By Scott Thompson
MEET THE lucky same-sex couple who thanks to surrogacy are FATHERS to two beautiful TWIN BOYS – though they admit that getting LEGAL RIGHTS to their children was a challenge.
Stay at home dad, Tyler Fontes (34) and resident physician Andy Fontes (35) from Phoenix, Arizona, USA met through a mutual friend during Andy’s senior year at university in November 2006.
Their relationship built quickly and after four months the couple moved to Carlsbad, California, USA for work and their relationship steadily grew.
Six years on and the two love birds tied the knot in June 2013 on the beach in California. A week later they moved back to Arizona. At the time they couldn’t legally marry but by the end of the year they could and officially became husbands.
Having declared their love to one another Mr and Mr Fontes then decided they wanted to extend that further by creating a family of their own. So, in 2015 they set off on a quest to work out how to make their dream become a reality.
The options they both looked at were adoption and surrogacy and when family heard about it, Andy’s cousin offered to be a surrogate for them. With this offer they knew they could bring somebody else into their loving home.
Tyler and Andy chose to use two embryos using sperm from each of them. They did this in hopes that their first attempt would be a success. Magically both embryos took and on June 16, 2017 their surrogate gave birth to twin boys, Caellum and Emmerich (2) who are biologically half-brothers with the same egg donor but one boy from each father.
“Me and Andy first met back in 2006. It was through a mutual friend of ours and we became close friends really quickly. We started dating about four months later,” Tyler said.
“Our relationship built very quickly. After dating for only four months, Andy received a job offer in Carlsbad, California after graduating from Arizona State University and so we both decided to move there together.
“Having happily been together for six years we decided to get married in 2013 on the beach in Carlsbad before returning home to Phoenix, Arizona a week later.
“At the time gay marriage wasn’t legal in California, but it didn’t stop us from uniting our love and becoming forever husbands. That law changed later in the year and we legally got married.
“Having been together for eight years, and married for two years, we decided we wanted to start a family together. We started looking at adoption and surrogacy options.
“When our family and friends found out about it, Andy’s cousin offered to be a surrogate for us. This was a tremendous cost saving for us and it allowed us the opportunity to financially move forward to grow our family.
“We actually decided to implant two embryos to give us a higher success pregnancy on our first try. Each embryo was made of each of us and donor eggs.
“Both ended up taking and so we now have twin boys that are biologically half-brothers with the same egg donor, but one boy from each of us.”
Becoming same sex parents didn’t come without its difficulties though. During and after the pregnancy it was difficult getting rights to both fathers and getting their names on the children’s birth certificates.
“A major hurdle was getting both of us the legal rights over both children during pregnancy and post birth, including getting both our names on their birth certificates,” said Tyler.
“In a heterosexual relationship the mother has all the legal rights of the unborn child during the pregnancy process and at birth. In order for us as two dads to both have legal rights over the children during pregnancy and at birth, we needed to hire a family lawyer who provided us with two very important documents.
“The first document was a surrogacy contract that in a court of law allowed both of us to be the primary legal guardians of both children. Once we got this, we just had to show staff at the hospital so they understood the situation. The second contract was the birth order contract which allowed both our names to be printed on each child’s birth certificate.
“The children were actually born in New Mexico so both our names could go on their birth certificates. If they were born in Arizona, then one father would have had to do a legal adoption of the other child.
“Fatherhood is truly a magical feeling and we love these two boys more than anything in the world. One of the best things for me is being able to financially allow myself to be a stay at home dad to raise our two boys.”
The family of four are very active and love to go out on adventures. They have been to the North Rim, Zion National Park and around many mountains in Phoenix, Arizona where they’ve enjoyed time together camping, fishing and hiking.
“Since they came home, we have taken them out on lots of adventures. We are very active and love the outdoors. We have taken them on road trips, camping, fishing, and hiking. Some of our favourite hikes with the boys include parts of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, The Narrows at Zion National Park, and around the mountain ranges of Phoenix, Arizona,” Tyler said.
The family have gained so much support from their family, friends, neighbours, co-workers and community. They feel they have been assimilated into their community as a family like any other.
The only negative comments they have had are from a small minority of people through their social media platform from individuals against LGBTQ+ families. The response has always been a quick deletion and accounts blocked.
The couple recommend others who want to start their own family to find out as much as they can from others, but to use their own intuition with the information they have.
“Our boys are very much loved by all our family and friends and we have gained so much support from them and neighbours and co-workers. The community has accepted us like any other and we feel very welcome which is fantastic,” Tyler said.
“The only issue we have had is with a few very anti LGBTQ+ family individuals who have commented on posts on social media. A few were along the lines of saying ‘gays shouldn’t be allowed to have children’. They are swiftly deleted and blocked.
“Being a two-dad family raising kids does not make us any less of a family. We love our kids very much and we both truly love being dads. There isn’t a thing we wouldn’t do for them.
“To other LGBTQ+ couples or singles, if you want a family of your own it is possible. Gather as much advice as you can from family and friends but use what works best for you. Yes, the journey might be long and sometimes stressful but it’s so worth it in the end.”
Check out the family’s Instagram.