CampOut LGTB Camp
By Frank Golden

Summer camp was not part of my childhood experience. For Adam, it was. Every summer, for four weeks, Adam attended Greenwoods Camp in Decatur, Michigan. Camp consisted of kayaking, canoeing, eating s’mores, and building bonds with new and old friends. A couple of weeks ago, after more than fifteen years, Adam revisited Greenwoods Camp. This time, instead of visiting as a camper, Adam visited as a gay dad.

Traditionally, Greenwoods Camp hosts two, four, or eight-week overnight programs for children ages 7-15. They also host Family Camp, an overnight camp experience for campers and their families. Last year, for the 2016 season, Greenwoods Camp added an additional family-oriented program to their list: CampOut, an overnight camp for LGBT parents and their children. CampOut congregated for the first time in August 2016, around the same time Silas was born. We were still immersed with the joys and challenges of having a new child, and ultimately, we decided to opt out of CampOut that year.

CampOut 2017

This summer, with Silas being old enough, our family was finally able to experience CampOut. Adam was ecstatic about revisiting his childhood memories and sharing those memories with our children. I’ll be honest- I’m not an “outdoorsy” type of person. Camp, bluntly put, didn’t appeal to me. And yet, my level of excitement, of anticipation, matched Adam’s. This camp experience wasn’t about water sports, bug spray, or bunk beds; it was about understanding my husband’s favorite memories; it was about my children and about them having a childhood that surpasses my own; it was about acceptance and progress. CampOut is more than camp- it’s validation. It’s proof that even when we feel the most alone, we’re not alone, not even a little bit.

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By Frank Golden

Most of us can relate to “first date jitters”. You’re nervous. You’re excited. You’re a little bit hopeful. You set your expectations high, but not high enough to be let down. You wonder if the conversation is going to flow or if it’s going to be a series of awkward silences. You wonder what questions you’ll ask, and what they’ll ask you. You wonder if this is potentially “The One.” Matching calls yield the same flood of emotions- the nerves, the excitement, the questions, the fear; they’re all there.

I remember when Adam and I first got matched with our Surrogate. Our agency showed us her profile, and we immediately felt a connection. Of course, we were excited before our matching call, but mostly we were nervous. The thought of transitioning from reading a profile to communicating over the phone was intimidating. We were drawn to her profile, but that didn’t determine her personality and whether we’d get along. Fortunately, our matching call was successful. The conversation was easy and insightful. Several months later, she gave birth to our daughter, Sophia.

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By Frank Golden

A young couple struggles to have a family. They undergo multiple treatments and procedures, all of which are unsuccessful. They eventually decide to pursue a Surrogate, and are matched with an ideal candidate; they quickly form a bond. Their Surrogate is smart, beautiful, funny, and lives close by. Her body is healthy and ideal for pregnancy. The young couple feels blessed. And then things change. Their Surrogate starts acting strange. She desires a closer relationship with the Intended Father and begins isolating the Intended Mother. She becomes delusional believing that she is the mother to the unborn child growing inside of her. She fantasizes about starting a life with the Intended Father and the baby. In a desperate attempt to fulfill her dream, she battles the Intended Mother, and fails. The Intended Parents are exhausted after their feat, but are finally blessed with the family they always wanted.

Don’t be alarmed. This is not a true story. Not by any means. This short story outlines the plot for When the Bough Breaks, a 2016 Lifetime original film. The Surrogacy Trap, The Surrogate, A Surrogate’s Nightmare, A Surrogate’s Terror, Baby Mama, and the recent big picture release, Inconceivable, are examples of some of the more ridiculous Surrogacy movies out there. Each one offers a slightly different, but equally crazy perspective on Surrogacy, Surrogates, and Intended Parents.

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By Frank Golden

Saturday, June 17th, I attended the Midwest Reproductive Symposium International’s 2017 Conference held in downtown Chicago. The Midwest Reproductive Symposium international, or MSRi, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing quality continuing education for professionals within the reproductive community. My good friend and colleague, Dr. Angie Beltsos, invited me to speak on the patient panel as a member of the gay community and as a parent of two children born via IVF.

