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Our Surrogacy Journey to Fraternal Twins | Adeel & Anthony's Story

A gay couple shares their unique surrogacy journey and what it's really like to raise twins in a family with two dads.

June 18th, 2024 | 10 min. read

By Sierra Dehmler

Considering surrogacy, but feeling overwhelmed? Two dads who have been through the process open up to share their personal journey through egg donation and surrogacy and offer helpful tips for fellow dads-to-be.

In this article:

Meet Adeel & Anthony

"I've always wanted to have children," says Adeel. "However, being a gay man, it didn’t seem possible when I was growing up." When he met his now-husband, Anthony, in 2009, they discussed wanting to have a family in the future, but that dream still felt impossible and very far away.

As the years went on, the couple began to explore their options for family building, and decided to turn towards surrogacy as their path to fatherhood. "We knew that if we were going to try to have children we wanted to start with surrogacy and IVF," says Adeel. "But we had absolutely no idea where to begin."

Getting Started with Gestational Surrogacy

As Adeel and Anthony continued to learn more about surrogacy and what the journey would require, they decided that the best place for them to start was selecting a fertility clinic

Step 1: Finding a Fertility Clinic

After researching their options, Adeel and Anthony landed on Illume Fertility. "They were the first place we contacted when we were ready to start our journey."

The team they spoke with at Illume recommended they also reach out to a surrogacy agency, which they quickly did. Adeel and Anthony ended up working with Golden Surrogacy, an agency in Chicago, Illinois. These are common steps on any surrogacy journey. However, the way they matched with their surrogate was quite unique!

Adeel is a physician himself, and the gestational carrier that he and Anthony ended up choosing was also a friend of theirs - a nurse Adeel had worked with at a hospital in Florida.

Note: While it can be an amazing experience to have a trusted friend or family member be your surrogate, it's important to understand that they will still be required to undergo all the same medical and psychological screenings as any other potential carrier. 

The Importance of Choosing an LGBTQ+ Friendly Care Provider

Finding a fertility clinic that isn't just welcoming to LGBTQ+ families but also provides expert, culturally competent care isn't always easy. 

Adeel says that they felt confident in their decision to choose Illume Fertility, not just because of its positive reputation within the LGBTQ+ community, but also because Illume's success rates are very high and they wanted the best chance at building their family.

They connected with Illume's Founder & Medical Director, Dr. Mark Leondires, who helped guide them through the process with both professional expertise and personal empathy - having become a father via surrogacy himself. "Dr. Leondires was fantastic, and our results couldn’t have been better," says Adeel.

Step 2: Matching with a Surrogate

"I can’t begin to describe how incredible our surrogate was," Adeel says. "I'm a doctor, and she was a nurse that I used to work with at the hospital - one of the best nurses I have ever worked with."

Adeel describes her as extremely caring, devoted to her patients, and dedicated to working hard in the intensive care unit (ICU), all qualities that he knew would translate beautifully to her potential role as their gestational carrier. 

While Adeel and Anthony had since moved to a new city and Adeel no longer worked directly with their surrogate, they had kept in touch on Facebook. When she discovered that they might be interested in surrogacy, she reached out to express interest in helping them grow their family.

"We couldn’t contain our excitement," Adeel says. "But we also knew it could be complicated and potentially not work out." Thankfully, the relationship with their surrogate ended up not only working out, but being the perfect fit!

Building a Relationship with Their Surrogate

"We communicated at least once a week throughout the entire process," Adeel says. "Since we lived only an hour away from each other, we were able to visit each other often and were even able to go to some doctor's appointments with her."

Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, new safety guidelines unfortunately made things much more complicated. Though it was difficult to not be as involved, "she was a friend and someone we trusted so dearly even before the surrogacy process," says Adeel. "It could not have been any more perfect."

Meet a Surrogate

Julie, an experienced gestational carrier, shares why she has dedicated herself to helping hopeful parents grow their families through surrogacy.

Read Her Story

The Highs & Lows of Surrogacy

Uncertainty was one of the toughest things for Adeel and Anthony to navigate throughout the surrogacy process. "It was very difficult in the beginning because we just didn't know if it would work," says Adeel. They also knew the financial commitment behind pursuing surrogacy was steep, regardless of whether or not they were successful. 

"It was also very difficult for us (initially) to find a surrogate," Adeel remembers. 

Another emotional low point was finding out that one of their embryo transfers was unsuccessful. It sent them into a spiral, doubting if success was even possible, and left them contemplating moving on to their next step, which would have been adopting. "Adoption is also great, but it just wasn't our original goal," clarifies Adeel.

They are grateful they continued on with surrogacy, because without their perseverance (and that of their gestational carrier), they wouldn't have their twins today. 

The major high point on their journey? "The moment we found out we were pregnant, we were beyond excited," remembers Adeel. "And then we found out we were having twins - it was the most incredible news we’ve ever heard! I can’t even begin to describe our joy."

