While each person’s path to parenthood may look a little different, there are many common threads – especially for those who go through fertility treatment to bring their babies into the world. Whether you’re a member of the LGBTQ+ community or not, choosing to pursue IVF, egg donors, and surrogacy share many similarities. In this blog, we’re excited to speak with Dominik and Dennis, from Germany. They are gay intended parents (IP), who are currently having a baby via gestational surrogacy.
How did the two of you meet and how long have you been together?
We met during college in fall 2011. It was Dominik’s first night joining the queer student’s group of Stuttgart university. When he went home that night, he told his roommates that he had met his future husband. They started dating soon after and became a couple in January 2012.
Why did you consider surrogacy to grow your family?
Soon after we met, t we discussed both of our wishes to have a family. Dominik was more optimistic about it then Dennis, who was skeptical if would be possible to achieve in Germany. Before 2017, Germany had not opened up marriage for same sex couples yet, so adoption was not possible for gay couples. Dominik had done some research on surrogacy back then also and eventually Dennis warmed up to the possibility. We both started saving up for the process.
In 2017 the idea became more of a reality when we attended a Men Having Babies conference in Brussels where we met IVF clinics, surrogacy agencies and most importantly surrogates and families that have gone through the process. Their experience and stories gave us hope that it would actually be possible to become parents, and have parenthood legally recognized in Germany.
How did you go about choosing a surrogacy agency? What was important to you?
We had a wealth of contacts to surrogacy agencies across the US from the conference in Brussels and started talking to many of the agencies in 2018. The screening process of a potential surrogate at each agency was important to us, as well as the prospective waiting time between choosing an agency and being matched. Also, the cost had to fit into our budget.
Why did you choose Pathways to Parenthood?
Most people we knew chose agencies in California. But since Dominik had lived in Missouri during high school, we had a good network of friends and people we consider family there. Plus, we felt a personal connection when we met Kerry and learned about Pathways To Parenthood. It was also very reassuring to know that if we chose Pathways To Parenthood in Kansas City, we’d have friends and ‘family’ in the area throughout the whole process.
What was the surrogate matching process like? How was the first meeting with your surrogate?
The day before Christmas Eve, when we were preparing for a COVID-restricted celebration without family, we got an email from Kerry sending us Lily’s profile. It was perfect timing since we were all off work and were able to use the time between the holidays to write emails, chat and get to know Lily via Skype. The three of us ‘clicked’ right away! When we finally did meet after travel restrictions were lifted, Lily’s first comment was “you are real!”. She was right, it was hard to believe! All meetings and communication until then had been digital but it worked so well for us that meeting her in person eight months after being introduced felt like meeting an old friend.
Describe the beginning of your surrogacy journey – was there a moment that stands out?
For us it started to get real when the clinic told us that not only did the egg donation process go better than expected, we also had seven viable embryos. The moment that really stood out was when, almost a year later, we met Lily for the first time to spend a few vacation days together in Croatia. By then she was already pregnant with one of our embryos.
What has your relationship with your surrogate been like? How did you communicate and keep in touch?
We believe it could not have gone better under COVID circumstances. Of course, we would have liked to meet in person more often but chatting via WhatsApp almost daily has allowed us to form a strong bond of trust.
Are you planning on being at the birth of your baby?
Yes, absolutely. We’re planning to be there three weeks before the due date to be in time and not miss this emotional moment.
What would your advice be to others who are considering surrogacy?
Trust your heart, take your time to choose an agency that you trust and also to form a strong connection with your surrogate. It could be a good idea to discuss and agree with your partner on how, what and when you want to share information about your journey. In our experience and at least in Germany, some people will ask the most intimate questions and expect you to answer.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your journey?
We feel so lucky that we were matched with Lily, we could not have asked for a more loving or more open surrogate. We have had a very smooth ride so far, but don’t be disheartened by the complexity of the process or if things don’t go as planned. With a good team and a good support system you’ll be able to get there.
If you’re a gay parent (or anyone in the LGBTQ+ community) and you’re considering parenthood, the team at Pathways to Parenthood can guide you through the process.
They have been helping bring together future parents and surrogates for 9 years!