We were so excited to welcome Brian Lambillotte on our Instagram Live! Bryan and his husband Chris are new fathers of adorable twins via surrogacy and egg donation. They’ve been sharing the highs and lows of their journey through heartwarming, funny and educational content on social media, all while raising awareness around LGBTQ+ family building… and raising twins.
During our conversation, Bryan shared how he and Chris decided to start their family together, how they chose their fertility providers and the matching and screening process with their gestational carrier (including the unfortunate setbacks they experienced), and their life now, as fathers of newborn twins. Watch our Instagram Live above or read for a recap of our conversation – including great insight on the surrogacy process for LGBTQ+ intended parents.
Bryan recounts how both he and Chris wanted to have kids, even before they met each other. When they made the decision to start the process to build their family, the pandemic hit. He recalls how they considered all of their options, including foster care, adoption and surrogacy, but that they really wished to create a family with children who were genetically related to them. After identifying a surrogacy agency and an IVF clinic, they were then directed to find an egg donor.
Bryan recalls how little they knew about surrogacy at that point – specifically, on the difference between gestational and traditional surrogacy. They thought that the surrogate would be the biological mother of their children – so learning about the differences between the two was surprising. In gestational surrogacy, the carrier carries the pregnancy – an egg donor is used so the gestational carrier does not have a genetic connection to the baby. Traditional surrogacy is actually not recommended and is even illegal in most states. Bryan and Chris were also surprised to learn that even compensated gestational surrogacy isn’t legal in all states. They knew that there was a possibility of matching with a carrier out of their state, but were happy to be able to match within southern California.
Bryan recalls how the search for an IVF doctor and agency to work with felt overwhelming. They weren’t sure which companies handled what as each had their own packages and options. They wanted to make sure that the agency they chose was one they personally connected with.
“We really wanted to make sure that the agency that we chose was someone that we connected with because this was going to be our biggest, most important journey of our lives thus far and we didn’t want to feel like just another client or a number – we wanted to make sure that we had that personal relationship with our case manager.”
Once Bryan and his husband settled on an agency, the agency team helped them find an egg donor and a gestational carrier. They wanted someone as local as possible to limit travel, as well as someone they could create a special bond and friendship with. Bryan recalls how it was important for them to gain the gestational carrier’s trust and that she gained theirs. As they moved along their journey (and having to find a second, and then a third gestational carrier), their criteria changed somewhat, but they really wanted someone they could bond with.
Bryan and Chris matched with their first gestational carrier very quickly and bonded fast. However it was discovered that she had a heart condition which would have made a pregnancy high risk and so the match fell through. Soon enough, the agency matched them with another carrier but this time, the carrier surprisingly became pregnant with her husband just before starting the new birth control regimen she was prescribed. Bryan recalls how he fell into a dark hole at this point and felt as if the universe was telling them that this wasn’t their path. With Chris’ support, and support from the CEO of their agency, he was able to get up again and continue with their journey. This time, they opted for a proven surrogate (someone who has already completed a successful surrogacy journey), even if it was more expensive to do so. They matched with their third gestational carrier and everything proceeded smoothly.
For Bryan and Chris, it was important their egg donor was a blend of both of them ethnically. They found one egg donor that matched their criteria but she was in the process of starting her own family and so that fell through. As it was difficult to find an exact match, they opened up their search and soon matched with someone wonderful. The donor passed all screening tests, the contracts were signed, and the eggs retrieved.
Bryan and Chris had an idea how much surrogacy would cost, but they’d come to learn that every journey is different and this reflects in the final, overall cost. They budgeted $120K to $150K for a twin surrogacy journey, but it ultimately cost more as they encountered multiple setbacks on their journey (two gestational carrier matches fell through).
“We had to get really creative with financing but we didn’t get any financial help as far as with grants or banks and such. I wish there were more opportunities and options out there and there might be now but at the time because everything was happening so fast and they’re like ‘money needs to be in the account by this time’ for every milestone to make sure you’re still able to pay for your journey… that was really really stressful. You do your best to do your research on what you think it might cost but I’ll say with GoStork, you guys definitely have a lot of resources and things to look at for these types of questions and concerns.”
Bryan and Chris found it surprising that, even though their carrier’s insurance covered gestational surrogacy, they didn’t save on that aspect of the journey. Since she provided her own coverage, Bryan and Chris had to pay a bonus which was close to the cost of the policy. They advise other intended parents to go through all contracts in their own time prior to signing, so as to be aware of factors such as this.
“If you’re considering expanding your family via surrogacy, take a big deep breath because it’s a lot to take in, especially if you’re diving hard into research. There’s so much information coming at you – take things really slow, do not rush. I know everyone wants their family sooner rather than later and I totally get that but take it one day at a time. […] and ask as many questions as you can.”
“We wanted to try to figure out how much the journey was going to cost us – our agency was able to break down all of the generic costs […] but then they said there are other things that could take place or go wrong that we don’t foresee and that could add to that cost. That can add a lot of stress and a lot of doubt because a lot of people can’t afford to do these types of journeys because they are so expensive. I know that we were very blessed with the money that we got from our house to be able to even start but try not to be so focused on that large number even though it’s something you still have to be able to pay for. Ask the right questions to make sure that you feel as comfortable as possible – is it something attainable; is it something that you for sure want to do? It starts pretty quickly once you sign that dotted line!”
Thank you to Bryan for sharing his family’s story with us! Follow Bryan and Chris on Instagram at @bryan.and.chris for adorable updates and educational content on LGBTQ+ family building and parenting.
At GoStork, we’re here to support you as you research your family-building options, connect with providers that may be your ideal match, and make your final decision about which to move forwards with. Join us today to keep learning about your fertility options, and to find the ideal providers to help you on your journey. Start by creating your account here.