Jeff and Chris have been together since they were sophomores in college. As their life together progressed, they started to talk about the possibility of having children once they hit their early thirties. But just how they would do that was pretty uncertain. For a while they leaned toward adoption, but the more they learned the more they wanted to be a part of their babies’ lives from the very start. While surrogacy was an option, they knew they needed many questions answered before they could consider it. It was all new territory, and Jeff and Chris became the first among their group of friends to look into surrogacy.
Jeff is an avid researcher and as he looked into fertility clinics, he found local options near their home in Seattle. But a deciding factor for the couple was their desire to know as much as possible about both their egg donor and their surrogate. Because Oregon Reproductive Medicine (ORM) offered a fully transparent experience from egg donation through birth, they set up an initial consultation.
Dr. Bankowski impressed the couple from the very first meeting.
“We felt comfortable right away. He told us everything we wanted to know, including that we needed to expect the unexpected. He satisfied my Type A, numbers-driven personality but he was also sensitive to the emotional side of the situation. We instantly felt like he had our backs.” – Jeff
Jeff and Chris selected an egg donor from ORM’s extensive in house Egg Donor Program and met with her on-site at the clinic (since she was willing to meet the intended parents, some donors are open to this), accompanied by a counselor who helped to guide the conversation. Next they selected a surrogate—another emotional and detailed process. Their first choice was fortunately an ideal match. When it finally came time to get pregnant, Chris and Jeff felt as if they had an ideal team thanks to ORM’s help.
“We wanted the relationship with our surrogate to be open throughout the whole process so it was important to us that she also wanted that. When we found our surrogate, it felt right. All along, the decisions we made felt instinctively right.” – Chris
Jeff and Chris decided to transfer two embryos, one from each father’s sperm, to help increase the odds of becoming pregnant. This meant they could have twins, which they felt was both exciting and terrifying. When they heard one heartbeat at the first ultrasound, they were beyond excited that they had become pregnant on their first transfer. While they realized this meant that having two children (their eventual goal) would need to involve a second pregnancy, there was also a sigh of relief that they would not be having twins.
Throughout the pregnancy, Chris and Jeff remained close with their surrogate and her family. Because they originally wanted two children, they remained in touch with ORM about their long-term hope of having another baby. Only months into the first pregnancy, they learned their egg donor was planning to leave the program to start a family of her own. Chris and Jeff sent a personal letter asking her to consider helping them one more time so they could have two children from the same mother – and she agreed. Then, more than half way through her pregnancy with Jeff and Chris’s first baby, their surrogate also agreed to help bring a second baby into the world for the couple. Before having their first child, steps toward having a second baby were taking shape.
Chris and Jeff traveled to Portland several weeks before their baby’s due date to make sure they would be present for the delivery. They were involved in the actual birth, much more so than they anticipated, and when their son Kellen was born healthy and vibrant, they were completely overwhelmed with emotion.
“We were both bawling. I mean, sobbing. Everyone in the room was crying, too.”
Just as Chris and Jeff were diving into parenthood, they needed to learn which of them was Kellen’s biological father. Within four weeks of Kellen’s birth, test results revealed that it was Chris. That meant that Jeff connected with ORM again to begin the process of making more embryos so they could work within the egg donor’s timeframe. On top of being new to parenting and emotions and lack of sleep it brings, the couple relied on ORM’s expertise, organization—and most of all their empathy—to continue to grow their family.
“ORM made us feel less like we were a cog in the machine and more like we were part of the family.”
When Kellen was just a year old, Chris and Jeff learned their surrogate was pregnant again with their second baby, another son. Zachary was born via C-section after 18 hours of labor. Through it all, they have felt incredibly thankful to her and the gift of two boys she has given them.
Today, this family of four is living a wonderful life together. They are grateful to ORM and recommend ORM’s reproductive services to their close friends.