Hi everyone! Our names are Ashley and Habib El Radi, and we’re a young couple in our 30’s who recently relocated to Austin from New York City, where we met and fell in love. Habib and I come from worlds as different as you could imagine, but we have more in common than we could ever have hoped for in a partner, and now we are hoping to find a gestational surrogate who can help us make our dream of growing our family come true. I (Ashley) grew up near Austin and attended high school in a tiny town about an hour and a half into ranch country. After graduating from the University of Texas with a degree in journalism, I took the advice of a professor and moved to Beijing, where I got a job copy editing at an international radio station. I worked my way up the ranks there, eventually pitching and hosting my own current affairs show, before moving to New York, which was my dream fulfilled. Shortly afterward, at the age of 25, I was diagnosed with cervical cancer, which forced me to have a hysterectomy and undergo chemo and radiation. When I was given 12 hours to preserve my fertility at an upfront cost of $30,000, I snuck out of the apartment before my visiting mother could wake up (she is a widow and could not help financially) and negotiated with the clinic until we reached an agreement. I was committed to the future family I could still see so clearly, even if it seemed to be slipping away. Meanwhile, across the world, Habib was getting ready to say goodbye to everything he had ever known. He grew up in Lebanon, a country crippled by cycles of corruption and war. For educated, ambitious young people, staying wasn’t an option. Habib was encouraged to follow his cousins to the Persian Gulf, but instead put himself through graduate school in Boston to build the life he saw for himself — one in which he was accountable for his actions and responsible for his own success. His life, in New York in the tiny apartment we first shared and today here in Texas, is proof that his bet has paid off. He is adored by both his management and the team he manages at work, and moves easily through any crowd. Together, we are working to build a life grounded in enjoyment of the people we love — with plenty of time outdoors, which we were missing for far too long in the city. Since the coronavirus hit, we’ve been having the hard conversations about what that life really looks like for us as a family, and as we began making concessions to the virus — cancelling our wedding in lieu of a visit to City Hall, driving across the country in a U-Haul, even delaying the start of our search for a surrogate when Habib‘s sperm had to be quarantined — one thing became crystal clear: Family matters more than anything. We’ve always known it, but now we feel it keenly. We can’t wait to show our own little one(s) just how much it matters. (We would love to have two, if at all possible, but don’t want to be greedy.) As we prepare to have a child of our own, we see our home as a center of warmth and support, where we can take turns preparing dinner and chatting across the breakfast bar and hosting family in the backyard. It’s a place where our kids can grow up truly knowing their grandparents, which we know from experience is the kind of early life support that can’t be beat. It has taken 11 long years to get to this point, and I have spent many sleepless nights wondering if I would ever have the chance to become a mother. The technology for egg freezing was still very new when I was forced to do it, and the doctors were very clear with me that they were hopeful, but weren’t sure if I would ever be able to create viable embryos from the only eggs I would ever have. Now that I finally have several potential babies of my own, I can’t wait to stand with the love of my life, holding my child and falling in love all over again.
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