Timothy Spivey and Scott Jones have been through a lot in the last four years. But the California couple says every tear, sleepless night and moment of wrenching heartache was worth it to become parents.
“Being a father is worth all of it,” Spivey, 43, said. “Now after everything that has happened, I look back on our experience with fond memories. … I am thankful for my daughter and focus on what was positive.”
The two always wanted to become parents but realized the journey wouldn’t be easy. Spivey said early on in their relationship they discussed the importance of children and how they could make that dream a reality.
“We wanted the whole family package,” Spivey said. “When I first came out to my mother at the age of 21, she cried. Her first comment was that I would never give her grandchildren.”
Jones said the two talked about wanting children back on their first date more than 20 years ago.
They knew that even though they were gay they could still have children – it wouldn’t be easy.
The couple, who have now been together 20 years, married in 2008. They considered adoption but soon decided having their own biological children was the best option.
“Twenty years ago surrogacy wasn’t even on our radar,” Jones said. “The fact that we could have a child that was genetically ours was amazing. The whole experience has been so tough, but also magical. To see this other person that represents you, to see a lot of you in this little person, that’s a beautiful thing.”
In 2011, they took the first step by filling out paperwork with an agency. After some time they were matched with an egg donor; 13 eggs were retrieved and fertilized.
Of those, seven grew to blastocysts and were frozen – four were Spivey’s and three Jones’. The location of the clinic moved several times causing the men anxiety, but they were eventually matched with a surrogate in Mumbai, India.
“We were assured that it really wasn’t a matter of whether or not we would end up with a pregnancy but instead how many embryos would ‘take,’” Spivey said. “The first transfer was a complete failure. We were notified via email. … It was cold and impersonal, and I was honestly devastated. After all the preparation and money it came down to one email that said we didn’t have a pregnancy.”
This wasn’t a speed bump; it was like the road had collapsed.
“We also were very concerned that the entire process had been a scam, and we had just given our agent a large amount of money,” Spivey said. “We had no proof that the first embryo transfer even happened.”
In addition, they were told they had no embryos left and would have to start over – shocking news, since the couple thought they had four frozen embryos remaining. Fortunately, that was an error.
“I think the feelings of doubt and betrayal was worse than just thinking that our first attempt had failed,” Spivey said. “We always knew that the transfer of the embryos was not guaranteed, but the misinformation and poor communication just put us in a frame of mind that we would not get our hopes up for the next transfer.”
They kept a guarded doubt, even after receiving an email with news that the surrogate was pregnant, “biggest shock I think I have ever had to this day,” Spivey said.
“We went in with the attitude that we were not going to have any children and had possibly been sucked into a horrible scam by (the agency),” Spivey said. “So that day that we got another email, only this time the exact opposite, I cried for an entirely different reason. We still were terribly pessimistic and were just waiting for the next email that said the surrogate had miscarried.”
But then milestones kept being met – 12 weeks, then 20. It really was happening. Then it was time. They were about to fly halfway around the world to meet their child.
Once in Mumbai, the couple received a call saying the baby, Charlie-Ann, had been born.
“We were so excited!” Spivey said.
But they couldn’t simply go meet their daughter. Logistical confusion kept them from seeing her. They were missing one piece of paper and were literally standing outside of the room listening to their newborn daughter cry, unable to do anything about it.
“We felt helpless and angry,” Spivey said.” We had to miss the first two days of our little girl’s life because someone we paid a lot of money to didn’t do their job. Listening to her cry was horrible. But we knew what we had to do, and we did it. Going back to the hotel was a sad trip, but we were determined to get everything we needed in order to see her the next day. It was kind of a whirlwind of phone calls and meetings with attorneys and pulling the funds together to pay everyone, so that we had a great distraction from the fact that we didn’t have our daughter with us yet.”
After two days, they finally were allowed to see the baby – with one more hurdle. Because Spivey isn’t biologically related to their daughter –the blastocysts they used had Jones’ sperm — he wasn’t allowed into the room at first.
“My husband took a photo of her on my phone for me,” he said. “I just sat outside in the waiting room and stared at that picture, because it was all I had at the moment. Then after a while, the nurse said that since visiting hours were over and no other parents were going to be in the room, I could finally go in and hold her. That moment was when I finally felt like it had all been worth it, and I felt like my daughter belonged to me and my husband.”
Jones said because of the struggles with the agency there was a part of them that doubted if the surrogate was even really carrying their genetic child. But all of those fears were allayed the second he saw his daughter that first time.
“I knew immediately she was mine,” he said with a laugh. “No genetic testing necessary. She had my scowl. And she never cried when I was there. We had a connection right away; she knew I was her dad. It was a powerful moment.”
Charlie-Ann is now almost two and everything has changed for the couple since then. Jones stays home with the girl while Spivey works in medical imaging. They are in the early stages of planning for another baby.
Jones said even with all the challenges they’ve faced he’s so grateful for the opportunity of surrogacy and said it is a great way to start a family for same sex couples. He recommends you do your homework and to remember to support each other.
“Tim and I are a strong team together,” Jones said. “It was crazy and difficult but the fact that we had a good base in our relationship and were strong, we were able to get through it. This experience requires both of you to pull together to be successful.”
Spivey said now that they are parents their whole world has changed.
“I have to put this little person’s needs above my own,” he said. “I think the fear of losing this little girl after everything that it took to finally have her was perhaps a little bit more of the force driving my paranoia. You know the normal stuff, checking every hour to make sure she is still breathing, worry that she isn’t eating enough,(even though she was very chubby), or that perhaps she would be missing out on something that two men just couldn’t give her. In the end, I realize that it isn’t quite that difficult. We just need to take care of her and trust our instincts – even fathers have this weird parenting instinct it seems.”