Inspiring Lives 15: Two Dads and Their Journey Through Surrogacy
As Father's day approaches, we take a look at some of the most inspiring stories from Dads all over the world. We caught up with Marcos from @twodadsspain, to find out about the amazing surrogacy journey he and his partner, Alberto, have been on to welcome their baby boy, Gonzalo, into the world.
• How did you and your husband Alberto first meet?
It was in January 2005. I was 18 years old and I had very recently moved to Madrid. As I was economically independent, I was looking for a job in order to combine it with my Law studies. Luckily I found a job very soon in a call center and it was there where we met each other. Everything happened very quickly from the first time we talked. The first few days after that, we started flirting in a very innocent way. Every day, when Alberto came over (he worked in other department) I used to stick a post-it in his note book. It became a habit. Once I was sure that Alberto was interested in me, the daily post-it suggested a date.
The rest is history. We got married in 2013 and twelve years later we both are here answering your interview about our parenthood!!!
• Going through a surrogacy process can be tiring and sometimes difficult, what was your surrogacy journey like?
Bufff! It can be tiring indeed. Actually, I’d say tough. Where to start? When, a long time ago, we were determined to become parents we got as much as the information we could about our possibilities in order to adopt. We soon realized that adoption (forbidden in many countries to same-sex couples) was not an option for us and we gave up. It was 2008 and by then surrogacy was not so popular as it is nowadays.
It was in 2011 when we revisited the idea of paternity, after discovering a famous Spanish singer became a father through surrogacy. At that time, the problem was money. We were informed about costs of the process depending on the country, so Alberto and I started saving money while looking for professional advice. Fortunately, after the summer of 2015 we were able to start the process and made an agreement with a Spanish agency in order to coordinate a process in Mexico from Spain. The agency proposed the future birth mother and arranged a video call with her. We three got on perfectly! At the same time, the fertility centre proposed some candidates for being egg donor and we choose one. The next step was traveling to Mexico, meeting her (Mili is her name) and leaving the samples in the fertility centre. Once Mili was ready, our biological sample with an egg from the donor was transferred by IVF. Positive pregnancy first time! So after that, we only had to prepare everything in order to travel again to Mexico nine months later. However, the destiny had surprises for us. Gonzalo was born during week 27. On 9th June 2016 (one year already!!!), the gynaecologist called and urged us to travel there as soon as possible; the childbirth had been unleashed. Only 26 weeks was too early. Thank God they could contain the situation for five days more and it was enough time to let the medicines take effect.
Gonzalo was born 15th June in Tabasco, Mexico. But he has proved what a survivor is and overcome all the obstacles. 45 days of NICU needed before he was ready to go out into the world and face his premature life.
But the journey did not finish there. When we left the hospital, another month was necessary for bureaucracy in Mexico for obtaining both Spanish and Mexican passports. And when in Spain, more bureaucracy! Adoption process, paternity subsidy claims… As you said, very tiring! We have not finished yet…
• How comes you decided to have the surrogacy in Mexico rather than Spain?
Spain was not an option. In our country surrogacy is forbidden. An amendment of our legislation is being discussed in the Parliament. However, the society and consequently the political parties are divided about this matter.
Our choice was Mexico because of very few options. It had to be a country where surrogacy is allowed, allowed to same-sex couples and also, for us, it was very important the respect of Human Rights involving the process. Particularly, the respect of women rights.
With those requirements, the only two options were United States and Mexico. Costs in Mexico turned the scale in favour of that country. We were looking forward to starting everything soon and The States implicated much more time.
• Do you still keep in touch with the birth mother of Gonzalo?
Of course. We love and admire her. We will never acknowledge enough what Mili did for us. She gave us the best gift ever: Gonzalo. Not only for the pregnancy itself. The five days she was lying down in a hospital bed in order to contain the birth were conclusive for Gonzalo to get ahead in life. The gynaecologist told us that many women cannot afford the situation even with their own babies. Mili was a hero!
• Do you ever think about how you will explain to Gonzalo how he was brought into the world?
Definitely yes. First of all because Gonzalo will realize soon that something strange is happening. But having two dads is not so common in our days. We fight for normalization and we think it is better to be transparent with it from the very beginning. The gift I gave to Alberto for Christmas in 2015 was a tail of a little girl with two dads born through surrogacy (see the picture of us!).
Apart from that, we are very proud of how Gonzalo was born. Even though surrogacy opponents say that surrogacy affects the child’s dignity, you can imagine how desired Gonzalo was, only by reading the long way we had to walk for parenthood.
• What advice would you give to others looking to go through the surrogacy process?
The most important thing for us is to get the best advice in this process. In that sense having a good agency is very important. Ours did not rise to the challenge and it made the process more complicated. It is crucial to have everything under control.
We would also recommend future parents to enjoy the journey. Some agencies don’t recommend, or even ban, the possibility of being in touch with the birth mother. In our case, meeting Mili and having her and all of her family is part of the gift. The same with the NICU nurses, other parents of premature babies sharing room with Gonzalo… It made the experience much more fruitful.
• As Gonzalo was born prematurely, what implications did that impose and how did you both get through that period?
It is something that you think it will not happen to you. And it is obviously a very very complicated situation. When it happens in a foreign country, far away from your family and actually it implies economic consequences (the NICU was not covered by the insurance) it turns unbearable. But we took the opportunity. The challenge we faced made us connected to each other more than ever (even after 12 years together!). And we also think we appreciate the parenthood experience even more.
• You’ve mentioned that you are both very focused on helping Gonzalo’s development, how do you do this?
From the very beginning, doctors told us that due to his prematurity Gonzalo would have aftermaths which could be mitigated or at least reduced by early stimulation. For this reason, we are focused on Gonzalo’s development. To do so, we attend weekly early stimulation lessons and put everything in practice at home. We also go once a week to baby swim, which has been very helpful. Fortunately (and we think it is because of these little efforts) Gonzalo is currently a healthy and strong 1 year old baby.
• Living in Madrid and bringing up a little one there is a completely different lifestyle to one of the UK, what do you typical days look like?
Our life is very normal. That is what we can say. Alberto (Computer programmer) works at home. In the Law firm I work I applied for work-time reduction. Consequently we spend a lot of time with Gonzalo. During the morning Gonzalo is with the Mancunian au pair who lives with us and the afternoons are our turn. We have walks in the area, go to the park, have a glass of wine before bath time…Everything very normal hahahaha.
• How has becoming a father changed both yours and Alberto's lives?
Specially, parenthood changed our perspective. The priority is another, not yourself. Something similar happens with marriage, but more strongly. It is a cliché, but becoming parents of Gonzalo is the best thing we have ever done.
You can continue to follow the incredible journey of Marcos, Alberto and little Gonzalo over on their Instagram page!