Shots, eggs, embryos and a big dose of hope
Sissy assumed she would develop a special bond with the baby, and might even suffer postpartum depression. But she thought it would be worth it to know that Chad and David finally had a child to love.

"Any kid would be lucky to grow up with them as parents," she said. "I wish they would adopt me sometimes."

She told Chad, "This is something we really want to do for you."

The only complication, she said, was that she wanted to breastfeed her baby, Anabelle, for six months. She would not be able to start the surrogacy process until midsummer.

Chad's head spun with the possibilities. He and Sissy, separated by 12 months and two weeks, had been close since early childhood, their bond forged by the shared trauma of their parents' divorce. The journey would be much more meaningful with her along for the ride.

"I think it will make everything better," Chad said, "but it has the potential to make the bad stuff, like negative pregnancy tests, even more painful."

Their mother, Debbie Young, who still lived in south Georgia, told them she thought it would be wonderful. She was moved that her children remained so connected. Whatever horror she had felt when Chad came out 15 years earlier seemed long forgotten.

She worried, though, that failure could come between Sissy and Chad. Her daughter was headstrong. Her son was sensitive. Sometimes they clashed. This would be the fourth attempt at a pregnancy, and she thought Sissy might feel the pressure.

"Chad," she said one day, "you do realize there's a possibility the same thing could happen. I'm not trying to be a downer here, but I don't want any problems between y'all if it doesn't work out."

"I realize that, Mother," he said. "I know all of that."

Sissy and Jay knew suburban Dallas might not be the easiest place to carry a child for two gay men. Jay wasn't going to advertise it around the campus where he was trying to gain tenure. They were prepared to lose some friends, and to deflect any questions with humor.

"Didn't you know," Sissy would drawl, "that it's a tradition in south Georgia to have your brother's baby?"

Feeling optimistic

THAT summer, Chad and David made a rather sudden decision to move from Washington back to Atlanta, where they had met eight years earlier. The cost of living would be lower, and it would bring them closer to family. Chad's stepfather had been ailing, and his mother needed a hand.

They made a tidy profit on their house and used it to pay off their surrogacy debts. In Atlanta, they bought a two-story manor and began a top-to-bottom renovation, with plans to move in December.

The legal process to help Chad and David take clear title to their children had already been complicated by the selection of a surrogate from Texas. Now they would need lawyers and doctors in three states, each with its own adoption laws and birth certificate practices.

They were moving to a state where, only a year earlier, 76% of voters had supported a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. There were rumblings in the Georgia Capitol that social conservatives might introduce legislation in the next session to ban gay adoption. The clock was ticking.

Sissy weaned Anabelle in August and began her drug regimen. She flew to Washington in late October and prepared for the Nov. 5 embryo transfer. Diane Hinson drafted contracts saying that Sissy would carry up to triplets.

Muasher was pleased to have a new variable in the equation. This round, he decided to thaw eight of the frozen day-old embryos. Six survived the thaw, and the doctor allowed them to grow for two more days.

To improve their chances, he decided to transfer three. At Chad's request, he utilized a chemical process called assisted hatching, designed to help the embryo implant in the uterine lining.