Family Means Making It Count: The Kelsaw Family Story

Today I started to reflect again how eight years comes around this December 2014 honoring the Day of Birth of our Julia Marie. As I lay on my bed thinking about the birthday party I should start to plan, I have these thoughts, and I start to remember the days and months leading up to her birth. 

After ten years together, my partner and I had decided that we wanted to have a child together. Together, because I was already the father of two, a daughter and a son who were now 20 and 25 and were very supportive of the idea. So Chris (my other half) and I started doing research on how this was going to be possible. Some friends came to us and offered to be our surrogates, and family members too, but this seemed too much to ask of them, and for us, it wasn’t a good plan we thought. Hey this new thing that’s very popular might be helpful (the internet) J and so we stared our search. Upon finding adoption agencies, we also looked at what it would mean for us to adopt, and if it would be legal for us to be considered the adoptive parents?

Finding this to be the answer, we looked further into adoption, but then the search turned into a discovery. There was this agency that had only opened up its doors recently, and they might be our way to have a child ‘together”.  A major change was about to happen for the gay community, and when this company had begun, egg donation it was still being frowned upon. That agency was Growing Generations.

In 1996 Growing Generations had not had one surrogacy baby born, by 2004 over 297 babies were born. Our Julia was born in 2006 and is baby 442, and last year 2013 over 1,100 babies have been born to parents both gay and straight with the help of this wonderful company. The possibilities of a baby coming into our lives began with sitting down with the founders of the company and then weeks later our potential surrogate Kelly. After extensive research and background checks were complete, we met with Kelly and her husband Peter. The match was made and it was perfect!

In April of 2006, we attempted the first IVF procedure and the first time was a success! Kelly became pregnant. We were overjoyed and our amazing journey began. Each month, we would drive over two hours down from LA to San Diego for OBGYN appointments, and hang out with Kelly and her family. We grew close, and we knew we would be friends forever. Today, Kelly remains close to us and we are thankful that she wants to be a part of our lives.

Julia’s arrival was set for the first or second week of January 2007, so we had sometime to gather ourselves some parenting courses, books, talk to friends, meet other families like ours at Growing Generations events. We took time to learn as much as possible, took some time to vacation, and we also decided to keep our child’s name a secret. It was something we thought we could hold on to for us because it was special. You see, the year before while living in France, I lost my oldest sister to cancer, Chris my partner, wanted to pay homage to her and gave Julia the middle name of “Marie” after her. Countless times we were delighted to here family reactions to our decision.

Time moved quickly it seemed. October arrived and we held a baby shower in our home. My other sister, nieces, and my mother all came down from the Bay Area to attend. At this mixed gathering of both men and women, we somehow gathered over 75 people into our home and celebrated the arrival of Miss Julia Marie. We danced until dawn and everyone had a great time. 

By November, my mother asked if she could come live with us. We were thrilled! “Yes of course you can mom.” So the plan was that mom would move the following month and we would have her all set up before Julia arrived in January. I drove down to Oceanside for the appointment with Kelly, we lunched afterward and I could see Julia kicking around in Kelly’s stomach. She was active a lot Kelly told me.

Driving back I thought soon we would have Julia to hold and love. Amazing! I couldn’t hold back tears of joy and excitement.  Got home and one of our gifts was a car seat, so I read the instructions and installed it into my SUV. I also decided to be prepared and I also packed a bag for the baby to keep in the car from then until her due date in two months.

December 2006 was a busy month of planning my mother’s move in and our son Gerren, was also living with us at the time while attending college. I worked from home mostly and Chris was a professor at one of the Claremont Colleges and he was going to receive paternity leave. A full house of people to help and care for our arrival was a pleasant feeling. Of course we had Christmas to plan too-LOL. We had a small gathering of friends over, and we told them that next week we were driving down to Oceanside for the next to last OBGYN visit. Four days later, we drive down and pick up Kelly at her home and drive her to the doctor’s office. On the drive over, Kelly says, “I think the baby is ready to come.” “What?”, I say. “She’s not due for two more weeks.” “I know says Kelly, but I think she is ready now.” “OK”, I say, “let’s see what the doctor says.” Kelly was right and we drive her immediately to the hospital.

Oh no! I thought we have nothing with us to stay over night. Oh no, my mother is flying in from Oakland tomorrow. Stop. Breath. Think. So I called my son and say “Gerren, we need help, your little sister is being born tonight, so can you please pack up some our clothes and send them FedEx to us and then please go and pick up or Grandmother tomorrow at Bob Hope Airport? OK, I think I can do this I say to myself. Chris is excited and thinking this is really happening and we are going to be up a long time. At 12:30AM we decided that baby Julia is not showing up tonight, or Julia had decided…. So we head to our hotel and try to sleep. At 4:30AM the phone rings and we are told to come back to the hospital because the baby was on her way. We gather ourselves, and head back over. Three hours later at 7:15AM Julia arrived right in front of our eyes. A head full of hair and she is just beautiful in every way. One of the nurses looks at our tearing eyes and says, “oh and she has dimples.” Tears pour out harder. We look at Julia as we hold her and she smiles at us. Done, melted, got one over on us kiddo, key to your Papa and Dada’s heart is that smile and it still is to this very day almost eight years later. That is what family means to us. We hope it never changes.

Congratulations to all of you who have experienced this and congrats to those who have just learned your family is beginning and congratulations to marriage equality laws being overturned in our country and for our rights to be families and married to each other without hatred and ignorance continuing to try block us from being just human and just like everyone else. Support us and help make our lives count because we matter to our families.

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