The last leg of a long journey to fatherhood — made possible through a Northeast Georgia surrogate — has begun for a European gay couple.
Dan Sobovitz and Gregory Merly left Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville on Wednesday, June 26, with the last of two sons who had been in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit since their births on Father’s Day, June 16.
“We’re extremely full of gratitude to the hospital and the staff of the NICU,” Sobovitz said. “They did everything to help and accommodate us, and they were very sensitive to the fact that we’re from the other side of the world.”
They are preparing to take newborns Yuli and Theo home — first to France, where family will greet them, and then Berlin, where they plan to settle.
“Thank you, Georgia, thank you, America,” Sobovitz said. “You made us a family.”
The two men, while living in Belgium, had explored fatherhood options for several years, finally settling on the surrogate arrangement in February 2018.
As Europe largely bans the practice for different reasons, the two men’s journey led them to Kristina Brady, who lives in Eastanollee, southeast of Toccoa. They were matched with her through an international program.
The process was long and complex, but basically, Brady ended up pregnant using two eggs from a biological mother who remained an anonymous donor in the process. One embryo contained DNA from Sobovitz and the other contained DNA from Merly.
“Today’s science allows us to separate them, so (the surrogate) knows from the very start that it’s not her kids,” Sobovitz said in a previous interview.
Brady, who runs a day-care in her home, said she originally had planned to serve as a surrogate for a friend, who later changed her mind. Still, the experience inspired her to eventually agree to be a surrogate for Sobovitz and Merly.
“I couldn’t imagine … wanting a baby and not being able to get pregnant,” she said.
Sobovitz said he and Merly — who were married in Stephens County before the births — have had an overall good experience.
“We never experienced any negative comments by anyone,” Sobovitz said. “We were ready to take the filth, both in Europe and here, and it never came.”
The focus now is on the babies and steps to get them home.
“They were in the NICU because they are showing some difficulties to breathe and be fed at the same time,” Merly said. “This lack of coordination continues a little bit in the first weeks of the (babies’) lives.”
But otherwise, their “problems are more or less over,” Sobovitz said.
The couple, staying in Atlanta, are looking to leave in late July. The main concern about flying is measles and other contagious diseases.
“The doctors are saying it’s not the plane. It’s the airport” that’s the main concern, Sobovitz said.
“We will have to hide their cuteness in the airport, just to make sure,” Merly added with a grin.
Otherwise, there will be expenses to deal with. At one point, Sobovitz said costs had reached $130,000.
“That’s the one difficulty in a happy story,” he said. “We’re coming from a very different system, where (medical costs) aren’t anywhere near the costs here. Our insurances will not pay the costs here and we’re still trying to find solutions there.”