Couple opens up about nearly giving up on having child after three failed surrogacy attempts

Johnny Lee and Sebastian Barleben knew they both wanted a child early on in their relationship


A couple have spoken out about almost giving up their dream to have a biological child when they had three failed surrogacy attempts.

Johnny Lee, 37, and Sebastian Barleben, 40, were ready to stop trying to have a child and said after the fourth attempt they would look for alternative ways to bring a child into the world.

The couple first met at a club in New York City but they only had a short time to connect after Johnny was leaving to attend UCLA Anderson, in California.

But despite the distance, their relationship developed and Johnny – who grew up in a conservative, evangelical home – came out to his parents just before leaving for college.

His parents were willing to disown him to save his soul but when it came to their wedding day, his family were able to accept his sexuality.

This was the reason why Johnny was determined to make a family of his own so he can show his children nothing but love.

In an interview with Gay Star News, Johnny said: “That said, we wanted time to enjoy each other first and our relationship.

“We finally made up our minds three years ago and hired a surrogacy agency to help us start the process.”


This is our first #gaypride month as fathers and we feel immensely lucky and privileged to be where we are today. This June, we celebrate gay visibility, equality and empowerment and recognize all those who came before us whose struggles made our family possible. If this year has taught us anything, it’s that our progress toward equal rights is fragile and must be protected. #tBT #lgbtqrights #gayrights #gayfamily #lgbtqfamily #lgbt #lgbtfamily #gaydads #twodads #nycgay #nycpride #igfamily #pridemonth #🏳️‍🌈

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However, their first three attempts failed and they had to start all over with brand new donors.

“We had to start all over with a brand new donor during all of those previous attempts,” Johnny added.

“It was very expensive, very time consuming and very emotionally and physiologically draining.”

It was on their fourth try that they got nine viable embryos – two of which they implanted into their surrogate – and they were elated when they found out they would have twins.

But their longing for a family was hit with another hurdle when in the ninth week one of the embryos stopped developing.

“That was incredibly agonising news and it made us incredibly nervous about the pregnancy,” Johnny continued.

“At that point we had been through so much and our track record was so low that we feared the worst. The first trimester was very nerve-wracking for us.”

But luckily, baby Vaughn Everett Barleben-Lee was born this year and is now four months old.