Not every couple experiences extreme setbacks. Rich Palermo, 39, and Steve Mazza, 40, of New York City, consider themselves lucky. “Our egg donor was the first woman we looked at on Circle Surrogacy's site, and we loved her from the first minute we Skyped with her,” said Palermo. The egg donor passed all her tests and produced a ton of eggs. Same thing happened with the surrogate — “she's the first woman presented to us by Circle, and there have been absolutely no problems, medical or otherwise,” said Palermo.
The couple had both considered alternative reproduction (possibly doing it as single parents) before they had even met. Six months into their relationship, they got really serious about alternative reproduction. The couple, married a year now, said initially they were nervous about choosing their egg donor and surrogate.
“At first it was a bit scary and overwhelming, mostly because so many pieces had to come together and we didn’t know where to begin,” said Mazza.
One big challenge the couple faced was being so far away from their surrogate, who lives in Missouri. “It’s weird knowing that our baby is so many states away from us, but our surrogate helps us out by sending weekly pictures of her baby bump,” says Palermo. The couple was warned that their surrogate might not get pregnant on the first implantation, so they shouldn't get their hopes up. But she did. And they recently flew to Missouri for the 20-week ultrasound and found out they’re having a healthy baby girl.
Palermo and Mazza had a great support system of friends and acquaintances who had already gone through the process. “They were so open with us about everything they encountered to start their families, and it really helped us get a sense of what we were in for,” says Palermo. Partnering with Circle Surrogacy and CT Fertility, the couple also attended a seminar about surrogacy for same-sex couples at the New York City LGBT Community Center. The love, support and advice the couple received from their family and friends really made their experience that much better. “We involved our family and friends from day one – giving them frequent updates,” said Palermo. “It’s not that we couldn’t have done it without them, though it would have been much harder, we just didn’t want to.”
For couples considering alternative reproduction, Palermo and Mazza suggest talking to as many people as possible who have gone through the process. “It really helps to hear what others experienced – so that you can have realistic expectations about the process and so that you can try to avoid some of the pitfalls that others encountered,” said Mazza.
The couple both grew up in large, close Italian-American families on Long Island. They learned early on that a big part of family is showing up for each other – for birthdays, holidays, Sunday dinners, soccer games, and school plays.
“We grew up with that kind of support and love, and it is exactly how we want to raise our family,” says Palermo. “We have friends who warn us that our lives will now completely be about our daughter. We say to them: ‘great!’”
Helpful Online Resources
The American Fertility Association, Theafa.org
American Society for Reproductive Medicine, ASRM.org
RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, RESOLVE.org
Parents Via Egg Donation, Pved.org