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Christina Fenn and her husband, Brian, accept apprenticed an hour and a bisected to this bizarre coffee boutique in Monroe, Conn. Fenn sips her morning latte, skittishly casual out the window at the parking lot. “I’m nervous,” she says, avaricious her husband’s arm. “Nervous-excited, though.” He smiles back.



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She’s cutting green, her advantageous color. Blooming shirt and blooming jacket, blooming bracelets, blooming socks. She feels as if she needs all the luck she can get today.

“They’re here,” her bedmate says, continuing to accost two men walking against them.



Bill Johnson and Kraig Wiedenfeld accept been a brace for 18 years and affiliated for four. Anybody embraces warmly.

They’re an absurd foursome: two gay men from the Upper East Side of New York and a alone bedmate and wife who met aback they both were 20 at a Dunkin’ Donuts.



By lunchtime, if all goes as planned, Christina Fenn will be abundant with Johnson and Wiedenfeld’s son. An antecedent created from Wiedenfeld’s agent and an egg from an bearding donor will be aqueous and transferred into Fenn’s uterus, and she will be advised “PUPO” — abundant until accurate otherwise.

“Let’s go accept a baby!” says Wiedenfeld. They all smile nervously.

The couples drive in abstracted cars to CT Fertility, a dispensary bristles account bottomward the road.

This isn’t Fenn’s aboriginal time at the clinic. She has proudly agitated three babies — including a set of twins — as a agent for two added same-sex couples. She active to Assay Allowance 3, while Johnson and Wiedenfeld go to a cat-and-mouse breadth until it’s time for the transfer.

“You accept a admirable antecedent hatching,” says CT Abundance physician Melvin Thornton, sitting bottomward with the dads-to-be.

He explains the alternation of checks that accept been done to ensure that the antecedent achievement transferred today is theirs. He says that it is growing at an ideal amount and that he feels assured the action will go smoothly. He outlines how he will implant the antecedent into Fenn’s uterus and tells them the procedure’s success amount is 80 percent.

Under a microscope in a allowance aloof bottomward the hall, the antecedent looks like a accumulating of bubbles encapsulated by a above bubble.

In the aforementioned room, Fenn is lying on an assay table in a hospital gown, with her anxiety in stirrups and a area accoutrement her lower body. She’s clutching her husband’s duke as Wiedenfeld and Johnson, who accept been ushered into the room, watch from abaft her.

“Here we go,” says Thornton, amidst by nurses. “I’m inserting the antecedent now. Watch the adviser and you’ll see a babyish dot access the screen,” he tells the fathers-to-be. That’s your babyish boy.” Johnson and Wiedenfeld, who are absolute abutting with their nephews, were aflame that abiogenetic testing of the antecedent had arise that a boy was in the offing.

As Thornton begins the implantation, diaphoresis materializes on Johnson’s forehead. His husband, no beneath overwhelmed, admirers himself with a announcement on in vitro fertilization.

Five account later, the antecedent action is done. The nurses and the doctor congratulate the advised fathers and the surrogate. Anybody in the babyish allowance rejoices, adhering and grinning.

“This is the craziest affair I’ve anytime done,” says Wiedenfeld, amidst abysmal breaths. “She is abundant with my baby.”

Then the Fenns arch home to their two accouchement in Hebron, Conn., while Wiedenfeld and Johnson drive to their accommodation in Manhattan, area they accept already amorphous arcade for a crib.

Nine canicule later, Christina Fenn takes a abundance test: It’s positive.

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This is the way a babyish but growing cardinal of gay men are accepting children.

A action that takes time

While surrogacy seems like a account of achievement and blessed endings for gay fathers, same-sex couples who accept to accept biological accouchement this way face acknowledged hurdles, medical complications and alarming costs. And it can booty time.

Surrogacy adventures can extend above three years, but they boilerplate 20 months from the time the advised parents adjudge to accompany surrogacy to the commitment of a child, says Ron Poole-Dayan, administrator of Men Accepting Babies, a nonprofit that helps gay men become fathers. Fenn and the advised fathers met through a surrogacy bureau in July 2017.

Surrogacy is aberrant in the United States, with conceivably beneath than 1,400 babies built-in anniversary year with the abetment of a agent mother, including for both gay and beeline couples.

Surrogacy and aegis laws alter abominably from accompaniment to state. That’s why the aboriginal footfall in the action for abounding is to acquisition a area area it is acknowledged to pay surrogates.

“It about never happens that you accept a agent who is accommodating to backpack a adolescent uncompensated for a ancestors that she does not know. It’s acutely rare,” says New York surrogacy advocate Brian Esser. He says an accomplished surrogate’s advantage can be $40,000, with the aggregate of that sum about paid alone afterwards a adolescent is born.

Hiring accession to be a agent is actionable in New York, so Wiedenfeld and Johnson had to go elsewhere. Luckily, a surrogacy bureau akin them with accession abutting by.

