Instead, this gay couple of Salt Lake City, Utah, took to the Google machine to find out what it was going to take for them to become dads. Like traditional couples, the two always knew they wanted kids together, but weren’t necessarily ready to be parents just yet. They were enjoying their independence…using their 20s to focus on their real estate careers and doing what they loved the most, hanging with their pups, being outdoors and traveling. But a little innocent research quickly sent them down a rabbit hole.
Ready or not, these two knew they wanted a baby to hold and love. And as a gay couple, their journey to fatherhood wasn’t going be an easy one.
“We both always dreamed of being parents, although our circumstances make it a little more scientific.”
Bryce and Jeff considered adoption, but like most parents, they each had a strong urge to father a biological child. For them, that would mean an egg donor, IVF, and surrogacy. Which also meant a whole lot of time, paperwork and fees in between. A typical surrogacy process takes around 15-18 months, so the Utah couple decided not to waste any time.
Being from a conservative state with a predominantly Mormon population, Bryce and Jeff were not surprised to find that they would have to jump through more hurdles than if they lived elsewhere. Finding a surrogate proved to be a slow process. Time after time they were turned down by potential surrogates due to their sexual orientation.
Around this same time, the couple received word that someone in the Utah legislature was threatening to change surrogacy laws to exclude same-sex couples. Jeffrey and Bryce were concerned that by being gay, they would not be entitled to the same rights as a traditional couple following this family planning path. They knew that part of the law stated they had to be married, which Bryce and Jeffrey were planning to do, but quickly realized they had no time to waste. “We were concerned that gay marriage wouldn’t be supported,” Bryce explained.* Pushing plans for a spring wedding to the side, the two hurried to the courthouse where they got married in front of just a handful of people. It certainly wasn’t the dream wedding they’d envisioned, but by this point, becoming parents mattered to them more than anything.
With patience and perseverance, Bryce and Jeff finally found a perfect candidate to carry their child. After being turned down by over 35 different surrogates, they connected with a single mom who was ready to make the ultimate sacrifice to help give these two the gift of a new life. To say they were grateful would be an understatement. Bryce and Jeff were ready now more than ever to make their dream of becoming dads a reality.
It turns out, the beginning of the surrogacy process for a gestational carrier is often unpredictable. Medically preparing a woman’s uterus for successfully growing a child is not an easy task. Already having formed a special bond with their surrogate, Bryce and Jeffrey were devastated when told that her likelihood of being able to become pregnant through an embryo transfer was extremely low. It was time to seek out a new surrogate, and the couple was back at square one.
“As we sit here thinking about what we don’t have, and all the negative that’s clouding our vision of the future, we realize we have so much. We have each other. We have our love, and with that, we will overcome these hard times.”
As the search continued, the invoices were piling up. With the cost of surrogacy
(including IVF) ranging anywhere from $80,000 – $140,000 or more, Jeffrey and Bryce had started saving up for the process long before it began. But with the cost being so high, there was certainly more room to raise funds.
With Easter being right around the corner, a friend suggested a fun idea for the two to set up an “Egg My Yard” fundraiser. Pretty catchy and creative for a couple who had undoubtedly been spending a good chunk of change on some very important eggs of their own. Through this, the couple placed colored eggs in the yards of close to 80 houses. Kids woke up to a yard full of eggs, and in return, Bryce and Jeffrey raised $4,000 to put toward their baby-making endeavor. The two could have gone any route to earn extra funds, but the fact that these guys chose something with kids’ happiness at the center, was a testament to the type of Dads they were going to be.
“Sometimes, when making something so precious, beautiful and unique; it takes an extra helping hand. Or in our case, a helping uterus.”
But the adversity continued in growing their family. These future dads remained steadfast in their love for each other while holding onto faith that they would soon have a precious little one as their own. And they were right. After what the two described as “1,828 roller coaster rides”, the two finally found the surrogate who would carry their child.
Except it wouldn’t be just one.
When Bryce and Jeffrey met Julie for the first time, they felt an instant connection to her. With their track record up to this point, the couple had every reason to assume this time would be more of the same. But they had to believe this time would be different. Holding onto every shred of hope, they felt strongly that this would be the woman who would carry and birth a healthy child for them.
When they found out Julie was experiencing similar problems to their first gestational carrier, the two were starting to feel cursed. History seemed to be repeating itself when the doctor told them there was only a small chance this cycle would be successful. Jeffrey and Bryce figured a chance is a chance. In what they referred to as a “Hail Mary” two perfect embryos were implanted in Julie’s uterus. Bryce biologically connected to one and Jeffrey to the other. Then, it was time to wait.
