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Influencers Dustin & Burton Look Back on Their Journey to Parenthood

dustin & burton-twins-parenthood-lgbtq-parents
dustin & burton-twins-parenthood-lgbtq-parents
Dustin Smith (back left) and Burton Buffaloe (back right) with their twins, Stone and Holland Buffaloe | Photo Courtesy of Dustin & Burton

Married couple Dustin Smith and Burton Buffaloe had twins via surrogacy in 2017. Since then, they created the YouTube channel Raising Buffaloes to document their family life as a resource for all.

We spoke to Dustin and Burton about their decision to become parents, the barriers they faced along the way, and their advice for new, expecting, or prospective parents.

So, you got married in 2014 — when did you decide you wanted to have kids?  

Dustin Smith: Burton and I discussed having kids early on. I believe it was our second or third date when that topic came up. 

Burton Buffaloe: It was a deal-breaker for both of us if one of us didn’t want a family, but lucky for us, this was a life goal that we both shared. And, of course, that made for some huge bonus points going into the relationship, knowing we both shared those dreams.

What options did you look into for having children?

BB: At the time, marriage equality had just passed. We live in North Carolina, and we were dealing with HB2, also known as the “Bathroom Bill,” and our state’s climate wasn’t as progressive as it is today. Not knowing if that would affect our possibility of adoption or fostering locally, we started to research all avenues. We were open to any and every way to build our family.

DS: Although we found some adoption agencies that supported same-sex couples, we learned that adoption or fostering could take a year to five-plus years to come to fruition. We were in our mid-30s and were eager to start the process, so we decided to visit a local fertility clinic. Walking in, we were just there to gather information, but soon realized that this was the path we wanted to take.

What made you decide to use a surrogate? What was the process like?  

BB: As we started to learn about the surrogacy process, and after our due diligence, we decided to go this route. The path that worked best for us was to use a separate egg donor and have a gestational carrier. With our gestational carrier not having any biological ties, it would legally be easier. Only using a surrogate in some states can complicate things, so always check your state’s laws. 

DS: The fertility clinic allowed us to begin looking at egg donors online through their in-house database. That was a fun little date for my husband and me because it was like online dating for egg donors. There were pictures of the donors, bio, family health history, and everything you would want to know about them.

As soon as we began, I spotted “the one.” We had just started looking, and my husband’s practical side told me to slow down and that we needed to read everyone’s bio, make a spreadsheet, and weigh our options. I was having none of that, but allowed him to investigate further. In the end, I was right; she was “the one.” 

Looking for a gestational carrier to carry our children was a completely different experience. We reached out to many that wouldn’t carry for a gay couple, but we kept the search going. We interviewed over a dozen candidates. Imagine the most awkward blind date times ten, and then your date shows up with their husband and kids. Everyone we interviewed happened to be married with kids.

No one’s journey is the same, so you shouldn’t compare your path to others.

-Burton Buffaloe

BB: We found a gestational carrier we liked, but things didn’t work out when undergoing the psych evaluation. We felt defeated at the moment, but this was an early lesson that I think is important to share with all of you: Everyone’s fertility journey is different, and there are many hurdles you must jump. You should always keep hope, you should always give yourself some grace, and you should always lead with your gut on your decisions. 

When we finally connected with our gestational carrier, it just clicked. We realized we had rushed into the one before, and from now on, we were going to apply the things we listed prior. To this day, she and her entire family will be angels to us for their sacrifice and selflessness. She gave us the most precious gift of our lives. 

DS: We were fortunate to live close to our gestational carrier. We went in with her for every doctor’s appointment along the way. That was such a fantastic experience, and we know it was unique to see her as often as we did to experience the pregnancy journey. Not all surrogates or gestational carriers are comfortable with that, but we were grateful ours was.

When did you learn you were going to have twins and how did you react to the news? 

BB: So, when we retrieved the eggs from our egg donor, we had enough viable eggs for my husband and me to fertilize on the first try. When it was time to implant embryos into our gestational carrier, we put two fertilized eggs in — one with my DNA and one with my husband’s DNA, but both with the same egg donor. 

DS: Our fertility clinic said at the time that typically, when you put two fertilized eggs in, usually only one takes. We were OK with that. We were leaving it up to a higher power and believing that whatever was meant to be, would be. Weeks later, our gestational carrier went in for a blood test, and we discovered we were pregnant!

Our first ultrasound appointment was surreal. Are we still pregnant? Are we having one? Did both take, and we are having twins? Did the eggs split, and we are having four?! When the nurse looked up at my husband and me and said,” I hear two heartbeats,” we about fell out! We were having twins! They both took! I can’t express how blessed we felt in that moment.

What advice would you give to other LGTBQ+ couples considering having children?

BB: First, you should know that no one’s journey is the same, so you shouldn’t compare your path to others. Mentally, emotionally, and financially, be prepared to experience ups, downs, and unknowns. Because of that, having a solid support system with you, especially after, is crucial. 

DS: And most of all, follow your heart. Do what feels right for you. It was shocking how many people had an opinion about how we chose to build our family. Some people within our own community told us that it was selfish to choose surrogacy. I had a client that I worked with stop doing business with me because I used surrogacy to have my children. If we were a straight couple choosing to use surrogacy or IVF to build our family, would that still be the same frame of mind? The answer is no. 

With that said, no matter the journey, when you have a child through surrogacy or adoption, that child is yours. Only one of our kids has my DNA, but they are both 100% my children, and you will feel the exact same way when you have your little ones, no matter which path you choose.

You can follow Burton and Dustin on Instagram @bbbuffaloe and @dustin_patrick_smith

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