A gay couple became the proud parents of twins after finding a surrogate – on Facebook.
Michael and David Johnson-Zaragoza avoided surrogacy agencies’ high fees by finding Gennifer Christianson on the social network.
The married couple, of Long Beach, California, USA, were overjoyed when Gennifer gave birth to their son Braden Parker and daughter Elizabeth Quinn, now five-months-old, in September 2018.
Michael, 42, and David, 54, covered the bar manager’s medical costs and gave her $30,000 compensation for carrying their babies.
Including medical bills and legal fees, the surrogacy cost the couple around $100,000.
Gennifer, 31, a mother-of-one from Fargo, North Dakota, was inspired to become a surrogate when she became broody but didn’t want to raise another child.
She even began rescuing and rehoming animals as a way to fulfill her maternal urges.
Michael, a navy ER nurse, and David, a pharmaceutical sales account manager, now consider the surrogate a part of their family.
Michael said: “We send her pictures all the time, we do Facetime, we do random phone calls.
“We see her as more of an aunt.
“As the kids grow up, they’ll know her as the woman who helped us bring them into the world.”
Gennifer added: “I began adopting all these animals because I felt broody.
“But being a surrogate and making that dream come true for another couple made me feel like I had served a purpose.”
Michael and David, who have an adopted son Chance, three, tied the knot in June 2017 after meeting on dating site OKCupid a year earlier.
They wed in a romantic ceremony at Santa Monica Airport with the venue inspired by Michael’s love of flying.
The couple were already searching for a surrogate on Facebook.
Michael said: “I had always wanted to be a father and we agreed that surrogacy would be the right fit for us.
“Friends who had done it referred us to a couple of Facebook surrogacy groups and we went through five surrogate options before we ended up with Gennifer.
“We’d find one but then a medical issue would come up or a family issue or they would change their minds.
“It was a very emotional time.”
The couple had already chosen an egg donor through a private agency but continued looking for a surrogate on Facebook.
Michael said: “Surrogacy agencies can charge up to $30,000.
“The process is expensive enough.
“I thought: ‘I can do this myself’.
“We wrote a Facebook post explaining what we were looking for and got about 60 responses.
“We sent out a standard set of questions first and if they didn’t respond to us, we knew they weren’t really interested.
“We whittled it down to 20 applicants.
“We sat down and Facetimed with each one of them to make sure that they fitted with us.
“We wanted someone that we could talk to for the next nine months and beyond.”
The couple finally drew up a shortlist of six potential surrogates, including Gennifer, and submitted their records to a fertility clinic which would decide the best match.
Michael said: “The doctors came back with the results and the best one was Gennifer.
“We liked her from the first moment we met her.
“She was fun, she communicated with us very well and she came across as very friendly.”
Gennifer, mom of Violet, eight, had become interested in surrogacy after she suddenly became broody.
She said: “I come from a very large family and having babies is what we are good at.
“I started adopting all these animals when I got together with my partner Mitch, 31, an inspector at a grain company.
“It started with a kitten, then I began rescuing and rehoming sugar gliders and soon I wanted chickens and a cow.
“I’m not even an animal-lover.
“I realised I wanted to take care of these animals because I was broody.
“I wanted to have a baby but I didn’t feel the desire to take care of a newborn.
“I couldn’t imagine not being able to have my own children. I loved the idea of being able to do that for someone else.
“I saw David and Michael’s profile on a matching group on Facebook.
“They seemed like fantastic people.
“They had a huge understanding of how serious it was.
“They were competent, kind and I saw what great dads they were to Chance.”
Gennifer flew to California in September, 2017, to meet the couple in person for the first time.
In December, she returned to California for the embryo transfer.
The egg donor had donated 17 eggs which were mixed with sperm from Michael and David.
The couple ended up with four viable embryos.
Sadly the first embryo transfer did not take and the final two embryos, both made of Michael’s sperm, were transferred into Gennifer’s womb in January, 2018.
A couple of weeks later, doctors confirmed that Gennifer was pregnant and, at her six-week scan, that she was carrying twins.
Michael said: “We were excited and scared at the same time.
“We had wanted twins but we knew it was going to be more work.
Throughout the pregnancy, the trio stayed in regular contact.
Michael said: “We spoke almost every day. We were always asking how she was.
“We got sent the sonograms and Gennifer would send us heartbeats.”
Towards the end of the pregnancy, she began to feel the strain of carrying twins.
Gennifer said: “I didn’t know what I was getting into when carrying twins.
“My pregnancy with my daughter was very easy but I was 23 at the time.
“Being older and carrying two was the hardest physical thing I’ve had to do.
“I couldn’t really leave the house the last few months.
“I’m a pretty fit person, but even now my feet crack in different places.
“The sheer pain of it is constant.
“I had no idea that I was able to get that large.”
David added: “I wish we had lived closer to her and been able to help more.”
The twins were due to be induced on September 28, but in the early hours of September 16, Gennifer’s water broke.
The couple got on the first available flight but by the time they landed, the twins had already been born.
They rushed to Samford Medical Center in Fargo, North Dakota, where they met their son Braden Parker, 5lb, 5oz, and daughter Ellie Quinn, 5lb, 11oz.
David said: “It was just an overwhelming, joyous occasion.”
Gennifer added: “I am always going to be in David and Michael’s lives.
“I may be a surrogate again but it would have to be for the right family at the right time.
“I don’t want to make babies for just anybody.”
Michael and David share their parenthood journey on their YouTube channel 2 Baby Daddies.