Just over a month later, the two took to Instagram to post their pregnancy announcement. The transfer was a success! Accompanied by a photo displaying two pairs of tiny little moccasins, one for each gender, Bryce and Jeffrey announced the impending arrival of their twins. They stated, “We truly owe the world to our selfless surrogate, who is doing all the hard work growing these two from tiny little grains of rice into adorable babies that we can’t wait to hold.”
Just like any expecting parents, the couple began preparing for their babies to come home. Picking out adorable clothes, decorating the nursery and being showered with gifts and love by family and friends. Meanwhile, baby girl and baby boy were growing perfectly.
“Our lives will never be the same. They are our everything.”
Right around Julie’s 34-week mark, Bryce and Jeffrey got the call of their lives. They immediately headed to the hospital to witness the birth of their children. Like all parents, they were a bundle of emotions and couldn’t believe the day had finally arrived. By this point, the two had created an unbreakable bond with their surrogate and regarded her as nothing short of a hero. On that day, she labored and delivered twins through an unmedicated birth. To Bryce and Jeffrey, she became their “Wonder Woman.”
On November 27, 2018, Larue Louise (named after Jeffrey’s grandfather) entered the world. At only 4 pounds, 1 ounce, this tiny girl was immediately whisked away by nurses while Julie continued her labor with the second baby. Forty minutes later, Ridge Jack was born. Although two pounds bigger than his sister, Ridge was still a baby born six weeks early. He, too, was immediately taken from the room to be cared for while Julie delivered her placentas. The birth they had been envisioning, one where their babies would be directly placed on their chests for “kangaroo care,” wasn’t happening. Instead, they were looking on as their incredible surrogate worked through the pain while having no idea how their babies were doing. With nothing else to do but find strength in each other, the two nervously waited for news about their son and daughter.
Finally, the time came when Bryce and Jeffrey were able to hold their babies. Like any parents, these two dads were in awe of the miracle before them. They had spent the last year and a half preparing for this exact moment — one for which they could’ve never truly prepared. The feelings of joy that washed over them were indescribable, experiencing the kind of love only those with children can know. Bryce and Jeffrey wanted nothing more than to bring home Larue (“Rue” for short) and Ridge. But like most premature babies, the half-sibling twins earned a stay in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Here they would learn to breathe on their own and drink from a bottle before heading home.
Ten days later for Ridge, and 12 days for Rue, the family of four left the hospital and headed home for good. Bryce and Jeffrey (and their two dogs) began to adjust to a new normal.
“Being gay isn’t the only defining part of who we are, but it is certainly a piece of our puzzle. We are a family and we love each other. We are dads and husbands, but we are also so much more.”
If you’re a parent, then you know what those first days and weeks are like. And guess what? Whether you are a traditional family, a family with two dads or any family make up for that matter; babies have the same needs. The most important of which is love. And Ridge and Rue were getting plenty of it.
The twins are now just over three months old. They are healthy and thriving. Through the normal routines of having new babies (or lack thereof), these two dads are finding out what it means to be parents. Like all who embark on the journey, they could’ve never truly known what fatherhood would entail. Currently living in a bleary-eyed, zombie like-state, Bryce explained how he and Jeffrey are certainly looking forward to nights with more sleep. But with every breath they take, Bryce and Jeffrey fall in love with their children even more. If anyone knows about hard moments being worth it, it’s these two.
Their love and appreciation for Julie have grown as well. To Bryce and Jeff, she is nothing short of an angel. The family describes a future with her in it. They have grown to know and adore her children and have formed a bond that most people could never understand. As Rue and Ridge get older, they will explain how Julie made the ultimate sacrifice to bring them into the world. A deed which they feel they could never repay.
Instead, they hope to pay it forward and help other couples following a similar road to parenthood. At $95,000 all in so far, Jeffrey and Bryce are no strangers to the high cost involved in a gestational surrogacy pregnancy. But if they could give Julie the world, they know it would never be enough.
Like many new parents, Jeffrey and Bryce are already getting asked if they think they’ll have more kids. Adoption is something they will consider if and when the time comes.
“We have learned that other people may have their opinion of what’s right or wrong and try and judge our life, but we are being true to who we are and choosing to love.”
For now, their focus is on Ridge and Rue.
When out and about with the twins, this non-traditional family has had a mostly positive experience. Though Salt Lake City, Utah might sound like an unlikely place to raise children as gay dads, to Jeffrey and Bryce, it is their home. One with a surprisingly strong gay community where they know their family will be loved and supported.
As parents, Bryce and Jeffrey want what all parents want, for their children to be safe and loved and happy. As gay parents, Bryce explains, “we realize our kids are going to have different paths.” Bryce and Jeff describe the coming years as a time to raise their children with acceptance and compassion. They hope to give them the tools they need to be brave in the face of adversity. And together, they are helping redefine what it means to be a family. Love is love. And that’s all that matters.
*The law did not end up changing. Here you can find more information about Utah’s laws on gestational surrogacy.