How was our journey to parenthood?



 

Gloria, Van holding Grace, Tyler, and Bing holding Roland

We are here in Tennessee on Thanksgiving waiting for the arrival of our second set of twins, Grace and Roland. Being away from home gives us the opportunity to reflect on our long journey to parenthood. It started with what we considered a synchronicity when we met in the idyllic hometown of Hans Christian Anderson, Odense, Denmark in 1998. Bing got accepted by University of Nebraska-Lincoln for his doctoral degree and planned to go to the U. S. in January 1999. While waiting for his U.S. trip, after finishing his master’s degree in China, he had one semester gap and decided to go to Denmark to attend the MBA program for one semester. Van came from Vietnam and lived in Denmark for many years, and he was in the same MBA program. It was very rare to see other Asian students at the university, so it was naturally that we began to get acquainted.
A few weeks after our first meeting, we had an adventurous trip to the seashore. Walking on the beach and breathing the fresh air from the picturesque and serene Baltic Sea, we saw a family fishing on the dock. Without telling each other, our eyes were directing toward that family. We both thought it was a beautiful scene. Later when we got to know each other more, we found out that we share many common dreams and life visions. One of our dreams is to be parents and raise kids as two fathers. Unfortunately, none of us were born with a uterus. This dream seemed at times impossible to be realized. However, we always held hope which became the main motivation for our study and career.
We learned about surrogacy and followed its development from its infancy. We were so fascinated about what science could do and we were so touched to learn about angels on earth who were willing to donate their ova and carry babies to help others fulfill their parenthood dream. It is really an act of altruism. We got excited about surrogacy, but our dream was still beyond our grasp. We need to be settled and have a strong foundation before executing our plan. 
Roland and Grace
We decided to choose the U.S. as the place to build our family. After Bing came to the U.S., Van also entered a Ph.D. program a couple years later.  Eventually, we both became professors. In academics, there were very limited job opportunities in the same city. It took us years of long distance relationship to be able to move together in MD in 2008. After settling down in Fredrick, we began all the preparations for our parenthood plan. We were very blessed to have full support from both sides of our families. This strong support gave us confidence to live truthfully. Admittedly, to reach the state when we could stand up and proudly said that we are homosexual was not an easy process. We were living in a world where negativities from homophobic people flooded us every day. If we did not have the strengths to swim against the stream, we would be drowned. Fortunately, for one negative person, there were at least a few positive persons out there. As we are moving into the year of 2015, homophobia is diminishing and the general public is more accepting of homosexuality. We are blessed to live in the historical moment when more and more states recognize gay marriages. We are hopeful that in the near future everyone can live a truthful life.
Being gay is actually a blessing if one looks from a positive angle. It shaped us as a strong person who thinks outside the box and has innovative means to reach our goals. Our experiences made us more empathetic and compassionate. We are able to look beneath the surface and see the nature of the things. We also appreciate every person for their uniqueness and we embrace the beauty of diversity. We are able to liberate our thoughts and break through all the self-made boundaries and restrictions that we put on ourselves because we thought that was what the society valued. We finally understood that it is OK to be different. One just needs to be a good citizen and contributes to his community. At the end, the society values one for how much he gives.  
In 2011, we found a wonderful lady who was willing to help realize our dream. She had total support from her husband and family. To be a surrogate was something very dear to her heart for a very long time. We found another young lady who wanted to help people having kids by donating her ova. With a team of medical professionals, egg donation agencies, surrogacy agencies and many attorneys, we were able to transfer two embryos into our surrogate’s uterus and that was how Gloria and Tyler came to this world. They were the results of our love and they were brought here by the help of angels.
Roland
Before Gloria and Tyler’s births, we attended parenting classes and CPR classes. We read lots of books we could find on how to care for babies. We read articles from many online forums. We talked with many experienced parents. Everyone was excited to share their parenting experiences. Even single guys and teenagers were also excited and eager to give their tips. All these showed what a great community we are living in.
After months of anxious anticipation, we finally saw our kids for the first time in March 2012. When hearing their first cries we felt so relieved and touched. The whole process to bring them to this world was a miracle. They came to this world because of love. They have parents who really want them. When we held them in our arm, time stood still. We could not prevent our tears from dropping down our face. The journey to bring them to this world was not an easy one. We were lucky to meet so many wonderful people who helped to make our dream come true. 
Grace
The process to have kids was hard, but we think it is even harder to raise them up. It takes a village to raise a kid. We began to search for a daycare for them. When we first came to Meadows for a visit, we were immediately drawn to the environment there. All the kids were so engaged in their own activities and did not even notice us walking in the room. We fell in love with Montessori approach and decided to send our kids to Meadows. At Meadows we observed a diverse community with people full of positive energy. The teachers and administrators are all so passionate about their job and the parents are so warm and open-minded. It is really a great environment for our kids to learn and grow.
In 2014, we decided to expand our family and found another wonderful lady to be our surrogate. Surrogacy is her dream since a very young age. We were so lucky to find her and her family. Our kids and their kids like each other very much. We kept very close contact with our previous surrogate and the same with our second surrogate. We are like extended families.
Our family has a Weibo (Chinese version of Twitter) account in China. Bing made the first post in 2011 before the birth of Gloria and Tyler. The blog currently has about 45,000 followers. Many followers are heterosexual. We have heard so many times from the messages they left that they totally changed their views about gay issue and reassessed their whole value system after seeing our family. Some told us that they understood their gay son and daughter better after knowing about us. Some used our story to come out to their family. And some told us by seeing us they have hope for an optimistic future. All these stories motivated us to share our story and have more positive influences in the society. We think it is just a simple story and we are not a big social activist or something like that. However, our story seemed to be important for some people. We have authorized the PFLAG China to use our family photos to print a set of postcards for raising funds for PFLAG China by selling them online. Bing also did a workshop at the 7th National PFLAG Conference in Guangzhou, China in 09/2014. In addition, Bing was invited to Hong Kong and was interviewed by a very well-known TV host on the topic of same sex family. The video has more than 9 million viewers since September 2014.
 

We were so blessed to have blessings from family, friends, colleagues and our community. We think it was partly because of their open-mindedness and partly because of our honesty. We live truthfully and other people can feel our genuine hearts and see us as whom we really are. We choose not wear a mask because of social pressure. That is the way we teach our kids. We choose to be honest from day one. The first lesson we taught our kids is to embrace diversity and to be genuine and live with their true selves. Of course they are too young to understand all these, but the environment we prepare for their upbringing is instilling these values in them.

This thanksgiving, we are especially thankful for God to make who we are, for our dear family and friends, for all the people who helped to bring our kids to this world, for the community which helps to raise our kids, and for our four little angels, Gloria, Tyler, Grace and Roland to come into our life. 
Access out Weibo Account, here!
 Connect with Bing Li-Nguyen
Right now I am passionate about:
1. Educational Consulting
2. Promoting Equality
3. Public Speaking
For more information about me, click here


Connect with Van Li-Nguyen
Right now I am passionate about:
1. Educational Consulting
2. Health and Wellness
3. Photography
For more information about me, click here

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