Like an increasing number of gay couples, Craig and Massimo wanted to be parents. They took the plunge and created their family through egg donor surrogacy in the USA. Craig and Massimo beam: “It was the best thing we’ve ever done.”
Pride Life asked Craig and Massimo about their journey to parenthood.
When did you first think about starting a family?
”For me it seems like always — Craig took his time before getting broody but then it hit. Seeing parents with their children in our neighbourhood park we’d image how it would be for us,” Massimo explains. ”We were very busy with our careers and were conscious that we’d have to change our lifestyle, as we always saw ourselves as being very involved. We started asking questions. Should we adopt or try surrogacy?”
“The definitive date was October 2009,” remembers Craig. “We’d had dinner at our friends’ wedding and met a gay couple who had just completed the adoption of their second child. The next morning over brunch we said, ‘Right, we’ve been talking about this for a long time and we’re not getting younger, let’s seriously decide whether we’re going to do it or not!’”
“We’d had a Bloody Mary — and then we had one more for courage!” Massimo jokes.
Why did you choose surrogacy?
“We considered adoption initially but then decided to focus on surrogacy as the route for us,” Craig continues. “We had close friends in New York — gay dads with four kids through surrogacy – who had been encouraging us for ages, so we decided to explore surrogacy.
“I remember our first meeting with a US surrogacy agency — very ‘American’ — and I can say that as I’m half American!” he laughs. “But it seemed like everything was possible! It’s firmly established there, all the resources to do it safely are in place, and it works well. It left us feeling empowered to make choices and shape our journey to parenthood as we hoped.”
“We decided then and there that surrogacy was definitely what worked for us,” Massimo adds. “But we were still very busy with work so it took another couple of years waiting for the right time, doing research, and talking to people before we got started. It’s a complicated undertaking – a big jigsaw – and to try and understand the process, the pros and the cons of different options and the risks can be incredibly daunting and confusing.”
“Initially we didn’t know of anyone in London pursuing surrogacy,” Craig explains. “But one by one we met people who were able to share with us their experiences and things they’d learned along the way. We made some great friends and playmates for Marco in the process. There are now more and more resources available to help people understand their options and navigate their journey which is great.”
How did you go about choosing an egg donor and surrogate?
“We signed up to a US surrogacy agency who matched us with our surrogate. We researched and compared a lot of IVF clinics and selected the one we felt had consistently the best success rates and we found our egg donor through their in-house program,” Craig explains.
“The surrogacy agency should try and find a mutual ‘best-fit’ between you and a surrogate based on many criteria: what you need on the legal front, how you will deal with insurance and medical costs, whether you are interested in trying for twins, your views on sensitive ethical and medical issues if there are complications during the pregnancy, what sort of relationship you hope for with your surrogate, and personality fit, to name a few. It’s important to understand that it’s very much a two-way process. We chose our surrogate as much as she chose us. It’s an emotional journey so trust is essential for a good match. We’ve developed a close relationship with our surrogate as a result.
“Massimo gets the credit for finding our egg donor. After looking for a while you come to understand what’s right for you in terms of a donor’s background, personal and family medical and genetic profile, and physical appearance. We’d looked at lots of donor profiles over several weeks, then late one evening during our search Massimo insisted that we look again at our IVF clinic’s donor database — as new donors become available. I was in the kitchen, then all of a sudden Massimo shouts ‘She’s the one! Craig, quick call them NOW it’s afternoon in Portland – they’ll be there!’”
“She had such a beautiful smile – I connected immediately. And everything else in her profile matched exactly for us,” Massimo recalls.
Do you still keep in contact with your egg donor and surrogate?
“Yes, and we feel incredibly fortunate,” Craig says. “They are simply extraordinary women. This past January we were able to get our egg donor and surrogate, ourselves and Marco together — it’s as close to a ‘nuclear’ family as we can get — it was incredible.
“It’s obvious that it wasn’t just the two of us and that there were other people involved in bringing Marco into this world. They’re not Marco’s parents – that’s not the intent – but we’re all connected and they’re a central part of his life-story that he will come to know.
“Everyone needs to make the choices that are right for their family in term of the relationship they have with their egg donor and surrogate. For us it was important that both our egg donor and our surrogate be comfortable knowing about Marco, and comfortable with Marco knowing about them. They are great examples of strong and empowered women and they are incredibly loving with how they have helped us – we want Marco to know this.”
How has being a parent changed your life?
“The moment your child is born your whole centre of gravity changes,” says Craig. “You’re taking on this immense lifelong responsibility and it’s really no longer about you. But that’s not a bad thing at all, quite the contrary. And you become very ‘traditional’ in that you worry and talk about the same things as other parents — nappies, childcare, schools.”
“It does completely change your life,” agrees Massimo. “It comes naturally to you, wanting to look after your child. Marco is learning to use a spoon now — mealtime is a total mess — but it’s fun. Children are like moving targets – as soon as you think you’ve got it figured out they are already at the next level – but the rewards I get from Marco are just indescribable.
“I get this amazing feeling when Marco discovers or does something new. You get to a certain point in your life when you feel like you’ve done everything so there’s little really new, but through Marco’s discoveries I get so much joy being with him in that moment. And we’re only at the beginning. We have a whole lifetime of being able to witness Marco’s development.
“Then Marco let’s out a big laugh and smiles at you — and it is just amazing.”
Helping Others on Their Journey
Craig and Massimo are happy to share their experience and help prospective parents understand the ins and outs of egg donor surrogacy and the many options available. “Many people helped us along the way, so it’s right that we pass on what we’ve learned.” Craig also now supports UK patients of Oregon Reproductive Medicine on their journeys.