Two Dads, Two Kids, One Surrogate

Jerry Mahoney always knew he wanted children. But growing up gay, Mahoney—author of the blog Mommy Man and a book titled Mommy Man: How I Went from Mild-Mannered Geek to Gay Superdad, which chronicles his life as a gay dad—never thought it was an option. “Knowing that I was giving up hope of ever having kids definitely made it harder to come to terms with who I was,” he explains. But that all changed in 2003, when Jerry met Drew Tappon, who would ultimately become his husband and co-father of his children. “We met online and talked about family right from our first date. It was something that was important to both of us, and was one of the reasons we knew we were right for each other,” Jerry says. 

In many ways, the New Rochelle dads and their 6-year-old twins, Bennett and Sutton, look like a traditional family, with Jerry working from home as a writer and taking care of the kids, while Drew, a television executive, commutes into Manhattan for the daily grind. But their path to parenthood was anything but traditional. “There were so many options—adoption, fostering, surrogacy—each with its own challenges and perils. We barely knew where to begin,” Jerry remembers. The couple ultimately decided on surrogacy when Drew’s sister, Susie Tappon, volunteered to be an egg donor; they loved the idea that their kids would be a little bit of each of them. “We had a million bumps, scares, and wonderful surprises along the way, just like anyone else,” Jerry says. 

Susie, a 35-year-old Rochester resident, not only acted as the surrogate egg donor, but is now a doting aunt to Sutton and Bennett. (She also has her own daughter, 4-year-old Grace.) Always close to Drew, Susie explains that she watched her brother and Jerry struggle to start a family, and decided to step in and donate her eggs. “At 28 and single, I certainly wasn’t doing anything but throwing them away monthly,” she jokes. “To me, it seemed like a really easy way to help them obtain their dream of children. It’s amazing how life turns out, and sometimes making decisions that aren’t the norm make the ride much more enjoyable.”

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Drew and Jerry, who relocated from California in 2012, say that friends thought they were making a mistake. “Many people warned us against moving to Westchester. They said it was extremely insular and could be very unwelcoming,” Jerry recalls. But their experience in New Rochelle has been almost the exact opposite according to Drew, who says, “It feels like the perfect place to raise kids—whether you’re straight or gay or anywhere in-between.” 

This doesn’t mean Jerry and Drew haven’t faced challenges associated with being an unconventional family. “It can be exhausting constantly having to come out to strangers about our nontraditional family,” Jerry admits, saying most people still have a preconceived notion of what all families should look like. “Every time I call a plumber or a repair person, I worry that they’ll ask me about my wife or see our family pictures hanging in the hall and get weird about it. Usually, I don’t mind talking about it, but, sometimes, I just need the toilet fixed,” he says. “The worst part, though, is worrying that my kids may have to go through that themselves.”

Regardless of occasional discrimination and homophobia, Jerry and Drew wouldn’t change a thing about their family. “I know there’s still a lot of homophobia in the world, but so far, the homophobes have stayed out of our faces, and the nice people have gone out of their way to be extra-nice to us,” shares Jerry. “My husband and I have tried to warn our kids about homophobia, but I don’t think they believe us. They’ve never felt anything but acceptance.”

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