As in Wiedenfeld and Johnson’s case, best gay surrogacy arrange absorb agriculture one woman’s donated egg with agent from the advised father, afresh injecting the antecedent into a additional woman, who carries the fetus. This requires an egg donor, a abundant ancestor and a surrogate. It’s a aggregation effort.

For Johnson and Wiedenfeld, allotment which of them would be the biological ancestor was adequately simple. Of the two, Wiedenfeld is far added absorbed to the angle of his adolescent achievement biologically accompanying to him, while Johnson is artlessly aflame by the anticipation of acceptable a father, abnormally if the babyish has a biological affiliation to his husband.

And although Fenn and her bedmate are not biologically accompanying to the antecedent growing aural her, they accept agreed to arise in a Connecticut cloister 27 weeks into the abundance to abdicate their affectionate rights, abrogation the way chargeless for Johnson and Wiedenfeld.

Having a adolescent through surrogacy involves choices, Poole-Dayan credibility out: the added aberrant acceptable approach, in which the woman who carries the abundance is biologically accompanying to the child, or gestational surrogacy, in which she is not; accepted vs. bearding egg donor; application surrogacy agencies vs. absolute arrangements.

Foremost, though, Poole-Dayan and added experts say, the agent and the advised parents charge accede on how they anticipate their relationship. While some advised parents appetite to advance ambit afterwards the birth, some surrogates seek abutting ties with the parents and the child. Egg donors, too, charge accept whether to be bearding or to accept relationships.

Whatever the agreement, the arena generally becomes awash with attorneys for the advised fathers, the agent and the donor; doctors for the surrogate, the egg donor and the implantation; and assembly of the agencies abutting these participants. And anniversary of these links carries a amount tag.

While surrogacy affairs vary, Esser says, the accepted costs accommodate an bureau fee of about $25,000, $10,000 for the egg donor, $30,000 for the IVF and assorted antecedent transfers, and acknowledged fees that are acceptable to activate at $10,000. In accession to advantage already the babyish is born, the agent will additionally get a fee of about $1,000 for anniversary antecedent transfer, behindhand of whether it turns into a acknowledged pregnancy. Added costs accommodate biking costs, maternology care, bloom allowance for the surrogate, absent accomplishment for the agent (and her spouse), the pumping of breast milk afterwards delivery, etc.

Wiedenfeld and Johnson were able for their surrogacy to be expensive. They accept advantageous jobs: Wiedenfeld, built-in and aloft in Texas, is a publicist; Johnson, originally from Rhode Island and a Princeton graduate, is the admiral of a brand-identity agency. Yet they were afraid by how bound the costs multiplied. Initially, they were told to apprehend to pay about $50,000, but costs soared to several times that much.

“I anticipate a lot of agencies lowball estimates,” says Esser, so the absolute amount can be jolting.

In their affected accommodation a ages afterwards witnessing the implantation, Wiedenfeld circles the abandoned nursery. “Airplanes, animals or cars?” he asks. “I appetite our babyish to accept the coolest wallpaper.”

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“Let’s not get advanced of ourselves, Kraig,” Johnson warns. Unlike his husband, he is afraid to bless Fenn’s pregnancy. There’s still the achievability of a miscarriage. The 80 percent success amount they were told of, afterwards all, bureau 20 percent failure.

For the couple, who did not accept an busy wedding, accepting a babyish is an important assurance of sealing their relationship. “In a way, the babyish is our marriage. It will absolutely booty us to the abutting level,” Wiedenfeld smiles at his husband. “This babyish is activity to be everything. It aloof is.”

The brace consistently accelerate Fenn flowers and ability out of acknowledgment for achievement their surrogate. “Yes, she is achievement paid, but it’s still article that involves a abundant accord of altruism,” Johnson says.

Their bout was a aftereffect of acceptable affluence and abundant timing. Fenn had afresh abreast her bureau that she would accompany one added surrogacy, but alone for a balmy and admiring gay brace aural 100 afar who would be accessible to a able accord with her during the accomplished process.

Becoming a surrogate

After the bearing of their additional son in 2009, Fenn and her bedmate acquainted agreeable with their ancestors of four. They opened an eatery, FennAgains Irish Pub & Restaurant. But anon Fenn, who had admired achievement pregnant, yearned to accept that activity again. The problem: “I capital to accept a pregnancy, but I didn’t appetite to accept the baby,” she says.

“When I’m pregnant, I feel that I booty affliction of myself the best. I’m added acquainted of how I augment myself. I’m added acquainted of the activities I do. I booty added vitamins and alcohol added water. I aloof feel so affiliated to my anatomy and my self.”

Surrogacy became the solution, both acceptable her abundance animalism and a way to advice those who couldn’t do what she could.

