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11 Disconnected Quiff

Rachel Segall ’91 carries a babyish for Erik Mercer ’91 and Sandro Sechi, allowance to actualize a new way to anticipate about family

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By H. Jay Burns

Young Zeke Hurley bare alone about 16 words to explain his mother’s abundance to the jailbait bagging advantage at a bounded aliment store. “You see my mom? She’s abundant for her gay friends. And it’s not alike her egg!”

Mercer holds his daughter, Rachel Maria Sechi Mercer. “Traditional narratives of alliance and ancestors acquire never been absolute for me,” he says. Photograph by Tony Hurley ’91.

Taking Zeke’s lead, actuality are added facts of the adventure of how Rachel Segall ’91 agitated and gave bearing to a babyish babe for Erik Mercer ’91 and his husband, Sandro Sechi.

And abaft all these facts are the stories.

From left, Tony Hurley ’91, Rachel Segall ’91, Erik Mercer ’91, and Sandro Sechi accumulate at Mercer and Sechi’s babyish battery on July 31 at Il Passatore in Brooklyn. Photograph by Lorenzo Ciniglio.


At Bates, Rachel Segall admits that she fell for acquaintance Erik Mercer, his ’80s-style quiff and all.

“That was afore I knew he was gay,” she recalls. “He was the affectionate of guy that a lot of girls would acquire a drove on because he was aloof so accessible to allocution with and fun to be with.” Abreast from accident Mercer to the “other team,” as Seinfeld would say, Mercer’s homosexuality fabricated little aberration to Rachel. Their accord grew and deepened over time.

Rachel and Erik allotment a moment at the babyish shower. Photograph by Lorenzo Ciniglio.

A few years ago, Segall saw a TV account adventure about how difficult and big-ticket it is for gay men and women to acquire or acquire biological children. Immediately, she alleged Mercer and fabricated an action that not abounding can cull off: “I told Erik that I would acquire a babyish for him.”


By the time Rachel fabricated that call, Mercer had accustomed up on actuality a father. He recalls cogent his own ancestor (both parents are Congregationalist clergy) over a bottle of wine aback home in Maine that he ample he’d be a acceptable uncle, but never a father, and that he was OK with that.

“I’ve apparent so abundant affliction and suffering. I aloof didn’t apperceive if the apple bare added people.”

Mercer, a career amusing artisan who does book advancement for bodies adverse the afterlife penalty, had buttressed his behavior with political and amusing reasons. “I’ve apparent so abundant affliction and suffering. I aloof didn’t apperceive if the apple bare added people.” But then, “I met Sandro.”


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Last summer was dubbed the “summer of homophobia” in Italy afterwards a jump in incidents of homosexual harassment. Add to the blueprint the ban on surrogacy, the prohibition adjoin homosexual marriage, and the Roman Catholic Church’s close attitude on homosexuality.

Sandro Sechi. Photograph by Lorenzo Ciniglio.

Given the context, Sechi was hardly afraid back the Italian media pounced on the adventure of a built-in son accepting a adolescent with a surrogate. “This was the absolute story,” says Sechi, who was built-in on Sardinia, advised Russian abstract at Milan University, and is now a biographer and accent teacher.

The Italian media affected the adventure to comedy on the nation’s built-in religious notions of what is natural, appropriately the banderole “Two Gay Fathers and Two Mothers for One Child” in La Repubblica(though this and added belief were, Sechi says, mostly supportive). “I saw our adventure on an Albanian account armpit forth with belief of the bizarre, like a gigantic banana,” Sechi laughs.


After a socially bourgeois accomplishments in a Catholic ancestors and Episcopalian boarding school, Hurley fell in adulation with Segall, a affable Jew from Boston. He lived in Rand; she in Cheney House. “We were opposites, and that was the attraction,” he says. “She was alien to me.”

If there’s a ancestors in this adventure that ability not feel abundant access to all that has abundant for one of its members, it would be Hurley’s.

“My ancestors could never acquire absurd one of their kids accepting complex with a Jewish woman who is accomplishing all these absurd avant-garde things like accustomed a friend’s baby,” Hurley says. “I absolutely never absurd this accident to me.”

Rachel Segall and bedmate Tony Hurley affectation at the babyish shower. “I accomplished that best of all, I absolutely bare Tony with me,” Segall said. Photograph by Lorenzo Ciniglio.

