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Fatherhood by a New Formula

Those who persevere, he said, "have researched this up the wazoo and have thought about it for a good five to 10 years before they get to me."

Making the Match

Richmond lawyers Michael Thorne-Begland and Tracy Thorne-Begland said they decided they wanted children four years ago, shortly after their commitment ceremony.

New dads Michael Thorne-Begland (left) and Tracy Thorne-Begland hold their 4-month-old twins -- daughter Logan (left) and son Chance. The twins were carried to term by a surrogate in a pregnancy that was the product of sperm from one of the partners and eggs donated by the sister of the other.

"I don't know if it's a decision that's any different than a straight couple makes," said Michael Thorne-Begland, 35, who has been with his partner for 12 years. "We had the house, the dog and the white picket fence, and we decided we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together."

Michael Thorne-Begland's sister agreed to donate her eggs. After two prospective surrogates were deemed unsuitable for medical reasons, the couple turned to Hinson. She found Lori Berry, 39, a special education teacher who lives in Annapolis. Berry and her husband, who works in law enforcement, are the parents of 5-year-old triplets conceived after three years of grueling fertility treatments.

"Lori exceeded our wildest expectations in so many ways, " recalled Tracy Thorne-Begland, who is 38. "We were really comfortable that she was going to take care of our children the way she took care of hers."

Another reason both men said they trusted Berry, a trim, poised woman who exudes a reassuring competence, is that she was adamant that she wanted no more children. They were also encouraged when she told them her best friend in high school was gay.

Berry said her struggle with infertility, uncomplicated pregnancy and the unusually good health of her triplets, who have none of the problems common among multiples, motivated her to become a surrogate.

"I felt it was time to give something back," Berry said. "I went in with the mind-set of 'This is yours, I don't want any more kids,' " she said. She said she still felt that way after Logan Ann and Chance Dixon Thorne-Begland, each weighing about seven pounds and born full-term, were delivered by cesarean section Oct. 20 at Anne Arundel Medical Center.

Her children, she said, understood her explanation that she was carrying what they call "the babies" for two daddies because they didn't have a mommy to do it. "They were thrilled and told their whole kindergarten class about it," Berry recalled.

For nearly every doctor's appointment, Berry said, the fathers drove up from Richmond to accompany her. None of her doctors, she said, seemed fazed by the unorthodox arrangement.

"They're great guys and they'll make great parents," said William J. Sweeney, a high-risk pregnancy specialist in Annapolis who treated Berry.

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