It takes a village to have a baby

It will truly take a village for me to have a baby. 
There is no doubt that throughout my life I have been blessed beyond measure. I have the unwavering love and support from family and friends; I am living out my dream, teaching and coaching, at the school I graduated from; I have been embraced by a community of students and families and educators, so even without family geographically near or a significant other to lean on, I am never alone. These gifts are not simply factors within my life, but the means by which my life is sustained. 

Yet for every blessing earned, there has been a lesson learned: some were harder learned than others, some took more than once to master, but I am grateful for every tear, every loss, every wound to my skin or my soul. My grandmother introduced me to the poem, "Invictus" by William E. Henley. The second stanza reads, "In the fell clutch of circumstance/I have not winced nor cried aloud./ Under the bludgeonings of chance/My head is bloody, but unbowed." Invictus, latin for unconquerable, has become a part of who I am; every time I look in the mirror and see the word Invictus tattooed on my skin, I remind myself that I am unconquerable, and, "I am the master of my fate/I am the captain of my soul."

The last lines of the poem are the mantra that I use to propel me forward. When I dreamed of my future, I saw my version of the American dream: the loving marriage, the house, the car, the kids, the dog; although, we dream in color, wearing rose colored glasses does not alter reality. I was only able to control that which was controllable. I worked hard. I gave myself the house and the car and the dog - RIP Jackson, and after waiting for my Mr. Right to come along to start a family, I knew that in order for me to become the father that I dreamed of being, I was going to  have to do it on my own. Working through the adoption process, balancing the fate of my future fatherhood on applications and appointments, interviews and itineraries, classes and checklists, only to have it fail, I was left stripped raw and exposed, old wounds were ripped opened, and the love that welled inside of me for the child that never came soured and slowly began to break me down.

When the adoption process failed, and I parted with the agency, I took that as a sign from the Universe that it was not time for my child to come into my life. I can say I was strong and carried on, but I wasn't. I was merely suffering in silence, believing that I need not share my pain with others. I did what I knew best: I worked -researched, learned, and acted...alone. I set my sights on surrogacy.

In the seven years since, I've worked hard to prepare for this. I've learned to love myself because if I can't love myself, I'll never be able to love anyone else. I mended the broken relationship with my father in the 30 days we had before I sat at his bedside as he died because how can I be a father to my child if all I know of a father/son relationship is empty promises, disappointment, and pain. I saved my money because having children is expensive once they're born, but having a child on my own through surrogacy is going to be expensive just to get to that point.

Of course it would be easier to have and parent a child with someone else, but at 40 years old, I can't continue to wait for someone who may not come to then ultimately realize I'm too old to be the father that my child needs and deserves. I don't want look back at another year with regret of losing that time with my child. There may never be a right time, nor an easy one, so this is the time. I have already begun the surrogacy process with an agency that has treated me with such geniune care and concern that my joy multiples daily and outweighs all of the fears I have.  

At this point, I am selecting an egg donor, and embryos will be created and frozen. I'll select a surrogate soon, and those embryos will be transferred. The surrogacy  laws in Illinois are of the best in the nation, so after carrying the baby to full term, my baby and I will start our lives as a new family. That is the simplified writing of a complex process. If I were heterosexual, this process would be easier. If I were heterosexual, this process would be covered by my health insurance, but as my policy states that, "surrogacy is only covered after a year of unprotected sexual intercourse between a male and female without resulting in pregnancy." Fighting that discrimination will happen in time, but not at the expense of my child; therefore, the cost of becoming a father is mine: $113,000.

I have saved quite a bit, and my child will be provided for when s/he is born. I have gone it alone up until this point, but I can't let my pride stand in the way. Just as I will do whatever is needed to provide my child the best life possibly, I must do anything it takes to make that life even possible. I am reaching out to those who have loved and supported me along the way for help in making my dream of fatherhood a reality. Although I expect nothing, I will be forever grateful for any amount offered.

I can't put a price on being able to hold my baby for the first time, so whatever amount I have to come up with, I will find a way: I am the captian of my fate/ I am the master of my soul. I know that my child will be raised within a village of family and friends and love. Thank you for your support in the past and the future; thank you for your contribution to my child's life, be it financial or through continued support. Thank you for helping to finally put my baby in my arms.

With abundant love unbound,
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Ryan Branton Brown 
Schaumburg, IL
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