Navigating Twin Parenthood

Their twins Adam and Anya were born healthy at 37 weeks gestation, which meant they were born at term - a huge achievement for any twin pregnancy, as multiples frequently arrive prematurely.

"It has been quite an experience, to say the least!" says Adeel. "Having two babies at once was definitely a challenge, especially in the beginning, as we went from not knowing much about babies to suddenly having two at once." Instead of just learning how to take care of one baby, they had to learn how to take care of two at one time. 

Adeel admits that the first three months after the twins were born were tough, mainly because of their unpredictable sleep patterns. "One baby would wake the other one at night and during the day, so the days and nights blended together, and I still had to work at the hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic."

After they adapted to the daily chaos of parenting two babies, everything became more manageable, as the new dads became more familiar with the twins' sleep patterns and routines.

Finding Your Village

"Having an au pair (a nanny that lives in-house) has been extremely helpful during weekdays so that we are able to work," Adeel says. "We also have a very loving family that helps us out as needed." 

"We have found parenthood to be joyful and natural," he says. "We love spending time with the kids, taking them out, swimming with them, and teaching them to love to travel and explore at a young age!"

As a family of four, they traveled to Mexico and Canada (twice) in the twins' first year. They are even planning a trip to Europe this year. The dads also love reading to Adam and Anya, teaching them new things, and playing nonstop. 

What's next?

In addition to enjoying life at home with their two little ones, Adeel and Anthony plan to continue traveling frequently with the twins, both to visit family in Canada and abroad. Their next stop? Italy!

"One of my big goals is to help others see that LGBTQ+ families are just as normal as any other family," Adeel says. "I also want to help give young LGBTQ+ individuals hope - I truly believe that nothing is impossible, it is my life motto."

4 Tips for LGBTQ+ Parents-to-Be

After having such a positive experience with Illume, Adeel and Anthony say they have recommended the clinic to many other hopeful parents. "One of them is currently pregnant right now!" Adeel adds. 

Throughout their long and winding journey, the dads have learned many valuable lessons. Here are some of their top tips for other dads-to-be pursuing surrogacy:

1) Start with a Surrogacy Agency

  • After doing your research, talking to friends, and exploring all of your options, contact a surrogacy agency to start the process ASAP, as it is the most complex and takes the longest amount of time.
  • Once you have an agency on your team, work together to select a fertility clinic to begin the IVF process. Ideally, you'll want to try to choose a clinic that is not only reputable, but also LGBTQ-friendly, has surrogacy experience, and has exceptional success rates. 

Next steps to surrogacy:

Learn why working with both a fertility clinic and a surrogacy agency is crucial to your success, and how they each help you navigate the process.

Read Now

2) Explore Your Financial Options

  • Consider insurance for your surrogate and be aware that it can be quite complicated. It’s best to start the process before any open enrollment begins (in November each year). If you start the process in January, by the time you find a surrogate, you may be able to have them get appropriate insurance prior to the following year. If not, it will delay that start. 
  • While the cost of surrogacy may feel overwhelming, keep in mind that payments are spaced out over time, so it is not quite as scary as it may seem. 

3) Stay the Course

In addition to all of the logistics surrounding surrogacy, it is also a very emotional journey.

Because of all the different stages of the process, it can take quite a while (on average, 18 months, but sometimes much longer), which is tough on intended parents. The positive? That extra lead-up also gives you more time to prepare for your future child. "Remember, it usually takes years before your future child is born, so patience is key," says Adeel.

Know that it may not work on the first try, Adeel adds. So although it can be disappointing and difficult to process an unsuccessful transfer, "try not to worry," he advises. "It can sometimes take multiple attempts before you achieve a healthy pregnancy."

4) Establish a Support Network

Adeel and Anthony's families, friends, and colleagues, have also been extremely supportive, the couple shares. They feel lucky to have such a loving community surrounding them as they raise Adam and Anya. 

The dads also recommend reading books about diverse families from the start of your child's life, so they feel their family structure is represented and can start to understand that every family is different. "There are so many great books out there," Adeel says. "We read them to our kids all the time."

It's Just the Beginning

If you're considering surrogacy as an intended parent-to-be and feel unsure of what steps to take next, we encourage you to take advantage of every possible resource you can, ask lots of questions, and remember that you're never alone on this journey.

With decades of experience helping LGBTQ+ families grow through surrogacy and other fertility treatment pathways, we're ready to help you achieve your goals with compassion, understanding, and a full team of surrogacy experts. Take your next step today!

Sierra Dehmler

Sierra Dehmler is Illume Fertility’s Content Marketing Manager - and also a fertility patient herself. Combining empathy gained on her personal journey with her professional experience in marketing and content creation, she aims to empower and support other fertility patients by demystifying the fertility treatment process.

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