There have been several conferences held by MRSi, but this conference was particularly special. At this conference, the world’s first IVF baby, Louise Brown and America’s first IVF baby, Elizabeth Carr met for the very first time. I’m honored to be included in any conference or event specific to the betterment of reproductive medicine; I felt especially honored to attend an event of this magnitude.

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By Frank Golden

After writing my last blog on celebrating Mother’s Day as a gay father, I realized that there was so much more I wanted to say regarding gay parenting. In addition, it’s Gay Pride Month, and I want to celebrate by talking about my greatest source of pride: my family.

I am confident with myself. I am confident with my sexuality. I am confident with my “nontraditional” family. I don’t care if people stare at Adam and me holding hands, or embracing at our favorite restaurant. I really don’t. And neither does Adam. As a gay couple, this is enough. As parents, however, it’s not enough. It’s not just about us and how we view ourselves; it’s about our children. Any parent will tell you that when your child is born, they matter more than anything else possibly could. This is true for straight parents, and it’s true for gay parents.

Adam and I were ready for parenthood. We were ready financially. We were ready with every baby necessity known to man: cribs, strollers, car seats, baby formula, blankets, diapers, toys, clothes. We were emotionally ready. We were ready for the staring, the judgement, the hate we might face. As ready as we thought we were, it turns out, we weren’t. I’ve come to realize that no one is truly ready, or prepared for parenthood in its entirety. We knew we would love our child, but we weren’t prepared for how much. I loved Sophia more than I loved my husband, more than I loved my family, more than I loved myself.

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By Frank Golden

Going into parenthood as a gay man, I understood that my children would have an upbringing different than other children and different than my own.  There were things I just didn’t consider, things that heterosexual parents don’t have to think about. Mother’s Day is one of those things. For us, Mother’s Day is not the celebration of our children’s mother; they don’t have one in the traditional sense of the word. Rather, Mother’s Day is the celebration of their family. Our children are being raised with two dads. For the most part, being a gay family has been natural. On certain occasions, though, we are reminded of how truly unique our family is.

When we enrolled Sophia in daycare, Mother’s Day was not on our radar. We emotionally and financially prepared for our family, much like other families. We also prepared for the adversities our family might face. We were prepared for it all- except for Mother’s Day. It was just one of those things you don’t think about as a new parent, but as your child grows and learns, so do you. And once Sophia and her classmates were old enough, the daycare addressed Mother’s Day, and as a class, they made gifts for their moms. I should say, most of them made gifts for their moms. Our daughter did not.

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By Frank Golden

My personal path to parenthood has not been easy. This is partly because I’m a gay male, but even more so because of the life circumstances leading up to the creation of my family. I went through a period in my life, an exceptionally melancholy period, in which I questioned my meaning, my purpose in this thing called life. I had recently lost a series of close family members and friends. And after my brother’s unexpected death, I fell into a particularly deep depression. My mom and I were the sole survivors of our entire family; we only had each other, and our bond grew strong. In my mom’s eyes, I saw such sadness and such love. Her’s were the eyes of a parent in mourning. I knew then that it was my responsibility to have a child, to carry on our bloodline. This period of my life, albeit painful, changed the way I viewed the world, and ultimately led me to where I am today.

When I met Adam, I made it clear that I wanted a family. For gay couples, and for all couples, really, this is a conversation that needs to happen. As our relationship got more serious, I began thoroughly researching Surrogacy. My mind was set: we were going to create a family, and we were going to do it with the help of a Surrogate. I wanted to expand my lineage, not as an attempt to recreate my brother, but as an attempt to honor his memory. Most of all, I wanted to do it for my mom and for the son she lost.

