YouTuber dads Dustin Smith and Burton Buffaloe open up about the ins and outs of LGBTQ+ family planning.
What advice would you give to someone who is trying to choose between surrogacy, gestational carrier, or adoption?
The best advice we could give is to feel out all the options before deciding. We were open to every possibility when it came to building our family. We spoke with many agencies, fertility clinics, and families that went through fostering, adoption, gestational, and surrogacy. That truly helped us pick our path. Also, understanding the law in each state and how you as a parent are protected might influence your path. For example, we live in North Carolina, so when we were looking into surrogacy, we realized by our state’s law that we would have more rights to our children if we used a gestation carrier instead of a surrogate. On another note, everyone’s path is different. There is no right or wrong way when deciding how to grow your family. At the end of the day, that choice should be personal, and as a community, we should respect that choice made by these parents.
How did the family planning benefits offered by Burton’s job help the process of creating your family, and why are these benefits so important for companies to offer their employees?
In going through the surrogacy process, Burton was surprised to learn that his corporate job offered its employees an adoption and surrogacy assistance plan. Through this plan, they provided our family financial assistance towards expenses incurred in the attempt to either adopt or have a child through surrogacy. The plan covered surrogacy agency fees, legal fees, In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), and even medical and hospital expenses for the birth mother and the newborn. Benefits like this are extremely important. They are inclusive, for one. In addition, they help alleviate some of the financial burdens, creating a happier, more productive workforce. Our advice is to check with your company’s HR department before starting your journey; you may be surprised — we were!
What advice would you give to someone who is looking to start a family through a gestational carrier?
Our biggest advice is to be patient and show yourself some grace. First, you have to find an egg donor that feels right. Then you have to interview many gestational carriers. This angel in human form will be carrying your child — or in our case, children — so that relationship needs to feel right. There has to be a high level of trust and communication and an understanding of boundaries you both need to feel good about. Science is beautiful, but the process isn’t always perfect, so know you may have bumps in the road, just like any pregnancy. And you are dealing with way more people: Doctors, lawyers, egg donors, gestation carrier, you, and your partner. They say it takes a village to raise a kid, but it takes a village to make a baby in this scenario. So be prepared ahead of time, knowing that it may not be a seamless process.
What advice would you give to people who are struggling with the finances of surrogacy or gestational carrying?
It is an expensive process, but there are ways to find options you feel comfortable with financially. One example, an agency in a larger city like New York or LA may cost you more money than an agency in North Carolina. The benefit of an agency is that they will do much more hand-holding for you as you go through this, but you will pay for that service. We personally did not use an agency. We went through a fertility clinic that focuses mainly on IVF, but they also have a service for egg donors or women who have come to them saying they would be open to donating their eggs. They also had a list of willing gestational carriers, but it was up to us to vet them. We had to interview dozens of them; we had to find a psychiatrist to conduct a psych evaluation; we had to find a lawyer to help us with the contracts and figure out the payment for our gestational carrier. But by us doing most of this work, it saved us a ton of money. In addition, there are financing options out there. Do your research to find a loan agency that fits your goals.
What is your favorite part of fatherhood?
Both Burton and I never imagined, as young gay boys, that this could be a possibility. I think most gay people our age or older have a small piece of them that is still in disbelief of how far we have come as a community. We are both so proud to be fathers. It is a gift, and there isn’t a day that we don’t honor that realization. And to be in a place where we don’t exclusively live for ourselves, but we live to pour our heart and soul into these precious kids is the most beautiful experience of our lives. Fatherhood is a love that cannot be described in words, and to do it with a husband you love makes it that much more precious.