On Veteran’s Day People Magazine Highlights A Gay Marine Corps Vet Who is About to Become Dad via Surrogacy

Duane Perez, 46, is a Marine Corps veteran who served in the West Pacific and Middle East before leaving active duty in 2000. He married his husband David in 2016 and the couple is now expecting a child via surrogacy.

Marine Corps veteran Duane Perez and his husband David are shining a light on the nonprofits that are helping them with their surrogacy journey, including Men Having Babies the Bob Woodruff Foundation’s Veterans In Vitro InitiAtive (VIVA)

Duane Perez, 46, is a Marine Corps veteran who served in the West Pacific and Middle East before leaving active duty in 2000. He married his husband David in 2016 and the couple is now expecting a child via surrogacy.

They chose to pursue surrogacy, and despite financial limitations, soon learned that with the help of nonprofits that defrayed costs — surrogacy can run well over $200,000 — the couple’s dream could come true. In early December they will be flying from their home in Potomac, Maryland to Wisconsin, to join their surrogate for the birth of son Niklaus Asher Perez.

Their journey to parenthood began with research. David — a 41-year-old nurse, graduate student and self-proclaimed “research nerd” — spent almost a year “finding out what it was going to take out of us both physically, financially,” he told People Magazine.

The couple soon discovered the nonprofit Men Having Babies, which provides educational resources, pro bono advice and a wide array of grants and discounted fees for medical providers and medications every step along the way.

They attended a Men Having Babies conference, which “was very illuminating,” says Duane. “We were completely unaware of questions that we needed to ask not just ourselves but of a surrogate.”

Working with a surrogacy coordinator, the couple began the process through Men Having Babies. An egg donor was secured and their health insurance with the Veterans Administration helped pay for some of the procedures and medical costs. But to cover the cost of in vitro fertilization (IVF) — a complex and expensive procedure involving the fertilization of eggs to first create and then implant embryos — they needed outside help.

The couple discovered that due to Duane’s service-related disability, they qualified for a $5,000 grant from the Bob Woodruff Foundation’s Veterans In Vitro InitiAtive (VIVA). That money was paid to a clinic to help cover the cost of the couple’s embryo creation, says David.

Organization Men Having Babies, who helped the couple, credited its Gay Parenting Assistance Program, and service providers who joined in to make fatherhood possible for the couple by giving services for free. “We thank Creative Family Connections for their generosity that made the dads’ journey possible,” the organization wrote.

Six embryos were created — three from David’s sperm, three from Duane’s — but the couple doesn’t yet know which embryo was implanted and who is the biological dad, says Duane.

“We wanted to be surprised,” he adds.