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By Bridget Bolthouse

I’ve always had a passion for family. My husband and I have five children all under the age of 11. I love everything about motherhood. This is not to say that things don’t get a bit hectic at times- because they do. It’s just that the love I feel for my family is beyond anything else, and I can’t imagine life without it. I feel blessed to be a mother, a parent. And really, parenthood is just that- a blessing. I want to bless deserving individuals with their own families. I want them to feel the love I feel every day. Becoming a Surrogate was an obvious choice.

My husband, Adam was the first person I told about my desire to become a Surrogate.  We’ve always had an honest relationship based on strong communication. A few years ago, Adam was in the military and was away from our family. Even then, we managed to maintain our communication. We make all decisions as a team, and this decision was no different. Adam had questions and concerns, as did I. We carefully researched and discussed every aspect of Surrogacy prior to coming to a decision. With our questions answered and our concerns addressed, we began getting excited for the journey ahead of us. Adam firmly believed, and still does, that being a Surrogate is my calling. I wholeheartedly agree with him.

As parents, Adam and I cannot make decisions without the consent of our children. We wouldn’t allow for our actions to upset or confuse them. Beyond anything else, their feelings mattered. Adam and I sat down with the kids for a family talk. We began by explaining that some families need help getting started. We explained that because we love our family so much, we want to help other families grow. We told them that I could help by growing a baby in my tummy. My kids were interested and wanted to know if the baby was going to live with us, or essentially, if the baby was going to be their new sibling. We explained that the baby would not live with us nor would it be their sibling, that it would live with its family. We reminded them that mommy is going to grow a baby in her belly for a different family, not ours. We discussed the types of situations in which a family might need help. We explained that some families have two dads, or a single dad. We told them about moms who are unable to carry their own babies. We enjoy opening our children’s minds to all kinds of possibilities and all kinds of love.

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By Frank Golden

I often get asked the question, “How did you or how will you tell your children that they were born via Surrogacy?” For me, the answer is easy: I’ve made it a natural part of my children’s lives from day one. My husband, Adam and I have always been open about our Surrogacy Journeys with friends and family; that openness translates into how we’re raising our children as Surro-babies.

Our daughter, Sophia, was about one and a half years old when we began reading her children’s books dedicated to Surrogacy. Two of our favorites are “Sophia’s Broken Crayons” by Crystal Falk and “And Tango Makes Three” by Justin Richardson. These books were helpful in explaining our unique family to Sophia. Our son, Silas, will also be exposed to these books once he’s a bit older. The fact that there are children’s books dedicated to Surrogacy gives me hope that gay families and Surro-families are starting to become more integrated into “the norm.”   Read more

By Frank Golden

The experience of going through a surrogacy journey is life changing. A bond is formed between a woman and a couple or individual, whose ultimate life-paths would probably have never crossed if not for surrogacy. At Golden Surrogacy, we encourage a strong relationship to be fostered between the Intended Parent(s) and Surrogate and continue well after the baby is born. It is our role as an agency to help form that cohesive relationship, which will hopefully last a lifetime.

Together, with my husband Adam, we have been through three surrogacy journeys with three different Surrogates over the course of five years. Two of the women lived out of state, while one of them lived in-state about an hour away. However, the distance did not stop us from forming great relationships with our Surrogates. We sent them gifts, celebrated milestones together, and communicated via text multiple times throughout the week. I believe that every surrogacy journey is what you make of it. Even though we had to manage those obvious geographical barriers, we made everything memorable for us. Adam and I felt it was important for our Surrogates to feel welcomed into our lives, so we treated them with the respect and dignity they deserve. Now that we have our own agency, we expect our Intended Parent(s) to treat their Surrogate in the same manner.

At Golden Surrogacy, the relationship between the Intended Parent(s) and Surrogate begins during the onboarding stage. We gather information from each party by having them fill out a profile discussing their infertility struggles, desire to become a Surrogate, family, upbringing, etc. When we match the two parties, we look for commonalities. For example, a Surrogate that grew up in a town where an Intended Parent used to live. We find ways in which they can form a bond, but also consider how well their personalities would mesh together.

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