Gaybies: Gay Couples in Florida Turn to Foreign Surrogacy

Andy Bludworth-McNeill, scrubbed in and wearing hospital blues, entered the delivery room of a Panamanian hospital. It was just before 11:30 p.m. November 8, and he took a seat next to the pregnant woman he had met only briefly before.

The pristine room was a sprawling ocean of sterile hospital fabric. Waves of turquoise sheets covered the woman's petite body, and a parting revealed a wide slit across her belly, ripe with Andy's children. Four doctors with sea-foam surgery aprons, pale-blue scrubs, and matching surgical caps hovered over her, and Andy held her hand tightly as doctors prodded at the incision with shiny tools and suction tubes. The "what if" thoughts that expectant parents try to keep at bay rushed through Andy's mind as he watched the doctors nimbly maneuver clinking instruments. The doctors pushed on her belly with the confidence and intuition of talented improv theater performers who have worked together for years.

Less than five minutes after Andy entered the blue room, the doctor to the woman's right pressed his forearm on the upper part of her stomach, leaning over her torso and pushing down with his body weight as the doctor on her left reached within, coaxing out a tiny head, then shoulders, then a body. The woman on the table closed her eyes, breathing through pursed lips. The newborn boy's mouth opened to cries, and a pair of doctors carried him to a table also covered in turquoise sheets. Another push by the doctor on the right gave way to another tiny head, then shoulders, then body, wailing and squirming like the first. Doctors whisked the baby girl to another sheeted working table.

Andy feeds Samuel at their home in Wilton Manors.
Michael McElroy
Andy feeds Samuel at their home in Wilton Manors.
Samuel sleeps in an incubator in the Panamanian nursery, where he received extra care after he and Annabelle were born weeks premature.
Photo courtesy of the Bludworth-McNeill family
Samuel sleeps in an incubator in the Panamanian nursery, where he received extra care after he and Annabelle were born weeks premature.

The children's cries synced, resulting in a harmony of wah-ing, pleasing only to the ears of a new parent, and Andy's anxiety gave way to excitement. Doctors gave each of the newborns a dose of oxygen from baby-sized masks that turned their complexions instantly from gray to pink; they checked the babies' vitals, took footprints, and wheeled them out of the delivery room and into the nursery.

Andy left the room to tell his partner, Todd Bludworth-McNeill, the news that their family had healthfully doubled in size. The couple, who own a Fort Lauderdale-based event and meeting planning company, anticipated this day since deciding they wanted a family almost three years ago.

Since only one of them had been allowed in the delivery room, Todd had waited down the hall and wrote in their journal: "It's kind of weird in the waiting room. I think I am in here with the surrogate's family. They keep staring at me. I think I might recognize her cousin, but not sure."

As Andy told Todd about their children, doctors stitched the surrogate's womb. With the money from her pregnancy, she would buy plumbing for her home to provide a better life for her own four children. The newborns were a couple of weeks premature and both over five pounds. They had to stay in the nursery to receive oxygen since they were born early and light therapy as treatment for jaundice. The surrogate recovered in the hospital for three days after the C-section, but she was kept separate from the babies to avoid attachment as hormones and emotions ran high.

Andy and Todd bore no scars, needed no physical recovery, and, with nowhere else to go, walked from the hospital to their temporary home, a nearby rented condo. They couldn't see Samuel Robert and Annabelle Rose until visiting hours the next morning, when one of them could enter the nursery. With the birth behind them, more challenges were ahead, including proving their paternity to immigration officials and bringing their babies home safely.

Having children this way was an unconventional process in the formation of a new kind of family. When Andy and Todd, who were legally married in Vermont, started the surrogacy process, it was illegal for gay couples to adopt children in Florida. Last September, a federal appeals court overturned Florida's law banning gays from adopting, but state law still requires legal marriage for surrogacy and does not recognize gay marriage. Andy and Todd found that one of the surest paths to starting a family involved traveling more 1,000 miles to a Third World country and putting their faith and money into a process as uncertain as it is scientific.

