A paperwork misstep could set them back days or even weeks, and they hoped to make it home for Thanksgiving. They were down to less than a week.

They tracked the FedEx package of their DNA on its route to the laboratory, followed up to make sure the lab received it, asked for the results to be expedited, and tracked the package of paternity paperwork back to the embassy. It was the day before Thanksgiving when the package arrived.

Andy went to the embassy to find that the gates were closed early. Knowing that the DNA results were there, he would not accept that they must wait four more days until after the holiday weekend. A few employees were still in the building, so Andy dialed the emergency number and explained his situation.

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.

His persistence paid off, and an embassy official reviewed the test results. The twins were granted American passports. They were cleared for their trip home.


They booked a direct flight to Miami for the next day, Thanksgiving. Cautious not to get too excited, Todd worried that their documentation would be questioned at the airport. Every step of the surrogacy process had had unexpected blips; surely the flight home would too.

They boarded the plane without issue, and the babies slept throughout most of the flight. As they exited, an American Customs official told them, "Welcome home."

Todd's parents and Andy's father and his girlfriend greeted them at the airport. "You just want to cry," Todd said, his voice wavering. "You're done. You're emotionally just exhausted, tired, excited."

It had been Andy and Todd's eighth trip to Panama. "Panama and the whole process went into the back of my head — at that point, you're just Dad," Todd said. When they finally arrived at their home, the same neighbors who hosted their sendoff breakfast brought over a turkey dinner.

After Thanksgiving, Andy and Todd were immediately engulfed by fatherhood, preparing for the babies' first Christmas with everything from silver pine cones hanging from the beams of the living room to a tall tree covered with colored lights. A week after Thanksgiving, they took the newborns for photos with Santa.

"Oh my God, we couldn't get to Santa," Andy said as he sat on their patio one Saturday in early December as Annabelle slept on his stomach in one of their matching Baby Bjorn carriers a friend bought them. "We probably had six or seven individuals or couples stop us, ask us about the kids, congratulate us, and we're a same-sex couple, so it's definitely — they know it, but they don't want to ask."

Todd continued, "This one Italian lady, she goes, 'How's the mama? Is she sleeping?' [Andy] goes, 'No mama. This is the other dad right here.' "

"This light went off in her head; she's like, 'Ohhhh, mazel tov!' She was funny," Andy said.

"They must know how much more work it is for two guys to have babies than it is the traditional way," Todd added, laughing.

"Pregnancy is certainly cheaper. There's no question about that," Andy said. The entire process cost them about $100,000, compared with the $150,000 he estimates it would have cost in America.

"Anybody who could have a baby should realize just how lucky they are," Todd said. "It's amazing."

The next day, Andy and Todd took Samuel and Annabelle to a holiday party for gay couples and their children at the Pride Center at Equality Park in Wilton Manors. On the drive there, Todd sat in the back seat of their Jeep between the two car seats in his crisp, light-pink buttoned-down shirt with a wide smile across his face. They were one of the first families to arrive at the crowded event, juggling baby carriers, a diaper bag, and a turkey Todd prepared for the potluck.

While Todd and Andy sat anchored at their table by the two newborns, who slept through most of the party, a parade of parents approached them to peek at the 1-month-old babies. "Can I touch her? I promise I'll be very gentle," one woman asked Todd, fussing over Annabelle. "Of course," he told her.

A more popular question that afternoon was, "Adoption or surrogacy?" The families traded tales of adopting as single parents, adoptions that worked out last-minute without warning, and long-term foster care as the children danced, played, and ate dessert, most of them too young to possess an awareness of what their parents went through to have them.

On the drive home from the party, Andy and Todd went a few blocks out of their way to pass a four-bedroom home in Wilton Manors that they were interested in buying. It was on a very pleasant block with a small park nearby and quiet streets so suburban that they looked perfectly fit for strollers and training wheels. The Bludworth-McNeills had outgrown their quaint downtown Fort Lauderdale home and would close on the home in Wilton Manors two weeks later.

When Andy and Todd pulled into their driveway after the party, the same neighbor who had hosted the breakfast when they left for Panama walked over to visit the babies. She stood in front of the two carriers guessing which newborn looked more like which father. Todd and Andy looked at each other and smiled as they laughed off the implied question. They knew the answer but couldn't care less.

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
All
 
My Voice Nation Help
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

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??????

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...

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???

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!!!!

 
Loading...