Tag Archives: gay dads

“You’ll get there together”: Jimmie and Marco’s Surrogacy Journey

Over the cooing sounds of their three-month-old baby, we recently spoke with new dads Jimmie and Marco Chavez-Lopéz. Their journey to fatherhood has included two very consequential visits to the Men Having Babies/ OFC Surrogacy Conference and Expo, now in its 5th year and taking place this upcoming weekend, January 13th and 14th, at San Francisco’s Marines’ Memorial Club and Hotel in the Union Square area. The speed of their journey went from moderate – they’d known each other for ten years before beginning to build their family – to high speed, as of last year’s Surrogacy Conference and Expo. Read on for more…


Polly Pagenhart, Our Family Coalition: How long was this journey, from having the twinkling of the idea in your head – like “Oh, we can do this, we’re gonna be dads!” – to now, when your baby is in your arms and you’re launched into fatherhood?

Marco and Jimmie Chavez-Lopez with baby Marisela.

Marco and Jimmie Chavez-Lopez with baby MariElisa.

Marco Chavez-Lopéz: I think it was about 18 months. But the fun thing that I like to tell people about this wonderful conference is that we went to the first one years back, in 2014. It was very overwhelming and not at all what we were expecting. We didn’t hear the word baby a lot, and it was like sticker shock, terminology shock.

Jimmie Chavez-Lopéz: We were getting married that year, so it was really just to get baseline information. And then we skipped 2015 and went 2016, and it was during that conference that we organically met our surrogate.

OFC: Wow, at the conference? That’s wonderful.

Jimmie: I think what was really different about the 2016 conference for us was that we were able to hear stories. For us, being able to listen to multiple surrogates giving their descriptions of their experience was very different. Jokingly I said I would love to work with (one we were listening to) – and ultimately we chatted, and that’s kind of how it worked out.

I think at that point just after that conference is when we decided, “We’re doing it now!”

Marco: And along the lines of going to that second conference: we were more ready. We had gone through finally getting married, and major things in our life that we needed to get through, and we were like, “The conference is back, let’s return.” It was a different feel, a different set-up. We heard a lot of engaging stories and at that point we were like, “There are so many different ways to create a family. Look at all these choices. Look at all these options.”

The break-out sessions were great. This time we were much more organized, and had a much more structured look at what we wanted to get out of this conference. And because we met our surrogate and listened to her story, and just by chance that worked out, we seemed to really be lucky through our entire journey.

Starting off with meeting our surrogate and just by chance creating a relationship with her – whether or not we ended up being on that journey together, she was a great resource from the beginning.  She was going to help us get there no matter what –  if it was her or someone else. So we really lucked out.

Jimmie: Just going into contract and identifying an egg donor, that went really fast as well. We had met Dr. Bankowski of Oregon Reproductive Medicine (ORM) also at the conference. We had already taken a look into the the different clinics that were going to be there and some clinics that weren’t; looked at their success rates and estimated costs, so for us we were determining if we were willing to pay a little bit more for a higher success rate, knowing that it’s possible, that one way or the other, we might not get pregnant right away.

Ely, our baby MariElisa, actually, was (conceived on) the first transfer.

So in January we met our surrogate; I think we were in contract officially around April or May, and then we were pregnant the next January. Our embryo transfer was actually the same weekend as the conference. We got pregnant exactly one year later. It gives me all the tingles.

This little nugget was definitely meant to be ours.

OFC: Did you feel that right away, when she was in your arms?

Jimmie: Yeah, we did. I had never even changed a diaper before until she got here. But I’ve always known that I wanted children. When Marco and I first met, I was like, “I don’t want to scare you away, or ask you to marry me or have kids, but I don’t want to spend time with someone to find out later that kids are absolutely off the table.”

When Marco and I first met, I was like, “I don’t want to scare you away, or ask you to marry me or have kids, but I don’t want to spend time with someone to find out later that kids are absolutely off the table.”

We were together for about nine to ten years before we started officially talking about it. It’s just been wonderful. And we are gearing up to start a second journey, hopefully, later this year. So, we will probably go to the conference!

OFC: What were the things that you were most worried about that turned out the most different? Fears, concerns, natural things you were obsessing would be a problem but actually weren’t? What were your biggest discoveries?