Andy and Todd used an American egg donor, and both contributed sperm, meaning they could have each biologically fathered a child or one could be the biological father of both. The surrogate who gave birth shared no DNA with the twins, but in Panama, she was still considered the mother as indicated on the tags posted on the nursery baby beds, even though she signed paperwork outlining Andy and Todd's parental rights. A surrogate could, conceivably, demand that the children belong to her, but it is not clear whether that would stand up in Panamanian court.

"It's not an easy process," Todd said. "Straight folks don't know how good they have it... there's always an extra layer of paperwork for us that other people don't have to deal with."


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16 comments
Juantampabay
Juantampabay

Mephisto are you planning to change you sexual orientation? Are you straight only because your parents didn't allow you to be gay? Why other will change who they are just because anybody can create a family? You comment really don't make any sense. Do you think this civilization need somebody with your mentality? I don't think so. Many like you need to disappear from the phase of this earth to make this civilization better. Your ideas are clearly based in fear and hate. Thanks God most human don't think like you. There is a good change going on in the world and you are not included. Jeez I feel better now.

scratch-n-snatch
scratch-n-snatch

i read only a paragraph cause i was afraid the title would leave me w an infestation

Tempting_33064
Tempting_33064

Who cares about them being GAY....I am totally appalled at the title that the MEDIA has given the babies..."GAYBIES"...That is appalling, they are BABIES just like any other BABY, with ten fingers, ten toes, etc. Our children are dealing with labels every day, and as parents we try to help them thru life battles. Peer pressure is so evident in our society, and now the MEDIA has just created yet another label for children to deal with, to me that is DISGUSTING and DISCRIMINATORY!!.

lkpdmd
lkpdmd

I love this story. "I get so emotional, baby, every time I think of it, it, it!"

Mnichols
Mnichols

What a wonderful story of the true meaning of family. In a world of over 6 billion people, there is no right way of having a family. These children will be raised in a loving, caring home. What can be asked of more than that?

Mephisto
Mephisto

Why would you subject a child to a gay lifestyle and risk a normal child being persuaded to be a freak of nature???

Mephisto
Mephisto

What planet are you on???? GAY is the right way to raise a family???? If we all thought that way there would be no civilization in about 75 years!!!! How "right" can that be??????

Ashley
Ashley

You have a distorted view, dude. A gay lifestyle? What's any different than subjecting a child to a straight lifestyle? And what do you mean by "lifestyle" anyways? I have plenty of gay/lesbian friends that do the exact same things that I do. Are you suggesting I never procreate? I think ignorant people such as yourself are the real problem in society because you are the ones continuing to spread prejudice onto your offspring.

Sighhhhh
Sighhhhh

You think the kids are gonna 'catch' the gay?

You better put on your SARS mask if you plan on walking around South Florida! The gay is spreading!! OH MY GOD!!!!

LawyerJoe
LawyerJoe

This guy is a plant to spark conversation. Nobody could be so stupid.

Str8 Guy
Str8 Guy

Youre a dumbass Mephisto. Maybe if everyone were gay for 75 years the earth might be able to generate back of its natural resources and morons like you might become obsolete.

BerkshireBuddy
BerkshireBuddy

Mephisto - go lay down. Todd and Andy are better suited as parents than most straight people I know. Sexual orientation has no bearing on the situation. Anyway your comment makes no sense whatsoever -- obviously if you can create a child through surrogacy there's no threat to civilization. Did you even graduate from high school?

Tony Konrath
Tony Konrath

Nearly all of here in Key West think that this really is one way of raising a family. Gay men and lesbians have been raising kids since... well forever! Look at the history books. Every civilization that has demonized GLBT people has collapsed very quickly. I might even speculate that the quality of a culture is determined by how accepting it is of difference in its people.

NS2010
NS2010

YOU ARE VERY NAIVE Mephisto... children can only be so lucky to have a warm and loving home wth two wonderful parents! There are many straight couples out there that have no business being parents! Just because you're straight doesn't make you a better parent!!! YOU are a freak of nature and ignorant at that!

Lindyhabi
Lindyhabi

Who said gay is the right way to raise a family? It is A Way to raise a family. The post was just stating that in this world there types of families. Get with the program, or get out of the way. No one has the right to deny a family to anyone....now, go read a book to your children...and stop preaching hate...

 
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