You can help
We are raising funds to recover from the loss of our money to Planet Hospital. Help us build our family by donating to our GoFundMe campaign (link on the left as well). Any amount will help, even $5, or $10.
Scroll down for more information and to learn more about us.
Above is a clip from our recent interview on Al Jazeera America regarding the pitfalls of international surrogacy, and our experience losing tens of thousands of dollars to a predatory surrogate agency.
If you arrived at this page from our segment on national TV exploring the pitfalls of international surrogacy, then you may know this part of our story. If you’re curious to learn more about us, scroll down. If you haven’t heard our story, we are Chris and Jonah, a happily married gay couple. We’ve been together for nearly 12 years. We want what so many couples want once they’ve become established in careers: a family. Over the past 3 years we’ve worked hard to save money to start our family through surrogacy, a long and expensive process in which we need to hire and work with doctors, clinics, egg donors, surrogates, lawyers and the courts. On the salaries of a Paralegal (Chris) and an Adjunct Professor (Jonah), we managed to beg, borrow and save $25,000 to get the process started. Typically the whole process can cost between $45,000 USD – $100,000 USD.
In Summer of 2013 we gave all our savings of $25,000 to a company that stole it all from us and left us with nothing. Less than nothing, since some of that money was borrowed from family. The company wouldn’t even fulfill it’s contractual obligations to us, and shortly after our surrogacy process fell apart, the company shuttered it’s business, leaving us and over 30 other couples – each of us handing over tens of thousands of dollars – with nothing.
After that experience, we became depressed and, along with losing all our money, we nearly lost all hope of having kids. We’re so grateful for our family and our friends who rallied together at the beginning of 2014 to support us and to loan us money to try again. This time we’re doing the process in the U.S. We’ve found wonderful professionals to work with here, and our clinic performed a transfer last March, but it unfortunately did not succeed.
Now, we hope to try again soon, but life sometimes has other plans. Our surrogate has started a new job and may be unable to travel. Our doctor moved from his practice in Arizona to Ohio and is setting up a new practice there. We need to raise more money to ship embryos, and to prepare for pregnancy and delivery..
The meeting and the traveling
So, let’s back up. We met at university nearly 12 years ago. We dated, fell in love, graduated and traveled together through Western and Central Canada We settled briefly in Seattle, then moved to San Diego, then Minneapolis for Jonah to attend graduate school. We are each deeply committed to supporting the other’s growth and helping each other reach goals, both shared and individual.
While living in Minneapolis for 5 years, we made some amazing friends until finally the winters drove us out of the Upper Midwest.
We returned to California and settled in San Francisco where we tied the knot and held a beautiful ceremony at the top of Mount Sutro surrounded by friends and family.
We lived there for 3 years, but as much as they love the Bay Area, neither of us was satisfied with our jobs. Jonah needed to complete his dissertation , a monumental task at the best of times, but one made nearly impossible while holding down a full-time work schedule, plus a daily commute. And it was around this time we began talking seriously about starting a family.
First, we thought hat co-parenting with a single woman or lesbian couple would be perfect. We could share the responsibilities and costs.We met some wonderful women through our search for a co-parents/co-parents, but somehow the relationships never quite clicked. We decided to table that idea and start researching other options, like surrogacy.
So, we started saving to take some time off and focus on other projects. We left San Francisco and moved to Panama to reflect on our goals, and make a plan for our future family.
New Mexico calling
Meanwhile, a series of family tragedies happened in Santa Fe New Mexico, Jonah’s home town. First, Jonah’s father passed away from a sudden heart attack, leaving his stepmother as the only caretaker for his three much younger siblings and his cousin and then his stepmother also passed away in 2011. We decided it was an important time to be near family, where we could help out Jonah’s siblings, who were still teenagers and begin the process of healing as a family.
In the Fall of 2013, marriage equality came to New Mexico, and in September, Chris and Jonah got married again, but this time it is legal.
Try, try again
After moving back to Santa Fe, Jonah got a job teaching college writing and theatre and Chris started working in a law office downtown. Surrounded by Jonah’s siblings and childhood friends, we decided it was time to settle down and really focus on starting our family. We returned to the idea of co-parenting with a friend, a wonderful and successful woman living in L.A. The process was emotionally trying for everyone and after a few months, when it seemed clear that it wouldn’t work out, our thoughts turned more and more to surrogacy.
The journey begins – and then ends
Chris read online about international surrogacy and it seemed like an option that we might actually be able to afford with the help of friends and family. We decided to go with Planet Hospital after investigating them thoroughly. At the time, they seemed legitimate. We talked to current clients and Chris even flew out to L.A. to meet Rudy and Geoff. With the help of friends and family, we were able to put together the $25,000 to start our surrogacy journey. We flew to Mexico in July and began the process. It was shortly after this that things went downhill, fast and by November 2013 everything had fallen apart.
During the process we endured mismanagement, homophobia, negligence, lies and betrayal of our trust. Our anonymity was completely compromised by staff working for the egg donor company working as a vendor for Planet Hospital. That company has since opened it’s doors as an agency working out of Cancun. Our anonymous egg donor learned our identity and chose to not donate to us because we are gay. The donor abandoned us and the donation process ON THE DAY on which fertilization of her donated eggs was scheduled. We came within inches of starting a family then. But, instead of donating, she got on plane and flew home.
Since that dark time, we’ve been overwhelmed with support from friends and family. We’ve been contacted by media outlets in Canada and the U.S. and have given interviews.
We hope that our story can help others on their paths to parenthood, and we are open to talking to anyone about what happened, and what we would recommend, and what we would do differently.