Two spirit couple’s surrogacy journey filled with love
- Betty Ann Adam | December 23, 2021
When Archer Vermette was born to Matt and Sam Vermette on October 20, he was the realization of a treasured dream and the gift of a team effort.
The two-spirit couple says their whole family were strong team members.
Matt Vermette, from a Metis family with roots in Prince Albert, St. Laurent and Duck Lake, and husband, Sam (nee Hadden), from Northern Ireland, got together 12 years ago.
They talked about having kids, but when they came out, it didn’t seem to be an option, they said.
Matt’s family has always been supportive. When they were married earlier this year, Sam took the Vermette name.
The pair love children and became “automatic godparents” to their friends and family members 10 times.
They came close to adopting a baby once but that fell through. It was a difficult time and they stepped back from trying for a few years.
When Matt’s sister, Colby, had a son, now 6, and then twins, the couple became a big part of the children’s lives.
“I think that really spearheaded us feeling like we would be great parents and really wanted to do that journey,” Sam said.
Matt’s parents, Perry and Wendy, sat them down and started a discussion about surrogacy and offered to help pay for the process. It has cost about $80,000.
“They really wanted us to have a family. Being in a Métis family, a really big family, they figured it was something we would really enjoy. They were our biggest advocates,” Sam said.
Colby told them she had intended to carry a baby for them, but having recently birthed twins, “the shop (was) permanently closed,” she said.
She did, however, promise to donate all the eggs they needed to conceive in vitro.
That meant the baby could be genetically related to both dads. She was the perfect donor.
Colby made the donation at Aurora Reproductive Care clinic in Saskatoon, which used Sam’s sperm to make four healthy embryos in August 2019.
“When they sent us pictures of the four embryos… that felt like something. We had done the first crucial step… It was really, really exciting for us,” Matt said.
With the embryos safely frozen, the Vermettes had about 10 years to find a gestational carrier.
They signed with the Anu Fertility surrogacy agency in Alberta, creating an online profile for a database with “hundreds and hundreds” of other people.
They spent almost a year getting to know a woman they were matched with, but that journey ended amicably without a transplant.
It was disappointing but they soon got word that a woman from Moose Jaw had picked them.
She had children of her own and had borne one as a surrogate.
They met in October 2020 and were comforted by her experience and knowledge of her body in pregnancy.
“We learned through this process what a miracle life actually is. You never think about all the things that have to be aligned for a baby to actually happen,” Matt said.
The transplant happened without a hitch in February 2021.
Ultrasound technicians were taken with their story and helped both dads experience the moving imaging by having them take turns in the room or by using Facetime video so they could experience it together.
In the summer, the surrogate and her children went camping with the Vermettes, giving the dads-to-be extended time with her, getting to see the baby moving and being part of things dads are usually part of when they’re home with their pregnant partner.
When the time came, they had an LGBT doula, who made sure both dads could be in the birthing room, where the labour and delivery were remarkably swift.
She ensured the dads got to hold baby in the minutes after birth and the hospital gave them a family room, where they stayed together in private for the first days of Archer’s life.
They have built a strong bond with the surrogate and her family they say will last a lifetime.
“It takes a special person to be a surrogate, to want to do that for someone else. It’s such a selfless thing,” Sam said.
“She wanted to see people, who wouldn’t otherwise be a family, be able to become a family,” Matt said.
“It was a complete honour to go through the process with her. She changed our lives, our whole family and brought such joy. It really is the best thing in the world.” Matt said.
“The love we feel for him - it just takes one look from him to make our little hearts melt,” Sam said.