Turned away by one clinic in their efforts to start a family, Ian and Troy achieved their dream with the help of family, friends and Advanced Reproductive Medicine
When Troy and Ian began seeing each other back in 2006, they talked about possibly starting a family if their relationship worked out. In 2009, their lives had progressed nicely and their relationship had indeed worked out very well, so this gay couple decided it was time to move forward with the family plan.
Ian – a West Point graduate, Iraq War veteran and lawyer now continuing his public service as a supervisor – and Troy – a physician in Denver – developed their plan. Ian’s sister LeAndra would donate her eggs, using the in vitro fertilization (IVF) collection technique. Troy’s sperm would fertilize them, and a surrogate mother would carry the embryo and deliver the baby.
“We had brainstormed together about wanting to do it this way with both of our genes involved,” says Ian. “We had saved up money to do the IVF and the surrogacy, and decided this was the way to do it.”
“We talked about adoption, but this was more appealing,” says Troy. “It wasn’t just the genetic aspect, but the whole process of going through it and making the baby ourselves.”
Troy was well versed on the medical aspects and handled the arrangements to get started. He and Ian determined their first-choice fertility clinic and Troy contacted them.
“I called and said, ‘I’m interested in getting an appointment to get a surrogacy going,’” says Troy. “The woman on the phone said that was wonderful, and asked, ‘When would be a good time for you and your wife to come in and get this started?’ I said, ‘It’s actually not my wife, I have a same sex partner.’”
Then the conversation switched gears, and the couple’s first-choice clinic turned out to be the wrong choice.
“She said, ‘Will you hold please,’ then came back and said, ‘We don’t work with same sex couples,’” Troy recalls. “I said ‘Excuse me?’”
Troy asked her to check and confirm their policy and get back with him. The office manager called him back, and the exchange was less than pleasant.
“I told her that in this day and age you can’t deny people this service because they are gay. I said that’s not acceptable in this world, and it may be illegal,” relates Troy. “She said, ‘Well, if you’re going to threaten us with legal action, we’re never going to work with you.’ I said, ‘I’m not threatening you with legal action.’ It was really bad. I was very angry.”
He couldn’t believe the 180-degree turnaround in attitude when he had mentioned his same sex partner. Troy says he understands this clinic has changed its tune since their experience, but the unexpected rebuff floored him and Ian, causing them to put off pursuing their desire for a family for a whole year.
A work friend of Troy’s suggested going to University of Colorado Advanced Reproductive Medicine, where he had had an excellent experience. So a year after being denied at the first clinic, they called ARM, confirmed that they work with same sex couples, and got their family plan rolling.
“Everyone there was open and warm, and they made us feel very comfortable,” says Troy. “They treated us like any other couple. Personally, that helped to be treated just like any other person.”
Ian and Troy worked with the surrogacy agency ConceiveAbilities. They met with a surrogate mother candidate named Kelli. They discussed how they each envisioned the surrogacy would work, what their relationship would be like, and after realizing that they liked each other, they decided they were a good match. The agency staff and both parties’ lawyers ironed out numerous details that Troy and Ian had never thought about.
Ian’s sister LeAndra’s donated eggs had been successfully fertilized and the embryos frozen at ARM. The embryo transfer to Kelli was successful and she became pregnant. But after 20 weeks, testing revealed that the baby had a fatal cardiac flaw and they had to terminate the pregnancy.
Kelli suffered complications that made her unable to be the surrogate again. Everyone was heartbroken. Troy and Ian were finding that the complex road to building a family might have even more bumps than the regular route most couples experience in a pregnancy.
It was back to ConceiveAbilities. Troy and Ian met Robin; they all got along well and decided to give it a try. After tests at ARM determined that Robin would be a good surrogate, the embryo transfer was made.
“Robin bought about 20 home pregnancy tests, and 10 days after the transfer, she texted us that she was going into the bathroom with one of her testers,” says Troy. “She sent a picture back of her tester showing positive. The blood test the next day confirmed it.”
A star is born
After 14 weeks, Robin transferred from ARM’s care to her OB/GYN in Glenwood Springs where she lives. Her due date was September 1, 2013.
Would it be a boy? A girl? Troy says he was ambivalent about finding out the gender of their baby and was fine doing whatever Ian wanted to do in that regard. Ian didn’t want to know.
“I don’t know why I felt so strongly about not knowing the baby’s sex,” says Ian. “Even though the option was there, the element of surprise intrigued me. It’s a surprise whenever you find out. But where I work there are a lot of women in the office, and I got a lot of pressure from them about finding out what the sex of my baby was.”
Ian and Troy had a four-list system of choosing the baby’s name: family names for boys and girls and non-family names for boys and girls. On the non-family name lists went movie stars, musical artists, politicians, famous athletes and others. The final selection would occur on the baby’s birthday.
And that came four weeks earlier than planned. Robin went into labor July 31.
“That was a little worrisome at first,” says Ian. “But Robin was at 35-and-a-half weeks, and the baby had finished developing. So it was a matter of the baby maturing more outside the womb, and us staying at the hospital for 10 days after the birth.”
Robin gave birth on August 1—with her husband and Troy and Ian attending.
“When they held the baby up and said, ‘It’s a girl!’ that was awesome,” says Ian. “We didn’t have a name for her right when she was born; we wanted to meet her, get a feel for her, that sort of thing. It was about 24 hours after she was born when we picked Mazzy. It’s a name associated with the music group Mazzy Star.”
Mazzy may be a star herself one day. A friend of Ian’s from West Point is making a documentary film about her birth and her dads’ efforts to start a family, titled “It Takes a Village.”
Everyone at Advanced Reproductive Medicine is proud to be a part of that effort, and Ian and Troy are happy they were. In fact, they may be back at ARM again in the future, working on a brother or sister for Mazzy.
“It is so gratifying to have her,” says Troy. “She is a powerful creature. She sure has us wrapped around her finger.”