Jimmie: I think for me, there were a couple of things. I thought it was going to take longer to get pregnant. I was afraid that – we are part of the MHB group, and we heard all of these stories, and some of them are heartbreaking to read – yet we had a relatively smooth journey, which I know that we are both really, really thankful for. But I think that getting pregnant on the first transfer –  that was really surprising to me.

Even though we did our research – that’s why we went with ORM, because they had high success rates –  I still thought we were going to be that 0.6% or whatever that’s not successful, and we have to be prepared for that. And I think in my mind I was ready to hear from them, “Oh, well it didn’t take. We’re going to have to do this again.” That we were pregnant just like that was fantastic.

Jimmie and Elly.

Jimmie and Ely.

Marco: While you were asking that question, I was asking myself to come up with three. The first one would be this fear of her not being my biological child: “Will I bond, would she see me as her father?” And she does. She does.

Jimmie: We’re having a moment here already.

(warm laughter all around)

OFC: That was exactly my same fear because I’m in the same boat. Non-bio parent.

Marco: We talked about that a little bit. How do we share in this experience – not once she’s here but even just before – and how do we plan what this process is going to be like? So, one of the things we agreed on was that I was going to hold her first, just to try and find something to help get to that point. And that meant a lot. So, you figure it out.

OFC: Your naming that is so big.  I feel like those of us who have gone on these journeys before our peers have learned things that are so important. I feel very, very similar. That the other (bio) parent and the child would have this deep thing and I would be on the outside waving my arms and crying or something.

Jimmie: Honestly, it’s kind of the reverse fear. Where I’ve been in the middle of the night, just crying, because Marco is a wonderful nurturer and soothes her so much easier than I can –  and I have had such a terrible fear that I’m going to be a horrible parent, that she won’t love me. And by no means is that true. The times where I am not able to comfort her have been really overwhelming for me. She’s amazing and she knows that.

Marco: The second discovery that I think a lot of people can relate to I’m sure is that financial piece – how do you get there? The sticker shock is crazy, and then when you see how many options there are to get there it can be overwhelming. It is overwhelming. That part gets a little scary. When you were asking what kind of things we were fearful of, for sure, the financial piece was scary: the challenge, “How do we make that work?”

Jimmie: We didn’t qualify for any of MHB’s Gay Parenting Assistance Program (G-PAP), nothing at all, so we started our journey with $20,000 and I basically maxed out my credit cards with cash advances. We took out completely separate loans that we’re paying back every month right now. And we would do it all over again. I just wish that there were other options to help people – we were able to make it work, but I think that there are a lot of people who might not be able to make it work because of that.

Marco: I think the third discovery is that place you get to when you finally let go of so many expectations, because you have timelines. You set these arbitrary timelines, like, “We’re going to do this by June, then we’re going to move here by December.” Well, you have to let all of that go, because it’s going to happen organically, all by itself.

You set these arbitrary timelines, like, “We’re going to do this by June, then we’re going to move here by December.” Well, you have to let all of that go, because it’s going to happen organically, all by itself.

And when we had our first bump in the road that delayed us a couple of months, it was a clear reminder to just let things happen the way they’re supposed to.

Jimmie: And that delay ended up with the embryo transfer on the one year anniversary of when we all met! It happened how it was supposed to be; and it’s ok, because we weren’t ready until then. For whatever reason – we don’t understand – but we weren’t ready yet.

OFC: That’s really wise. You don’t know it in the moment, just feels like a bump and very scary. Having the transfer the very same weekend a year later is just really beautiful.

OK last question: If you had the chance to talk to yourselves years ago, what would be the most critical advice you’d want to give yourselves, with the insight you have now that you’re on this side of the journey?

Jimmie: Don’t be so scared of it, and maybe start a little sooner!

Marco: I have two pieces of advice – that letting go piece: it adds a little more anxiety than you’ll ever need. It’ll feel so much better if you just let go of those expectations. And, just trust yourself and your partner: trust that you’re making this decision together, and that you have each other, that your intentions are clear. And you’ll get there together.


The 5th Annual Surrogacy Conference and Expo takes place this weekend, January 13-14, 2018, at the Marines’ Memorial Club and Hotel, in San Francisco.

Credit Phyllis Christopher / phyllischristopher.com Mickey, Alicia and Amos Lim

Two men and a baby: Navigating parenting and partnership in a two-dad family

By KALW reporter Jen Chien

 Credit Phyllis Christopher / phyllischristopher.com Mickey, Alicia and Amos Lim

Credit Phyllis Christopher / phyllischristopher.com
Mickey, Alicia and Amos Lim

When Amos and Mickey Lim met in 1995, they had no idea they would someday have a daughter together. It just didn’t seem possible. They lived an ocean away from each other, and didn’t know if they would ever even meet face-to-face. That’s because they first connected online, on a gay discussion group.