Which is why the agenda he accustomed from his stepmother hit him hard. It said, in so abounding words, “You are accomplishing a acceptable accomplishment for a friend.” Hurley acquainted that she had affably put abreast the backroom of same-sex marriage, surrogacy, and in-vitro fertilization to accede “the acceptable affair we were accomplishing for our friends.”

In their circle, Hurley has been casting as the unsung hero in this story, and he quips that his capital job was as “Giver of Shots.” (Because this was a beginning antecedent transfer, Segall accustomed hormone shots to accord her menstrual aeon with the egg donor’s, to ensure that her uterus would acquire the embryo.)

Hurley describes himself as self-effacing; he’s the blazon of guy who knows that actuality tagged “unsung hero” agency he’s absolutely actuality sung. “I mean, I’m not unsung because bodies kept cogent me,” he says with a chuckle. “I anticipate bodies were aloof actual acquainted of the ‘what about Tony?’ bend to this story.”


Besides his advertisement to the bagboy, Zeke Hurley provided another Reader’s Digestmoment as he and his sisters listened to his parents explain surrogacy, and how the egg would not accord to Segall.

“But what about the race?” Zeke asked. The ancestors aloof stared at their youngest. “We were all like, ‘What chase is that?’” Segall recalls, laughing. “You know,” Zeke said, accepting afresh abstruse the abstraction of the agent and egg from a book his dad had apprehend to him. “The chase area the things chase from the man to the egg. How’s that gonna happen?”

Good question, Zeke. In fact, three embryos were built-in in Rachel, two fertilized in the class by Mercer’s agent and the added by Sechi’s. (Doctors about implant added than one fertilized egg into a woman’s abyss to access the affairs of a applicable birth.) It’s not accepted which antecedent took hold, admitting Mercer says that if the babyish has aphotic Mediterranean acceptable looks, there will be no doubt.

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“I don’t anticipate she understands the way she touches people.”

Segall is able to sustain amphitheater aloft amphitheater of abysmal friendships with both abasement and allegedly abundant affluence of humanity. “I don’t anticipate she understands the way she touches people,” says Mercer. “It is aloof so innate.”

“I don’t anticipate she understands the way she touches people,” says Mercer (right) about Segall (left). Photograph by Lorenzo Ciniglio.

She is quick to avert the adversity of accustomed and carrying a baby, adage that her pregnancies acquire all been easy. Yet it’s bright she was the carrier of this babyish in added means than one, and it was Segall who was abaft the acquisition of all the principals aftermost year, area the accumulation altercation fabricated it absolute for Mercer and Sechi.

It took abode at her family’s home on Lake Sunapee in New Hampshire. “We had margaritas, sat about their abundant room, and aloof talked,” Mercer recalls. Segall’s brother-in-law, an ob/gyn who would ultimately bear the baby, was there, and as he went through the arrangement of a gestational birth, Mercer acquainted for the aboriginal time that a adolescent could absolutely be in his future. “I could brainstorm demography that aboriginal step.”

By August, as the commitment allowance loomed closer, Rachel knew, certainly, that Sandro and Erik should be present for the birth. Maybe, she thought, Erik’s mom should be there too, back it was her aboriginal grandchild. Again she acquainted addition answer. “I accomplished that best of all, I absolutely bare Tony with me,” she says.


You can acquaint both area the burden credibility are in Hurley and Segall’s marriage, and the actuality that it emerged a bit stronger from this experience. She is able of comestible so abounding friendships so acutely that it sometimes leaves Hurley “bewildered. It’s so above my abundance zone. Yet she expands my cosmos of what is possible.

“If there is article I can accommodate Rachel, it is that quiet calm for her. It is auspicious for her at times.”


Sechi jokes that he speaks Italian, Russian, Spanish, French, and English, yet he cannot acquisition a chat to explain how he feels about Rachel Segall. “So I was thinking, why don’t I accomplish a new word? RachelSegally!” And it was actual RachelSegally when, in the commitment allowance as the baby’s arch was crowning, she looked at Erik and Sandro and said, “Are you guys OK?”

Sechi washes Rachel Maria’s beard as Mercer watches. “I am active far avant-garde of what I anticipation my activity would be like back I lived in Italy,” Sechi says. Photograph by Tony Hurley ’91.

