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Our Already Rough Journey Toward Fatherhood

I was nervous and unsure how it would feel. We'd been communicating electronically and on the phone on an increasingly regular basis for about three months. It felt like we already knew each other so well, but this was the first time that we were actually meeting in person. Technology had put us in an interesting position: it was almost as if I'd read a biography of someone who then stepped off the page at the end of the book to sit down with me in real life.

That was seven years ago this month. In those years, we've gone on many adventures together. This past summer, we embarked on perhaps our greatest adventure yet: our journey towards fatherhood.

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I grew up in suburban Boston in a fairly unremarkable town. Aside from the fact that there were four (four!) Dunkin' Donuts, there wasn't much else of note. I spent much of my childhood with my nose buried in a book, and it was through books that I was able to escape the monotony of my hometown. The world inside any book I picked up was always far more interesting and expansive than the physical world that surrounded me.

Thousands of miles separated us, but I somehow knew our connection was special.

A few years after university, I moved to Portland, Ore. A few months after moving, I received a message from someone in Alaska on an online dating site. He quickly explained that he was only in Alaska for the summer and would be returning to Portland in the fall.

We ended up chatting all summer.

I learned that Kirk grew up in southwestern Pennsylvania. He was the son of a minister and the graduate of a performing arts conservatory. He had travelled the world and wrote emails in a stream-of-consciousness format that frustrated me (commas exist for a reason!) but that would make Jack Kerouac proud. He had lived in Arizona before Oregon. Alaska was just another adventure for him.

In so many ways that were immediately apparent, he was almost my exact opposite. And I was intrigued.

Emails and IM's turned into phone calls, text messages and even a few video chats. He called me once from the end of Homer Spit near Anchorage as I walked across the Hawthorne Bridge in Portland. Thousands of miles separated us, but I somehow knew our connection was special.

It felt excruciatingly vulnerable to begin sharing our story and to ask our community to financially contribute to our journey.

As we grew closer and eventually got married, we started to talk more seriously about starting a family. Since having a child isn't a natural consequence of our relationship (no matter how much we've tried), we began to research our options. After much investigation and many long conversations, we decided to pursue surrogacy.

This is not an easy or inexpensive process.

This summer, we started to write about our experience, and we launched a public crowdfunding campaign to become dads. While the blogging has been healing and educational, I'm pretty sure we went to bed tearful and cuddling every night in July during the height of our campaign. It felt excruciatingly vulnerable to begin sharing our story and to ask our community to financially contribute to our journey. We heard from people who had very strong opinions about our decision to pursue surrogacy before adoption. There were also several hurtful comments about our choice to be so public. Friendly emails and texts, supportive phone calls and encouraging comments were deeply felt by us.

RELATED: Why I Want to Be a Surrogate

Unfortunately, we did not reach our crowd-funding goal, and all of our supporters were refunded. But that was just the start of our journey. We've applied for a grant through an organization called Men Having Babies, which is based in New York. They will not announce awards until October. If we do receive financial assistance we could be pregnant as early as spring. If we are not awarded, we will continue to move towards our dream of becoming dads, blogging about the challenges that we face and the ways in which we are working to overcome them.

We are excited for the opportunity to share our story with the Mom.me community. In the coming weeks, we'll be writing more in depth about our journey so far.

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PHOTOGRAPH BY: Kirk Shepard and Anthony Szabo

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