“Someone was talking about long-term relationships, how there’s no such thing as long-term relationships,” Amos says. “Probably because we don’t see the role models out there.”

That was certainly true for Amos. He’s from Singapore, a country where homosexual acts are still against the law. Mickey was living in Bakersfield at the time.

“I think that when I came out I kind of had the idea initially that I would just be that bachelor–the uncle,” Mickey says. But over time, his views changed. He says it wasn’t until five or six years after he had come out that he decided to stop restricting himself mentally. “I can do anything I want,” he says. “The question then becomes: do I want a long-term, lifelong relationship? Do I want to have a family? Do I want to have children? I couldn’t conceive of any reason not to, other than I hadn’t met the right person to do it with.”

So Mickey wrote back to Amos, and shared his own experience. They started corresponding. Long emails turned into long phone calls, and a couple of years later, Mickey went to visit Amos in Singapore.

“We met and immediately realized well, oh, we’re in love!” Mickey says with a laugh. The two have been together now for over 20 years, and their love plays out in an everyday way, in the home they’ve made together with their six-year old daughter Alicia.

On a recent morning, Amos gets Alicia’s lunch ready and makes sure the kitchen is clean, as Mickey struggles to get her to brush her teeth. Once that’s done, Mickey will drop Alicia off at school, then drive to his job as a pharmacist for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Amos is the volunteer director of a nonprofit, but he calls himself a stay-at-home dad. He says he and Mickey share responsibility for domestic duties — there’s not a clear division.

“I don’t see it as a 50/50, i see it as 100/100,” Amos says.

Mickey agrees. “I think we both want to participate in the raising of our child. … Nobody gets any down time here — it’s all go.”

They share duties like this for a reason. When Amos first came to the US in 1999, he was on a series of temporary visas — his status was often uncertain. Because of that uncertainty, and because Amos first came in on a student visa, they were by necessity a one-income household.

Mickey says that could have created an imbalance in their relationship, but they don’t look at it that way. “What we’ve done and what we continue to do now is that you contribute to the house [and] the family, that which you’re capable of,” he says. “No one thing is one person’s job, it all has to get done. Some things I’m better at than he, and there are things that he’s better at than I am.”

Amos finally got his green card in 2006. He and Mickey felt stable enough to consider adopting a child together, something they had both dreamed of. They were matched with Alicia through a foster-to-adopt program when she was eight months old.

At this point, Amos was working full-time in nonprofit management. They were each able to take a month of parental leave, and after that they just rotated, especially since Amos’ job allowed him to work from home part of the time.

When the economy tanked, though, Amos lost his position. Alicia was receiving therapy for developmental delay — six hours a week — so they decided that Amos would stay home with her. Mickey once again became the sole breadwinner.

“It worked out that way, and sometimes I’m jealous, and sometimes I’m grateful,” Mickey says.

Mickey and Amos both say that the models of parenting and partnership that have been handed down to them don’t always apply to their family.

“We don’t fit into ‘I’m the husband, you’re the wife,’ or ‘This is what husbands do and this is what wives do’ — because we do both,” Amos says.

But both men say they’ve felt the discomfort of not conforming to traditional expectations. When filling out an application for Alicia’s social security card, Mickey discovered the the form only had fields for “father” and “mother.” He says the clerk was not very helpful — she asked them to just pick one. Since he had taken Amos’ last name when they married, and therefore had a “maiden name,” he put himself on the form as Alicia’s mother.

For his part, Amos says it can be challenging being the only dad in a roomful of moms, like when he volunteers at Alicia’s school. And there’s the fact that he’s an Asian man with a blonde, blue-eyed white child. He says he’s felt people’s suspicion at times when he’s at the playground with Alicia, and she throws a tantrum because she doesn’t want to leave.

“People take a second look… and you know, I’ve got somebody come up to me and say, ‘Should I be worried?’ I’m like: ‘No you shouldn’t be worried, she’s my daughter.’”

Mickey says they have also been surprised by the way some friends have reacted to their decision to raise a child together. “I think that the straight couples with kids are actually more accepting or more shrugging-their-shoulders of it than gay people without kids,” he says. “We had friends who were at our wedding when Alicia was two, and like, never saw them again.”