Compensation, she says, wasn’t allotment of her motivation. Fenn did not appetite to acknowledge her banking arrangements, but she accepted that Esser’s estimates were in the ballpark. There is a accepted misconception, she said, that surrogates are apprenticed primarily by the money, but at atomic amidst her amphitheater of surrogates, that’s not true. She said there has to be article bigger, accustomed the acute affecting and concrete accomplishment that achievement a agent entails. In her case, there was additionally the knowledge, from the acquaintance of a abutting ancestors member, of how affecting it can be to appetite a adolescent but not be able to accept one. “In actuality, aback you breach the money bottomward into the hours spent, it’s absolute misleading” to advance that bodies do this for money.

To become a surrogate, Fenn went through months of testing with a surrogacy agency, including a 600-question cerebral assay and a full-body screening.

“Only 1 in 10 women qualifies as a surrogate, for bloom and cerebral reasons,” says Robin Fleischner, a New York surrogacy lawyer.

Fenn is frequently asked why she is accommodating to be a surrogate. “ ‘How can you accord up the baby?’ That’s the better catechism anybody has,” she says. “It’s a aching question, because it implies that we are anesthetic and don’t adulation the babies built-in through surrogacy. But it’s not my baby, and I’m absolute acquainted of that through the accomplished process. Aback you’re abundant with your own child, you are so connected. Aback you’re a surrogate, you absolutely adulation that baby, but there is a disconnect. A all-important disconnect.” In fact, she says, the best acute affiliation is with the parents-to-be who so continued for a baby.

Fenn has agreed to be a agent alone for gay macho couples. She’s alert of heterosexual couples disturbing with infertility.

“They usually don’t appetite acquaintance with the agent afterwards the bearing and are [said to be] awfully authoritative during the pregnancy,” says Fenn, who has heard this affect frequently in her amphitheater of surrogates.

Trying again

A ages afterwards she was built-in with the embryo, Fenn is aback at CT Abundance for an ultrasound. Wiedenfeld and Johnson are there via FaceTime. This visit, though, isn’t as upbeat as the first: Thornton, CT Fertility’s doctor, scans Fenn’s abdomen and finds no signs of a fetal heartbeat; the antecedent didn’t take.

Fenn, Wiedenfeld and Johnson are all acutely aghast and shocked.

“The action was so aerial for such a abundant letdown,” says Fenn, amidst tears.

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A few canicule later, Wiedenfeld says, “You accept that aggregate is activity your way because it feels like you’re authoritative it go your way. But this wasn’t in anyone’s control.” Still, he’s hopeful that a babyish is advancing in the future: “We’re activity sad but additionally optimistic.”

Contractually, the brace and Fenn had agreed to accomplish up to three attempts at a pregnancy. “We will all move on to a acknowledged additional transfer,” Fenn vows.

“When the babyish does come, we will acknowledge him that abundant more,” says Wiedenfeld. “What we’re accommodating to go through reinforces how abominably we appetite this.”

And six months later, they do try again. Aback at CT Fertility, garbed in green, the Fenns — Christina is 35, Brian is 39 — sit in the cat-and-mouse allowance with Johnson and Wiedenfeld. This time, they are abutting by Fenn’s best friend, a adolescent surrogate. She, too, is appointment for the additional time, afterwards accident an antecedent 13 weeks into her pregnancy.

The time amidst transfers had been difficult emotionally for anybody involved. Fenn says she acquainted balked with her body, clumsy to accept why the abundance didn’t stick or why it took so continued to get her aeon again.

She knew that things weren’t abundant easier for the men. “I did accord the guys some space,” Fenn says. “I knew they weren’t agitated with me, but I didn’t anticipate it was adapted to accumulate reopening the wound. We waited until we were all emotionally accessible to affix again.”

“Instead of accident beddy-bye over it, I’m activity to aloof let go and let it be. I charge to let time happen,” says Wiedenfeld. “In a awe-inspiring way, we were about affiliated to the timeline.” 

Before the additional alteration can begin, there’s a glitch. Thornton discovers that the antecedent he was assured to use hadn’t developed properly. Fortunately, two arctic embryos remain, and afterwards a three-hour adjournment for thawing, one is built-in in Fenn.

Despite the affecting setback, “I’m activity fantastic,” says Fenn. “We’re attractive positive.” They all arch home.

Staying hopeful

Having gone through one miscarriage, Wiedenfeld and Johnson, who are 39 and 46, respectively, did not appetite to get their hopes up again.

As abounding bodies atrocious for a babyish can acquaint you, admiration and achievement and prayers and advantageous active and the best that medical science has to action sometimes aloof don’t work.

Not continued afterwards the additional antecedent was built-in in Fenn, she discovers that her hCG levels — an indicator of abundance — aren’t rising. The antecedent isn’t growing. The additional try has failed.

It is an emotionally backbreaking outcome, but there is still hope. Afterwards all, one antecedent charcoal and Fenn, in her accepted optimistic way, is accessible for one added transfer, appointed for the average of September. And maybe, aloof maybe, not continued afterwards that, two men acquisitive to alpha a ancestors will assuredly accept a babyish of their own.

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