“Because of her, I am active far avant-garde of what I anticipation my activity would be like back I lived in Italy,” Sechi says. “Having a babyish was above fantasy, article you cannot ability with your apperception because you are in a association that says, ‘How do you cartel to be like that? How do you cartel to alarm Erik your husband?’”


Homosexuals can rarely abode themselves into one of the easy, able narratives created by beeline society. Such as how to abatement in adulation and get married. Or how to acquire a babyish and to parent. “Those narratives acquire never been absolute for me,” Mercer says.

After his babyish was born, bodies approached Mercer and gushed, “Isn’t your affection aloof beginning with love?” No, he explained to added than a few abashed people, he wasn’t yet absurdly in love. “I’m still accepting to apperceive this baby. That’s the way adapter works. It’s not just bam!”

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It’s a point Mercer wants to make, how there’s a lot of animal affliction acquired by actuality told you’re declared to acquire a assertive activity back you aloof don’t. “I brainstorm it’s a added accepted animal acquaintance than bodies let on,” he says.

So yes, Mercer, admits, he’s had those broken “what-am-I-doing” moments, back he’d be at someone’s abode “and there’s a agreeable kid and I’d think, ‘Oh, f****.’”

He aggregate these animosity with Whitney Wright ’90, a acceptable acquaintance and career amusing artisan who, in the 1990s, teamed with Mercer on HIV-related assignment in New York City. A new mother herself, Wright said that it’s actual accessible to accommodate those against emotions. “You know, Erik, I never capital to be a mother,” she said. “And I still don’t appetite to be a mother. I appetite to beRex’s mother.”

That helped. “I thought, ‘OK, I can get my arch about this,’” Mercer says. “This is added the way I will acquaintance this.”

The Egg Donor

She’s anonymous, of course. Sechi and Mercer do acquire photos of her, as an developed and child, and apperceive her medical history. They apperceive she’s advancing a master’s degree. Choosing amid abeyant egg donors is absolutely rather bizarre, says Mercer, because one can baddest for assorted concrete traits, like alpine or albino or whatever.

“She was disturbing to amount it out.”

Mercer and Sechi were awash back they abstruse the acceptance to why the donor was accomplishing it, and whether she capital to apperceive if a adolescent was built-in from her egg. “Most women said they were accomplishing it to advice humankind. Our donor said she was accomplishing it for the money, to pay for alum school. That fabricated us feel that she was a beeline shooter,” Mercer says.

Her acceptance to the additional catechism was accidentally poignant. The woman wrote “yes,” she capital to apperceive if a babyish was built-in from her egg. “Then she beyond it out and wrote ‘no,’ again beyond that out and wrote ‘yes,’ again beyond that out and wrote ‘no’ and circled it three times. She was disturbing to amount it out.”

Only afterwards Sechi and Mercer apprehend all the answers did they about-face the folio to appearance the photograph. They couldn’t advice but beam as they confused from their brainy acceptance to a absolutely concrete one. “She was totally hot!”


Mercer knows the angry that bodies can do, and as a amusing artisan with avant-garde training in psychotherapy, has a appealing acceptable abstraction of why they do it. A assistant already told him that psychopathology is about alive back adulation goes wrong. “When I accommodated addition in bastille for accomplishing article absolutely horrible,” Mercer says, “there’s consistently in their history a abode area adulation went wrong.”

In so abounding lives, Mercer says, “there’s a abode area adulation went wrong.” Photograph by Lorenzo Ciniglio.

Mercer shares that abstraction to explain why he capital a adolescent of his own. Alike admitting neglect, dysfunction, and addiction aggravate aural the bodies he helps, Mercer says he still generally finds affirmation of the animal spirit. What, then, could accomplish added faculty than accepting the opportunity, as he puts it, “to put all my affection into creating a safe, nurturing, and adorable ambiance for a little kid”?

He adds, “I anticipate she has the potential, in a babyish way, to be addition who can appearance that there’s an addition way of cerebration about family.”


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There was addition RachelSegally moment at the hospital. The babyish had been born, and the new ancestors was accessible to leave the hospital. Mercer and Sechi would be in boondocks for a few days, so there was no charge for big goodbyes.

As anybody formed around, Segall unobtrusively best up her accoutrements and departed. She and Mercer both bethink the moment — an affecting acceptance that about affectionate her role in this baby’s conception and birth, it was now over. Now it was the fathers’ turn.

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