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This Gay Dad Helps Other Queer Parents-to-be Prepare ‘Emotionally and Logically’ for a Surrogacy Journey

Two dads on the counch with their infant baby, and young daughter, along with their dog

Joey Guzman-Kuffel, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and his husband Rob Kuffel, a Protocol Officer for the US Navy, are the proud dads of two daughters through surrogacy & IVF. They met on OKCupid, and have now been together 14 years (and married for 9 of those years).

Joey’s career is a perfect marriage of his expertise as a marriage and family counselor with his passion for surrogacy & IVF. Not only does he counsel and help screen prospective dads about the surrogacy process, but he also screens, counsels and assesses gestational carriers and egg donors through his business, Counseling with Joey, Inc

“You can think of it as emotional and logical preparation for the complexities that come with surrogacy,” explains Joey.

Going through his own surrogacy experience has undoubtedly helped Joey empathize and prepare his Intended Dads for their roads to fatherhood. It took his family collectively 7 years and many hurdles to become a family of four.

Joey and his husband Rob always wanted to have kids, and with three of Joey’s four sisters offering to be the egg donor and the other sister proposing to be their gestational carrier, it seemed like the path had chosen them. Sadly, the husbands experienced many hardships on their road to fatherhood, with their first surrogacy journey taking 4 years and their second taking 3 years. 

If you’re interested in learning more about how to become a dad through surrogacy, enroll in GWK Academy

Their first journey involved two failed surrogate candidates before matching with their third surrogate. Those two failed matches were tremendously difficult for the couple as the first was Joey’s sister, and the second was an experienced carrier who had carried previously for a gay couple.

Once they matched with their third gestational carrier, they were able to transfer two embryos and were pregnant after the first transfer. One of the embryos split and at one point, they were expected triplets, but they sadly lost the identical twins before 9 weeks.  

After starting their journey in 2015, their eldest was born in August 2019. They worked with Northwest Surrogacy Center who they described as an amazing place to work with, and Dr. Susanna Park from San Diego Fertility Center; “such a warm, kind, and aiding force in our journey. We love her!”

Joey and Rob decided to go through their second surrogacy journey independently, as they both felt more knowledgeable about the process and hoped to save money. (The couple had been recipients of a Men Having Babies grant for their first journey.)

“We made the conscious decision to navigate the complexities of the surrogacy process on our own without the support of an agency,” said Joey. “We felt comfortable making this decision because we were going to work with our same surrogate and since we had such a healthy relationship with one another, we had the trust to proceed without an agency.”

It took 3 years to create new embryos, wait for the same surrogate to be available to carry for them a second time, and in January 2023, they welcomed their second daughter. They worked with Dr. Park again, and enlisted the help of lawyers Falletta, Klein and Ellen Trachman for their pre-birth orders.

Something that surprised them both times was just how expensive the journeys were, even with financial assistance and doing an independent journey. “Another thing that was surprising was how much calmer and more relaxed my husband and I were during the second journey despite emotional and financial struggle compared to our first journey which was filled with anxiety.”

Joey describes his experience meeting with a mental health professional for his own journey as extremely important.

“[It] was highly important for me and my husband to help navigate the unknown and unique complexities that go hand-in hand with surrogacy. It can be a long process and you want to identify what coping skills you have that help you with being patient so that the journey can be a bit less stressful.”

Today, Joey is takes his compassion and professional expertise and channels it into his practice, Counseling with Joey, Inc., specializing in third-party reproduction. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) highly recommends that anyone building or helping to build family through third-party surrogacy and IVF meet with a mental health professional to discuss various important topics that will help navigate the complex life-changing process.

At Counseling with Joey, Inc. his goal is to help queer intended parents to reflect and think through their decision-making and provide psychoeducation that will assist in understanding some of the unique experiences that folks can be confronted with, so they can make informed decisions.

If you are ready to start your family building process or help someone build their family, Counseling with Joey, Inc. is here to support you in that process.