Mickey says he thinks these friends probably disapprove of his and Amos’ decision to follow what seems like a traditional or conventional path, but he sees it differently. “I think it goes back to not understanding that you can make it whatever you want. You can have the life that you choose to have. Not the life that you ran away from, but rather, the life that you’re walking and running toward.”

These two fathers are walking and running toward a life that they once could barely even dream of, and are now defining on their own terms.

Trust & Fear of the Unknown in Adoption

This is the happy story of a new family being born through unexpected circumstances and an almost magical lining up of the stars. Little did we know that a short 6 years after meeting, we’d be fathers – let alone be living in California!

15-IMG_9625The story began when we met on university campus in Montréal, Québec back in 2007. It was love at first sight. We never really discussed having kids until much later in our relationship. We were still young (none of our friends had kids yet) and wanted to travel the world (which we did)! Gabriel always wanted to have kids but Pierre-Luc pretty much had given up on the idea at a young age.

Our life changed when an unexpected job offer in California came for Pierre-Luc. First, we had to overcome the fact that we’d have to immigrate as strangers to each other as the work visa would not recognize same-sex couples. Gabriel would have to find a job, his first job right out of school. To this day, we would rather not think about what would have happened should Gabriel have failed in his search. We are very happy about the supreme court decision to declare DOMA unconstitutional as it will save a lot of stress for futures couples that are in similar circumstances.

By 2011, our relationship had matured and so did our lives. Some of our friends and cousins had started having kids and frankly, this ignited something inside of us. The looming 30th birthday anniversary for Pierre-Luc did also helped: the clock was ticking! This is when we began our research on how to build our family. One thing was clear: we wanted a newborn, to be the only parents from day 1.

There were a few options available to us in California: surrogacy and adoption. As we concentrated on adoption for financial reasons, we discovered a rich world full of love for the children being adopted. As we kept reading books on the subject of gay parenting and adoption in general, it became clear to us that an open adoption was the way to go. We visited a few adoption agencies and got started on the paperwork in September of 2012.

We learned that openness is positive for all participants. For the children, it helps developing their identity far removed from the unknowns associated with closed adoption: who are my birth parents, why did it happen, etc. For the birth parents, after the grieving period, it’s an immense relief and joy to be able to see that the child they brought into this world is being well taken care of. And for the adoptive parents, having access to the medical history of the family is one of many advantages, should a problem arise.

IMG_5743We had concerns about inviting hypothetical birth parents into our lives: it felt weird to create such an intimate relationship with complete strangers. Will they judge our parenting? How will their life choices impact ours? In retrospect, it was all about the fear of the unknown. When we were first contacted by the future birthmother of our child in March 2013, it put a face on the strangers. As we exchanged many long heartwarming emails over the next month, we developed an understanding and it was the beginning of a relationship we hope will flourish.

We consider ourselves lucky to have been matched very early in the pregnancy. We had more time to bond, and this also meant that we were able to fly to meet her in person in Missouri and attend the OBGYN visit where we all learned that we were expecting a girl. Over the weekend, we met with her family and all of her friends. She has a wonderful circle of support and everyone was onboard with her plans. We felt like rock stars: she had talked about us to all of them and they were all genuinely eager to meet us.

For interstate adoptions, there is some paperwork to be processed which usually means that you are stuck in an hotel room with a newborn for about 10 days. When Sophie was born in September 2013, we ended up overstaying that period because we wanted to spend a little bit more time with the birth family. We had finally met the birthfather at the hospital and this was a unique chance to create a bond. As the family came to visit birthmom in the hospital, they also visited us – the new parents – to congratulate us and meet the newest addition to our family. We created memories we will always cherish.

In retrospect, we can now say that our fears about adoption were unfounded. As the birth parents pick you, you also end up picking them and it is up to you to establish your personal boundaries. Working with an experienced adoption agency like the IAC really simplified things for us and for every party involved. They offer great support for the birth family and helped everyone understand their role in this child’s life.

The key to success is trust. While we jungled with the uncertainty of the adoption going through, we trusted deep down that the birthmother would do what’s best for her child. She also trusted us enough to select us from a big list of potential parents and we found that this trust helped us through the daunting first nights with a newborn.

Pierre-Luc Beaudoin & Gabriel Millaire