient and the staff there was amazing.

This is Bill (below) about to check-in for the procedure. He looks surprisingly calm, but I think it was the Valium that he took in the car on the way over...which he wasn't supposed to take until he got to the office...woops. He asked for another but they denied him...apparently the effect of it stays for several hours.
The procedure lasted a few hours and I was out in the waiting room pacing like an expectant father. I was also madly texting my friend Gail in Seattle, who has two beautiful girls of her own with her partner Sara, using a sperm donor. I knew she could relate as she had gone through something similar trying to get pregnant through IVF. The wait was killing me! When all of a sudden, the door flung open and there was Dr. Turek, with a big grin on his face! “This is good!”, I exhaled a sigh of relief. He joked with me about the waiting, and went on to tell me probably some of the best news I’d heard in a while. Everything went extremely well, Bill did awesome during the procedure, and, according to Dr. Turek, we retrieved enough of Bill's little guys to “populate China”!!!. This is where I had "a moment" and had to compose myself because I didn't want to seem like a blubbering idiot, but I can't tell you the wave of emotions I was feeling. I was sooooo proud of Bill, and so thankful for this doctor that was bearing such wonderful news -- Dr. Turek was a bit taken back when I started to tear but I looked him in the eye and I thanked him the best way I could without picking him up and planting a big kiss on him! So this was a very, very, very good day. And what an amazing story this is turning out to be! (Fingers crossed, knock on wood, etc.)
After the long procedure Bill and I went back to our other best buddy Todd’s house. Thanks to Todd for letting use his car for two whole days and giving us a place to stay and having a fun barbeque for us to relax at after our two big days. We also got to see my niece that night for the first time since I first asked her to be our ED. Here are some photos from the evening…
Todd and his new barbeque

Bill and KK

Heroes of the Day: Definitely my lovable and brave Bill for being such a trooper and choosing to have local anesthesia and a sedative instead of going under general anesthesia for the procedure. You are THE MAN!
Also the second hero of the day goes to Dr. Turek at the Turek Clinic and all the amazing staff at the Pacific Fertility Center. They all wanted baby pictures and were keeping Bill entertained for three hours during the procedure. We were so lucky to have found this facility...what a great team!

A little about us...

I can’t believe I’ve started this blog. It’s taken me a few months and hopefully I’m over the hump and I’ll stick with it. All of our friends keep saying that we need to document this baby journey experience because it will be so special to have to look back on one day. I’m starting a little late because actually this journey started in January of 2006. But not until January 2009 did we really believe that this would become a reality...I'll try get everyone up to speed in the next few posts so I'm blogging in somewhat real time. Here goes...

I say “we” so let me introduce my partner, Bill. My guess is that he won’t be blogging on this site but I’m sure he’ll be reading it. Bill and I have been together for thirteen years this past February. He’s the most wonderful person I know and I can’t believe how lucky I am to have him in my life and as my soul mate. Bill is from Maryland and I was born and raised in Hawaii, where we live now. What's ironic is that he looks like he is from Hawaii and I look like I'm from Maryland...funny how things work out.

Bill’s ethnic background is Bolivian and Lithuanian (his mother grew up in Bolivia and his grandparents on his father’s side immigrated from Lithuania). I am a white mutt...I think I’m French, Scottish, English...something like that. Let’s just say Northern and Western European for the ease of it all. Bill and I have been through a lot over the years. It’s brought us closer together and made me realize how wonderful a father he would be. I think together the balance of our personalities will create a wonderful environment for a child, and we have so much love and support from our families and friends that it makes the prospect of a child even more exciting...

Bill and I have been talking about being parents for over over three years now. It all started when we (or maybe I) turned 40, woke up and said, “who’s gonna take care of us when we get old?”. And while we understood that having children is way more than just that, it was kind of a catalyst to get our butts in gear and start exploring. And so the process of finding how we were going to do this began...

I’m going to keep this part short and sweet, because 1) my memory is getting worse as i get older and 2) it’s not incredibly interesting. We explored several different avenues such as surrogacy in the U.S. (way too expensive and not covered by insurance if you are considered “fertile” -- but as another gay couple looking in to U.S. surrogacy said on their blog, “OF course we aren't fertile because we don’t have a uterus!” I laughed out loud when i read that). We also considered adoption (a long wait and no guarantees), foster parenting (we determined that we just weren’t cut out to take something like this on -- bless those who do because it’s a big job, aside from the parenting part), and then back to surrogacy, but this time not in the U.S. but in India (more on that in the rest of this blog and hopefully, fingers crossed, ending up with a baby).

All these options were obviously complicated, but more importantly they begged the question asked by children all the time -- “so where DO babies come from?” Most people would answer that question with “from a man and a woman.” I've found over the years that for me that isn't so. Since gay men are challenged in the fertile area (no uterus, remember???) we need to go to great lengths to have children (just as heterosexual couples with fertility problems do). And along the way you discover how the world views you doing this -- some support it, some don't, and some are just plain confused. What I found ultimately is that babies come from SO much more than just a man and a woman -- they come from all the people and experiences leading up to that point in your life when you decided to become a parent. From your mother. Your father. Brothers and sisters, cousins and nephews and nieces (more on nieces later). The house you grew up in. Your friends. Your friend’s kids. Your co-workers and their kids. From your dog and cat. From a bad experience that moves you in to a good one, a good one to a bad. From people that love parenthood and people that may not be so good at it. From your beliefs and morals, and values. I came to believe that children come from everywhere. And to be honest, I was quite relieved when I came to that realization. Mostly because it gave me confidence and the conviction to move forward with every fiber in my body, to become the parents Bill and I want to be, and to begin the next chapter in our lives. Talk about ENLIGHTENMENT...

So on we go...