The donor said she was exposed to the egg donation process when she was 16 and her mother's best friend could not get pregnant. "At the time, I really wanted to do that for her... but I was not old enough to do it," she said. Years later, she still felt strongly about helping couples have children. "I'm not using these eggs right now. The fact that I have that capacity — I feel really blessed and honored to do that," she said. She called "helping people" the ultimate reason for her choice but said that she would have waited until after college if it weren't for the money, which helped finance her education. Andy and Todd paid her $20,000.

Doctors at Punta Pacifica Reproduction Center in Panama City successfully implanted an egg in the surrogate. Andy and Todd told family and friends that the Panamanian surrogate was pregnant. Then in July 2009, less than two weeks later, Andy and Todd were in Vermont, where they were taking cooking classes for Todd's birthday. As they walked Buddy outside, the phone rang. It was their doctor calling from Panama. The pregnancy had ended in a miscarriage. They were stunned.

"It was enough to pique you with excitement and enough to completely disappoint you when it didn't take," Todd said. Once they regrouped, Andy and Todd flew the egg donor to Panama for another donation and used different surrogates for three more attempts, hoping for better odds. None of the implantations resulted in pregnancy. "We were really surprised how emotional it was for two guys who weren't physically having to carry a baby," Andy said. "That was really intense."

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 thought of starting over devastated them, but Andy and Todd began the process once more, interviewing six egg donors, flying two to Florida to meet them. The next donor they found was a student at a university in the Midwest. "I really liked this intelligence and independence that she had. She was very confident. She had this great poise about her," Andy said. Though she declined an interview for this article, she agreed to meet the twins when they are older — something Andy and Todd required of their donor.

The first fertilization attempt with the new donor resulted in a pregnancy. "Our current donor — boom! — right away," Andy said. This time, Andy and Todd waited to tell their family and friends. A few weeks went by, and they told their parents, and then they spread the word gradually as weeks turned into months. Andy and Todd went to Panama at the end of the first trimester, when they met the surrogate for her sonogram. She was quiet and in good spirits, but Andy and Todd don't speak Spanish, and she didn't speak English, so they mostly communicated through facial expressions. Her 4-year-old daughter stayed by her side as Andy and Todd watched a 3-D image of their two children — a boy and a girl — floating in the woman's womb.

The doctor turned up the sound on the machine, and the unborn babies' heartbeats reverberated through the room. Then, that quickly, it was time to leave. Todd remembered feeling as though he were abandoning his children. "You feel just horrible that you have to get back on a plane," he said. Doctors called regularly to tell them that the pregnancy was moving along well, and Andy and Todd made another visit at the end of the second trimester, but they still felt disconnected, going about their lives while their children were developing so far away.

In the first trimester, doctors also conducted a prenatal blood analysis, testing for birth defects and abnormalities. The children were healthy and were developing normally, allowing the couple to exhale momentarily. But they knew that after the babies were born, they would face the challenge of getting them out of Panama and back to Florida. A laboratory would determine whose sperm fertilized which egg in order for them to prove their children's citizenship before they could bring them home.


The morning after the babies were born, Andy and Todd returned to the hospital. Since Andy sat in the delivery room, it was Todd's turn to see his children in the nursery. He expected to walk in and hold them immediately, but both Samuel and Annabelle were in incubators. "When I first walked in, it kind of takes your breath away a little bit," Todd said. "It was a little overwhelming to see them enclosed." The oxygen tubes, IVs, Band-Aids, and medical equipment struck him. It was not the ethereal scene he had anticipated.

Dressed in hospital scrubs to maintain the facility's impeccable cleanliness, he pulled up a chair between the two incubators where his children rested, monitored by machines and nurses and dwarfed by their Winnie the Pooh diapers.

Again, he had to cede control to the Spanish-speaking nurses, whom he had come to like but could barely understand. At the end of the day, he still could not hold either child and surely could not take them home.


Despite the uncertainties, surrogacy is becoming exponentially more popular, especially among gay couples, according to a Fort Lauderdale pediatrician, Dr. Amy Relkin, who said she has seen the number of same-sex couples with children in her practice triple in the past two years. Relkin, who cares for Annabelle and Samuel, said she has also seen an increase in the number of twins as a result of surrogacy, which yields a higher percentage of multiple births than traditional pregnancy.

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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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