My name is Justin, and my partner is Zach. We have been together for 9 years and are ready to take the leap into parenthood! I am a Software Architect and Zach is a pilot. We moved in together quickly after dating for less than a year and bought a house together 4 years ago.
Zach and I met through online dating. When we were on our very first date, I brought up the question of children. Not usually a topic for a first date but we had instantly connected over the course of dinner. It felt like this might be the beginning of something and wanting to have children was definitely towards the top of my partner criteria, so I thought, why not!
Luckily, I didn’t scare him away. Instead, he explained how had always pictured starting a family too and we shared a moment pondering what our future family might look like.
Fast forward to today and here we are! Taking the first steps on the journey to starting our family. We are both incredibly excited (and nervous)!
I am the oldest of three siblings and all of us were “accidents.” As Zach and I have worked to build a life together I often lamented how in some ways my parents had it easier. We’ve been talking about the children in our future since the beginning, but it’s been hard to pull the trigger. Is anyone ever totally ready to take on the responsibility of loving and caring for another human for the rest of your life? It’s a nerve-wracking proposition to be sure!
We’re both finally ready to put our family plans into motion. I am 32 years old and Zach is 36. We have the house; the financial stability and our relationship feels rock solid.
I have known that I wanted to have a family from a very young age. In addition to being the oldest of my siblings I’m also the oldest of my generation. The first of my seven cousins were born when I was 8 years old.
I remember going to the hospital to see my aunts and uncles and their new babies. I was there for every one of them! My grandfather would always take me down to the gift shop to buy pink or blue bubble gum cigars. On the way we would stop at the nursery and look at all the newborns through the window.
My oldest cousin is 24 now. She’s graduated college and is living in New York City. I still remember holding her in my arms when she was only hours old. Life is a miracle! My youngest brother was born when I was 12 and just turned 21 this year. It’s nuts to think about how I used to change his diapers and helped to raise him.
Seeing the love my family has for one another and watching everyone grow up has been a wonderful privilege. There’s never been any doubt in my mind; that’s what I wanted for myself too.
When I was in sixth grade I came out to my family. The first thing my mom said was that she still loved me no matter what but then she started crying and asked what this meant for my future. Life would be much harder. Would I still be able to start a family? It was a hard but honest conversation.
Zach and I are lucky to have grown up in a period of so much progress towards LGBT rights. When I came out in 1998 the TV show Will and Grace had just premiered. Societal attitudes towards gay men were changing but the ability to get married seemed impossible and I had no idea what surrogacy was.
After same-sex marriage was legalized my mom and I revisited that conversation about family, and I told her how I was definitely going to settle down and have a family of my own too one day.
From that point on she bugged me incessantly! When are you going to meet someone? When are you going to have kids? You don’t want to get too old! You need to be putting yourself out there! She managed to slip a not-so-gentle reminder into very conversation.
Less than a year after that conversation about family my mom fell ill and was in very poor health. My relationship with Zach was just starting to get serious. She passed away before she ever had the opportunity to meet Zach. It’s difficult to know she didn’t get to see that I was finally settling down and that she won’t be able to meet her grandchildren but her passing reaffirmed how important starting a family is to me and I think it touched Zach similarly.
Zach is one of two siblings. He is extremely close with his older sister but doesn’t share my experience of growing up with extended family. He came out much later in life than me, after he had finished high school. His parents are equally supportive of him and our relationship.
I’ve grown extremely close to his family over time. His mother was so kind and compassionate while I grieved the loss of my mom. She has become like a 2nd mother to me. And now she has taken on the nagging! When can she expect grandchildren!
The support we have from Zach’s family makes taking the step to start our own family feel a little less scary. It’s a blessing to know both of our families are here to love and support us no matter what. It’s something I try not to take for granted knowing other gay men that have ended up estranged from their families because of their sexuality.
As we’ve prepared to start our surrogacy journey, we’ve had lots of conversations about what to expect and how the process works. We’ve talked to lots of agencies, we’ve talked to our friends with children. We’ve talked to other gay couples who have conceived through surrogacy. We’ve also spent a lot of time trying to understand things from the perspective of the surrogate.
I’ll be honest, I don’t think either of us can really comprehend it. Obviously we’re both men but I’ve been around my share of pregnant women and it certainly doesn’t seem like a total walk in the park! It’s truly special that people like you exist in the world who are willing to help another couple start their family knowing the difficulties and potential risks. I find it hard to wrap my head around the level of empathy for such a compassionate act.
We are grateful beyond measure to live in a time and place where we can be open about our love for each other and where people exist who not only recognize our love as valid but are willing to go out of their way to help us achieve our dream of having our own children.
To have found the love of my life, to be financially secure and surrounded by supportive family who are ready to take this journey with us is more than I could have imagined when I realized my sexuality.
If you are the one who helps us realize our lifelong dream of family will forever owe you a debt of gratitude. I know that our family will be pretty happy too!
Justin + Zach