"As parents, we want what all parents want. For our children to be safe and loved and happy. We are a family and we love each other. We are dads and husbands, but we are also so much more."
Growing up, Jeffrey Romney Wright and Bryce Abplanalp shared a dream. Both wanted to start a family of their own and become dads. As adults, this common dream became one the main things that drew them together. After spending much of their early 20s enjoying their independence and traveling the world, the couple one day decided that it was time to think about making this dream come true. "We realized that obviously we were missing some necessary pieces, and our journey to creating our family was going to be different than most. We knew about adoption, and we were familiar with the concept for surrogacy, but we weren't sure of all the specifics. Like any good millennial, we dove in and did the Google research. But a little innocent research quickly sent us down a rabbit hole," they wrote in a Love What Matters post.
Even as their desire for a baby grew stronger, they realized that their journey to fatherhood wasn’t going to be an easy one. "We strongly considered adoption, but we had a strong urge to father biological children. For us, that would mean an egg donor, IVF, and surrogacy. Which also meant a whole lot of time, paperwork, and fees in between. Being from a conservative state with a predominantly Mormon population, we were not surprised to find we’d have to jump through more hurdles than if we lived elsewhere," they wrote.
Finding a surrogate turned out to be one of the main challenges in their path. "Time after time we were turned down by potential surrogates due to our sexual orientation. Around this same time, we learned a member of the Utah legislature was trying to change surrogacy laws to exclude same-sex couples. Simply put, because we were gay, we were not entitled to the same rights as a traditional couple. We knew part of the law stated we had to be married, which we were planning to do, but quickly realized we had no time to waste. Pushing plans for a spring wedding to the side, we hurried to the courthouse where we got married in front of just a handful of people and by a judge we’d never met—only our moms and Jeffrey’s sisters were able to attend. It certainly wasn’t the dream wedding we had envisioned, but by this point, becoming parents mattered more than anything."
"After being turned down by over 35 different surrogates, we connected with a single mom who was ready to make the ultimate sacrifice to help give us the gift of being parents," they revealed. However, finding the "perfect candidate" proved to be just the first of many hurdles they had to cross. "It turns out, the beginning of the surrogacy process for a gestational carrier is often unpredictable. Medically preparing a woman's uterus for successfully growing a child is not an easy task. Already having formed a special bond with our surrogate, we were devastated when told her likelihood of being able to become pregnant through an embryo transfer was extremely low. It was time to seek out a new surrogate, and we were back at square one. After continued searching, we finally met Julie."
Although Jeffrey and Bryce instantly connected with Julie, they discovered that she was having similar problems to their first gestational carrier. "We were starting to feel cursed. History seemed to be repeating itself when the doctor told us there was only a small chance this cycle would be successful. We figured a chance is a chance, and two perfect embryos were implanted in Julie's uterus, Bryce biologically connected to one and Jeffrey to the other. Then, it was time to wait." After a seemingly endless period of waiting and many tests, the couple were elated to find out that their dreams were about to come true.
"We were pregnant! The transfer was a success! At the time, we didn't know if one or both embryos 'took.' It was weeks of waiting until heartbeats were able to be detected and we found out we were pregnant with twins," they recalled. Although the pregnancy was fairly uneventful and standard for twins, right around Julie's 34-week mark, Jeffrey and Bryce got a call they'll never forget. Julie was in labor. "Like all parents, we were a bundle of emotions and couldn't believe the day had finally arrived. By this point, we had created an unbreakable bond with our surrogate and regarded her as nothing short of a hero. On this day, she labored and delivered twins through an unmedicated birth. We love Julie and we saw her being a mother to her two children and had no doubt she'd be an incredible surrogate. We really felt like we connected on a deep level."
On November 27, 2018, Larue (Rue) and Ridge were born. "Life is hard with a new baby, not to mention two. For us, it was a weird transition as well. When a woman is pregnant for nine months, I think there's a certain level of acceptance and 'nesting' that occurs. For us, we went from our pretty normal lives to coming up with twins," the couple explained. "We were kinda pregnant for 34 weeks, but not really. We didn't have to deal with morning sickness and cramps and the struggles of pregnancy—so for us, it was a real shock coming home with two babies!"
The twins are now two-years-old. Jeffrey and Bryce have ensured that Julie still plays a big role in their lives. "She is nothing short of an angel. Julie made so many sacrifices to bring them into the world. She gave us a gift we can never repay," they wrote. The couple revealed that although they've encountered their fair share of homophobia from people online and offline, they've also received immense support from many. With over 18k followers on Instagram, they have a strong community online.
"Though Salt Lake City, Utah might sound like an unlikely place to raise children as gay dads, to us it is home—one with a surprisingly strong gay community where we know our family will be loved and supported. As parents, we want what all parents want. For our children to be safe and loved and happy. As gay parents, we realize our kids are going to have different paths. We hope to raise our children with acceptance and compassion and we hope to give them the tools they need to be brave in the face of adversity," they wrote. "And together help redefine what it means to be a family. Love is love. And that's all that matters. Being gay isn't the only defining part of who we are, but it is certainly a piece of our puzzle. We are a family and we love each other. We are dads and husbands, but we are also so much more."